Twenty-one year old Eloise Perry bought diet pills on the internet. The pills are believed to contain dinitrophenol, also known as DNP. The UK government had warned people about taking pills with DNP because it is very dangerous. The pills killed her. Many people are outraged because “she wasn’t even fat.” I am outraged at the idea that her size would matter.
At the age of 32, Christina Mettias was pushed by her doctor to have Weight Loss Surgery. She was in perfect health and didn’t meet any of the criteria for having the surgery – including the ratio of weight and height – but her doctor scared her into having the surgery. After 14 additional surgeries to correct the problems that landed her in intensive care for three months, she still suffers from painful abdominal scar tissue, daily vomiting, chronic eating problems and intolerance to oral food. But she’s thin. These complications are not uncommon. The $4.25M judgment against the United States (she received the surgery at a Department of Defense hospital that offers this it for free) must be cold comfort.
Zoya Khan had 80% of her stomach amputated. At age one. You read that right, 12 months into her life doctors gave her irreversible weight loss surgery because she had become fat due to a genetic disorder. There is absolutely no research on what giving a one year old what amounts to a medically induced eating disorder before she can walk or talk will do to her. But, hey, at least now she’s thi… no, wait. She didn’t lose any weight at all. Doctors are baffled, baffled I tell you! But don’t worry because “the doctor plans to conduct a leptin gene (responsible for obesity) study on her once she turns five” and “The case will be presented in an international forum.” So they are holding off on a leptin gene test until she is five but they were completely happy to give her a major organ amputation at one. But at least the doctor will get to present the findings, right? This is the end result of the obesity epi-panic.
Whenever I hear “War on Obesity” I think “wars have casualties” A war on obesity is a war on fat people, and a war on people has injuries and deaths and collateral damage and that’s exactly what’s happening. And the casualties are all sizes and all ages, and not a single one of them should ever have happened, or would have happened if our society wasn’t obsessed with manipulation of body size as a path to health.
We must end this war. These casualties are completely unnecessary and we could stop them today. We could understand that weight and health are two separate things that are both complicated, not an obligation or barometer of worthiness, not entirely within our control, and not guaranteed under any circumstances, and then we could be for creating access to food and movement options for everyone, instead of against fat bodies. Doctors would need to get themselves together, leave their size bias at home, and provide a proper standard of care based on health and symptoms and not weight (which would include, you know, using a diagnostic tool besides staring at us fully clothed and guessing). Fat bashers would need to find a new sport. Everyone would need to remember that public health is about making information and access available to the public and not making the individual’s body the public’s business.
But the first step, the very first step, is for fat people to realize that we deserve respectful treatment and then demand it. No matter what size we are, why we are the size, or even if someone wants to change their size, they can still claim their right to be treated with respect in the bodies they have now. Respect, and the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should not be contingent on body size (or “health” or “healthy behaviors” by any definition) and the more fat people who demand respectful treatment in every area of their lives, the more allies who will come forward to support us. Remember they say “War on Obesity” we hear “Completely unnecessary casualties” and that is not ok If they want a war, we will damn well give them one!
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