One of my blog fans wrote a post trying to work out some things that came up for her when reading my blog. I thought that she asked good questions so I decided to answer it here.
Her blog said:
Now, here’s my beef, if you even want to call it that. I still can’t decide if I think Ragen is encouraging people to stay overweight. Okay, not encouraging but maybe giving people a reason to say, “hey, it’s okay that I am fat” (mostly, because I catch myself doing that). I’m not even saying it’s not okay to be fat (I’m fat!). I just know that there are so many health problems related to obesity.
First of all, I want to be very clear in this blog that it is my goal to give people information and options, and that I’m not interested in telling other people how to live. I’ve already covered the myth of promoting obesity.
Today I want to talk about the idea that it’s not ok to be fat, whether it’s because of “health reasons”, or aesthetic reasons, or the costs of being fat or whatever other reasons people come up with.
Let’s begin with the bottom line: It doesn’t matter how fat someone is, or why they are that fat, or what the outcomes of being that fat may or may not be. They deserve to be treated with respect and it is completely ok for them to be that size. Yes, even if they weigh 2000 pounds. Yes even if you think their weight is “their fault.” Yes, even if you would never ever want to be that fat. Yes, even if you can’t understand how they live. Yes, even if they have problems that can be correlated with being fat. Yes, even if they have problems that can be causally related to being fat. Yes, even if studies show that they cost society more. Yes, even if they actually cost society more. It is totally, completely 100% ok for someone to be fat. Nobody needs anyone’s encouragement, justification or permission to live in their body. Period. This is true whether or not people are able to achieve permanent weight loss – it is a matter of civil rights.
It is wrong to find a group of people who are identifiable based on how they look, calculate their supposed cost on society, suggest that it’s not okay for them to exist, and then declare war and attempt to rid the world of them.
We have got to get this together as a community because there is a war actively being waged against fat people and every time we say “I’m not sure if it’s ok to be fat” regardless of our reasons or intentions, we are fighting on the wrong side and we are making more fat people into casualties. It does not matter if you are fat or thin, if you’re happy with your weight or if you are trying to change it – we have to stop asking whether or not fat people have the right to exist, and start demanding the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for people of every size – which for me includes the right to live my life, in my body, without having the government and private interests waging a war against me because of how I look.
Let’s talk about health a bit:
We must stop conflating weight and health right now, and we must stop regurgitating the phrase “there are so many health problems related to obesity.” It only serves to discourage fat people who are told the lie that if their healthy habits don’t make them thin then they aren’t making them healthier, and it misinforms thin people that they are healthy by virtue of their weight regardless of their habits.
Other people’s body size is not anybody else’s business. If we are interested in the health of other people then I think that the only appropriate thing to do is to work for access – ensuring that people have access to the foods that they would choose to eat, safe movement options that they would choose (which means both physically safe and mentally safe – so someone can walk around their gym in a bathing suit with no fear of negative comments etc.), affordable (or free) evidence-based health care, and true information. Then we let people make their own decisions regardless of their size.
Each person is allowed to choose to attempt weight loss, that is their decision. Each person is also allowed to choose NOT to attempt weight loss. One person’s decision to attempt weight loss does not invalidate another person’s decision to live in a fat body.
And people get to prioritize their own health. That means that they are allowed to drink like fish, jump out of helicopters wearing skis, be on the show Jackass, take stressful jobs, not get enough sleep, eat what they choose, be sedentary, etc. at whatever weight they happen to be. Let’s not forget that there are people of various weights who have the same diet and exercise routine, and people of the same weight who have very different diet and exercise routines. Acting as if all fat people engage in unhealthy behaviors and are unhealthy, and that all thin people engage in healthy habits and are healthy is not supported by the evidence. It is stereotyping and bigotry, pure and simple.
Understanding that health is not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control, Studies show that fat people who participate in healthy habits have far better outcomes than thin people who do not participate in healthy habits, yet we continue to be sold the lie that weight loss is the only path to health. There are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes, people of all sizes and health statuses should be treated with respect, and you cannot look at someone and know anything except what size they are, and what your own prejudices about people that size are.
Health and weight are two separate things. We are not obligated to pursue health, and we are not obligated to pursue thinness.
We have every right to exist in the body we have now. Just so there is no confusion, I am saying that it is totally, entirely, completely ok to be fat.
Join the Club, Support My Work!
I do HAES and SA activism, speaking and writing full time, and I don’t believe in putting corporate ads on my blog and making my readers a commodity. So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, 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. If you’re curious about this, you might want to check out this post. Thanks for reading! ~Ragen