Not content with the fame and money she has acquired for mentally and physically abusing fat people on the television show The Biggest Loser Australia, Michelle Bridges used an interview to see if she couldn’t do some damage to people who manage to avoid her horror of a television show.
“It might be seen that I have this agenda on people who are overweight or people who are deemed fat. Honestly, if you are happy where you are, more power to you. But I can tell you, I’m yet to meet someone who is morbidly obese and happy.”
Nice to meet you Michelle, now knock that shit off.
There will be those who say that there is nothing wrong with this quote because of her qualifier “Honestly, if you are happy where you are, more power to you.” I say, not so much, for a few reasons.
First let’s look at the this on the surface level. In order to make this statement, she would have to be asking every fat person she meets if their BMI is over 40 (because certainly, as an “expert” she wouldn’t be using “morbid obesity” which is a – massively misguided – clinical designation, as a general way to say really fat,) and then, if their BMI “qualifies” them, asking them if they are happy. Either this is a woman who has some strange conversations, or this is bullshit. I’m guessing the latter. (Also, it turns out that she has, in fact, met at least one happy fat person)
I think it’s more likely that this is coming from much the same place as the foolish mistake that Dr. Oz made. If you have a sign on your door that says (regardless of how untrue it is) “if you’re unhappy because you are fat, I can make you not fat,” then the fat people you meet are likely to be unhappy. This is both because fat people who are desperate to get out of a marginalized group come to your office, and because those of us who know that you’re trying to sell us a bogus bag of magic weight loss beans will avoid your office like the plague that it is.
When you have managed to garner some fame, celebrity status, and/or expert status, you become even more responsible for what you say. If she, who many perceive (however incorrectly) as an expert on weight, health, and happiness, says that she has never in her life met a happy fat person, that statement carries with it all the trappings of the “celebrity expert”.
Considering the growing fat acceptance movement – including articles in the largest publications in the world – I seriously doubt that she is unaware that happy fat people exist (and if she is then she is negligent by claiming to specialize in working with a population that she clearly does not understand.)
There are fat people who are happy, there are fat people who are unhappy. Fat people are allowed to have the full range of emotions – just like people of all sizes. Michelle is not only engaging in appearance-based stereotypes, and erasing the experiences of fat people who would define ourselves as “happy,” her statement is also ableist, healthist, and adds to the difficulty of fat people who deal health issues like depression, and all the difficulty in getting treatment and bullshit stigma that comes with that (including healthcare providers who insist that the cure to any issues that fat people have is to become not fat.).
She is telling everyone a story that is meant to increase her profits/fame/save the fatties hero status. The existence of happy fat people trumps her experience of somehow never having met one of us. When she states her personal experience of never having met a happy fat person as if that matters or has anything to do with the actual experiences of fat people, without at least qualifying it by being clear that there are lots of us out here, she is replacing the actual lived experiences of fat people with her “experience” and, were I to guess, what is perhaps her fantasy that she has never contributed to our unhappiness (aka oppression) with her work as a would-be fat person whisperer.
Finally, she fails to be self-reflective enough to realize that if the fat people she meets are unhappy, a culture that freely stigmatizes, stereotypes, bullies, harasses, and oppresses fat people (like, you know,the show that made her famous,) miiiiight have something to do with their unhappiness.
Not to mention that she can’t point to a single study that suggests that her methods won’t result in the vast majority of people regaining the weight they lost, with the majority gaining back more than they lost. So even if she believes that all fat people are unhappy, and even she believes that being thin would make us all happy, she has literally no idea how to get that done and based on the research we have, her attempts will result in the majority of people ending up fatter than when they started working with her which, again, may be why she’s never met a happy fatty.
Regardless, I’d like to state for the record that I’m a happy fat person, and any unhappiness I harbor at the oppression of fat people is correctly solved by an end to social stigma and not a change to my body sizes. And Michelle Bridges can meet me.
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