Last Friday I was heading out of San Francisco after having been part of an amazing conference. I was driving across the Bay Bridge and feeling really happy when One Republic’s song “I Lived” came on the radio. It was one of those moments that was movie-perfect. Moments like this make me profoundly grateful that I discovered Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size.
A disturbing trend in the ever more disturbing “War on Obesity” is people – be it healthcare practitioners, government officials etc. – who are perfectly willing to try to convince fat people to sacrifice our current happiness and quality of life for what they insist will be the high quality life of our future thin selves. Before I found Size Acceptance there was a time in my life when I absolutely bought into this.
This can take many guises, from people who suggest that fat people should think of ourselves as temporarily inconvenienced thin people, to people who suggest that fat people’s lives should be made more difficult as a way to “encourage” us to become thin. You can see this happen in lots of ways:
Refusing to show fat people being successful at anything other than weight loss.
These are people who say, with a straight face, that the key to making fat people thin is a complete and total lack of positive representation and role models in popular culture.
The Displacement Diet
These are people who suggest that fat people shouldn’t have fashionable clothes, or seats that fit us on public transportation or theaters etc., and that fat people with disabilities should actually be denied mobility assistance because apparently if we create a world where fat people can’t leave our homes or participate in society, the obvious outcome is that we will become thin. Okie dokie then.
Prescribing to Fat People What They Diagnose In Thin People
Consider for a moment if someone who wasn’t fat told you that they were severely restricting calories, exercising 8 hours a day, eating large amounts of food that are “forbidden” on their current “diet” and then exercising all night to “make up for it”, and manipulating their weight for their weekly weigh in with dehydration. Would you cheer them on and tell them to keep it up?
That’s exactly what we do when we promote The Biggest Loser.
What these people are actually saying is that fat people should do really unhealthy things now – because if those unhealthy behaviors make us thin we will then be somehow magically healthy. Stop the logic train, we had some passengers fall off. By this “logic” we should just give all fat people meth or cocaine. Oh wait, they’re basically working on that already.
Suggesting That We Hate Ourselves Thin
Many people are perfectly happy to try to lower fat people’s self-esteem and create body image issues – suggesting that we see our bodies as flawed, ugly, unattractive, and the source of all of our problems. I must have missed the study data that shows that self-loathing is causally (or even correlationally) related to future thinness.
In addition to convincing fat people to sacrifice our current happiness for our future thin happiness, this technique is also unfortunately successful in convincing fat people to believe that instead of fighting size-based oppression, we should try to solve our oppression by appeasing our oppressors.
I remember a time of my life when I was willing to sacrifice my current happiness for the happiness that I was sure would come along with my future thin body. There was a time when I was waiting for another body to show up so that I could start living.
Now of course I know the truth about weight loss, but more importantly I know what a mistake it was for me to put my current happiness and life on hold in the hopes that happiness and living would show up once I had successfully manipulated the size of my body. I stopped waiting around for another body to show up and decided to take the body I have out for a spin. I am actively (often successfully!) pursuing life, liberty and happiness right now, in this big fat body, and I’ll never look back.
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