Fat acceptance hasn’t been discussed much here at IBTP, probably because, until recently, I pretty much thought I got it. Like: fat people are human beings? Sure. Of course. Now let’s talk about the misogyny of pencil skirts, tiny handbags, and high heels.
So a few weeks ago I was informed by medical doctors that, although I am skinny, I am obese, ostensibly because I have been eating junk and drinking too much for the past year.* Here’s the post about that.
When I used the word “obese” in that post I was gently informed by fat blamers that the term is offensive. “Obese” is used by fat-hatas as a synonym for “fat,” “fat” is not the equivalent of “unhealthy,” and “obese” medicalizes a perfectly natural variant of normal. I was sent to Kate Harding’s blog.
Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly.
Harding explains that being fat is not the equivalent of (my words, not hers) being a barnacle on a La-Z-Boy. She has to point out this distinction because the bogus equivalence she describes is overwhelmingly the narrative in modern discourse, and is the root of anti-fat bigotry (see Michelle Obama’s cringe-inducing Skinny2K-Compliance campaign “Let’s Move!”). Tangentially, she also avers that even if a fat person is sick, she’s obviously still entitled to the same respect one would accord a human being. Because she’s a human being.
So, according to Kate, I’m not obese; I merely eat crap and don’t exercise. A dessicated old aunt teetering on the brink of a metabolic cliff. A slothful, self-indulgent sicko.** That I also happen to be thin proves that “fat” illness can happen to anybody, not just fat people.
Fair enough. No argument here.
Having read Harding’s blog further, I have concluded that, although “obese” seems to be the term favored by the medical establishment to describe the state of my fatty guts, my identifying as obese on this blog appears to be somewhat analogous to a dude commenter calling himself a feminist, i.e., it’s insulting.
Anyway, this whole episode has pointed the glaring spotlight of cold hard truth on, not merely my fondness for Funyuns, but also on a gaping sort of hole in my oppression-culture literacy. Namely, that I don’t know jack about the fat acceptance movement. Which is pretty disgraceful, considering that it is such a major issue within the purview of patriarchy blaming.
To be continued.
* Although here is a 2007 article from Junkfood Science, provided by blamer Blue, suggesting that the results of a huge, 8-year health-food clinical trial (the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial) totally debunked the notion that diet has anything whatsoever to do with health.
After more than eight years, there were no difference in the incidences of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks or strokes among those who ate “healthy” and those who ate whatever they pleased.
The thesis of this essay seems so out-there that I am almost tempted to believe it.
** Actually, I would hesitate to classify my outdoorsy life of shoveling manure, chasing horses around, and hoisting hay bales as “sedentary,” so I can only conclude that either my diet of potato chips, Fresca, and Prosecco was even crappier than I thought, or something more sinister is afoot. Nice.