In a conversation on the Facebook Page Everyday Feminism I read this comment: “I don’t want to live in a world where being unhealthy and obese is the cultural norm. It speaks volumes about the decline of our social structure and our values.”
This, to me, actually speaks to the way that people confuse their right to live by their beliefs with their perceived right to a world where everyone lives by their beliefs. (This is the kind of confusion that leads to people who disagree with same gender marriage to insist that two dudes getting married infringes on their civil rights. Um, no. Their rights would be infringed on if they were forced to marry a same gender partner, not because other people have the right to do something with which they disagree.)
I talk a lot on this blog about the issues with conflating weight and health, and sometimes people get confused between the concepts of Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance. I’ve said it before and I think it’s worth repeating: Fat people have the right to exist, regardless of why we are fat, what being fat means, or if we could be thin by any means however easy or difficult. There are no other valid opinions about that. Fat people have the right to exist in the world in fat bodies without stigmatizing, bullying, or oppression.
That is to say that even if every stereotype and hand-wringing statistic about fat people is true (and I, in no way, believe that they are), no matter what someone believes about fat people and health, they do not have a right to a world without fat people, nor do they have the right to bully, stigmatize, oppress, force medical treatment on, or impinge upon the rights of fat people, no matter how much good they think it will do for fat people specifically or society generally.
Nobody owes anybody else “health” or “aesthetically pleasing” by any definition. I think that the “decline of our social structure and values” occurs when people confuse their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with the delusion that they have a right to live in a world where everyone operates based on their beliefs. Nobody has a right to world without fat people, fat people do have a right to a world without stigmatizing, bullying and oppression.
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