War on Obesity Side Effects May Include

I think that the War on Obesity should come with a side effect warning:

Caution:  The war on obesity may cause issues with your hearing.  If someone says “Health at Every Size suggests that you eat healthy and exercise” and you hear “Health at Every Size suggests that you eat twinkies and sit around on the couch” you should stop participating in the War immediately.

The war on obesity may also cause issues with your vision. To avoid looking like an idiot, until you know how the war on obesity affects you you should avoid going to videos and websites of athletic fat people and claiming that what they do is easy or that they are lazy.

You may lose the ability to do math.  Call your local Health at Every Size Practitioner if you start to think that dieting’s 5% success rate and 95% failure rate seem like good odds.

In extreme cases the war on obesity can lead to a complete loss of your ability to treat people appropriately or make good choices.  Discontinue the war immediately if you find yourself spending time looking for fat people on the internet to make fun of them, claiming that “Eat healthy and exercise” is an irresponsible message, or claiming that the research doesn’t matter because Dr. Oz is just so inspiring.

Contact your local Health at Every Size Professional if you have a fat hating episode lasting more than four hours.

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you feel that you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

17 thoughts on “War on Obesity Side Effects May Include

  1. Oh goodness. I saw a YouTube video the other day where a doctor was promoting HAES (“Surgeon General: Healthy & Fit”) and all the comments were in outrage.

    “So irresponsible!”
    “How could she?!”
    “Well, she’s just fat.. that’s all it is!”
    And my favourite comment from that video, word for word – “yes, she may have a PhD but she is also fat/borderline obese. And Wrong.” That’s the exact comment. She has a PhD but her words dont count because she’s fat. Mind = blown.

    So.. A doctor can tell them these things and they wont believe her. Yet.. what’s the betting that they got their information on fat being unhealthy from unscientific ‘weightloss milkshake’ adverts, magazines, and similar? What’s the betting that they’ve never actually spoken to an actual, informed, unbiased medical professional about this *at all*? Heck, whats the betting they havnt even spoken to ANY medical professional about fat, unbiased or not! Oh definitely. Magazines and media are definitely more honest and care more about your health than a doctor.

    But we know why. These people do not care about our health, not the slightest bit. They need someone to bully and bullying fat people isn’t wrong. God forbid it becomes wrong – they must fight anything that might stop them from being allowed to bully *someone*!

    What noble warriors..

    1. I think the issue is that their ideas and purpose are being threatened. The war on obesity purports a weight-centered view of health and HAES purports a health- centered view. These are two different paradigms and though it’s natural to want to try to mesh two opposing views to avoid conflict(and a typical societal reaction as well) they are diametrically opposed.


      Sent from my iPhone Please excuse my thumbs!

    2. Unfortunately, for a lot of those purposes, it *is* being threatened. If their purpose is to have someone to hate and excuse it by saying it’s for their own good, or if their purpose is to shore up their own fantasy of being thin, or if their purpose is to sell weight loss. Theres no way HAES can *not* threaten any of that.

    3. HAES does threaten their ideas. And their confirmation bias leads them to defend that bias. There is simply no way around that. You can be nice and respectful about it but there simply no gray area/middleground with this and we can’t do others’ thinking for them. Some people will never be convinced and some will but I don’t think there’s any one approach that will be effective for everyone.

  2. I went on the site with the video and had a conversation* with a woman who thought dieting a good idea. The conversation was a difficult one because nothing Dr.Gaesser or I said was heard. So, sigh. I stopped talking. (only after I commented on how sad her message was when 10 year olds are starving themselves). I applaud you for continuing to spread the message even in the face of the unhearing and cruel.

  3. Hi Ragen,

    I’m a doctoral student in a Critical Disability Studies program, and a lot of my academic work is in Fat Studies. I’ve commented here before, so you might already know that I *love* your blog. I recommend it to friends and colleagues all the time. Actually, in the lecture I’m giving tomorrow about body politics in my feminist psychology course, I’m talking about your incredible writing and activism. I am so inspired by your work.

    I want to tell you, though, that I’m really surprised and pretty hurt by the content of this specific post. To be blunt (because I don’t know a less confrontational way of putting this, I’m sorry!), the content of this post is *really* ableist.

    Blindness and deafness don’t equate to the inability to understand information. Similarly, being “insane” doesn’t mean being evil or malicious (I can vouch for that personally, as a psychiatric survivor).

    There are an awful lot of disabled people who are also fat (like me, for instance), and even regardless of that fact, members of disadvantaged groups can benefit from working together in solidarity to end oppression. At the very least, I think we should try not to make each other’s problems worse.

    Thanks so much for reading this, I very much appreciate it.

    Elisabeth Harrison

    1. Thank you so much for saying this. I feel the same way — but frankly, have been too anxious to speak up publicly.

      Ragen, I’m not (and I don’t think Elisabeth is, either) suggesting that you had bad intentions while writing this post. But for me — someone who lives with physical and mental illness — I found the effect of these words to be really alienating.

      For instance, in the second to last paragraph, what you’re describing is behavior that is willfully ignorant and mean-spirited. But the word you use to describe it is “insanity.” Sometimes — directly as a result of my mental health issues — I behave (usually involuntarily) in ways that a lot of people characterize as stereotypically “insane” (e.g., I have irrational fears that affect my actions, I have dissociative episodes). But the connection your words make is to link “insanity” with harassing and bullying behavior.

      This is an inaccurate stereotype about mental illness. And we all know — from this blog, even — how much it *doesn’t work* to make arguments and analogies based on inaccurate stereotypes.

      1. Elisabeth and Tori,

        Thank you for taking the time to let me know how you feel. I do see what you are saying and I’ve changed the verbiage to which you objected, I hope this works better for you if not let me know.



  4. I found this online today, it seemed to fit nicely here especially the last few lines:

    “Do you want to be honest, or do you want to win?
    You could have it all if you could gracefully give in
    Like when a martyr knows he’s a martyr
    And looking in the mirror makes you cry harder
    ’bout your glittering ball and chain
    In love, In love with your
    Beautiful pain

    Excuses and old theories repeat themselves and die
    But when they don’t hold water
    You try to keep them safe and dry”
    – lyrics from the song Beautiful Pain
    by Rosanne Cash

  5. Kudos to you, Ms R, for being willing to change your wording. I didn’t read the original post, but I found the respectful replies encouraging, far more so than the YouTube comments will ever be.

    I’d LOVE to hear of a diet where you can sit on your couch all day and eat Twinkies. And be healthy. That’d rock.

    But here’s a great way to lose weight quickly: contract bronchitis. I’m suffering through it right now, and the pounds are just melting away, mostly because whenever I experience a coughing fit, I’m sure I’m burning hundreds of calories. Urgh.

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