I’m watching a television show in which a thin, stereotypically “beautiful” woman is going through a break up and responding by eating huge spoonfuls of ice cream, then spraying whipped topping directly into her mouth from the can. It’s time to play one of my favorite games – what if this was a fat woman?
Imagine a fat woman eating huge spoonfuls of ice cream punctuated with sprays of whipped topping directly from the can into her mouth. If you answered that she would be the subject of shame, stigma, humiliation and ridicule, give yourself 20 points. In fact, many of us have had our pictures photoshopped to look just like this in an attempt to ridicule us.
To review, for thin actresses these behaviors can be considered adorable, but for fat women the exact same behaviors are supposedly irresponsible, causing diseases that we “deserve”, and costing ALL THE TAX DOLLARS! justified by stereotypes and the obesity hysteria that leads to poor reporting, gross misuses of science, and “everybody knows” trumping actual evidence. The fact that this happens isn’t news, but it’s still bullshit every damn time.
So what behaviors should we condone and for which people?
Trick question!! The answer isn’t to stop “condoning” these behaviors in thin women or to start “condoning” them in fat women. The answer is for each of us to get out of the condoning business altogether and mind our own damn business. Each of us has the right to punch, but that right ends at the tip of someone else’s nose. Probably not coincidentally our right to judge others works exactly the same way. We are allowed to have all kinds of opinions, but nobody else has an obligation to care how we think they should live their lives. If we start thinking that people do have such an obligation, we soon find that this slope is just too slippery – whose behavior do we get to choose and who gets to choose our behavior for us? (I note that people who insist that they should get to tell me how to live are rarely interested in receiving the same treatment from someone else.)
While we’re at it, we could stop making assumptions. Like not assuming that the way someone is eating tonight out at dinner is the way that they eat all the time. Like not assuming that we can look at someone and know what they eat. Like not assuming that it’s any of our business what people eat or how they look, ever. Let’s stop creating a culture of guilt and shame around food, and we can also stop creating a culture of guilt and shame around bodies, mind our own business, make our own choices, and maybe live happier ever after.
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