Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Body IS NOT a "Public Health Concern"

It had to happen eventually.

Yes we are going there.

This is my Fat Acceptance post.

*Warning=Comments have been turned off.*

I'm going to put this right out, right now. According to the BMI, I am obese. However, the BMI is a crock. It does not account for body fat v. muscle density, and it is no real indicator of health. In fact, fat itself is not a catch-all indicator of health. So that it is clear where I am coming from with this, I am reproducing Kate Harding's ten points about health and obesity:

1. Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized). In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events, and some studies have shown that fat can protect against “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” Yeah, you read that right: even the goddamned diabetes. Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and get fat for our health (which we wouldn’t be able to do anyway, because no one knows how to make a naturally thin person fat any more than they know how to make a naturally fat person thin; see point 4), but I’m definitely saying obesity research is turning up surprising information all the time — much of which goes ignored by the media — and people who give a damn about critical thinking would be foolish to accept the party line on fat. Just because you’ve heard over and over and over that fat! kills! doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means that people in this culture really love saying it.

2. 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.

3. What’s more, those groups do not represent anomalies; no one has proven that fat people generally eat more or exercise less than thin people. Period. And believe me, they’ve tried. (Gina Kolata’s new book, Rethinking Thin, is an outstanding source for more on that point.)

4. Diets don’t work. No, really, not even if you don’t call them diets. If you want to tell me about how YOUR diet totally worked, do me a favor and wait until you’ve kept all the weight off for five years. Not one year, not four years, five years. And if you’ve kept it off for that long, congratulations. You’re literally a freak of nature.

5. Given that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast, vast majority of people, even if obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, how the fuck would you propose we solve it?

6. Most fat people have already dieted repeatedly. And sadly, it’s likely that the dieting will cause them more health problems than the fat.

7. Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings.

8. Even fat people who are unhealthy still deserve dignity and respect. Still human beings. See how that works?

9. In any case, shaming teh fatties for being “unhealthy” doesn’t fucking help. If shame made people thin, there wouldn’t be a fat person in this country, trust me. I wish I could remember who said this, ’cause it’s one of my favorite quotes of all time: “You cannot hate people for their own good.”

10. If you scratch an article on the obesity! crisis! you will almost always find a press release from a company that’s developing a weight loss drug — or from a “research group” that’s funded by such companies.

No, I don't want to hear "the other side" of this discussion. No one has any business critiquing the personal choices of others when the only person that will be impacted by those choices is the individual making them. Period, end of story. Even if you want to use the "public health concern" shit: For anyone who cries about "teh fatties are pushing up our health insurance! BAAAAAAAW!" In actuality, obese people are less likely to seek healthcare, especially preventative care, because of how they are treated by healthcare professionals. The spread of various health problems are more closely related (as in there actually being a causal link as opposed to mere correlation) to sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition, and occur fairly equally in people of ALL sizes (as stated in point#2 above) as opposed to infectious evil lazy fat people. So no, one person's body shape and how it came to be and why it is the way it is is not your concern, and it does not affect you in the least. If you feel a need to be so damn judgmental of someone else who is not affecting you then that says more about you, doesn't it.

I am a fairly healthy individual, I am a vegetarian, we eat organic, whole foods whenever possible, and I exercise as often as I can. I can do 60 sit-ups a day, I can walk from one end of my city to another, and I can dance for almost an hour straight with nothing more than a quick break for a drink of water. I also have ovarian cysts, and most likely have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is related to insulin resistance. Until I researched that and asked my doctors to look for it, I was consistently told that my health problems, be they heart issues, excess body hair in places like my chin, or even fucking bronchitis, could be attributed to my weight, despite what I told them about my eating and exercise habits.

So no, I will not sit and be shamed into being a "good fattie" who does not eat in public because it bothers other people, because I have a "moral obligation" to be ashamed of my physique. To quote The Rotund: Good and Bad Fatties do not exist. I eat because I am hungry, there is no morality to satisfying a basic human need.

ETA: I have opened comments, but since this topic tends to be more than a little contentious, be warned that I have a low tolerance for crap about this particular subject.


  1. Fabulous post. I concur.

    I have PCOS and I know what you mean. Doesn't matter how healthy a person eats or how much exercise a person gets, the ovaries say no!

    Recently, I got told that I have a personality disorder because I'm not trying to lose weight and am accepting my fat. The ignorance it burns

  2. KDMarlowe2:33 PM

    I always tell people if they want proof people can be fit and fat, they should go watch Hairspray. And remind themselves that young woman does that *every night*, plus matinees, and ask themselves if they could do that. I most certainly could not.

    Go Youtube 'You Can't Stop the Beat'. Shee-yit.