Imagine If It Was Really About Health

Ask QuestionsI was pondering today what might happen if everybody who said that they cared about health (and not just about body size) really did care about health (and not just body size)? Health is multifaceted and not entirely within our control, the definition can be completely arbitrary and nobody is obligated to prioritize health, and it is definitely not a barometer of worthiness.  But since there is a virtually inescapable national dialog around the subject, there are some things that I wonder about it.

What if we stopped conflating the two separate concepts of weight (and the body size that a culture happens to value aesthetically) and health (the way that bodies actually work in terms of metabolic health, strength, stamina and flexibility that is complicated and not entirely within our control)?  What if the conversation about health was actually about public health and not public thinness?

How would the $60,000,000,000 we currently pay to the diet industry every year be used?  Sustainable organic farming that could bring down the price of organic food?  Parks and playgrounds that will allow kids to have safe places to play and move? Programs to make food and safe movement options available and affordable?

Would fat people who go to their doctors with a health issue actually be treated for that health issue instead of getting diagnosed as “fat” and prescribed a smaller body? Would we never again have someone’s life and health endangered because their doctor diagnosed them as fat instead of properly diagnosing and treating their real health issue?

Would scientists and the government spend their time and our money studying what things could make us healthier instead of spending all of their time and money (and the diet industry’s money) trying to make us all smaller?

Would fat people be healthier simply by virtue of not living in a society where we are constantly stigmatized?

What would the people who are obsessed with leaving me hate comments do with all of their new-found free time?

Would people still sign up for a contest giving away a surgery with a less than 20% success rate and a massive negative side effect rate that  includes death?

How would the world, and our relationships be different if the 8 out of 10 women who are currently dissatisfied with their bodies actually liked themselves?

What would happen if fat people were seen as people who live in large bodies, and weren’t assumed to be lazy, unhealthy, unattractive etc?  Would we stop missing out on hiring really smart, really capable people who are currently not hired simply because of the bigotry that exists around our body size?

What truths would we learn about health options for fat people if doctors and scientists studied healthy fat people instead of just calling them an anomaly or a paradox, or telling us that no matter how healthy we are – it won’t last?

Would eating disorders among kids under twelve be up 119% in the last decade if we didn’t have “war on fat kids” and if kids didn’t start yo-yo dieting as early as age 8?

Would we learn to celebrate the diversity of body sizes the same way that we celebrate the rest of the diversity in nature?

I don’t know the answers, but I’d damn sure like to find out…

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17 thoughts on “Imagine If It Was Really About Health

  1. If it was really all about health, money would go into taking care of fat people instead of changing or “fixing” us. Plus, we wouldn’t be bombarded by all this aggravation, and have only little bits of sanity like your blog to keep our head straight.

    And I thank you.

  2. I vote we give your utopia a try. Think of all the relaxed fatties living life in peace without fear of harm simply for being bigger than average!

  3. Hey, Ragen. Just a note to say that I love reading your blog. I thought you may like to check out this BBC doco called ‘The Men Who Made Us Thin’:

    There are four eps in total and I think it’s fascinating. The journo also did a 3 ep series on ‘The Men Who Made Us Fat’, which is also fascinating!

    Keep up the good fight!

  4. There is a 12 week program starting in the Bay Area called: Doing it For Ourselves. A health program for mature Lesbians and bi women over 50. It is geared toward health at every size, rather than a diet or weight loss program. I was skeptical at first, but I’m going to check it out. We shall see.

  5. There would be a safe, clean indoor or outdoor playground within walking distance of every child in America. There would also be a safe, clean indoor or outdoor community activity center within walking distance of every adult in America. Activity at a comfortable level does aid in health.

    The lagtime in treatment for fat patients would simply disappear. Go in with the symptoms of PCOS and also a big bottom, get treatment just as quickly as the person who went in on the same day with the symptoms of PCOS and also skinny jeans. Thus the mortality and disability rate among fat people would drop.

    Ads for specific groceries or for restaurants that were aimed at women would depict women enjoying tasty, satisfying food with happy smiles and sighs of repletion. The words “indulge,” “guilt-free,” and “decadent” would never be heard. Ads for health food would be exactly the same as ads for groceries or restaurants except that the food would also be described as nutritious.

    This one is a potential threadjacker but I think it has to be said: We would have single-payer health care in the U.S. That’s where most of the money that is now poured into the diet industry could go. Emergency rooms would be much quieter as a result. Mortality and disability rates among all persons would go down because you could get care for that cough or cut or fever right away instead of waiting and hoping that it would get better. Bankruptcy rates would also drop dramatically and the number of people sliding into poverty every year would shrink due to people not having to destroy their own futures in order to save the life of a loved one.

    Speaking of poverty, any company, no matter how well-PACed, that dared to let poisons escape its property into the local groundwater would suffer wrath like unto the hammer of Thor–EVEN IF the people affected were poor and/or nonwhite and/or on foreign property owned by a U.S. company that was trying to escape U.S. health and safety requirements. And by “like unto the hammer of Thor” I mean “extremely painfully expensive until they cleaned up their own act.”

    No child would go to school hungry. No adult would suffer through a day of work while hungry. Nobody would go to bed hungry. Ever.

  6. Forgot to complete my first paragraph: Mental health too. Recess would be restored to all schools, but there would be no “healthy,” “goal-oriented” exercise equipment on the playground, just slides, balls, and merry-go-rounds.

  7. I am just so grateful to have found your blog and the incredible body love message you are getting out there! It’s only now, after years of dieting and self hatred that I am taking this new step of learning to love myself EXACTLY AS I AM and not waiting for some mythical time when I’ll have society’s perfect figure. Not. Gonna. Happen. Health issues I do have are irrelevant to my size and, except from the point of view that they contribute to my weight. Hello PCOS! This a very consulted way of saying that I love what you do and your posts are a highlight of my day on this journey of self love and acceptance. Thank you from the bottom of my heart xo

  8. Imagine there’s no fat talk
    It’s easy if you try
    No blaming fatties
    No goddamn BMI
    Imagine all the people
    Living without fear . . .

    Imagine there’s no dieting
    It isn’t hard to do
    No guilt or shame in eating
    And no restriction too
    Imagine all the people
    Living without shame . . .

    You may say I’m a fattie
    Well you’re right, I surely am
    I hope someday you’ll notice
    That I’m healthy just as I am.

    Imagine saying “healthy”
    And never meaning “thin”
    No need for Hell in gym class
    Have fun, stride out, dive in
    Imagine “Biggest Loser”
    Going off the air . . .

    You may say I’m a fattie
    Well you’re right, I surely am
    I hope someday you’ll notice
    That I’m healthy just as I am.

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