Fat people are failing to thrive. That’s the message that many people in society try to say to, and about, fat people – we are “failing to thrive” unless we are thin, unless we have a body that fits the social beauty norm. Nothing we do will ever be enough to “make up” for our fatness – You’re an amazing teacher, but are you thin? You’re a great mom, but are you thin? You cured cancer, but are you thin? We couldn’t possibly be truly happy living outside the cultural beauty norm. We can’t possibly be comfortable at our size and if we say we’re happy and comfortable with our bodies then we’re obviously lying. The solution to all of this is obviously for fat people to change ourselves and couldn’t possibly be to end the stigma, bullying and oppression that fat people face for how we look.
Where does this heaping helping of horseshit come from? Some of it is guessing, some is projection, some is lies spread by the diet industry (that makes $60 billion a year selling a product that is such a disaster that they are legally required to say it doesn’t work every single time it’s advertised,) some is bullying, some is just BS. The truth is that people come in lots of sizes for lots of reasons and we don’t now how to make people smaller for more than a short time, and the government declared and funded “War on Obesity” has casualties. If we want people to thrive then having a society which – often by government decree – bullies, shames, stigmatizes and oppresses them is the exact opposite of anything that is likely to work.
We will never know just how much of an effect stigma and oppression (not to mention dieting which is a whole other blog post) have on fat people’s physical and mental health – and ability to thrive – until we stop stigmatizing and oppressing them. We don’t know how to make fat people thin but we do know how to stop stigmatizing and oppressing them, so how about we give that the old college try. Being fat is not better or worse, it’s just one of many ways to have a body and every way is amazing. People of all sizes deserve a world that treats them with respect – instead of shaming, bullying, stigmatizing and oppression – and gives them the best chance to, by whatever their personal definition is, thrive.
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