Health at Every Size and Eating Disorders

My Best Friend Kelrick got this figurine for me in a little shop in Astoria, Queens. Sadly I don’t know the artist.
new study from the Department of Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles, tells us what we would already know if we believed fat people who talk about their lived experience. Fat shaming doesn’t have any positive outcomes, but it has plenty of negative ones. In this case, the study found that fat shaming girls, especially by family, does not lead to healthy behaviors but instead can lead to eating disorders.

Oh, look — a big bag full of obvious!

The authors looked at data from a large, long-term study that included 2,036 girls. The girls reported at age 14 if they had been called “too fat” by their parents, siblings, best friends, boys they liked, any other teenagers, or their teachers. At ages 14 and 19, the girls completed an assessment of unhealthy weight control behaviors, body dissatisfaction, tendency toward bulimia, and drive for thinness, as well as reporting if they had engaged in unhealthy behaviors to around their weight. Controlling for variables including body mass index, race, parental income and education, and a girl’s level of disordered eating behaviors at age 14, the girls who had reported being called “too fat” at 14 had higher scores on the eating disorder inventory at age 19. The lead author, psychologist Jeffrey Hunger, told Reuters, “Labeling young girls as ‘too fat’ will never spur positive health behaviors; it is simply going to result in poor body image, unhealthy weight control practices, and disordered eating.”

This is not the first study of its kind…

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22 thoughts on “Health at Every Size and Eating Disorders

  1. Very much in the form of Captain Obvious, but some part of me tells me the goal isn’t reeely health. More like emotional battery and blackmail. Been there, lived that. Glad he’s dead, for so many reasons.
    Here’s one: On the Fourth, like 80 percent of the population my mom and I BBQ’d. That is I cooked over briquettes in the tray from an old electric cooker of some kind, using cookie racks. And as I was going in and out the back door, at one point our jackass neighbor blurts out: “Eat a Salad!”

    S’funny, A: because he is a cigarette and pot smoking alcoholic with no ‘indoor voice’ who fights with his wife on a weekly basis, and B: We had salad! And fruit and homemade pickled beets…

    Does he really feel better after his passive aggressive outbursts? Reeelly? Hey, maybe he really was concerned about our health!? AAAwwwww.

    1. Ah, fat shaming on a festive occasion when everyone is enjoying special feast-day food! Because everyone has the right to splurge on these occasions—unless they’re fat, of course. Then they should crouch in the corner nibbling raw broccoli. And someone has to tell them that.

      Dear food police: zip your lip about what I’m doing with mine at a frigging holiday meal. Or you might get a FAT LIP.

      (No real violence implied. But if someone does this to me, I will point out all their health and social failings minutely and publicly.)

  2. Whipping out Stafford’s Heuristic again, because sometimes it’s important to cut past the bullshit and remember that “the purpose of a system is what it does.” The people who created and who support the War on Obesity use a lot of shocking language, an endless stream of Bad Cops calling for us to be mass-murdered and burned vs. Good Cops making up tragic backstories of how we “went wrong” and how they must compassionately save us… but if you ignore their words and ask yourself what their combined methods and their proposals have actually *accomplished,* you turn up a whole lot of this study and not much else.

    The War on Obesity claims its goal is to make fat people healthier. It has made us sicker. It claims it wants to extend our lifespans. Many of its “treatments” are immediately fatal. It claims it wants to free us up to live our fullest lives, and then it traps us in an endless cycle of weight loss, attempted maintenance, and inevitable regain that replaces our lives.

    The purpose of a system is what it does. This is what the War on Obesity does.

    1. I think the purpose of the War on Obesity is, like everything else in this country, based solely on greed. Nobody cares about fat people’s health, except for the fat people and those who really love them. It’s all just an excuse to make money.

      Just like the US government is now officially against breastfeeding babies. Nobody makes any money off of that, so instead they promote formula manufacturers. That they are actually harming infants by doing so doesn’t make a bit of difference to them.

      It’s amusing, ironically so, that fat people are often portrayed as greedy. Greed is the number one value of this country, so if we were greedy (we aren’t) we should be celebrated!

      1. Did you have to weather that obnoxious storm a few weeks back in which nearly every mainstream publication trumpeted a study claiming it “proved” body positivity and increased social visibility of fat people “was making the obesity crisis worse?”

        Do you know *how* body positivity and social visibility was “making the crisis worse?” Did the study find an unprecedented increase in the number of fat people? Did it find a general decrease in exercise or vegetable consumption? Maybe a decline in metabolic health? What AWFUL things could it suspect body positivity and visibility of doing to justify such hand-wringing and panic-mongering?

        Well, here; why don’t I just link to the study?

        Yup. That’s right. The study asked roughly twenty thousand fat people whether or not they thought they were too fat, and those exposed to body positivity were more likely to say no. TL;DR body positivity makes the obesity crisis is “worse” by making fat people consider the scandalous possibility they might not have to lose weight to be human. The study didn’t look at the participants’ health. It didn’t look at participant’ habits. It didn’t look for increases in weight. *All it measured was fat peoples’ attitudes towards their bodies.* Yet for weeks, the sky was falling, a slight decrease in the marginalization of fat people was what was making it fall, and compassionately stomping the arrogant fatties back into silence and invisibility was the only way to keep the world from ending.

        And then the sky didn’t fall, the world didn’t end, and the health section of the newspaper went back to hawking the keto diet.

        1. Since I can’t edit, correction: Okay, on re-reading, they did *collect* data on metabolic health and personal habits, but as far as I can see it does not appear to have been taken into account in the results and conclusion – only whether or not the person expressed dissatisfaction with their bodies and a desire to lose weight.

  3. I’m sure by now you’ve seen the trailer for that bullshit show about a “fat” girl (and I put fat in quotes because it’s an actress in a fat suit) who gets “revenge” by having her jaw wired shut so she becomes skinny and then takes out more revenge. It’s complete horse shit, and my tweeted response is:

    “Also, and this is just the tip of the shit iceberg, BS like this encouraged me to become ano, because I thought “If I stop eating I’ll be skinny.” No. No. FUCK NO. This is triggering to so many people. It’s irresponsible and dangerous.“

    It makes me so angry because I went through and still deal with disordered eating because of shit like this, and I’m 38There was a 16 year old girl who responded who said things like this make her want to starve throughout the summer. The cycle just continues through the generations.

    I’m sorry I’m a bit off topic, but the ED thing branches in so many directions and that show is the latest in a trigger.

    1. I honestly had to fight back vomit when I saw this. The worst thing about it is that apparently she gets her jaw wired shut because she’s *beaten in a fat-bashing attack.*

      I repeat: this show is about a group of magnificent bastard fatphobes *literally beating a fat woman thin.*

      This is pure fatphobic spank material. It’s the same fantasy that drove The Biggest Loser, this compulsive desire fatphobes have to perform brutal violence against fat people and then be assured that brutal violence has improved their health and character, so they’re ultimately good people for inflicting it. Sure, the magnificent bastard villains may get some kind of slap on the wrist and public tut-tutting, but their formerly-fat sockpuppet won’t regain like a real fat woman would, won’t get PTSD like a real fat woman would, won’t have organ damage or hair loss or tooth decay like a real fat woman would, won’t be in danger of dying like a real fat woman would – so her attackers’ actions will ultimately be justified, presented as something that made her better in the long run with no consequences but making her a little temporarily mad. It’s disgusting beyond my ability to articulate it.

      1. This show sounds seriously damaging and dangerous and I hope it disappears fast. I am gonna lay money on the idea that we as fat women are just short of having to endure Public Beatdowns. I literally am waiting for the day a woman is attacked by strangers, not “friends and family” who do this crap on a daily basis, but a complete stranger who sees her, loses his stuff and assaults her. The guy I sat next to in group, no, he had to come sit next to me as there were no other open spaces at the table, has said violent things a lot and several nasty things about women and fat women in particular. He’d be the type. I’ll keep a pencil in my hand.

        Grateful for being beaten into seeing how bad they are and deciding to change to make the bullies accept/happy with her. Very very dangerous concept. Nazi-esque even. This one has the added part where the “failed human being CAN and should change. You can’t really stop being Jewish, Black etc. So long as fat=evil and we are told it can be fixed (proven, guaranteed, here’s the before and after pics) This is gonna be a nasty road to walk down.

        I’ve been saying it for years but I think everyone just thinks I am paranoid to think it, but ultimately, a persons/societies inability to handle, accept, deal with people or a person) they don’t like always has a bad outcome.

        First you see em, think they are “other”, you don’t like em, you think they are less than you and others like you. You dump ever nasty, messy, bad trait of humanity ( that you hold yourself ) on them, then you start thinking how to fix it. Next you start thinking fixing it would be best for everyone concerned… When you start forming like minded others, discussing the objects value to humanity and cost of letting them exist in it, bad things start to happen. Get enough people together add the large constituent of those who don’t “want to get involved”, but who agree on some level in the concept of the “lesser caste of human’ and you eventually move into the idea that killing ‘them’ you would be doing the world a favor.

        When you stop being a human being with rights to exist, and this is felt by people is positions of power, it’s all over.

        1. “I am gonna lay money on the idea that we as fat women are just short of having to endure Public Beatdowns”

          That actually already happened to me.

          Which is another thing that bugs me about this show. They’re treating violence against fat people like it’s this theoretical mental exercise- “would it, theoretically, be okay to use violence against fat people if the end result was that they became thin?”- when it’s more like, “dude, that is my lived reality, and that is *not how it went!*”

          1. That is terrible Lady! I am sorry that happened to you! And I hope it NEVER happens again.

            What do we do when the rest of the world starts behaving like we live on some sort of permanent playground!

            1. It’s something I said after I saw previews for “I Feel Pretty” – they’re trying to pander to fat people without actually knowing anything about us. They’re cobbling together all these old stories about fat people (written by thin people who also didn’t know anything about fat people), when they could’ve researched the subject. I don’t think what happened to me is the norm, but it’s no one-off either, and while the lack of empirical data on the frequency and intensity of violence against fat people is well-known and lamented among fat activists, a few sources (such as Fat!So? and the Fat Studies Reader) do have a little bit on the subject, and there have been a few studies on weight discrimination in sexual assault cases. There’s research out there they could have looked at to find out how violence against fat people actually plays out irl and what effects it actually has on those who suffer it instead of just making up a reactionary fantasy where beating fat people hard enough turns them into thin, glamorous, fun tsunderes.

      2. Holy shit…so she gets beaten up because she’s fat, so essentially she’s punished for being fat, has her jaw wired shut, becomes magically skinny, and then takes her revenge on the people who treated her like shit while she’s skinny. I fucking can’t. This is literally telling fat people that your “reward” for being treated like shit for being fat is magically becoming skinny, which one is completely nonsense, and two, you should be treated like a human no matter what.

        1. I think it must be a follow-up to that revenge body show. Oh you dumped me now I’ll lose weight and show you what you missed… Barf

        2. Yeah, it’s more the details that bug me than the idea. I wouldn’t think the premise of a woman who suddenly loses a bunch of weight getting infuriated over how much better she’s treated was inherently body-shaming, except…

          What IS body-shaming is basing a gag around how fat!Patty’s too busy sitting on the sofa in dirty sweats stuffing her face full of junk food to have any sex.

          What IS body-shaming is claiming she got permanently thin through methods that in the real world would’ve killed her or resulted in some temporary weight loss followed by wildfire regain.

          What IS body-shaming is drawing a direct causative line between brutal physical abuse and this weight loss “miracle.”

          What IS body-shaming is playing fat!Patty as a metaphor for childhood that must be discarded and left in the past before Patty can grow up and live her adult life – creating a narrative in which remaining fat is tantamount to remaining a child.

          It’s like the creators of this show- indeed, the creators of too many shows- think fat people are mythological creatures they cannot be objectively wrong about, therefore fat characters don’t have to resemble anything that exists in the real world. Remember the movie fatty who balanced junk food on her treadmill so she could eat it while she worked out? The movie fatty who uses a utensil to do something gross (like kill a bug) and then goes right on eating with it? The movie fatty who rattles off an increasingly-gross, increasingly improbable list of things he is eating/wants to eat for lunch? How about the fatphobes’ cherished old shoe about the movie fatty who walks into a restaurant and orders every item on the menu “and a diet coke?” No countable number of real-world fat people actually behave like this. The only place fat people routinely act like this are inside fatphobes’ heads.

          And yet fat characters keep being written like this.

          *Even in shows that claim they are trying to portray us sympathetically.*

          THAT’S what turns me off media, and it’s what’s turned me off this trailer.

          1. Exactly everything you said. I lost a bunch of weight back when I was in my mid twenties and the better way I was treated was astronomical. I wasn’t woke enough at that time to realize how fucked up that was; I just relished in it because I was just happy to be treated like a human being and an “attractive” human being.

            Fat characters are written like this because they’re written for straight sized people. They’re never written for fat people. It’s the same issue every marginalized group faces when they’re not written with that group in mind.

            1. Seriously, look at the writer’s room on most TV shows and films, the are predominantly male, while 25 to 45, and not, shall we say terrible attractive. Any wonder 98 percent of the crap that comes out f Hollywood is about young white boys getting hot younf white women to think they are “Oh so funny, sexy, rich, desirable, powerful, impressive, successful, right, sexually satisfying etc.” over and over and over.
              Women get Cinderella: change and be loved, men get everything else and then they “get the girl” too. The desirable girl mind you, unsuccessful males get the ugly women, old, handicapped, fat, homely, too smart, low grade females, etc.

  4. And on and on and on…I knew the blowback was going to be insane. People are too angry, too afraid and feel the world is spinning out of control. The “acceptable” targets are less so, minus the anti-pc backlash, and people who feel out of control need to blame someone for their emotions. We have been an obvious target, in varying degrees, for centuries. Throw in an aging population and fear of death, constant scrutiny and increasing expectations of personal perfection people need a ready scapegoat. Why not the go-to for the ages? I think deep down fat hatred is a smoke screen for woman hatred. Good luck altering that.

    I was walking down the street yesterday and saw a kid, ten-ish, in the passenger side of an SUV, he was looking at me and I could smell it coming. What’s it gonna be? Hey fat ass? How much do you weigh? You are fat and ugly, fat and ugly… This was anew one: “You better get going!” Drives through intersection, he yells back: “You better get going!”

    What the hell hell does that mean? Make an effort kid! Am I missing something? Is there a new tag line or is this a hold over from the biggest loser crap? Maybe he thought I was exercising to lose weight or something. Guess again kid.

    I find myself wondering if he came up with it himself, or if the driver coached him? I know, get over it. I will, and put it in the long term storage for stupid crap people do.

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