Deconstructing “21 Things to Stop Saying Unless You Hate Fat People”

So, a facebook friend posted this today. It’s a blog post, about how basically talking about obesity and “fat” means you hate fat people. To be fair, I dislike most people I meet. I find them wanting in either intelligence, dedication, or courage. Hell, there are times I don’t even really like myself as I find those qualities in me too. (Then again, according to the Internet, I’m a dick)

All that said, I don’t “hate” people. Hate is general a waste of energy. I do however have a fairly invested stake in this issue. As those who follow this blog probably know, I’ve been on my own weight loss journey. I’ve gone from being 350lbs, to 275 a year later. I’ll hit my goal weight this year of 210lbs. I’ll also keep this weight off. Why? Because unlike the author of the above piece, I’ve actually done some research. (what? I did say above I am a dick)

So, lets get to the Dissection.

Her Piece begins with rule 1:

1. Stating a specific size, shape, or weight that’s less okay

Oh, ok… that’s actually not a bad point. Speaking in universals about weight doesn’t really work. A persons ideal weight is a combination of factors, including their height, bone structure, and… well thats about it. You can be above, or below this “ideal” weight, but going too far in either direction is unhealthy (more on this later).

She continues tho, explaining Rule 1.

Fat acceptance is for all fat people. If you draw a line – 400 lbs, 500 lbs, “apple”-shaped, people with mobility issues, etc – and say that people on one side of the line are okay and people on the other side aren’t, you are part of the problem.

Well, the point was good, until she decided to use such crazy numbers. In order to be a “healthy” 400lbs, the average man would have to stand 8’11” tall. Thats the same height as Guinness World Record holder Robert Pershing Wadlow. (In case your wondering 222.71kg = 490lbs)

So, it’s not really a stretch to say, as an objective rule “If you aren’t in the running for Worlds Tallest Person, 400lbs is not the place to be.

Moving on, we find rule 2.

2. Acting like a food coach whenever a fat person is eating “healthy” foods.

Aw, the horrors of positive reinforcement. I know I always dread the endless compliments I get from my friends and family on how I managed to stop eating crap, and even now won’t go to places like McDonalds, or other fast food.

That said, I am neither a nutritionist, nor a psychologist… so what would I know right? Enter Google. Who, within a fraction of a second pulled up This Study, on the psychology of eating from the Chicago Clinic… as well as this study. Aw google, if you weren’t lines of code, and I wasn’t without a uterus, I would so have your babies.

For those of you who don’t want to read through both studies, they can be summed up  simple with “Ya, encouraging healthy eating with positive reinforcement, it’s a good thing. It works. People both eat better, and FEEL better”.

Rule 3 took me back a step;

3. Talking about food in moralistic terms.

Huh? Is this like the whole vegan deal where it’s wrong for me to shoot, gut, and consume deer cuz they have souls/are alive/are cute? No? Ok, then I’m really lost.

Luckily, the author explains.

Food is lots of things. It’s comfort, it’s calories, it’s communion, it’s history and tradition, and it’s fucking yummy. Two things that it isn’t is GOOD or BAD (unless, you know, e coli). And you are not a good or bad person for eating.

See, just no. Food is fuel. It is the gas we put in our bodies to run them from the time we wake up, till we lay our head on our pillows in the evening. And much like gas, you can put in “the good stuff” (high octane, no water) or you can fill up on the gas jimmy made in his back yard when his homebrew Vodka/Varnish didn’t turn out quite as planned. If you think you’re car will run equally well on both… well, your mechanic is going to LOVE the extra work.

Likewise, if we fuel up our bodies on crap, they will run like crap. Garbage in, Garbage out.. (right my fellow nerds?)

More on this later with the “health” talk. For now, rule 4 & 5.

4. Casually mentioning Cheetos, donuts, bonbons, or McDonalds in relation to a fat person.

5. Acting surprised when a fat person is active.

 Yup, doing either of those makes you an asshole. Good Job original author, 2/5 so far. But, there’s 21 rules… so you could still pull it out and have a mostly accurate piece. I’m rooting for you.

6. Literally anything about dieting, eating less, or exercising more in the context of fatness.

So, this blog, I guess, means I hate fat people. As does my twitter, since I do discuss my weight loss there. Except, wait for it… nope, thats totally bullshit. Again, google to the rescue, providing us with pages and pages of studies showing the positive effect success stories have on encouraging others. This isn’t even limited to the food world.

Here is a little success story, and how it affected an entire race: You might have even heard of the guy, Barack something-or-other. Luckily, she explains further

“When you bring these things up in fat-positive conversations…”

OH! You mean in specifically “Fat Positive” conversations. So, it’s rude of people to interrupt your circle-jerk with things like “facts” and “information” and “helpful advice”… I get that. I know I’m always mad when my circle jerk gets interrupted.

Finally, the topic of health comes up. I’m going to put a few rules together here, as they all say similar things:

7. Compulsively interjecting health into any conversation about fatness.

8. Equating fat with health.

9. Equating fat with anything other than fat.

11. Storytelling about you or your fat relative who was/is fat and unhealthy.

The rage inside me boils. Not rage at fat people. Rage at stupid people. Being OVERWEIGHT (more on that word later) IS a health concern. Well the author does her best to claim its not. Here is a SHORT list of the medical issues associated with obesity:

  • Heart disease and stroke.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes.
  • Cancer.
  • Gallbladder disease and gallstones.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Gout.
  • Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short episodes during sleep) and asthma.

Source: WEB FUCKING MD

I don’t care if you LOVE being fat. I love drinking scotch. But I don’t go around trying to tell everyone my scotch consumption is good for me. I don’t deny the raging alcoholic stupor in which I spend my college years had negative health effects.  Every single one of us can choose how we want to be unhealthy. For years, I chose not to care about my size. That’s fine. But at least be fucking honest about it. Don’t start ignoring doctors because you don’t like what they find.

Which brings us to the next rule:

10. Recommending weight loss as a treatment or solution to anything, even if you are a doctor.

YA! what do those medical professionals know about medicine and the human body anyway right? I’m sure the advice from a blog on the internet is just as valid as the stuff from a doctor.

Ok, seriously,this is the point where the sane people need to go “what the fuck are you on?” Stop telling people to lose weight for medical reasons EVEN IF YOU’RE A DOCTOR? Why the fuck do you go to the doctor if not to have them offer their medical advice? If you just go to get them to give you scripts… that’s a drug dealer, not a doctor.

Once again, I’ll tell you: 5 fucking seconds on google. OR, for the exceptionally lazy, click the webMD link above.

I am not sure I can accurately gauge the level of idiocy it takes to tell doctors to stop giving medical advice to patients because it makes YOU uncomfortable. I can’t even come up with a good joke here, because nothing can possibly be funnier than what the author said.

So I’ll just move on.

12. Using the words overweight, obese, morbidly obese, unless you are specifically referencing medicine and medical literature.

The author notes that many people won’t agree on this one. (Surprising, I know) But goes on to point out these words have been given ethical meanings.

Lets look at them 1 by 1.

Overweight implies that there is a correct weight.

If by “correct” you mean “Ideal” or “healthy”… you’re right. That’s what it implies. In fact, that’s exactly what it relates to. Believe it or not (I’m guessing not), there is such thing as an Ideal weight.  In fact, it can be calculated. You can check yours here. It’s not a set number, but a range. Everyone’s different. Being “over” that “weight” range however is unhealthy. I’ll save you scrolling up, and give you that WebMD link again

The word obese has its roots in the idea of eating too much.

The original latin word literally meant “to eat until fat”, or “to eat completely”.  Latins an interesting and precise language. Probably why I prefer it to english in so many ways. But, even with this root, stretched to mean eating too much, I fail to see why this becomes problematic. Alcoholism is the practice of drinking too much. I eagerly await the “Alcoholism-Positive” discussion.

Morbidly means sickly.

Ok, so we’ve established you can, in fact, use a dictionary. But what’s the point?

All of these are medical terms, and using them conveys that fatness is a medical problem.

OH, right, because you’re uneducated and seem to think being fat ISN’T a medical issue. Do I seriously need to post that WebMD article again?

At least her next point is interesting;

13. Gratuitous mentions of food, inactivity, bodily processes, etc when discussing fat people.

People end up fat for a reason. Sometimes it’s the way they eat. Sometimes it’s a lack of exercise. Sometimes it’s other medical conditions that for whatever reason people have decided to ignore, or use as an excuse. A common one for this is Hypothyroidism. The exact relationship has been studied pretty in depth, and if you’re interested, you can find the results of one such study here.

For the purpose of my point tho, I would say even such diseases as these clearly do not “make” a person be fat. Just look at Gena Lee Nolin. Hypothyroidism, and also, not overweight. (Possibly under tho, I haven’t looked at her stats)

Basically, the point here is; Obesity has 2 causes. Diet, and Exercise. In fact, these two causes boil down to 1 cause. Calorie Intake (More on this later).

14. Mentioning your tax dollars when talking about size, weight, or health.

Wow, another bang on one. 3/14… if she hits all the rest, she might have almost half correct. Again though, this is just being an asshole. If you have to complain about tax dollars helping anyone elses health, you’re a terrible person, and should hand over your human card and be left on an ice floe to die. (too harsh?)

But wait, just when you thought she had it, she quotes this gem:

“Even if you could prove that being fat makes me unhealthy (which you can’t). And even if you had a method that was scientifically proven to lead to successful long term weight loss (which you don’t). And even if there was proof that losing weight would make me healthier (which there isn’t).”
—Ragen in Your Money and My Fat Ass

Wait what? Back to 2/14 for you! Also, no soup.

Seriously? “Ragen” makes 3 claims here. I see them as a challenge.

1) “Even if you could prove that being fat makes me unhealthy (which you can’t).” Yes, I can. Like Magic. And by magic, I mean 5 seconds of research, here, once again… WEB MD!!! (Cue Rockstar Music) : Different Article, Same Topic, Same Conclusions

2) “And even if you had a method that was scientifically proven to lead to successful long term weight loss (which you don’t).”  Oooo, a tough one… Except for it not being. Ironically, the “scientific” solution, is the simple one: Manage your Caloric Deficit.

3) “And even if there was proof that losing weight would make me healthier (which there isn’t).”  Isn’t this just question 1 rephrased? I mean, If you prove that being Fat is in and of itself a health risk, not being fat would then avoid those risk… ie- be healthier.

Moving on….

15. Refocusing a fat-related conversation on thin people.

FINALLY! 3/15… hey, 1 outa 5 ain’t bad. You’re incredibly correct. Slipping in “but what aboutz teh …” whatever group other than the discussion is on, not cool.

16. Going on and on and on about your opinion.

You mean like writing multiple blog posts, completely devoid of things like “facts”, and filled only with your personal opinion, that completely spits in the eye of reality? Ya, that must be annoying to deal with…

17. Making any statements about “childhood obesity”.

I really didn’t think this blog could get any crazier than telling doctors to shut up about medical issues… but here, Miss Issa goes full Fonzy and jumps the fucking shark.

Childhood Obesity is, and I fucking quote, “a political buzzword”. That’s right.  Childhood Obesity, in her opinion, is simply political mumbo-jumbo.

This part really makes me chuckle:

Here’s the bottom line: we don’t know exactly what makes kids fat or whether it’s a problem that they are and we definitely don’t have any idea whatsoever how to make a fat kid into a thin kid.

No, you don’t know. The rest of the world? They know. Or, if they don’t, they know the Almighty and Powerful Google can save them.

The same things cause childhood obesity as adult obesity. Bad diet, and lack of exercise. You know why Grandpa wasn’t fat as a kid? Because his mom/dad cooked him meals, didn’t feed him fast food 4 times a week, and he PLAYED OUTSIDE.

Also, here’s a study on Obese Kids and their Health: http://www.ctvnews.ca/obese-kids-have-arteries-of-45-year-olds-study-1.341919

18. Focusing on (usually heterosexual) attractiveness in general.

19. Suggesting that a fat person do something or not do something in order to look less fat or more flattering.

No one likes to be reduced to a fetish, or told how to dress. It’s rude to offer advice like this to anyone unsolicited. I’ll give you these two on the assumption you mean unsolicited advice. 5/19.

20. Referring to fatness as a thing that deservedly happens to bad people.

wow, on a roll. You’re right. Bad things happen to both good and bad people, and if you wouldn’t say “HA! look at him, he got so much cancer” you probably shouldn’t say the same thing about fat people. Mocking anothers health is just low. 6/20.

Finally, she ends with this Gem:

21. Any statements that imply that it’s not okay to be fat, that people shouldn’t get fat, or that people should try to weigh less.

Aw, now this one is complicated. Any statements that IMPLY its not “ok” to be fat.

Lets see. It’s not HEALTHY to be fat. But nothing says its not okay to be unhealthy. Personal freedom and all that jazz, you can be whatever you wish. But I would expect friends and family to want you to be healthy. Personally, as much fun as a wake is, I still prefer my friends alive.

Final score: 6.5/21

This blog post is so devoid of fact, information, or education, I am not even sure I could stand to re-read it.

*********************************************************************************************************

I’m separating this bit off because it doesn’t pertain directly to the above blog.

I think it’s important to discuss WHY blog posts like the one above exist. And that, is a real issue of bullying. Adults call it “fat-shaming”, but its the exact same behaviour exhibited by callous youth that mocks and tears down people for being different.

For children especially, their diet is not in their control. For many adults, it isn’t either. So we walk a careful line between being offensive and being supportive.

Through our cruel treatment from youth onward, we teach people to create this imaginary world where there is nothing wrong. We encourage them to ignore facts, and disbelieve studies because it seems like just another insult. Saying, as I do above “Well, this works”, is simple. Implementing the changes involved are hard.

This also brings about the idea of being Body-Positive. I would counter that being Fat-Positive isn’t such a good idea. Being Body-Positive however, is.

What’s the difference? Body Positive is being proud in your own skin. It’s accepting that people come in all shapes and sizes. And it promotes the heightening of self image. For more info, you can check this out: http://www.bodypositive.com/

That however, does not mean we should ignore health and safety issues with our bodies. Being happy, and having a good self-image doesn’t mean ignorance of ourselves.

In comparison, if we look at the work of the Sex-Positive community, it not only involves feeling content, and safe, and being able to fully express ones sexuality, but also addresses STIs, and other serious sexual concerns.

On can both be Sex Positive and do everything they can to avoid STIs, as an example.

Likewise, someone can be both body-positive, and comfortable with themselves, and still want to do everything they can to be more healthy.

I wish I could give you an easy answer to how everyone can help with that. There isn’t one.

But, being happy with yourself, doesn’t mean you have to be content.

The PHD can still learn.

The athlete can improve in their skills.

And we, the overweight people of the world, can improve our health. But that’s no reason to hate ourselves right now.

11 thoughts on “Deconstructing “21 Things to Stop Saying Unless You Hate Fat People”

  1. Pingback: Body Positive « Quill to the Anvil

  2. Thanks, Quill. Found you when shopping for a rebuttal I could read till the steam stopped leaking from my ears.

    I don’t care what size anyone is, but if she ignores the evidence between being overweight and enduring medical problems no one really wants to get, she’s fooling herself. A person can be young, fat and healthy, but as you age, it does catch up. I should know.

  3. Um…webMD isn’t an “article” or scientific literature at all. I would be with you but your attempts at academics and science are making me want to cry. There is a lot of conflicting evidence out there on obesity, actually. I am a health researcher finishing up a PhD in Clinical Psychology focusing on what we call Obesity. I started working on my dissertation thinking there would be hardly any evidence that it was OK to be fat in any way health-wise and then promptly learned otherwise. While I agree with you on some of your points PAH-LEASE don’t use crap like google health or webMD to prove a point. Use an academic article in a peer reviewed journal. For the children…

  4. I second Ashley’s comments- WebMD and Google are not academic articles. There are some really interesting studies circulating showing the link between obesity and lifestyle is not so clear cut. Furthermore, when did it become okay to remark on another person’s body? Their body, their health, their business. If they want to be Fat Positive, let ’em! It’s an understandable backlash to being treating as so sub-par that the obese human becomes sub-human, a non-threatening presence which needs the “healthier” people’s intervention and support. We are a fat-bashing, fat-shaming, hateful society, and sometimes the pendulum needs to swing in the other direction before a healthy balance can be restored. What’s so threatening about an obese person loving themselves? God knows no one looks at heightened mortality, ambulatory issues, and country-wide media-mandated revulsion in the eye and says, “Fun!” Obesity is complex and, most of all, personal.

    I went over a read the 21 Things post and, honestly, you’ve take a lot out of context. Perhaps you should go reread it. Unless you were just looking for a fight?

  5. Thank you for your article. I could not believe the initial article. You remind me of Will Macavoy in Newsroom and I like your style. Thanks for a well constructed rebuttal to a poor peice of trash article. From Australia.

  6. On the whole “fat = unhealthy” thing: try googling ‘lchf’, ‘paleo diet’, ‘the great cholesterol con’, ‘big fat lies’, ‘sweet poison’ and ‘the fat revolution’ (just to mention a few). You’ll discover that being fat is not a cause but just another symptom (along with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, leptin imbalance) of inflammatory disease. If you hunt further you’ll find research to back it up. Read about the Swedish doctor, Anna Dalqvist, who won a court case based on research that backs it up. Medical science is vulnerable to vested interests and current medical schools are behind the times. Science is a method, not a bible. Its methodology can be flawed and results can be interpreted in ways which are misleading. The hypothesis that fat and cholesterol is responsible for heart disease was questioned throughout its history by other scientists who posited sugar and grain starch as the cause. Now even heart surgeons of 20+ years of experience are discovering that people in the “healthy” weight range who are following the standard food pyramid religiously are having heart attacks (i’ve even seen an article by a surgeon who followed his own advice and had a heart attack in his forties). Take it from someone who’s made the change and who no longer suffers from arthritis, fibromyalgia rhuematica, lower back pain, muscle cramps, sciatica, muscle tics, irritable bowel syndrome or seborheaic dandruff …except when I fall off the wagon. My psoriasis has been reduced by 70-90%, I went from size 28 to size 26 and have stopped smoking. I’ve now started exercising a bit so as to lose more weight. It’s mindblowing how much my HEALTH was affected by sugar, fructose, grains, and polyunsaturated fats (alongside a sensitivity to nightshade vegetables). Being fat was just another side-effect.

  7. Having read this again, I realise i changed a sentence which affected the whole comment. Please mentally insert the following after “You’ll discover that “:
    ‘obesity does not CAUSE heart disease or other health problems so it’s misleading to say that being fat is unhealthy. Being fat is a visible diagnostic tool that can indicate, for instance, insulin resistance but it was insulin resistance that caused the fat body, not the other way around.’

    Also, having now looked around your website and seen the posts about paleo diet, I now realise that you must know all of the above so have only made the extra comment so as to make more sense to other readers who might have come to your site just to read this article because the emphasis on the “being fat is unhealthy” type of comments do nothing to illuminate the cause of both ill health and obesity, i.e. modern processed foods and the standard food pyramid.

  8. I would love to see the rules for skinny girls. When fat girls don’t respect me, I don’t act on the double standard. I’m more of a ‘the feeling is mutual kinda girl.’

  9. Well, what I don’t think the author realizes is that fat girls brake nearly all of those rules with skinny people They’ll tell us to lose weight, to eat more, and automatically assume that we are unhealthy, saying that we starve ourselves. I, however, don’t see anyone making a list of rules to not offend skinny people.

    At the end of the day, there’s only one thing to say to you: get over it.

    Not everybody is going to find you attractive. Not everybody thinks its okay to be fat. In reality, its not.

    No matter how much you want to justify it, the truth remains, and that is that being fat is unhealthy. Its not good for you, nor is it okay.

    Rather than sitting here and telling people that its okay to be fat, you should be telling them to lose weight.

    Would you tell a smoker or an alcoholic that its okay to continue on with their clearly unhealthy habits? No.

    Being fat is just as unhealthy and just as toxic for your body.

    Stop lying to yourself and lose some weight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s