Today I’m not talking about people’s individual reasons to attempt to manipulate their body size. People are allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies including trying to shrink them and it’s not my business. What I’m talking about is the worst reason that we are told to lose weight.
“For our health” is a pretty terrible reason – what with there being absolutely no evidence that would suggest that attempts at weight loss will leave us any thinner or healthier (two different things, by the way.)
“To be more beautiful” is a pretty terrible reason since it presupposes that we want to buy into the current social constructs and stereotypes of beauty and try to manipulate our bodies to meet them.
But the worst, the absolute worst, as far as I’m concerned is something I saw in marketing literature for a weight loss product (that I will not be linking to for what I hope are obvious reasons:)
Heavier people are often teased and taunted starting in childhood and continuing for the rest of their lives. These insults can cause early emotional wounds that get ripped back open with every new jab and joke. [Insert Product Name] can give you a life free from this emotional baggage!
The first two statements (everything up to [insert product name]) are completely accurate, and as far as I am concerned form the most inappropriate and despicable way to try to sell weight loss to people.
The message that those who are the victims of poor treatment should change themselves to suit their bullies is horrifying. As anyone who tried to appease a bully in junior high school learned, once you give them your lunch money, they are going to want something else. One day it’s your lunch money, the next it’s your lunch money and your pencil, then you’re skipping lunch, borrowing someone else’s pencil and letting the bully copy off your homework. Soon you find your head – and your self-esteem- in the toilet while the bully makes off with your entire backpack.
It’s the same with losing weight as a way to stop being treated poorly. As if the kind of people who would treat you poorly because of your weight won’t pick something else if you become thin. Not to mention that research shows that even if you manage to be in the tiny fraction of people who become thin, if people know you were previously fat you may still face discrimination:
“We were surprised to find that currently thin women were viewed differently depending on their weight history,” said Dr Janet Latner, study lead at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, US. “Those who had been obese in the past were perceived as less attractive than those who had always been thin, despite having identical height and weight.”
Again, people are allowed to attempt weight loss for this or any other reason, but for weight loss companies and other organizations that actually contribute to a climate of fat hate to suggest weight loss as a cure for fat hate is completely ridiculous – they are helping to create a problem that they then suggest we buy their product to solve. And that is borderline criminal.
The problem is never that fat people exist. The problem is always the mistreatment of fat people. Fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression and it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or if we could (or want to) become thin.
It’s true that heavier people are often teased and taunted starting in childhood and continuing for the rest of our lives. It’s true that these insults can cause early emotional wounds that get ripped back open with every new jab and joke.
But I don’t need a company to come along and offer to change my body, because the problem here is the perpetrators of the oppressive behavior, not the victims of it. The only people in this situation who need to change are those who engage in appearance-based teasing and oppression.
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