When I was doing research for my post about the most recent obsession with Melissa McCarthy’s weight, I broke the cardinal rule of being fat on the internet and read the comments. There I saw something that I see whenever a fat person is shown being successful at something other than weight loss – that people shouldn’t consider her a role model, or appreciate her talent, or find her beautiful, because her size makes her unhealthy.
Let’s start here – In order to agree with the idea that fat people make poor role models because they are unhealthy you have to believe a couple of things. First, that you can tell someone’s health based on their weight, and second, that people who aren’t healthy shouldn’t be role models. Both of these are totally wrong.
First of all, you cannot tell how healthy someone is based on their size. There are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes, for lots of different reasons. But even if someone is so misguided as to believe that body size is a reliable indicator of health, this “bad role model” idea is still bullshit.
I don’t think that people who suggest that fat people shouldn’t be role models because they think we’re unhealthy actually care about our health, I think that they are trying to use healthism as a cover for their fatphobia.
Health is not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness, it’s not entirely within our control or guaranteed in any circumstance, and “health,” by whatever definition, should not be a prerequisite for being a role model or acknowledged for one’s achievements. The idea that someone, of any size, should have to meet some level of “health” in order to be appreciated for their talent or be a role model is horrifying, and is the definition of healthism.
Even if people believe that fat people are fat because we engage in behaviors that they think are unhealthy, that still doesn’t justify this. We can look up to people for their achievements, appreciate their talents and their beauty, we can make them our role models based on their accomplishments, even if we don’t agree with every choice they make about their personal health – because those choices are between them and their doctor and whomever they choose to include.
So every time you see someone comment on an article about a fat person being celebrated for their achievements with some crap about their health, you can choose to acknowledge to yourself that this is sizeist, healthist, and total, unadulterated, bullshit. If you want to go a step further, you can leave a comment saying so.
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