I get a lot of questions about set point theory – the idea that each person’s body has a genetically determined set point. I think it’s an interesting theory and not implausible – I do think that bodies come in varied sizes just like everything else in nature.
I think the evidence also pretty clearly shows that dieting messes with our bodies, since at least a year after dieting studies have shown that the mechanisms the body has for the express purpose or regaining and maintaining weight are still different than in someone who didn’t diet, and the majority of diets end in weight gain.
While I think this is interesting to think about, I also think that when it comes to size diversity and acceptance it’s important that we keep our eye on the ball. We have to be careful that we’re not making it sound like we have to prove that our fat is “not our fault” in order to deserve to be treated well.
It doesn’t matter what size someone is or why they are that size, it’s absolutely none of anybody else’s business, and everybody deserves to be treated with basic human respect. (Those wishing to make a “won’t somebody think of my tax dollars fatties are so expensive blah blah blah” argument can head to this post. )
Too often I see people respond to fat shaming, not by insisting that we should treat every body with respect, but instead suggesting that we should do a “better” job figuring out who deserves abuse, stigma, and shame from society. (See also: “It’s ok to be fat as long as you’re healthy” ) Let me help out: NOBODY. Nobody deserves to be treated the way that fat people are treated in this society and it doesn’t matter how fat we are, why we are that fat, or what being that fat means.
The idea that this is about behavior or personal responsibility is utterly laughable – there are plenty of sedentary thin people whose diet is based in fast food (which is fine and also nobody’s business) but people don’t scream epithets at them from their cars or argue that they should lose their civil rights until they exercise or try to calculate their “cost” to society. Nope – this is about bullying a group of people because of how they look.
Imagine if we were honest about the fact that whatever size we are, and regardless of why we are that size, the truth is that we are unlikely to ever be significantly smaller in the long term and that it’s completely ok to be fat. Maybe then we could stop talking about if our fat is our fault, and start talking about the life we want to live in the bodies we have now.
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