Reader Angela sent me a great picture today of a fat man running in a race and someone had commented “at least he’s trying.” I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard this – when someone fat eats a salad, or goes to the gym, or walks around the block. The sentence is actually truncated – what the person is really saying is “at least they’re trying to lose weight.”
This is deeply problematic. First the words “at least”. Since we’re fat, whatever thing we’re doing that they’ve interpreted as a weight loss attempt is clearly the least we can do to get that body that matches the cultural stereotype of beauty. It’s pejorative in a less than subtle way, and also suggests that we have some obligation to try to change our bodies.
Now, let’s talk about “trying.” Of course since we’re fat we’re just trying – we’re not allowed to “succeed” until we’re thin. We’re not succeeding at running a marathon, we’re failing at being thin. We’re not succeeding at eating a salad, we’re failing at being thin. We’re not succeeding at curing cancer, we’re failing at being thin. This is reinforced by “But, But, But Syndrome.” But at least, you know, we’re trying. As if the only thing any fat person should ever focus on is losing weight. People want us to believe that there is no such thing as a fat person who is a success.
That’s just not true.
It’s ok for fat people not to care at all about being thin. We can eat salads because we like salad and it’s none of anyone’s business. We can eat a burger and fries because we like burgers and fries and that’s also none of anyone else’s business. We can succeed at running a marathon if we don’t lose a pound. We can succeed at any number of things in the bodies we have now without ever making those bodies any smaller. And we do.
So maybe the body bigots can retire this phrase, then we’d know that at least they’re trying.
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