Even if Weight Loss Was Easy

Nothing to proveGreetings from Dartmouth College – I’m excited to be back here (although to a SoCal by way of Texas girl it’s cold beyond all reason.) As I’m doing final preparations for my talks I thought I would reiterate something on here that sometimes causes confusion – especially to people new to the concepts of Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size.

In many of my talks, especially those to healthcare providers, healthcare students etc. I discuss the evidence about health and weight.  Including that there is no evidence that would lead us to believe that weight loss is likely to succeed.  None.  When people who try to lose weight gain it back, nobody should be surprised, it’s exactly what the evidence says will happen.

Regardless of how moving out of the stigmatized class of fat people might make someone’s life better, or even if you believe that it would make them healthier, weight loss does not meet the criteria of evidence based medicine and every time someone attempts weight loss the absolute most likely outcome is that they will end up as heavy or heavier than they were when they started, and with even less social approval since they “failed” at weight loss, and at risk for health problems from weight cycling if they continue to attempt intentional weight loss.  The science does not support intentional weight loss interventions as a way to lose weight or as a way to become healthier.  There are options to pursue health outside of weight loss that have a basis in evidence.  In my experience a thorough discussion of this information has helped a lot of people open their minds to Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size, I think that there is value in discussion based on science and evidence.

That said, I also think it’s important to include these facts:   Even if weight loss was very easy for every person, it’s not ok to stigmatize, shame, humiliate or oppress fat people.   The rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable, they are not dependent on size, health, dis/ability, or looking the way someone else thinks we should look or doing what someone else thinks that we should do.  The cure for social stigma and bullying is not for the stigmatized and bullied to change themselves; the cure for social stigma and bullying is for those who are doing the stigmatizing and bullying to stop. People have the right to exist in fat bodies without making any attempt to lose weight and without public food and body policing, concern trolling, shaming, or weight bullying, whether or not long-term weight loss is possible.  Fat people have every right to demand respectful treatment that is not, in any way, contingent on our body size, or attempts to change that size, whether or not our body size is changeable.

Like the blog?  Here’s more of my stuff:

The Book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

The Dance Class DVDs:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs  Click here for the details

Become a Member, Support My Projects, and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses

I do size acceptance activism full time.  I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and want to support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.


13 thoughts on “Even if Weight Loss Was Easy

  1. Even if weight loss were like quitting smoking (which it isn’t) what’s easy for one person isn’t necessarily easy for the next, because we’re all wired differently. For me, it’s easy enough not to smoke even though I did it for 20 years cumulative. I simply don’t buy cigarettes. End of story. However, I was never physically addicted to nicotine. Smoking was something I did, mostly when I was bored or under stressed. But if one is actually addicted, quitting and staying quit is much harder.
    Weight loss is NOT the same as quitting smoking cigarettes. But let’s pretend for a moment that every heavy person is overeating. Some people would be like me with cigarettes. They could abstain, and not eat anything “unhealthy.” But there would be other people who were truly addicted on a physical level and for them it would be much, much more difficult. More difficult even than a substance such as nicotine, because the body does not need nicotine to live. The body does need food.
    With addiction, every journey is different. I never became an alcoholic, even though I used to drink heavily. My grandmother, however, died from complications caused by her alcoholism. On my father’s side, there was a great-aunt who was an alcoholic. Several of my cousins are very heavy drinkers. One is a full-on alcoholic.
    My point being that even if being fat were 100% of the time due to overconsumption of food (IT ISN’T) that it’s wrong to judge others based on our personal self-control with a given substance. I would be an asshat if I were sanctimonious about cigarette smoking. Just because I can abstain from nicotine intake with relative ease does not mean that EVERYBODY can.

    1. Very well put. I quit smoking few years ago and when asked about it, I tell people that I quit under what I considered ideal circumstances AND I was highly motivated. I don’t think my experience is necessarily transferable, though I’m happy to share what I did and what I learned with anyone wants to know in case it can help them, but I don’t think they’re weak or failures if it doesn’t work for them or if they can’t quite kick the habit.

      Quitting smoking is NOTHING like losing weight, I’ve done both successfully, and they are nothing a like. First, you can successfully quit smoking. Secondly, the longer you go without smoking, the less you think about it, the opposite is true with dieting. And you can do everything right in terms of dieting and still gain weight, but if you don’t smoke, you’re successful, full stop, there no other measures of success.

      1. To be honest, the main thing that motivated me to quit smoking was my asthma. I was a very light smoker, about a pack a week, and I actually enjoy it for whatever insane reason. My asthma is comparatively mild, but I do breathe better when I don’t smoke. I rarely think about it, but I’ve known people who are really and truly addicted. For me to equate my smoking with theirs would be sanctimonious. But this is exactly what people do with weight loss. “I did it so of course everyone else can.” And also there’s the factor of regaining the weight and then some–which I did repeatedly until discovering size acceptance and HAES.

  2. This plays nicely into the vague ‘respect others’ concept that is rolling around my brain. Slight veering in topic: I was reading a blog in which the writer was looking for a place to stroll, saw a sign marked ‘Lummi Sacred Land Go Around’ and stated that that was the path she took.

    So, if this person wasn’t willing to respect the sign, why would I believe she would respect mine or anybody else’s body by not judging it? How often does the population in general simply not respect someone else?

  3. “The cure for social stigma and bullying is not for the stigmatized and bullied to change themselves; the cure for social stigma and bullying is for those who are doing the stigmatizing and bullying to stop.”

    Now if only more people could understand that.

  4. I find it interesting that when I have been bullied and shunned in my workplace (by specific individuals) that I end up being the one to ‘let it go’ or to ‘consider the source’ and move beyond it. I think this is crappy. I’m essentially being expected to modify my routine or choices to simply not be where they can act like that to me, or to not jump to conclusions that they meant their behavior as harmful.

    I allow that they are not expected to have to like me. I also know that they do not agree with my HAES perspective and that I am a fat teacher who is teaching about nutrition and health to middle and high school students. But we are ALL adults and should treat others with courtesy in public spaces. I really don’t “CARE” that the p.e. teachers find me repulsive and abhorant. I DO care that they demonstrate that dislike publicly in the cafeteria in front of students in a classic snubbing/exclusion technique of school yard bullies.

    1. and before you ask… I’ve talked about this with other co-workers I trust and they are bad about just letting it go and moving on… choosing my battles. They see me as over-sensitive. When I have addressed something similar in the past with the individual in our district to handle these issues.. I was chastized for not going to my boss first… he will not understand… he’s a good-ol boy who will have the same, ‘just ignore them’ kind of repsonse. Because he thinks adults are above this behavior, he won’t see it at a real issue.. it is just me being ‘mental’. No, he doesn’t come out and say that… he’s too savvy to hang himself that way.

    2. Considering that my gym teachers were a major trigger for my eating disorder, maybe the school district should look at what these people are saying to you and think about the effect of what they must be doing to their students. I wish I could find the study I read that showed how many ED sufferers pointed to their teachers/coaches as triggers.

  5. Oprah is a Cabbage Rose
    Gwyneth is a lily
    Logic very clearly proves
    That dieting is silly.

    The Bassett’s built for comfort
    The Greyhound’s built for speed.
    They both possess a perfect shape
    On that we are agreed.

    The humming bird is made for flight
    The peacock for display
    Both beautiful, but really not
    The same in any way.

    The pony is a tiny horse
    The Clydesdale is immense
    And jealousy between them
    Would not make any sense.

    Don’t yearn to be a different breed
    There won’t be any prizes
    For Beauty is a fickle lass
    And comes in lots of sizes!
    -Kathy Lundy Derengowski

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.