Archive for July, 2010

What are the benefits of being fat?

Living corpulent has some pretty obvious downsides. Fat children are bullied. Fat adults pay more for seats on airplanes. Health care professionals have weight bias. We’re sized out of fashionable and practical clothing. Mainstream media falls over itself (yes, I do consider mainstream media to be a monolithic entity from time to time) trying to tell us all the varied and interesting ways we will clog up the health system/die early. Advocating fat acceptance opens oneself up to a never-ending parade of stupid. It’s enough to get a chubster down from time to time.

But what rocks about being fat? This body shape that impacts our lives in so many ways can’t be all bad, so what are the advantages?

The coolest academic on the block, Dr Samantha Thomas, asked exactly this on twitter. She’s a fat acceptance ally and works in the field of fat studies, but found herself completely stumped when she considered it herself. So she asked her followers, ‘What are the benefits of being fat?’

I managed to think of a whole bunch:

  • Fat is really fun to play with. I absent-mindedly grab, squish and jiggle my belly all the time (to the embarrassment of my long-suffering mother). Other people, who have less fat than me, are also intrigued by the soft bits of my body and are very pleased when I let them jiggle an arm or poke me in the belly.
  • In my opinion and contrary to popular belief, many items of clothing look better with curves stretching them out.
  • Big hips make Latin dancing easier. Even when I do a smaller hip shake in my samba class, I look like I’m doing more than my skinny peers.
  • The extra cushioning means that fat people are excellent huggers and spooning partners.
  • All those studies that show we’re less likely to die from chronic illnesses, infections, invasive procedures etc (as outlined so helpfully in Junkfood Science’s posts on obesity).
  • We make excellent life drawing subjects. As the Boyfriend – who is quite an impressive artist, though he will refute it when he reads this – says, “Nothing is more boring to draw than a perfect body.”
  • We can turn on the sex. All the tight clothing and fleshy parts can be very indecent when we want them to be. (Or, as Jackie of Fatuosity so eloquently put it, “Hips. Boobs. *drool*”)

My fellow twitterers (tweeters? twits?) also delivered some pearlers:

  • Kim from news with nipples – “The extra layers of fat provide warmth in winter, so you don’t need to run the heater. Win for you, win for the environment.”
  • Elizabeth from Spilt Milk came up with a few – “Protective of internal organs (like how women gain weight in pregnancy for cushioning)”, “More adipose tissue in face can make you look younger” and “My cat & my child both like sitting on me cause I’m soft!”
  • Nick from Axis of Fat said “Studies have shown that as you get older, additional fat stores can prolong life.”
  • madamQ – “higher weight correlates w stronger bones” and “it’s a good arsehole filter! Why would I want to be friends with the kind of person who doesn’t like me the way I am?”
  • HipOh_Potamus came up with one of my favourites – “more body to tattoo”

This exercise is not about ‘promoting obesity’ (which, by the way, is my favourite piece of anti-FA rhetoric) or replacing one beauty ideal with another. This is about recognising that some experiences are unique to the fat body and that these experiences can be really awesome. It’s a topic not often covered and I think it’s worth owning what is enjoyable about our fatness.

Sock it to me, commenters. What are the benefits of being fat?

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