Every once in a while someone asks why I bother fighting anti-fat bias an oppression, suggesting that it’s no big deal. That hasn’t been my experience, or the experience of people who have found themselves ostracized from family and friends, unable to access the world because of lack of accommodation, fired/not hired/paid less because they are fat, at the losing ending of the tremendous about of medical bias, or subject to the many forms of oppression that fat people experience on a daily basis often encouraged by the government, our employers, and even our families and friends.
In a piece called “My Cancer Pt. II, Medical Fat Shaming Could Have Killed Me” Rebecca Hiles explains the experience of being diagnosed as fat and prescribed weight loss regardless of symptoms – and how that put her life in jeopardy. She is not alone, certainly fat people suffer and die because fat bias leads to medical malpractice. And because of doctors buying into the lie that being thin is so important that putting fat people’s lives at risk in an effort to change the way we look is a completely reasonable thing to do – whether it’s pills that have been shown to kill us, or surgery that amputates a healthy organ and very often results in life-altering complications and death – it is made clear to us every day in so many ways that we should consider death a reasonable alternative to living in a fat body.
But it’s not just medical bias that kills us. It’s people whose lives don’t ever get started because they are waiting until they are thin, living their lives as a perpetual “before” picture. (something that affects not just fat people but our families and friends as well.)
It’s people who aren’t able to do the things that they want to in their lives because so much of the world – restaurants, theaters, transportation, healthcare facilities – is built by people who are either pretending that fat people don’t exist, or don’t care that they are excluding us – or they are celebrating the fact that they are excluding us (paging Abercrombie and Fitch…)
Fat bias kills when people who are the victims of bullying, including online bullying, take down their blogs, or youtube channels, or give up on their dreams, or stop leaving their homes to try to get some relief from being harassed and terrorized. Fat bias kills when it hurts our ability to build a strong social network because our government is trying to engage our employers, family, and friends to see us as the enemy and fight against us in an incredibly ill-advised War on Fat people, in which we become unwilling combatants and casualties.
Fat bias ruins lives. Fat bias kills. And that’s why I spend my time fighting it.
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