I was thinking today about situations in which people’s assumptions about fat people are directly contradicted with evidence, and so they try to discount the evidence. I’ll call this “But But But syndrome”. For example:
Kelly Gneiting is a 400 pound trained sumo wrestler who completed a marathon. The responses included “At 405 lbs he probably has a very difficult time just walking.” Obviously not that difficult a time since he just jogged and walked a marathon in a respectable time. But I don’t think this person even thought it through because they are too busy trying not to challenge their assumptions. What they are really saying is “but but but I like to think of fat people as lazy and unathletic, and I want to keep it that way by sheer idiocy if necessary”
Talented Yoga teacher Anna Guest-Jelley writes a beautiful letter about yoga and Health at Every Size. The responses include “Too many people practicing now are overweight and not fit.justifying obesity is a disorder.” “But but but, I like to feel superior and think that being thin gives me the right to dictate who is a “real” yogini, therefore I will say that any other way of thinking constitutes a disorder.”
This happens here when I post my health information and people call me a liar. “But but but, I don’t want to be wrong so I’ll just try to discredit you and say that I’m a better witness to your experience than you are”.
Even doctors do it. I and other people I know have had doctors try to prescribe blood pressure and cholesterol medicine BEFORE testing our blood pressure or cholesterol. And upon finding out that they are normal they turn to the VFHT (Vague Future Health Threat). “But but but I don’t want to look like an idiot so even though my laziness and lack of knowledge lead to me prescribing medicine that would have harmed you physically, I’m going to try to convince you that even though I’m harmfully wrong today I’ll be right eventually so you are wrong and I am right and you need to believe me”.
It’s not just fit fat people and this isn’t a recent thing. When Galileo looked at the research and agreed with Copernicus that the Earth revolved around the sun, he was sentenced to “formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition” which was commuted to house arrest and lasted for the rest of his life. Publishing of his current or future works was forbidden. “But but but I don’t want to be wrong so shut that guy up.”
In my experience when you openly practice Health at Every Size, even if you specifically don’t try to impress your views on anyone else, it challenges people’s assumptions and stereotypes in a way that makes them uncomfortable. So you have to be aware of “But But But Syndrome” because some of those people are going to do everything that they can to hold onto their assumptions and stereotypes, even if it means attacking you.
For the record, I think that the best cure for “But But But Syndrome” is for these people to Butt Butt Butt Out.