You speak a lot about how fitness and not weight is the best measure of health and you rationally prove your point against all the negative messages. However, how does one counter those negative inaccuracies when you’re fat and not healthy, as I am? I’m not disabled or even close to it but I have a couple of chronic health problems. This stops me from countering all the negative comments I hear from those around me. It makes me feel as I don’t have a right to speak up.
First of all I want to be very very clear. The argument I’m making isn’t that “fat people should get basic human rights if we are healthy or because we can be healthy” What I am saying is that the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and being treated with basic human respect are not size, ability, or health dependent, nor are they dependent on looking or acting the way that someone wants us to look or act. More details about this here.
By the way, I’m not asking that people confer these rights upon us, since they aren’t theirs to give or take. What I’m saying is that people need to stop keeping these rights from us through the inappropriate use of power and privilege.
I discuss the evidence that health and weight are separate, and that the research suggests that our best chance for supporting our health lies in healthy habits (rather than attempting to reach a specific height/weight ratio and hoping health will come along for the ride) because I want to let people know their options. But don’t get me wrong – there are no habits that guarantee health for anybody of any size. Health is complex and multidimensional and never entirely within our control. Our health is a reflection not just of our habits and actions but also of our genetics, our environment, and our access – to strong relationships, a culture free from oppression, food and movement options of our choosing, and affordable evidence-based healthcare.
But it goes deeper than that – we talked about what happens if our fat is our fault, but what if our poor health is our fault? Well, that’s what’s happening and we get to choose how to deal with that within our situation (and let’s be clear that everyone in our society does not have access to the same options and choices). Regardless, it’s nobody else’s business unless we choose to make it their business. Nobody is obligated to choose healthy habits, by any definition. It’s none of anybody else’s business how highly we prioritize our health or what our habits are. We do not owe anybody else “healthy” no matter what size we are.
There are all kinds of things that people of all sizes choose that don’t necessarily prioritize our health – People are allowed to jump out of helicopters wearing skis, drink two bottles of vodka a day, forgo sleep, attempt to climb mountains that nobody has ever climbed, not look both ways before crossing the street etc. But nobody is suggesting that people who don’t get enough sleep should lose their healthcare or pay more for health insurance. My point is that this “naughty fatties need to be punished” talk is often, if not always, about trying to justify bigotry. It’s also often done by people who insist that they should get a say in how other people live, but without any interest in people telling them how to live.
When it comes to telling other people how to live, I think it’s a bad idea. I think that if we’re interested in public health, we should work to make sure that everyone has good information and options, and then respect other people’s choices just like we want our choices to be respected.
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