One of the ridiculous reasons given for refusing to represent fat people in the media as happy or successful at anything other that weight loss is that fat people aren’t prioritizing our health and are therefore bad examples who must be kept out of the media. For today I’m setting aside the fact that this is both completely untrue and that it even if it was true it would still be extremely messed up, to discuss the almost unbelievable hypocrisy that is committed whenever this argument is made.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a little game called Football (or American Football if you’re outside of the US.)
If we really believe that we should not give positive representation in the media to people who don’t “prioritize their health” then I’m pretty confused by some things when it comes our massive media promotion of those who choose to play football:
First is this incredibly long list of injuries for last season.
Or the fact that the massive rate of bankruptcy means that most of them can’t likely afford the future healthcare they’ll need.
Not to mention that many of the players are “obese” based on their BMI.
Football players are given massive media exposure despite the fact that they are clearly not prioritizing their own health. The NFL makes more money than any other sport and its commissioner has predicted that they will achieve $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027. (That will still be less than half the current revenue of the diet industry but that’s a whole other blog post.)
So if we think that people who don’t “prioritize their health” are poor role models and shouldn’t be represented positively in the media, what was that whole Superbowl thing about yesterday? Where is the hand-wringing that football players aren’t good role models because they aren’t prioritizing their health. Where are the calculations about how expensive football players (at every level) will be – not just with sports injuries while they play, but with the fallout from concussions, and the constant pounding their joints take?
Where are the calculations of how much money could be saved if instead of playing football those who participate just walked 30 minutes a day 5 days a week? Where’s the government-sponsored “War Against Football”? And all of that despite the fact that body size is complicated and not entirely within our control and we don’t have a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people were able to change their body size, but playing (and quitting) football is absolutely a choice.
The truth is that this whole “It’s because of fat people’s health” thing is just a crappy justification for size-based discrimination, and it’s long past time to stop using healthism to justify sizeism, and to end both of them instead.
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