Just Hanging Out, Glorifying Obesity

Photo by Doug Spearman
Photo by Doug Spearman  Dress by http://www.igigi.com

In that super questionable video I posted about, one of the “I’m fat but” statements was “I’m fat but I’m not glorifying obesity.”  No shit.  Because “glorifying obesity” is not really a thing.  Fat people being happy, doing stuff, living our lives, achieving things, being in the spotlight etc. are just being happy, doing stuff, living our lives, achieving things, and being in the spotlight.

I’ve been accused of “glorifying obesity” many times. Oddly, I am also short and yet I have never been accused of glorifying shortness. That’s because this is about fatphobia.  It doesn’t matter if it’s perpetuated by people because it’s their goal to create a fatphobic society, or if it’s their sincerely held personal belief that fat people should never be (or see any fat person be) anything but miserable and desperate to be thin – because if we’re not constantly full of state-sanctioned, community perpetuated self-loathing, we’ll never look “right” or be “healthy” (depending on whether or not they are trying to make some bullshit “it’s for your health” justification.

It doesn’t matter which, because the only outcome of such a culture is that fat people aren’t allowed to do anything with our lives except try to lose weight, and that’s unacceptable.  Not just because almost nobody loses weight long term, but because people shouldn’t be required to look a certain way or have a certain level of health as a prerequisite to live their lives and pursue their dreams.

If you see a fat person being happy, achieving something, being talented in public or on television and that makes you uncomfortable/angry/disgusted etc. then you know that you are dealing with size bigotry. If you believe that your feelings of discomfort/anger/disgust are due to this person’s health status, then you know that you are dealing with size bigotry as well as healthism.  The good news is there’s hope.

The first step is to realize that the problem lies with you, and not the fat person.  Resist the urge to accuse the fat person of having done something “wrong”, like “glorifying obesity”  Not only will this make you sound embarrassingly foolish, but it will never help you overcome your prejudice.  Remember, the fat person is simply existing, and going about their lives. Absent your size bigotry and/or healthism there is no actual problem here.

You can choose to change – you can start looking at where your ideas and attitudes about fat people come from, you can become conscious of your thoughts about fat people, interrupt them and change them.  You can decide that you no longer want to be part of perpetuating stigma, shame, bullying, harassment, and oppression of people based on how they look or how healthy you think you are. You can stop making that utterly ridiculous Muh tax dollarz!” argument.

But whether you do or don’t, please understand that your opinion of fat people doesn’t matter and that your perpetuation of oppression – regardless of your reason for it – is wrong.  Fat people’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should never be contingent upon whether or not weight bigots think that we are ugly, unhealthy, or glorifying obesity. What I am doing is loving and appreciating the body that I have, rejecting bullshit diet culture, and pursuing my dreams in this big fat amazing body.  If that seems like “glorifying obesity: to you, then count me in, and If you’re looking for me you’ll find me somewhere hanging out, glorifying obesity.

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9 thoughts on “Just Hanging Out, Glorifying Obesity

  1. Love it! How dare you glorify not straitening you hair. I mean really.
    But in all seriousness you living your life and doing what you do in the spotlight makes it easier for those of us trying to live full fattie lives to remember that heck yeah we can do this and be happy too, dammit. 🙂

  2. Thank you for helping to restore some of my sanity points. I recently had to stop following Megan Massacre’s fb page because she posted a lovely photo of Tess Holiday showing her tattoos, and ALL the comments were in need of this blog post.

  3. Well, Regan!

    Finally you got to me! When you talked about “fat people being happy,” it made me realize how my “fight” to lose weight (really my mother’s fight) when I was much younger, made me miserable, because I knew I wasn’t like the other girls, was the last one chosen for the teams in gym, and that I was always going to be different. When I think back on a particular breakfast my mother cooked for me, when my doctor’s diet permitted me one egg, one piece of bread, and one pat of butter and I asked that it be made into a piece of french toast, Mother told me that I could never eat french toast again or I would always be fat. I couldn’t understand that (and still don’t), but I remember it clearly 60-odd years later.

    I was never happy as a fat person. I am somewhat happier today, I guess, as someone who can go into TJ Maxx and come out with two dresses (after trying on eight) size 10. Never mind that my breasts are wrinkled from weight loss, that skin hangs off my belly where fat has been lost–these “deficiencies” can be disguised with the proper undergarments, that I keep track in my head of every calorie in and every one out. Never mind that my feelings of self-worth hinge on how I look from the rear, and how I appear to others as a 75-year-old in my now not-so-firm body which are so important to me still. Forget about the internist who told me six months ago to lose another 15 pounds to bring myself down to the 130 pounds I weighed at my prime when I was mountain-climbing and playing softball every week. (Impossible.)

    My life has been so impacted by the feelings instilled in me when I was a kid that I have never gotten past them. I hope that I will someday–before stress-related (read fat-related, to a large extent) illnesses, already present, carry me off.

    This is a really sad story, a life spent denying food and friendship (remember the saying that a woman has two friends–one fatter than she is, one the same size?), love at an advanced age, and the freedom to laugh when it all jiggles.


  4. This is the poisonous end result of a society that believes all people who have a certain kind of body are inferior: merely pointing out the legal and ethical fact that fat people are *equal* to thin people, with just as much right to participate in the same activities, pursue the same goals, and be treated with the same default respect, is considered “glorifying” them.

    1. It’s like people screaming about “glorifying the homosexual lifestyle” because gay people are (gasp!) holding hands as they walk around in public and (horrors!) picking up their kids at school as a couple. Things other people just do in the course of existing are seen as blatant attempts to grab “glory” if an othered person dares to do them.

  5. Beautiful photo! And GREAT analogies. People are trying to find new ways to perpetuate the same old bigotry but it’s still just that – shit wrapped up in a new package.

  6. Thank you for this, Ragen. I do hope you’re posting this article somewhere where the bigots will see it. It’s wonderful, yet I fear that here, you’re only preaching to the choir.

    Maybe some trolls will come and actually read it and think before they spout off their bigotry? Fingers crossed!

    And yet, even as a fat person, myself, I still have to remind myself that what you say is true, and that I have the same right to be happy and live my life, and even be successful, without worrying about “glorifying” anything, except perhaps happiness, success, and just life, in general.

    Also, Shorties, UNITE!

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