Not content with the fame and money she has acquired for mentally and physically abusing fat people on the television show The Biggest Loser Australia, Michelle Bridges used an interview to see if she couldn’t do some damage to people who manage to avoid her horror of a television show.
“It might be seen that I have this agenda on people who are overweight or people who are deemed fat. Honestly, if you are happy where you are, more power to you. But I can tell you, I’m yet to meet someone who is morbidly obese and happy.”
Nice to meet you Michelle, now knock that shit off.
There will be those who say that there is nothing wrong with this quote because of her qualifier “Honestly, if you are happy where you are, more power to you.” I say, not so much, for a few reasons.
First let’s look at the this on the surface level. In order to make this statement, she would have to be asking every fat person she meets if their BMI is over 40 (because certainly, as an “expert” she wouldn’t be using “morbid obesity” which is a – massively misguided – clinical designation, as a general way to say really fat,) and then, if their BMI “qualifies” them, asking them if they are happy. Either this is a woman who has some strange conversations, or this is bullshit. I’m guessing the latter. (Also, it turns out that she has, in fact, met at least one happy fat person)
I think it’s more likely that this is coming from much the same place as the foolish mistake that Dr. Oz made. If you have a sign on your door that says (regardless of how untrue it is) “if you’re unhappy because you are fat, I can make you not fat,” then the fat people you meet are likely to be unhappy. This is both because fat people who are desperate to get out of a marginalized group come to your office, and because those of us who know that you’re trying to sell us a bogus bag of magic weight loss beans will avoid your office like the plague that it is.
When you have managed to garner some fame, celebrity status, and/or expert status, you become even more responsible for what you say. If she, who many perceive (however incorrectly) as an expert on weight, health, and happiness, says that she has never in her life met a happy fat person, that statement carries with it all the trappings of the “celebrity expert”.
Considering the growing fat acceptance movement – including articles in the largest publications in the world – I seriously doubt that she is unaware that happy fat people exist (and if she is then she is negligent by claiming to specialize in working with a population that she clearly does not understand.)
There are fat people who are happy, there are fat people who are unhappy. Fat people are allowed to have the full range of emotions – just like people of all sizes. Michelle is not only engaging in appearance-based stereotypes, and erasing the experiences of fat people who would define ourselves as “happy,” her statement is also ableist, healthist, and adds to the difficulty of fat people who deal health issues like depression, and all the difficulty in getting treatment and bullshit stigma that comes with that (including healthcare providers who insist that the cure to any issues that fat people have is to become not fat.).
She is telling everyone a story that is meant to increase her profits/fame/save the fatties hero status. The existence of happy fat people trumps her experience of somehow never having met one of us. When she states her personal experience of never having met a happy fat person as if that matters or has anything to do with the actual experiences of fat people, without at least qualifying it by being clear that there are lots of us out here, she is replacing the actual lived experiences of fat people with her “experience” and, were I to guess, what is perhaps her fantasy that she has never contributed to our unhappiness (aka oppression) with her work as a would-be fat person whisperer.
Finally, she fails to be self-reflective enough to realize that if the fat people she meets are unhappy, a culture that freely stigmatizes, stereotypes, bullies, harasses, and oppresses fat people (like, you know,the show that made her famous,) miiiiight have something to do with their unhappiness.
Not to mention that she can’t point to a single study that suggests that her methods won’t result in the vast majority of people regaining the weight they lost, with the majority gaining back more than they lost. So even if she believes that all fat people are unhappy, and even she believes that being thin would make us all happy, she has literally no idea how to get that done and based on the research we have, her attempts will result in the majority of people ending up fatter than when they started working with her which, again, may be why she’s never met a happy fatty.
Regardless, I’d like to state for the record that I’m a happy fat person, and any unhappiness I harbor at the oppression of fat people is correctly solved by an end to social stigma and not a change to my body sizes. And Michelle Bridges can meet me.
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9 thoughts on “Michelle Bridges Can…Meet Me”
Isn’t this just a prime example of confirmation bias on her end?
Some people just cant resist upsetting happy fat people they meet and when being sent to hell or elsewhere calling them crazy/unhappy/deluded etc, not realizing problem is in their own head
She can aggressively shame every individual fat person she comes into contact with (and make no mistake, telling someone they’re so defective they couldn’t possibly be happy with themselves IS SHAMING), but fatphobia isn’t defined by the inner turmoil of any one fat person. It’s defined by the social and institutional tendency to treat ALL fat people as less valuable and human than thin people, regardless of their individual fitness, character, or level of “happiness” (however you’re defining that). I don’t give a blue damn what Fat-Free Zero Cal Chicken Soup For The Soulless twaddle she’s rehearsed to “inspire” me to buy her crap for Teh Happi, it doesn’t address that, so it’s irrelevant. Much like The Biggest Loser.
I think we need a book of happy fat people, similar to the one that was created of fat people in academia (Ph.D’s and Masters) in response to the moronic comments of a professor who said that fat people did not have the willpower to stick with advanced academic programs.
If you substitute “tall people” for “fat people”, could she make the same comments? “I’ve never met a happy tall person, and if they would make changes in their life so that they were not so tall, they would be much happier…” So cutting off their legs at the knees would be the answer to their misery?
“Are you happy?” is not a particularly good measure.
I’m fat. Am I fat and happy though? Uh… sometimes?
Most people are not happy all the time, being people that applies as well to fat people.
I am happy a lot of the time. I am also very depressed some of the time. That means that even if one was to poll fat people on if they are happy, one day my answer might be yes, and the next it could be no.
Using the oxford happiness questionnaire I actually came out as neither happy nor unhappy.
You might be able to get a better sense of it through surveys that ask about height, weight, and use a scale for measuring happiness. Of course Michelle Bridges is not a social scientist and clearly has not done this….
I just did a quick search to see if any studies have been done looking at bmi and happiness, and the result were a bit interesting. One study found that there was an indirect effect of bmi on happiness through perceived health, which indicates that someone with a high BMI but who perceives themselves as healthy would not have the same impact on happiness. Other studies showed that overweight (their terminology) people whose social groups had more overweight people in them, were less likely to be unhappy than those whose social groups did not.
So, if you’re fat and aren’t constantly being told by your doctors and/or social circle that you’re OMGGONNADIIIEEEEE!, then you’re more likely to be happy? Whodathunkit?
Hmm, Save the fatties, eh? Funny no one ever suggests “saving the boobies” by cutting them off….
I probably should have said “removing” or even losing… but I don’t think cutting is that off..it seems more and more weight loss surgery becomes in..the more it will be just cutting it off….although, there’s always “Save the children! Lose them!”(not really but dang it does explain why I don’t like the idea, I hope.)