One of the biggest themes of body positivism/body liberation/fat acceptance, whatever you want to call it, seems to be a push to divorce health from body shape and size.
1. “Fat” people (its questionable as to what “fat” actually means in this context as it can mean just having a little belly to being the sort of person that everyone else calls “whale”… ie, me) are not necessarily unhealthy. I should know. I’m pretty damn healthy for being so fat unto death.
2. Skinny people are not necessarily healthy (an important thing to note seeing as how associating thinness with health makes people blind to the many issues a thin person might have, and not just mental illnesses like an eating disorder or self harm or whatever… There are a number of diseases that you just can’t see. Never mind the fact that a lot of people may cheer a suddenly and abrupt weight loss, as if it is a “good thing”, until such time that it becomes obvious the person is actually dying from cancer. People who are just thin, and continue to be thin, and don’t change very much have their own healthy “issues” and like everyone else’s health “issues”, looks shouldn’t be the beginning nor the end in determining whether there are issues and what those issues are).
The reason why people like me are pushing this divorce so heavily is because the “war on obesity” has become a numbers game. People are no longer people, they are some percentage, or a BMI, or a bulk group used for statistical purposes. The media constantly reinforces health as a percentage to us with the excuse that that is the way it is presented from the scientific community.
However, for better or worse, medical researchers HAVE to use statistics in this way to determine patterns, or develop more detailed hypotheses to better define what exactly it is they are looking for. When you can develop a pattern of behavior in the brain (ie, a certain percentage of people, when their brains are scanned, show activity in area A while eating dessert), you can then infer how important that section of brain is on appetite or satiety, what exactly that section of the brain does in terms of appetite or satiety, and formulate some sort of working hypothesis for why other people’s brains react in different ways. But continuing to research a pattern like this, scientists can better figure out why, say, a person like me over eats.
When scientists do this sort of research, they do not work off the cliche that everyone has “will power” or that everything that is done is a “choice.” They work off the idea that the body is a machine, and that machine works in a certain way. So what appears to be a choice from and outside perspective is actually just a chemical response in a certain part of the brain to outside stimuli. It doesn’t really matter how the action is viewed socially or even in a psychological manner. All that matters is trying to understand why the brain reacts in the way it does, and secondly, learn the ways in which the brain acts in men and women.
And while it pisses me off when a man uses the whole “men and women are biologically different” argument in relationship to feminism, I’m not the sort of person that is going to deny that men and women are different.
We are different biologically. But those biological responses should not make us different in terms of our roles in society. We are more than just our biology. In this way, to me, body positivism is a big part of the feminist movement in our current times, because no matter how much research comes out that says “men and women’s brains act differently”, body positivity says “yeah, everyone is different from everyone else… which is why there is no real place for passing a value judgement on any one person based on physiology.” In this sense, men do not deserve to be grouped any more than women, fat any more than thin, bald any more than hairy because while we might, from a scientific view, be statistically relevant to these groups, in society, we are all individuals not statistics.
In other words, I’ve seen men defend their desire to not express “effeminate emotions” because they are MEN, MANLY MEN… Such an argument is bullshit because “male” in that sense is a social construct which individual males do not and SHOULD not have to stringently adhere to to gain acceptance.
Feminism grew out of a recognition of this and a push for this in women. Disagree with the name, disagree with particular feminists, disagree in any way you want, but do so with the understanding that you are misunderstanding what feminism is:
It recognizes individuals and believes that all individuals deserve to be treated with equality in terms of physical freedom, dignity, tolerance for individual choices, especially outward expressions of gender.
Because of that, a feminist isn’t a very good feminist unless he or she recognizes that the push to make women thin and men beefy is the grandest form of patriarchal social control that exists today. Feminists must push for fat liberation, body liberation, and for a change in society to say that it doesn’t matter how much it supposedly costs or how supposedly unhealthy it is, fat is what some people are, and nobody has the right to tell anyone else to not be what they are.
Unfortunately, the way this plays out in society is very different than the way it should play out. Scientists do research, tally up percentages related to the ways people die from fat, your “greater risk” diseases like diabetes or heart disease, and that research, instead of being synthesized into a public awareness that is helpful and beneficial to society, becomes misunderstood statistics quoted in sound bytes on the 10 o’clock news, to turn facts into spectacle with the purpose of shocking and scarring people into behaving in certain ways.
The media takes science and turns it into propaganda which is used to control us. This is why stories like vaccinations causing autism run insanely and free, faster than a wildfire in southern California, poisoning everyone’s opinion before actual facts can be presented to debunk the sensational bullshit. All media is just the National Enquirer or the Daily Mail at heart. Fat shame sells.
Hell if I know why as I’m not buying it. But fat shame, fat misinformation, fat this and fat that… it all sales. As do diets and programs geared towards weight loss.
I’m guessing its kind of like why horror movies sell. We shouldn’t enjoy watching people be hacked to bits by a chainsaw. That should make everyone uncomfortable. And yet people watch it, enjoy the gore-spectacular and then leave feeling… well, some old fashioned social theorists would say we all leave feeling purged. That horror is catharsis.
So maybe fat shame is catharsis. So many have so much that is wrong with their lives, so many reasons to be unhappy, so that every time they see statistics being pumped out of how quickly all the fat people around them are going to die, all the anxiety, fear and individual shame that is felt by a not-as-fat man or woman just disappears.
Science becomes a way to attack and bully others to better protect your own weak little ego from being bruised by your own pathetic reality.
Why else would it matter whether I am healthy or not?
Yeah, maybe my fat is making me unhealthy by way of my fat is applying pressure to my back, which is causing me to feel pain, potentially miss work, etc., and all the other crap that was listed on the graphic I found on some random Forbes blog a few days ago.
What of it?
You can’t really prove that my fat in any way, shape or form, has changed YOUR life, aside from the fact that you have to see me. Other than that, you can’t prove that I have been the cause of your insurance premiums going up, or that I’m the reason why a hospital charges so much to see patients.
You can’t prove that I, as an individual, use or will use more petroleum products in my life. You can’t use my BMI to calculate my carbon footprint.
I could stand here right now and say “my fat is making me unhealthy” and it would NOT AFFECT ANYONE ELSE, ANYWHERE ELSE, ONE F*CKING BIT.
There is no such thing as “second-hand fat”. I can’t blow fat into your face and give you heart disease. I can’t sneeze sugar onto you. My condition isn’t contagious, unlike the diseases of many a co-worker I’ve had. I worked in a place where “absenteeism” was frowned upon, so people would show up and spread the flu like Typhoid Mary, causing others to get sick, some so sick that they had to miss work.
Even if weight did equal health, it doesn’t matter as my health does not affect your quality of life. It only affects MY QUALITY OF LIFE! Telling me to lose weight for my health is like telling a person to switch their fabric softener… for their health! Even if you think my fat is a personal choice — and there is ample evidence to say that actually, no, it’s really not, so much as it is a set of biological mechanisms that I have no conscious control of — what the f*ck of it?
I really want someone to answer this question, because honestly, no one has ever satisfied me with their answer. I’ve been told it’s because people “care” about me. People don’t want me to be one of those statistics that die.
Everybody dies. And I’m much happier when I’m treated as a human being, not as a “fat body.” You don’t know when I will die, or how satisfying my life will be. What I do know, and thus you should know, is that telling me I’m going to die early does not make me happy. It doesn’t improve my health, nor does it change anything.
Telling a person they are nothing but a disease is dehumanizing, cruel, and a true mark of the bigot.
I am currently suffering from a lot of pain and back spasms. I’ve had more than one doctor tell me that it’s because I am fat, that I should lose weight. I’ve had personal trainers telling me that the amount of pressure my fat puts on my back is incalculable. I have been told that I have to lose weight or I will be permanently disabled.
So I’m in a lot of pain, yet I get up and walk around. I go in to work. I carry on.
I could scream or cry from the pain, and HAVE screamed and cried for it. But then I just let that part of my brain shut down. I push it to the side, and take one step at a time, though my legs feel like they are going to buckle out from underneath me.
I’m stronger that anyone else will ever feel or know, stronger than even I myself know. I will survive, no matter what, simply because it is not within me to quit.
I may be fat, but I have more heart, soul and determination than a lot of “normal” people.
Would you like to comment on my health now?