A doctor tells a fat patient that they need to exercise more without asking them how much they exercise. When the patient says that they do exercise instead of asking for details the doctor says “That can’t possibly be true.”
A fat person goes to a personal trainer, explains that they practice the Health at Every Size method and want to increase their strength, stamina, and flexibility. The trainer ignores their request and chooses a plan that they think will create weight loss.
A fat person is out for ice cream with their thin friends. Ignoring the fact that the thin people are eating the same thing someone walks up and tells the fat person “This is why you’re fat.”
Paula Deen eats a hamburger on a cruise and a website puts up a poll asking if that’s “ok” or if she “should only be seen eating healthier foods”
What do all of these situations have in common? If you answered “They are all effed up” you are totally right but it goes beyond that.
Fat bodies are seen as “evidence”. People try to claim that our bodies are evidence of unhealthy behaviors, lack of willpower, lack of self-care and any other appearance-based stereotypes they enjoy believing and perpetuating Then they claim that this evidence is compelling enough to make it ok to target fat people for for shame, stigma, bullying and humiliation “for our own good”.
Even more damaging, fat people start to internalize this message thinking “If I’m fat then I deserve to be treated poorly and have my body and choices treated like public property.”
This is just not true. Fat bodies are not public property, they are not evidence, and they are not a sign that we need someone to step in and tell us how to take care of ourselves. First because nobody can tell what our habits are based on our body size. Second because our habits are our decision regardless of what size we are and health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness or entirely within our control, and that our choices are limited by the resources that are available to us. (Those interested in making an argument about fat people costing tax dollars are welcome to head over to this post.)
Fat bodies aren’t evidence of anything except that fat bodies exist. Claiming to be for health while running a ridiculous “A healthier world one shamed fatty at a time” campaign is evidence that someone isn’t so much interested in improving health as they are in being a bully and then blaming the bullied, while being seriously mistaken about the location of their beeswax.
It’s less than a week away! Check out the Fat Activism Conference Three days, 40 speakers, 30 workshops, teleconference style so that you can listen on the phone or computer from wherever you are, recordings so you can listen live or on your own time, tools for everything from armchair activism to marching on the White House only $39 with a pay-what-you-can-afford option to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Check it out!
Book Me! I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!
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Here’s more cool stuff:
My Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details