Do Body Positive Spaces Have to Allow Weight Loss Talk?

What Will you DefendThis question comes up a lot in a lot of different ways.  For our purposes today “weight loss talk” includes any discussion of the desire, reasons, and/or process by which someone wants to attempt to manipulate their body to be smaller.

So, that brings us back to our question: Do fat positive spaces have to allow weight loss talk?

Short answer:  No.

Slightly longer answer: Hell no.

Long answer:

People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies – but that doesn’t make every choice people make appropriate for fat acceptance (or even the co-opted and watered down concept of “body positive”) spaces.

While no two oppressions are exactly comparable, as a woman who is both queer and fat, I liken this to someone who wants to have “reparative therapy” to try to become straight. They are allowed to do that, but they should not expect that discussion of their desire, reasons, or process of becoming not queer would be welcome in queer positive spaces. Similarly, it’s completely appropriate – and, in fact, absolutely necessary – that we have fat positive/body positive spaces that do not allow weight loss talk of any kind.

Social justice works in systems, and fatphobia is rooted in systems that include sizeism, healthism, and ableism. Health, ability, and body size are not obligations, barometers of worthiness, or entirely within our control. Insisting that they be prioritized and/or used to judge the goodness/worthiness of a body adds to oppression. The message that bodies are better if they are manipulated to be a different size adds to oppression. If we want to dismantle systems of sizeism, healthism, and ableism, then we need to vastly change the way we talk about size, health, and dis/ability and ending weight loss talk is a big part of that.

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Published in: on August 2, 2017 at 8:48 am  Comments (8)  

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The only reason I could see to have a space for weightloss in a body positive space is to help those who are losing weight due to health changes.

    A couple of examples for clarity:

    I’ve been sick/have serious health condition and people are telling me I’ve never looked better, how do I cope,
    or
    I’ve been exercising more and people keep complimenting me on losing weight (getting smaller) how do I get them to stop.

    However these sorts of questions should have their own safe space rather than being in the main area so that the answers/help offered are relevant.

    • That’s why my Facebook group has rules against Intentional Weight Loss talk. We can discuss topics like your examples, assuming they have proper trigger warnings/content warnings so that those who do not wish to read about any type of weight loss can avoid them, because those topics absolutely are relatable to our cause, especially when its people complimenting you on changes to your body that you didn’t ask for, that you know will likely not be permanent changes, and that make you feel like you weren’t good enough before your (likely temporary) unintentional weight loss, or that weight loss by any means is more desirable than the way you were before, even if you lose it by being so sick you could have died.

      • I was pretty sure someone was doing it right already. ❤

      • OH, yeah. How do you deal with people who are complimenting you, saying “you look so healthy!” when you are sick as a dog, and the weight loss is an unwanted (and unhealthy) side effect.

        “Sure! My hair is falling out, I can’t have my period, I’m dizzy all the time, and my throat is raw from vomiting up my shoes every half hour, but I look so healthy? Gee. Thanks. I’d much rather be ‘unhealthy’ and feel good, and keep my hair and fertility.”

        Not applying to me, thank God, but I know some other people who had that sort of deal, and it stinks. Having a place where you can discuss coping mechanisms with people who GET IT would be invaluable, but you can’t have that discussion on a diet site (they’ll just encourage to keep going until you die).

        It does sound like a sort of sub-group on fat-acceptance, with content warnings would be good.

  2. I agree.

  3. You didn’t go into how keeping people out of spaces is ‘discrimination, just like when women are kept out of men’s clubs!’

    • Or men kept out of women’s clubs.

      It’s the old “Free Speech” argument, all over again. Any time a PRIVATE group tries to determine who can join, people who never had any interest in the group until they were excluded go all “I’m gonna SUE!” to get in. And these are usually the same people who complain about “You’re trampling my free speech rights!” if you actually make them face some consequences for saying horrible stuff.

      We are not the government!

  4. Excellent article! I so very much agree with you!


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