I’m pretty aware that there’s been a lack of Serious Content on this blog for a while. The month long (or more) hiatuses punctuated by the odd outfit post have not been intentional. I haven’t run out of opinions and the world certainly hasn’t run out of fat stigma. I just get so bored of it, you know?
Today I read an opinion piece by satirist/writer/radio host Dominic Knight talking about fatness and happiness and how it doesn’t matter how happy we are because we’re too fat… or something. I started picking it apart and refuting his arguments before thinking to myself, “HOLY CRAP, THIS IS SO BORING.”
The same dull statements about how fat Australia is. The same tired old fat jokes (sumo wrestlers! LOL!). The same predictable conclusions about eating well and exercising more.
I’m at the point now where I don’t really get angry when I see yet another anti-fat article. I’ve been in fat activism for so long, and have so many friends with rad body positive attitudes, that the only reaction I’m capable of is “Really…? Are we still talking about calories in/calories out like no one’s ever thought of it before?! REALLY?!”
It bores me. But since the same arguments keep coming up, I guess the same rebuttals need to be made. Second verse same as the first…
BUSTED: SUPER ULTRA MEGA BORING OBESITY CLICHES
I’m positive that this list is not exhaustive. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
Australia/New Zealand/America/UK/[insert developed, English-speaking nation here] is the fattest nation in the world.
Nope. When a country is breathlessly declared by journalists as being THE FATTEST NATION IN THE WORLDDDDDD, what they actually mean is “The fattest nation out of a list of approximately 30 nations that make up the wealthiest countries in the world”.
According to this 2010 list (with data sourced from the International Obesity Taskforce), USA is 18th, Scotland is 32nd, New Zealand is 35th, England is 38th and Australia is 47th. So there.
1) Health is determined by a set of behaviours, not a set of body shapes. Moving regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep, not smoking, drinking in moderation, maintaining a work/life balance… they improve health outcomes for people of all sizes. And here’s the rub: You don’t know a person’s healthy, or unhealthy, behaviours just by looking at them.
2) Health is a privilege. People who treat eating well and exercising regularly as things that are easily achieved are putting their ableism on blast. Those behaviours aren’t possible, or are only possible to a certain extent, for some people with physical, mental and/or psychological disabilities.
3) Fat stigma is more pervasive than you think. It’s pretty challenging for a fat person to go to a gym when they know that judgemental eyes will be watching their every move. It’s intimidating for a fat person to go for a run when they’ve had insults, or even rubbish, thrown at them from passing cars. (If you can’t imagine such things ever happening to anyone, that’s your thin privilege in action.)
4) Diets don’t work long term and may cause more harm than good.
5) People are able to prioritise health for themselves. That means they can choose to not prioritise it. That means they can be the Bad Kind of Fatty. And if someone chooses that lifestyle for themselves, they still deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
There’s overweight, and then there’s obese
OR I’m talking about people who are fat because of their lifestyle
No, you don’t get to be a jerk to anyone. There is no level of fatness, or pathway to fatness, that justifies arseholish behaviour.
No one enjoys being fat
First of all, if people don’t enjoy being fat, I’d wager that a good deal of that is due to the stigma they experience and the stigma they have internalised. For most people, having a fat body is not a barrier to anything.
Second of all, there is a great number of us who are happy with our bodies, thank you very much, and do not take kindly to people making gross assumptions about our happiness.
There were no fat people in concentration camps.
This argument is beyond vulgar and yet it is trotted out all the time.
People in concentration camps were starved and tortured. Their suffering is not a motivational “See? You can do it too!”-style example of thinness.
“There were no fat people in concentration camps” is a longer way of announcing “I am a massive tool”.
Fat people are ugly.
No one’s forcing you to enter a marriage with a fat person; your long years of passionless misery broken only by gin-fuelled screaming matches, torrid affairs in dingy motel rooms, and enduring the spiteful tongues of your resentful children over the dinner table at their annual Christmas visit. We don’t want that life either.
Find someone you do find attractive and try to have sex with them. Fatties will do the same. Everyone wins.
[Insert fat joke here]
Making a joke at the expense of any socially and culturally stigmatised group of people is lazy comedy. Do better.