People 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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Sick of diet talk? There’s a song for that!
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