Because Fat Bias Kills, That’s Why

What Will you DefendEvery 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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21 thoughts on “Because Fat Bias Kills, That’s Why

  1. Thank you for fighting it too! You help me, and many others, find truth when there is so much misinformation and dangerous lies out there.

    1. Yeah, the medical community needs to learn that weight and health should not be confused! On that note, this epic random site lets you find weird correlations that would be fun to post here, With the site I’ve made a correlation chart between sunlight in California and the number of lawyers in American Samoa 😀 Even funnier, iPhone sales correlated with people falling down the stairs – walking while texting perhaps? 😀 😀

      1. Another really spooky one? Drownings caused by accidents involving fishing boats correlated to Apple stock prices on January 1. Seriously, the lines follow almost the exact same wave and meet precisely at several points.

        Guess I’d better check the stock prices for Apple on Jan. 1 before I get in a fishing boat!

        1. That’s a great one! 😀 It’s probably caused by a third, unrelated variable like population or climate! Sorry everything I’ve been trying to reply with has been stuck in moderation even though it is undoubtedly size positive, however I will be writing all my thoughts in my new blog 🙂

  2. (ALL-the-triggers warning)

    A group that included adults decided a fat little boy needed motivation to lose weight. So they raped him. The article won’t even refer to it as rape. It’s called a “prank” throughout.

    These parents fed their children a cold cereal diet and forced them to exercise if they asked for any other kind of food. Or, apparently, even more cereal.

    On a less horrifying but still oppression note:

    Here, a woman with a B.A. in biology gave up trying to find a job in the sciences after nobody would hire her because she was fat; one interviewer baldly said she wasn’t going to hire someone who’d “eat more than their fair share of the pizza,” and then *threw her out* when she attempted to continue the interview in spite of the fat-shaming.

    Don’t read the comments.

    And here’s one that would be hilarious if it didn’t highlight exactly how people are trained to think about fatness and fat people:

    And that’s to say nothing fo the general culture of fat hate and fat exclusion: people arguing seriously and sincerely that fat people should never be visible in public or have jobs that make them visible (acting, modelling, bank teller) because it “glorifies obesity,” people who honestly don’t see any problem with charging fat people more for the same services, putting signs on clothing stores that say “plus sizes only available online” and keeping employees by the door to shoo us out should we go in the store anyway, charging us extra taxes, or fining us for not “voluntarily” taking part in dangerous and ineffectual (and wealthy and politically powerful) weight loss programs like WW and Nutrisystem, whose manipulative and inaccurate commercials play in a constant stream on our televisions. In many schools, fat children are excluded from protection from anti-bullying programs, even though weight-based bullying is one of the most common varities. And now talking about *explicitly* excluding fatness from workplace anti-discrimination acts (there are already many places, including CVS Pharmacies, where it’s a-okay to fire someone for being fat). Seriously. And seeing no problem with it.

    Fat hate has become so normalized, fat people so dehumanized, fatphobia flows through society and the media day-in and day-out in a constant stream, and people still insist there’s no such thing, or that it’s too infrequent to care about, or that it’s no big deal compared to [insert other subject here], or, most frequently and disturbingly of all, we deserve everything that happens to us because we’re terrible people for being fat and are dirty liars who never really went on a diet and could stop being fat any time we wanted. And not just Joe Mainstreamer, either; a college just issued an announcement that, after repeated requests from students and staff to include it, it would NOT be covering fat oppression.

    It’s fatties, so they don’t care. We’re not people to them.

    1. “clothing stores that say “plus sizes only available online” and keeping employees by the door to shoo us out should we go in the store anyway”

      This is definitely true. I was shopping for my nieces’s prom dress (her mom couldn’t afford it and I was going to get one for her as a surprise). Three of the five stores I walked into said within a couple minutes of me entering “We don’t carry your size” – as the first thing they said to me. NOT “Hi”, not “Can I help you with anything”, just “We don’t carry your size” – period.

      I’ve even had this happen in a PLUS SIZE STORE. About a couple years ago I went into a Lane Bryant store, the girl looked me up and down as soon as I entered and said “We don’t carry your size”. …Yeah.

  3. Your blog is wonderful. It’s really helping me see how so much of what we’ve always been told is not for our own good. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t still have thin desires, but realizing the source of these and why I have them is so important to mental and physical health. Also that hate mail link. Wow. Your razor wit could cut a diamond. I love it so hard. I had to stop reading after a while because well one, the trolls started to all sound the same and two, even though you gave them wonderful hell, the absolutely cruelty just bothers me. Anyway love your blog and please keep dancing 🙂

  4. I love your blog, Ragen. I just want to say how thrilled I am that some doctors, like mine, are so supportive of good health. I went for my annual physical today and, as usual, everything checked out great. I lamented that I am 5′ tall and weigh 200#, although I eat healthy food and work out almost every day. My doctor said, “Well, I hope you understand that your weight is no indication of your health whatsoever.” I wanted to do a happy dance! I think that because of your activism and the activism of others, some doctors are really ‘getting it.’ And people with bodies like mine are being empowered to call fat shaming out when they encounter it. Keep up the good work!

  5. Yes. It is a big deal. The other night I was listening to Wayne Dyer on the radio. A listener called in. She,was asking a question with no mention of her body size, shape, or condition. He asked her how overweight she was. She said right now she was about 40 pounds overweight. He said it was probably more like 50 or 60. She is 5’5″ and ovef,60 years old and he said at that height she should be 120 to 123 pounds. Who the hell asked him? And I don’t care what you do, that I’d a ridiculous random number. Got me mad. His fasts are not everyone’s idea of healthy. And coffee enemas? Don’t get me started. So if we are going to have self-proclaimed experts spouting this kind of stuff, we need people on the other side, standing up to them.

  6. I’m so glad you do spend time fighting it! You’ve inspired so many of us to take up the banner!

    One of the doctors I work with said to me, “Why are you so concerned with fat bias? There are a lot of other worse things in the world than that,” as though we had to solve all of the world’s biggest (according to him) problems first before getting onto anything else. I said that everyone gets to have a thing, this is my thing, and it’s an important thing. This particular doctor disagrees with me on everything, so obviously this went over with him like a lead balloon. Although I’m hoping I at least planted a seed.

    1. “There are a lot of other worse things in the world than that”

      That argument is one of the dumbest I’ve heard – but people keep using it. But by that logic why should we try and catch those who rob people, when there are rapists out there to catch? But then why go after rapists when there are murders to go after? But then why go after murders when there are MASS murderers to go after? Etc Etc. There is ALWAYS something worse – saying “Why are you worrying about X when there are worse things to worry about it?” is one of the most ignorant arguments – and yet people still keep spouting that BS.

      1. Well, now that Hitler and Stalin are both dead, I suppose we can all focus every bit of thought and energy we have on catching serial murderers, instead.

        And apparently, rape isn’t a problem for “fat chicks,” anyway, so why should we worry about that? (SARCASM!!!)

        Really, that is a most ridiculous argument. So, why is it so darned popular?

  7. I find it incredibly hard to trust doctors with any ailment that might even remotely be considered related to fat. It took almost twenty years of suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa (enormous painful boils) for me to get up the courage to tell a dermatologist about it and ask for treatment, because it’s on the inner parts of my huge thighs and obesity is considered an exacerbating factor. Fortunately, the dermatologist I found is very sympathetic and didn’t say a thing about dieting, hallelujah!

    You are making a difference, Ragen. You make a difference to me. There are times when I start doubting myself, when the constant barrage of “YOU ARE STUPID AND UGLY AND LAZY, WHY ARE YOU STILL FAT” gets to me. Online fat acceptance communities like this are some of the very few places where I feel safe. And it’s because of your “how to talk to doctors” tips that I finally managed to speak up.

  8. I have had more than a few friends go through the “diagnosed as fat” issue… It’s terrifying, really. My ex husband was told to lose weight for his issues many times before receiving an MS diagnosis. My grandmother, along a similar course, was misdiagnosed with arthritis while having back pain– turns out it was lung cancer that had spread to her spine, and by the time they caught it, it was too late.

    1. Oh, that’s so horrible! I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I only hope that the malpracticing jackasses were informed that their hatred killed a patient. May they stew in their own guilt for a long, LONG time.

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