Fabulously Fat Friday is back! I’m not sure what topics to cover in upcoming weeks, though, so please leave suggestions in the comments.
Here’s a few things this post is not:
- An explanation of how fat =/= unhealthy. If you haven’t caught up to this point yet, feel free to educate yourself, as there are people who have done a far better job explaining it and gathering the evidence than I could here, here, here, here, and here.
- A defense of my own health and habits backing up the incredibly ableist and misguided good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy.
- An explanation of why diets don’t work, and why you can’t just expect fat people to be able to magically become thin. (See the above links for more on that issue.)
Okay, so, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s get started. First of all, my health is none of your business. You know nothing about my health from looking at me. You are not my doctor, and unless I invite your opinion, you have no right to say anything about my health. Same goes for any person in your life, fat or thin. Health is personal. This is just how to be a decent human being. This part is not up for discussion. That’s why I’m not talking about my health here: it’s none of your business.
People are people, and they all deserve to be treated decently, no matter what their health. Some people are unhealthy, through no fault of their own, due to disabilities or illnesses or genetics or injuries, and that is not a moral failing. Some people choose other priorities over working out or eating salads, and that is not a moral failing. It’s a personal choice. Some people have too much else going on in their lives, and that is not a moral failing. Some people don’t have access to safe spaces for exercise or to healthy foods, and that is not a moral failing. And we can’t forget mental health: sometimes, focusing on mental health means doing things that might not contribute to physical health, ie spending a day relaxing on the couch with a good book, or eating nachos for breakfast. Sometimes, that’s good for us!
You know what’s not good for our mental health? Shame and hatred. So if you’re really worried about someone’s health, harassing them about their weight is not helping. Quite the opposite. If you care about someone, you care about them as a human being, not just about how they look. Trust that we are grown ass adults who know how to look after ourselves, and unless we have asked for it, we do not want your opinion.
Now, we get to all the fear-mongering rhetoric pushed by the government and the media about “obesity as a public health issue.” (I put all this in quotes because a. I hate the word obesity and b. it’s not a public health issue.) It’s not a health issue, not really, as I pointed out above, so I’m going to focus on something else: even if you believe it is a health issue, how does that justify harassing or hating fat people?
Smoking is a health issue. Food deserts are a health issue. Cancer is a health issue. Depression is a health issue. Does the entire world think it’s okay to be awful and hateful to people suffering from these issues? Does the media make them the butt of jokes, if they’re represented at all? No. So even if you believe this nonsense about fat being a health issue, that does not give you license to be an asshole. It’s clear when we consider it from this angle that it’s not really about concern. It’s about superficial beauty standards, discrimination, and hate.
And it has very real consequences. Doctors like to blame every health issue a fat person faces on their weight, and prescribe weight loss as the first (and sometimes only) treatment, even when, for a thin person, there are other causes to be considered and treatments to be explored. This isn’t just an inconvenience. It doesn’t just hurt our feelings. This kind of fat hate kills people. So if you’re really worried about us and our health, buying into this kind of rhetoric is not helping. Not even a little. It’s killing us. Don’t believe me? Here are some sources:
- This CNN article comes to a few problematic conclusions that I clearly disagree with, but has good information about the hazards faced by fat people when it comes to getting good medical care, including personal anecdotes.
- This information from NAAFA gives statistics about the biases of medical professionals.
- This Slate article is also not without its problems, but it does have some interesting information.
In conclusion: someone else’s health is none of your business, regardless of their weight, and fat shame and discrimination are bigger health issues than fat itself. So if you really care, stop concern-trolling and respect our ability to make our own decisions. Learn some respect for your fellow human beings, regardless of size. Or more simply? Stop being such a dick and mind your own business.