Hopping On The “Anti-Obesity” Bandwagon

Design by Kris Owen
Design by Kris Owen

One of the offshoots of the “War on Obesity” and the obesity epi-panic that has followed, is the rush of people, organizations, and movements that have tacked “anti-obesity” onto their platform.

PETA, for example, is proud to fight for what they believe is the ethical treatment of animals using the unethical treatment of fat people.

A reader who is into knitting sent me a newsletter she received where a woman who was described as a “mentor” said that “if everyone in the world learned how to knit” then “people wouldn’t over-eat (their hands would be kept busy)” and the we would all be “better-looking.”

I just saw a PSA about ending food deserts that talked about how it would end obesity.

A company will deliver delicious meals right to your door.  Convenient! Delicious! But then they throw in that their company helps end obesity.

An app that helps you reach your goals.  And, you know,  fight obesity.

I was reading an article about guerrilla gardening and stopped when they starting talking about how being part of this movement meant you are part of  “ending hunger and tackling obesity.”  I think it would be pretty hard to garden with people constantly trying to tackle me. Also, I’m pretty sure that these people are signing up to garden, not to be defensive linemen.

From a PR standpoint I understand why it happens – the media LOVES to write about anti-obesity, and there is tons of funding out their for those who say they are trying to figure how to create a world with no more fat people in it.

It’s also easy to do since, at our currently  OMGDEATHFATZ DefCon4 Fatty Level Orange status, all an “anti-obesity intervention” needs to be considered evidence-based and ready for implementation is a thin person saying it’s a good idea.

It is also incredibly oppressive. It says “Thin people should come to our movement for health, or ethical reasons, to fight poverty and hunger, or because they like to knit.  Fat people should join our movement so that we can fix you by changing the way that you look.”  That’s fucked up.  This is not a tree, fat people are not kittens, we are not in need of rescuing by a knitting newsletter. Throwing fat people under the bus to get PR, for funding –  making a movement in any way about eradicating fat people from the earth – is oppression pure and simple, it makes many fat people feel unwelcome, and it needs to stop.

We always have the opportunity to do activism around this – whether it’s sending an e-mail, posting something on Social Media, or creating our own communities around our interests and hobbies where people of all sizes are welcome. Of course we’re never obligated to be involved in activism and either way it can be helpful just to recognize this jumping on the “no fatties” bandwagon for what it is – completely messed up and totally not ok.

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20 thoughts on “Hopping On The “Anti-Obesity” Bandwagon

  1. I just want to say I love your blog. You are so fantastic.

    Your blog always makes me feel better. And realise how warped and wrong the world is. I hate when people try to “help” me. I went to lunch with a “friend” and I said “oh look, they’ve got cakes! I might get one” and the “friend” said:
    “Really? Aren’t you watching your weight?”

    I am not watching my weight. What a bizarre concept. I presume she said this because She is a very thin person, and I am a fat person.

    I dislike the suggestion that I am fat because I eat too much cake. She is thin, and she can eat as much cake as she likes, but nobody thinks she’s thin because she eats too much cake.

    I am fat, and I want some cake, obviously I’m fat because I eat cake. And obviously, if I stopped eating cake, I would be thin as a rake.
    (Can you tell I’m being sarcastic?)

    That’s also why I hate the word “exercise”. I like going out for walks with my dog, bike rides, playing out door games. But when someone says: you should go out and get some exercise, I immediately feel judged for my size. Because you can hear them saying, between the lines: “If you got more exercise, you’d be less fat.”

    Maybe I like being fat, ok guys? Maybe I’ll have cake, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll go for a walk, maybe I won’t. But my decision will not be affected by how you feel about my fatness.

    I love my fat body, and I wouldn’t change it any day.

  2. Love this post. I studied mathematics in college, and it boggles my mind to read articles that associate obesity with factors such as food deserts and gardening when there is no quantitative support for this anywhere within the articles. People all too often make the assumption that obesity stems from society’s evils, and non-obese people were somehow able to overcome these evils. This further assumes (1) non-obese people are superior to obese people and (2) obesity can be “cured” solely through lifestyle changes. Aside from these assumptions, these articles also marginalize people deemed “obese” or “overweight.”

    My sister (and my best friend) is overweight, however, she is much healthier than me. When I describe her to other people, I don’t use the word “overweight.” I use the word “strong.” I’m pretty sure she can bench press me AND lap me in a race. Who’s to say she can’t pick up gardening because she loves vegetables? Why would you assume she’s gardening to lose weight? Silly assumption.

  3. Really? Knitting as a weight loss method?

    I can guarantee losing weight isn’t a simple matter of doing handcrafts. After all, I’ve been making bobbin lace since 1990, and I took that up after trying out: knitting, crochet, sewing, needlepoint, embroidery, and at least half a dozen other handcrafts. I’ve made a lot of things, both pretty and not so pretty. I have never, however, become thinner because I was spending hours a day using my hands for things other than eating. Now in addition to the lace, I also do needle felting. Still not thin.

    I cook most of my food from scratch using lots of lovely organic vegetables. And yet, I’m still fat.

    I walk a lot. I don’t even have a driver’s license, and the public transportation in my town is beyond a joke, so I kind of have to walk where I want to get to most of the time. Yep, you guessed it, I’m still fat. That holds true even despite the fact that I do most of the housework, do charity walks, play with all the neighborhood critters and small children, and yet I remain stubbornly fat.

    Keeping busy, being an excellent cook who uses fresh ingredients, getting regular exercise, not one of these things has made me thin.

    Okay, I’ll admit I haven’t tried going vegan, but then my body doesn’t do well with vegetarianism so I’m going to go ahead and assume that a more extreme version would be even worse for my specific body. And I’ve known people who eat all kinds of different ways. I’ve known all-organic vegans who are fat and people who seem to live on nothing but Cheetos and chocolate bars who are thin.

    Some of us are simply fat. Get the hell over it, world.

    1. Yeah, I really don’t get the handcrafts thing, either. Seems like if that were true, I’d have been severely underweight after finishing my goddaughter’s thread crochet christening gown, and that so didn’t happen. The only health change I know of you can establish from knitting or crochet is a faster-developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

      And I get incredibly irritable about the “keeping busy” thing, too. I work 40 hours or more at my day job per week, several hours per week at my work-at-home second job, and this weekend I spent maybe two hours at home and awake between church, kids’ sports activities, dinner with my parents, running errands, and taking a class, I wasn’t exactly sitting on the couch watching TV and eating bonbons, you know?

    2. Amen, Twistie! I also can’t be a vegetarian or vegan. I’d become ill if I did. But I was a vegetarian for about 6 months in high school, before I got sick from it. Guess what? I actually GAINED weight.

      And people would probably just say “oh, clearly you did it wrong.” Pfft. Clearly you need to STFU and mind your own business, but I don’t see that happening.

    3. These goonies who propose these things assume we stuff our faces all day, and it’s because our hands are only putting food in our mouths. Can’t be further from the truth.

      I’ve heard the same thing about former smokers, who start eating suckers. It’s commonly assumed that they like having something in their fingers or their mouths (like you spend the entire time smoking a cigarette with it your mouth). I think it’s more that they are no longer taking an appetite suppressant, and responding to normal hunger cues in their recovery. Of course when they gain weight, they are shamed by society, and some go back to smoking to control their weight.

    4. I hit a crafts “big box” store over the weekend to get replacement buttons for a couple of favorite work shirts. For sure, I was the only fat person amongst three or four dozen shoppers.

      Wait. I lied. :p

      1. Haha. I love needlework, like cross-stitching. When I was younger and we’d go to the US, I’d find lots of animal pictures. Now I can’t seem to find any good pictures, the supply seems to have changed.

        I did however find a felt kit for building your own coaster and cup holder. Very fun to make.

        1. Pictures? That sounds pretty neat.

          Also, you might know this, but you can convert a regular picture you like into a cross-stitch-ready pattern using one of those transparent graph… things. I don’t remember what they’re called. Just this overlay thing made of plastic. My own cross-stitch days are long over, alas.

  4. I was wondering if PETA needs to be subjected to a “fat people are animals, too” campaign, but somehow I suspect they’re too irony-challenged to get it.

      1. I prefer to think of pets are those animals that would otherwise have been put down. But then there are those who abuse their animals, which is sad. 😦

  5. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the concept of ending hunger AND obesity. Are they admitting you can be fat and starving? Do they think fat people are living off the bodies of people who starved to death? Seriously, WTF?

    1. Well, the fat people are eating all the food, don’t ya know? I’ve sadly actually seen this argument. As if, by eating food I buy, I am somehow responsible for starving people? I don’t really know how they get there, but they sadly do.

  6. That knitting “mentor” makes me so sad, because I enjoy knitting (even tho I still have a lot to learn in that field), and to find anti-fat-people rethoric linked to knitting is disheartening for me. There’s truly no corner of the Earth where we’re left alone.

    I think I have now officially seen it all.

  7. [snerk]

    Sorry to report that my avid gardening (mostly ornamental stuff, but a smattering of tasty veggies each year, too) hasn’t changed my figure at all. I’m as fat as I’ve ever been. But I do have a ball doing it, most of the time. Plus I get complements from both friends and passers-by. How ’bout that. 🙂

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