I was pondering today what might happen if everybody who said that they cared about health (and not just about body size) really did care about health (and not just body size)? Health is multifaceted and not entirely within our control, the definition can be completely arbitrary and nobody is obligated to prioritize health, and it is definitely not a barometer of worthiness. But since there is a virtually inescapable national dialog around the subject, there are some things that I wonder about it.
What if we stopped conflating the two separate concepts of weight (and the body size that a culture happens to value aesthetically) and health (the way that bodies actually work in terms of metabolic health, strength, stamina and flexibility that is complicated and not entirely within our control)? What if the conversation about health was actually about public health and not public thinness?
How would the $60,000,000,000 we currently pay to the diet industry every year be used? Sustainable organic farming that could bring down the price of organic food? Parks and playgrounds that will allow kids to have safe places to play and move? Programs to make food and safe movement options available and affordable?
Would fat people who go to their doctors with a health issue actually be treated for that health issue instead of getting diagnosed as “fat” and prescribed a smaller body? Would we never again have someone’s life and health endangered because their doctor diagnosed them as fat instead of properly diagnosing and treating their real health issue?
Would scientists and the government spend their time and our money studying what things could make us healthier instead of spending all of their time and money (and the diet industry’s money) trying to make us all smaller?
Would fat people be healthier simply by virtue of not living in a society where we are constantly stigmatized?
What would the people who are obsessed with leaving me hate comments do with all of their new-found free time?
Would people still sign up for a contest giving away a surgery with a less than 20% success rate and a massive negative side effect rate that includes death?
How would the world, and our relationships be different if the 8 out of 10 women who are currently dissatisfied with their bodies actually liked themselves?
What would happen if fat people were seen as people who live in large bodies, and weren’t assumed to be lazy, unhealthy, unattractive etc? Would we stop missing out on hiring really smart, really capable people who are currently not hired simply because of the bigotry that exists around our body size?
What truths would we learn about health options for fat people if doctors and scientists studied healthy fat people instead of just calling them an anomaly or a paradox, or telling us that no matter how healthy we are – it won’t last?
Would eating disorders among kids under twelve be up 119% in the last decade if we didn’t have “war on fat kids” and if kids didn’t start yo-yo dieting as early as age 8?
Would we learn to celebrate the diversity of body sizes the same way that we celebrate the rest of the diversity in nature?
I don’t know the answers, but I’d damn sure like to find out…
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