When Body Size Is Due To Health Issues

Health Issue Weight GainPeople are lots of sizes for lots of reasons. Some people’s weight increases due to health conditions, some people’s weight increases as a side effect of medication. Selena Gomez recently spoke out about how hurtful it was to be body-shamed for weight gain associated with her chronic health conditions.

It is absolutely wrong to fat-shame people for weight gain that is related to health conditions, but that’s because it’s absolutely wrong to fat-shame people for any reason. And here’s where this sometimes gets tricky. Those who are fat and have health issues and/or disabilities are multiply marginalized and face greater oppression because of that, and that’s something that is important to talk about.

Where this goes sideways is when it is suggested that people whose fatness is associated with their health conditions should be treated better than other fat people. Using arguments like “I was fat-shamed, and it was wrong because my weight gain is from [health issue] so being fat isn’t my fault” only serves to suggest that if someone’s body size can’t be traced to a specific health condition, then it would be ok to fat-shame them, and that’s absolutely wrong.

This can also come from a place of fatphobia, allowing the person who has now become fat to maintain their own fatphobia while excusing themselves from it by arguing something like “I’m not [insert negative beliefs about fat people] like those other fat people, my fat isn’t my fault so you shouldn’t treat me badly (like I think other fat people should be treated.)”

Dealing with health issues and accompanying weight-gain in a world that is both healthist and fatphobic is difficult, and people are allowed to do whatever they want, including crafting an argument against fat-shaming that tries to help them while hurting others, but often people aren’t aware that that is what they are doing, or don’t realize that there are other options. Another option is to say “I was fat-shamed, and though my size is due to a health issue, it’s important to be clear that fat-shaming is always wrong, and respecting bodies of all sizes is the only right choice.”

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5 thoughts on “When Body Size Is Due To Health Issues

  1. “Using arguments like “I was fat-shamed, and it was wrong because my weight gain is from [health issue] so being fat isn’t my fault” only serves to suggest that if someone’s body size can’t be traced to a specific health condition, then it would be ok to fat-shame them, and that’s absolutely wrong.”

    I also think it throws every other fat person in the world under the bus for something that ultimately won’t work. If they’re the sort of person who’d abuse, neglect, or condescend to you because you gained weight, they’re the sort of person who will never sincerely care what caused the weight gain. Pointing out you have PCOS, hypothyroidism, or an inoperable 50-lb abdominal tumor is, in fact, likely to make these dyed-in-the-wool fatphobes hate you *more,* because now you’re not just being fat at them, you’re also, to their warped worldview, “whining” and “making excuses.”

    I know this is another one of those quotes I drop a lot, but…

    “Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion which by reasoning he never acquired.” – Jonathan Swift

  2. “being fat at them”

    OMG Lady R I love that. I want that to be a tee shirt bumper sticker movement!
    Seriously. To a bigot, what ever the issue it is not any kind of cause-al. Seriously, you are right. 9 x out of 10 Your ends justifies (demands) Their means. Oft very mean means they are too!

    You ARE therefore I JUDGE. Cause see, I’m GOD and I get to dictate how and what and when of EVEYTHING and you are over the line AND falling short at the same time. Yes.

    And I think it is getting worse or the political situation and the weather in getting to people. I have had THREE MEN in two weeks walk by me and make that “Shame on you, you disgust me.” exhaling noise! My My we are upset aren’t we?

    Seriously! Fo Guck Yourself Dude! With bells on!

    The whole “I am a MANN and all women must please me or die (rape and murder rates on the rise= please them and die anyway) BS is really old. And we’re moving past it. And they know it…

    Seriously. How many men who hate fat women, hate fat men as well? Sexism is beneath every other ism out there.

    And the hell if you can say anything. Most American men seem to be one well aimed defensive flippant retort away from homicide on a daily basis.

    Be like this. I called her a disgusting fat cunt who should lose weight or die and then she said to ME “Jeeze Earl, haven’t they changed your medication yet?” BANG!

    You’re not walking down the street, you’re not doing the shopping, you’re not going to work, attending a concert, going bowling, taking up YOGA, getting your degree, standing in line like everyone else…you’re “Being Fat At Them!”

    “I’m not Being Fat At You, I’m Just Fat. Get Over It!

    Too long for a bumper sticker? Too…REAL…?

    1. I can’t take credit for the “being fat at them” line. It was coined by a fat acceptance activist and the whole quote is about society viewing fat people’s existence as some kind of personal attack, enabling them to rationalize their abuse of fat people as “self-defense,” but I honestly can’t remember who said it or find the whole quote through searching. It surely pops in my head a lot, though.

      1. I’d never heard it before. Defiantly/definitely needs to be spread around!

        It is akin to pretty much ANYTHING people decide to get in a snit about. Racism, sexism, homophobia etc. Just a self centered: “I didn’t order this.” View of the world. Way too much narcissism these days. Spread on thick, like some Teflon coating to protect em from I don’t know what… Their God given right to judge others and feel superior. Vera probably…

    2. That is a great quote from Swift. I like advice columnist Captain Awkward’s version: “Reasons are for reasonable people.” So don’t waste your time giving them.

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