On Fat Shaming
At the risk of appearing trollish, I posted a version of the following on someone else’s Facebook timeline because I believe it’s important to educate others about the detrimental effects of fat shaming, even of public figures we dislike.
I admit: I have been guilty of this, especially when it comes to our former president (2017-2021). However, upon reflection, I realize I don’t need to resort to slinging barbs at someone’s physical condition -- better to call out what they do and what they say.
After all, we don’t shame Texas Governor Greg Abbott for being in a wheelchair -- we stick to issues at hand, even in our parodies. We intuitively understand it would just be a cheap shot to “wheelchair shame” someone.
Fat shaming is never a good look.
There’s a lot to criticize about a certain political figure (to remain unnamed here) without resorting to her physical looks (it’s true that, in our culture, fat women seem to take the brunt of fat shaming).
Obesity is not a choice.
If it were, we’d all be slender.
Obesity is a disease requiring medical intervention, which often doesn’t work with just diet and exercise, given its poor success rates (about 5%, and that’s being generous). Even bariatric surgery offers no guarantee of long-term success, as evidenced by some of the stars of My 600-Pound Life.
Fortunately, we are on the precipice of monumental changes in obesity interventions -- a topic for another post. Besides, we’re not quite there yet.
It is very difficult being obese in our culture; the social stigma alone is harmful -- I know. I have been there.
I have written about my struggles on this site: the mockery by strangers; biting remarks by family and friends, dressed up as “concern”; the too-skimpy chairs in public areas; the implicit judgments by doctors who, shockingly, have scant knowledge about nutrition and the complex causes of obesity. We even feel the unspoken elephant in the room -- fat people know they are being talked about behind their backs.
By contrast, now that I’m on the other side, I hear “compliments” about my thinness. You would think that would make me happy, but it doesn’t because it minimizes who I was when I carried extra weight. My body may have changed, but what makes me me has not fundamentally changed; I just wear a smaller body that allows me to navigate this world better and affords me a welcome cloak of invisibility as I go about my daily business.
Truth: although I have kept my excess weight off for over two years, I am still fighting obesity because the diagnosis never goes away.
It lurks in the background.
I will always have a propensity toward fatness.
What naturally thin people never seem to understand: if I eat what they eat, I will gain weight -- fast.
It’s unfair, but that’s life. I inherited the fat gene.
It could be a lot worse; some people inherit the cancer gene or the heart disease gene, so there is no need for whining.
So my forever diet occurs in a very narrow lane. It took me 65 years to find that lane, and it’s a daily battle to remain there.
Some days I fail, most days I prevail.
It’s day to day.