Think We’re Doing Enough About Obesity?

Enough reallyI have arrived in Surfside, Texas for Hottie Hoop Camp. It’s amazing so far and I look forward to blogging about my super fun experiences over the rest of the week.  But for tonight, I want to address some feedback from yesterday’s blog post.  I got a bunch of e-mails and comments (which of course I did not approve) talking about how the fact that there are fat people, like me, who aren’t dieting (which is to say fat people who are opting out of the “health” plan of “feed your body less food than it needs to survive in the hope that it will eat itself and become smaller and somehow also healthier even though there’s not a single study where that worked for more than a tiny fraction of people” model), is proof that we aren’t “doing enough about obesity.”  Obviously these people have taken a swing and a miss when it comes to getting the point, so let me try this one more time:

When people express concern as to whether we are “doing enough about obesity” they are typically suggesting that we  ponder such important ideas as:

  • Are we shaming fat people enough?
  • Are we ostracizing fat people enough
  • Are we oppressing fat people enough
  • Are doctors doing a good enough job of ignoring fat people’s actual health issues and focusing on our body sizes?
  • Are we making fat people feel horrible enough about themselves?
  • Are we stereotyping fat people enough?
  • Are we doing a good enough job of conflating weight and health?

The answer seems to almost always be “No, we could be doing more.”

Look, if you are one of these people, I imagine it must be very stressful to constantly try to take responsibility for, and worry about, the business and bodies of so many people who aren’t you, so let me help you out:

You have done enough; more than enough even. It’s time for you to go look for your beeswax at your own home and in your own mirror.

If you want to make the lives of fat people better, the absolute best thing you could do as far as I’m concerned is help end the stereotyping, stigma, bullying, and oppression we deal with.  I have been thinner and I can tell you that it didn’t improve my quality of life even a fraction as much as not being constantly stigmatized, stereotyped and oppressed would.  Seriously, trust me on this – you’ve done enough, go sit down now.

I know this may be hard to wrap your head around, so feel free to read this sentence a couple of times:  Fat people’s bodies are not a signal that we require other people’s interference in our lives.  No, really – it’s true! We are capable of doing our own research and making our own decisions about our health and bodies, so you are totally off the hook. Isn’t that great?! Aren’t you just SO relieved?!

If you are interested in public health, then it would be great if you would focus your efforts on making sure that everyone has access to the foods that they would choose, safe movement options that they enjoy (and that means physically safe and also emotionally safe so that they know that they can put on a swimsuit and walk around without even the thought that they would be treated poorly or shamed about their bodies), affordable evidence-based healthcare, and true information.  Then you can make choices for you and let other people make choices for themselves.

I promise – you’ve done enough about obesity.  Please return to your homes and the policing of your own bodies only. Thank you.

I’m fat and I approved this message.

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Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 4:52 am  Comments (21)  

21 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m fat, and I approve this message, too! Not that you need my validation, though, or anything. But you have it anyway. ;)

  2. Awesome response.

  3. I approve this message too! Well done AGAIN, Ragen.

  4. Beautifully written!

  5. I noticed that in a “conversation” about obesity. The thin people kept using the word “we” – how do WE define obesity, what do WE do about obesity – in a way that blatantly excluded and discouraged fat people from speaking up in a conversation about their own rights and fates. Can’t have the actual real life experiences of actual real life fat people interrupting their fantasies and misinformation about what being fat means, now can they?

    • This leads down the slippery slope of us vs. them, which is the groundwork for eugenics.

    • Oh, fat people can’t talk about their rights! They don’t have the brainpower for such a complicated task. The energy in their neural transmitters gets sucked up by the fat in their bodies, and when they do think, they think only about food!

      • Exactly! Our brains are made of Twinkie filling. Therefore, we need thin people, whose brains are made of Special K Cereal, to do our thinking for us. ;-)

  6. this is why I read your blog. You remind me of all the good and right things to say, and usually think. Thanks.

  7. Have just been catching up on twitter (am obsessed with it!) I follow Russia Today (RT) TV channel and watch some great programmes on there, The Keiser Report, Going Underground (for UK) and Sputnik, a Programme with a Scottish MP, George Galloway. George has said he’s going to have Max Keiser on his programme this week and asked what questions he should ask him. Taking into account that Keiser and most of these programmes I watch& follow are about global finance, politics etc., I was shocked to find this,


    @georgegalloway @RT_sputnik @maxkeiser @RT_com: When a lot of people are FAT, they see themselves as Normal. Self Delusion I Guess!

    As you would say Ragen, WTF, is this guy for real or maybe an attention seeker???!!!

    • While I cannot answer for Ragen, my guess would be Garden Variety Douchenozzle.

    • I’d say he’s delusional. He sees himself as not a dick, but clearly he is one.

  8. I find this actually falls into the VFHT as well. (Vague Future Health Threat).

    My boyfriend’s own mother said that he and I need to do something about our obesity problem or we will wake up diabetic. Now given she isn’t the smartest cookie on the plate, I told him after she left to let it go.

    The the “But we aren’t doing enough to fix obesity and the OMGDEATHFATZ!!!” came out of her mouth… I almost flipped. But knowing she is the type to believe anything and everything on tv and the net. Heaven help you of you actually try to correct her.

    But hey I sent him over here and now he knows a good amount of information he never knew before. Keep up the good job!

    • You know what they say, you can’t fix stupid.
      I gave up long ago on trying to correct the horrifyingly judgmental and often racist statements that come out of my mother’s mouth. Ain’t gonna happen in this lifetime.

  9. “If you are interested in public health, then it would be great if you would focus your efforts on making sure that everyone has access to the foods that they would choose, safe movement options that they enjoy (and that means physically safe and also emotionally safe so that they know that they can put on a swimsuit and walk around without even the thought that they would be treated poorly or shamed about their bodies), affordable evidence-based healthcare, and true information.”
    It is as simple as this, it blows my mind how much people are willing to overlook this disgusting governmental ignorance because it is easier to incriminate an entire group of people that one can feel superior to, instead of the uncomfortable truth that one’s size makes them no more righteous than the next person!!!
    My mind is fizzing with anthropological and social thoughts tonight. I can’t say that it doesn’t piss me off and depress me.
    Once again though Ragen, an excellent piece xx

  10. Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    I just want to kick these jackwagons.
    Here’s the thing: first and foremost, nobody should be policing anyone else’s body, ever. Nobody should be shaming anyone else for their body, ever.
    Now, here’s the next thing.
    These asshats have NO idea why the person they’re shaming and belittling is fat, but it does not matter if said person is fat because of genetics, because of health problems, because they have an eating disorder, because they eat too much, or what.
    Shame me, and they’re likely to get a punch in the face because I am one frustrated fatty. Between my zombie thyroid and my zombie pancreas, fat is in the cards. The fact is, in my case, I’m forced to be on a rather restrictive diet due to my diabetes. Yet guess how much weight I’ve lost after having assumed this restrictive diet.
    About ten pounds, which was all bloat. I lost it when my kidneys started functioning properly again after I began having to restrict my carbohydrate intake.
    It’s highly doubtful that I’ll lose any more unless I, like my fat great grandmother, develop acute myelogenous leukemia and lose 210 pounds over the course of the year because of the disease that is destroying my body.
    I’m sure they’d love that, but I hope not to give them the satisfaction.
    In any case, Great Grandma was 79 when she died. She lived 78 reasonably healthy, fat years. So much for the “there are no old fat people” stereotype.
    So they can put that in their pipe and smoke it.

    • I had to look up what that cancer was. It looks especially scary. I’m guessing your great-grandma lived before a time when there was cancer treatment.

      My grandma just died last year, and she had 2 cancers (breast and lymphoma), as well as Alzheimer’s. She’d had them for a long time and her mind just wasted away at the end.

      • She died in 1962, 3 years before I was born.
        My paternal grandmother had leukemia, and eventually breast cancer which metastasized to her kidneys. She was diagnosed at 88 years old and opted not to treat. However, it wasn’t the cancer that killed her, it was pneumonia. She had terrible osteoporosis and was so bent over that it was impossible for her to get a good full breath.

  11. you’re telling it like it is.

    what always amuses me is how very little those people who pretend concern over my obesity have their own lives in order. i realize that it’s ever so much easier to stick your nose into somebody else’s problem; egads, i empathize with it to some degree because i am a “fixer” myself. but for heavens’ sakes, people, learn to wait until a person ASKS you for your help.

    and in the meantime, work on your own shit. because you and i both know, you have a lot of shit of your own. get to it. i’ll be courteous and not tell you how (unless you ask me).

    • It amazes me that there are so many people who feel it’s their business, right, duty, whatever, to tell others how to live. I think it’s only human nature to compare ourselves to others, and it’s comforting sometimes to feel like, “oh, I don’t have all my shit together, but I’m better off than this person”, I think most of us can identify with that. But why people feel the need to share their personal assessments of other people’s life choices, or assumptions about what those choices even are, is beyond me. Yes, I used to believe I was healthier than the average fat person simply because I’m thin, even though I knew I wasn’t the epitome of health. Yes, I used to see very large people and make assumptions about what they ate and how much exercise they got. Did I ever feel it was up to me to tell people what I thought their problems were and how they should fix them? No. Maybe in part because even when I believed a lot of the “common sense” stuff about weight and obesity, I never thought losing weight was a simple matter of eat less, move more. I figured if it was that simple everyone would have done it. And I didn’t think fat people needed me (or anyone else) to tell them they were fat. People generally know what size they are.
      I like being able to “fix” people’s problems too, but only people who open up to me about something and would like me to provide moral support and/or advice. Now that I believe in the fat acceptance philosophy, if someone talks about going on a diet, it’s so tempting to say, “NO, DON’T GO ON A DIET, DIETS ARE BAD!” but of course that’s not my place. If it’s someone I know well, I’ll say, “Personally I think people are different sizes, and there’s a lot of factors, including genetics. Maybe if you find you’re not losing weight, you can try just focusing on health instead of weight. . . then you can make changes without being hard on yourself”. Then I’ve said my piece and they can take it or leave it.

  12. “If you want to make the lives of fat people better, the absolute best thing you could do as far as I’m concerned is help end the stereotyping, stigma, bullying, and oppression we deal with.”

    Best quote ever! May I use it when I speak to/write for medical professionals?

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