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Fat Liberation is Totally Queer

Two fat women smile, text reads "stop weight bigotry. health at any size."

Last Wednesday, my partner and I woke up to wonderful news: DOMA and Prop 8 are defeated! After our wedding this summer, we will be legally married. It's a time for celebration, and for inspiration.

What work still needs to be done? There are many answers, but here's one: Fat liberation.

Social equality for all people, regardless of size, must become a goal of the queer movement.

I am a thin woman, and my partner is fat. In the seven years I've loved her, I've been struck by a contrast: While many on the left have fought for equality for LGBTQ people, fat people are experiencing more stigmatization. This trend is puzzling, because anti-fat and anti-queer oppression are so similar. Both fat folks and queer folks face violence, lack adequate protection against employment discrimination, and are often disparaged for "choosing" an "unhealthy lifestyle."

Yes, fat people can get married, but many thin people would not consider dating, let alone loving and marrying, someone who is fat.

In my article "Sized Up: Why Fat is a Queer and Feminist Issue" for the Micro/Macro issue of Bitch, I invite feminists and queers to become allied of fat people. Many readers vehemently opposed this idea. "Sized Up" received over two hundred comments on Bitch's website and on Facebook; the content of many of them made it clear that fat hate is still accepted in some feminist spaces.

One commenter, who described herself as a "formerly fat, now fit, lesbian," said she was "disgusted" by "the false parallels drawn between the real systemic oppression of LGBT people… and not being able to fit your fat ass into an airplane seat." Another wrote: "Oh, hell no, I am not living my life in the closet so [you] can eat more Doritos and whine about oppression…Put down the goddamn McDonald's and read a fucking book."

"Read a book" is exactly what I'd hoped that readers of my article might be willing to do. Several commenters expressed outrage at my comparison between fatphobia and homophobia—because, they insisted, fatness is "unhealthy" and "a choice." But the science behind the medicalization of fatness is sketchy. Anyone who doubts this should check out Paul Campos's The Diet Myth and Gina Kolata's Rethinking Thin.  These books provide comprehensive critical analyses of the medical literature on body size and health (with dozens of footnotes to peer-reviewed studies), and they demonstrate that what most Americans think they know about "the obesity epidemic" is diet-industry-funded propaganda. Many other excellent books—such as Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size, Glenn Gaesser's Big Fat Lies, and Laura Fraser's Losing Italso debunk the myth of an "obesity crisis."  

Of course, I don't expect that many people who espouse anti-fat views will actually read these books. As fat activist Marilyn Wann aptly observes in her comment on the article, anti-fat messages are about "hate, not health." For example, one commenter wrote, "Being fat is a choice and can and should be shamed." What makes some feminists and queers, who have been subjected to so much oppression ourselves, willing to shame others on account of their perceived "lifestyle choices"? Perhaps part of the explanation is that, as women, we have been taught that our worth lies in being "attractive," and that "attractive" must always mean prettier—or thinner—than some other woman.

As queers, we've long been told there's something wrong and disgusting about who we are; fatphobia may seem to save us from that pain by giving us a way to say that someone else is those things. But at what cost? Do we want a feminist queer movement that is lean, mean, and free of fat folks? Or do we want a movement for everyone?

Even people who earnestly want to "help" fat people often betray unexamined prejudice. For example, in a recent article in The Atlantic, David H. Freedman proposes that the "less affluent masses" of "junk-food-eating obese" may have "little cultural bias against overindulging in food, or putting on excess pounds." To gain insight into this phenomenon, he drives to East L.A., where he observes "overweight" Latino/a children walking home from school "with a slow, waddling gait." The confluence of racism, classism, and fatphobia here should make us hesitate before we define "obesity" as a problem in need of a solution.

While most liberals assume that poverty causes "obesity," the converse is actually true: Widespread discrimination in employment, education, housing, and marriage places fat people at greater risk of being poor.  Many employers refuse to hire fat people, believing they are lazy or likely to be too sick to show up for work. This was former White House doctor Connie Mariano's rationale for asserting that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was too fat to be president. "I'm worried he may have a heart attack," she said.  As a physician, Mariano probably knows that cigarettes pose much greater health dangers than fatness—so why not urge Barack Obama to resign from the White House because he smokes?

Recognizing that much BMI "science" is bogus, the American Medical Association's Council on Science and Public Health recommended that larger-than-average body size not be designated a disease. But the AMA ignored this advice from its own committee; recently, it declared "obesity" a disease, paving the way for big profits for diet drug companies and bariatric surgeons.  While the AMA claims that naming "obesity" a disease will reduce the stigmatization of fat people, Wann points out in a recent blog post that the medicalization of weight diversity has long been used to justify the practice of blaming fat people for all manner of social ills.

One example of such scapegoating is a letter to the editor of Bitch, by Cristina Richie, who claims to be "appalled" that my article "endorsed the ecologically reckless notion that obesity is a morally neutral state of being." According to Richie, fat people's "overconsumption" of food is a major contributor to global warming. Never mind that fat people do not necessarily consume more calories than thin people; for example, I eat almost twice as much of the exact same (local, organic, sustainably grown) food as my partner. If we intend to penalize people for eating "too much," then we should also target professional athletes (whose caloric consumption is huge) and pregnant women (whose offspring will definitely increase our carbon footprint).

Fat hate is not just mean words on a computer screen. As a commenter with the tag "Seriously, ya'll" writes:

I don't get hired because of my body. I see the faces fall when the committee that had been thrilled by the resume and phone interviews and work samples meets my body. I have friends who have been attacked because of their bodies and many who were abused growing up because the monster in charge was ashamed of their bodies. Bullying fat kids is still, apparently, funny, because who gives a fuck about a fat fuck.

All this is justified, fatphobes insist, because "being fat is a choice." In their view, the reason diets don't work is that fat people lack the discipline to implement a "total lifestyle change." Some confusion is understandable. Most people can exert some control over how much they weigh. For example, a thin person may decide to reduce her fat intake (a choice that will probably make her hungry, grumpy, and less healthy), and her weight may drop from 130 to 110. A fat person may do the same thing (and experience the same hunger and health risk), and her weight may fall from 280 to 260. While the thin woman will likely receive compliments for being "pretty" and "petite," the fat woman will still be called "obese."

Well then, the anti-fat folks say, just try harder: move more; eat less. But study after study shows that maintaining a permanent weight loss of more than twenty to thirty pounds is virtually impossible, and that fat people who attempt this have worse health outcomes than those who accept their size. Yes, some people do manage to lose 100 pounds or more, but this weight is nearly always regained within five years. There is a physiological reason for this: If your weight falls too far below your genetically determined "set point," your body fights back, producing hormones that make you extremely hungry, and your metabolism slows dramatically.

"Being fat is a choice, and being gay is not," respondents to my article maintained. Being fat is not a choice, but being fatphobic is—and it's a choice I'm so glad I did not make when I began falling in love with my partner many years ago. Even if fatness were a choice, many fat people love their bodies and would not want to change them.

This week, the Supreme Court made it clear that "skim milk" marriages will not do. Neither will fat-free, or fatphobic, feminist and queer movements. After all, isn't fat liberation what feminism and queerness are all about: loving ourselves and each other without regard for what mainstream culture defines as "normal," "healthy," or "beautiful?" If I had chosen not to challenge the anti-fat prejudices that I, like everyone in our culture, had been taught—if I had failed to see how gorgeous and sexy fat women can be—I would have missed out on the love of my life. Fat liberation is totally queer, and embracing this cause must be one of our movement's next steps.

 

The author thanks Jane Arlene Herman, Jennifer Nicole Herman, Merri Lisa Johnson, Irwin Keller, and Alicia Michelle LeCompte for their love, support, and editorial advice.

Photo via Health at Every Size.


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Comments

91 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Day = made. Someone who gets

Day = made. Someone who gets it. Hallelujah. Thank you.

So what if it's a choice?

Firstly, I found this really interesting - as a fat queer person I was bullied at school for both those factors I've never really thought about their equivalences. The point that struck me the most was the "being fat is a choice, being gay is not" comment. When I was at school my weight was not my choice, puberty hit and I grew. My ass will always be big, it's genetic, no amount of exercise will shave off the width of my hip bones. But that's not really the point I want to make. My point is - so what if it's a choice? When people argue against homophobia by saying "it's not a choice" that phrase implies that I can't help it, that being gay is an affliction. It's not, it's pretty awesome actually, and so is being fat. The point we should be arguing is there's nothing wrong with being gay regardless of whether someone chose to be or not. The same applies to being fat. I like to eat and I don't like exercise. I choose to live my life in a way that I enjoy. That involves eating cake and watching TV. I choose enjoyment over aesthetics. Yes I'm fat, I'm also hot. I don't care about fitting into the white heterosexual male's view of attractiveness which has become standard in society. I don't want to be with someone who doesn't think I'm hot regardless of how much I weigh. I choose not to care about my fatness. I choose to embrace my shape. Others choose differently - they choose to restrict their diets and run on treadmills, they choose to care about fitting that image. Their priorities are different from mine. The thing is we're all free to choose what's important to us, we're all free to live our lives how we want as long as we're not hurting anyone. My fatness isn't hurting anyone - it's funding farmers and bakers across the UK - so why should I be hated for it?
The health argument is total crap - you don't care about my health, you just don't want to see fat people. My appearance is not for you. I do not exist to be aesthetically pleasing to others. It's somewhat depressing to see the comments the article received from feminist women. Fat shaming is patriarchal to the core. It's a shock and a shame to see it's proliferated so much that people don't see that.

Thank you.....agreed 100% fat

Thank you.....agreed 100%
fat shaming is PATRIARCHY IN ACTION!

They need to check their

They need to check their privilege!

Please Stop

I'm so incredibly sick of this phrase. Everything is privilege now. Everyone is a special snowflake who is being oppressed.

Re: Please Stop

I agree. This whole Oppression Olympics trend is really getting out of hand. Playing the role of The Oppressed Martyr, with one-upmanship competition as the goal, is childish at best, and a complete embarrassment.

YES.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Yes!

As a queer woman, I cannot adequately describe how much it bothers me that pretty much the entire LGBT* equality movement is predicated upon the basis of such things "not being a choice". The implication of the "not a choice" argument, to me, is that if it were a choice there would be something wrong with that--which I resent. Who the hell cares if it's a choice? People should be allowed to make whatever choices they want as long as they're not hurting other people. The same extends to "health issues" like fatness (and, as an aside, to the actual health issue of smoking--look, the risks were drilled into me by the time I was 15; I enjoy it, and as long as I keep it away from people who don't like smoke it's my prerogative): even if and when someone does choose to be fat, what business is it of yours to tell them not to?

Insisting that homosexuality is not a choice has made sense

I think the point about insisting that homosexuality is not a "choice" is to try to get away from the scary movement of "curing" homosexuals. It also takes away the moral argument that a freely made choice invites. I'm not saying that the moral argument cannot be confronted, I'm just saying that at a certain point in the campaign you probably want to steer clear of it and focus on other stuff. Maybe the time has now come to confront instead?

But it's had its limits too

I agree that it's important to acknowledge both the strategic value and limits of "born this way" arguments. Personally, I don't find them empowering. They allow homophobes to define the terms of discussion (i.e. in terms of "choice" or not), while using biologically essentialist logic that other liberation movements have rejected as overly simplistic and limiting.

My desires have changed over time, along with the rest of me. I didn't self-consciously "choose" to be who I am today - or love whom I love - but I wasn't born this way either. Every experience that I've had has left its marks, influencing me in ways that I rarely recognize. Framing queer desire (or fatness) as "choice" simplifies complex histories of socialization, while "born this way" arguments obscure those histories altogether.

well said.

well said.

The issue of choice

I agree with you about the arguments regarding choice and how problematic they are. I thought you might want to see my blog about this issue at Psychology Today:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dry-land-fish/201206/what-if-some-us...

Double standards

You've got the right attitude. I don't give a shit if someone's fat or gay or black. I don't care who gets married or what they eat. I have bigger problems. What really irks me is the idea that I should change my notion of what's attractive because someone else wants to feel attractive ("Yes, fat people can get married, but many thin people would not consider dating, let alone loving and marrying, someone who is fat."). Your statement that you couldn't care less is the way I wish more people felt about things. Gay people were born the way they are. Fat people were born the way they are. But a heterosexual man who doesn't find fat attractive is a bigoted product of the patriarchy.

Yes it is fatphobic

The problem with the attraction argument is that it is based in bias and assumes all fat people can be lumped together. It is much like the argument that someone can be "not attracted to black people" and not be making a racist assumption. Black people look different from one another wildly different. Halley Berry and Nell Carter look wildly different from one another. They have almost no overlapping traits. In fact you could probably find many more white people who have overlapping traits with each of these women then you would between them. This is similar with fat people. Some fat people are hard bodies with tight muscles. Some have small waists some have thick waists. Same with thin people. Have you ever seen a relatively thin woman with a substantial pot belly? Back fat? I didn't have back fat until I was over 200 pounds. Also what counts as fat? BMI obese? Large amount of adipose tissue? Where the fat is found on the body? Bodies vary and it is bias that allows us to say the world is either fat or thin and I only like thin.

Put another way, within group variation is so great that it requires sizism to state that all fat people look so much the same that you can categorically claim that you are not attracted to all of them. If you had said you have yet to meet a fat person you are attracted to, that's one thing but it is discrimination to declare an entire group unattractive even if you are just saying that it is a personal preference.

THANK YOU

This.
Fatphobia = conformity with the patriarchy.
Let's all get over it.

As a fat woman, I am

As a fat woman, I am constantly both amazed and appalled at the level of venom I see spewed toward those of us who are overweight on a daily basis.I am one of those really not so rare people who's obesity is caused directly by an illness. I have Cushing's disease, which is caused by a pituitary tumor and one of it's hallmarks is a massive slowing of the metabolism regardless of eating or exercise habits that leads to rapid and uncontrollable weight gain coupled with fluid retention resulting in a very heavy and rather puffy appearance.
When I was first diagnosed I had been a healthy eating vegetarian for almost 20 years, I was walking, cycling, swimming, weight training and dancing in some combination daily, and I gained over 100 lbs in a very short span without ever changing my eating or exercise habits.I also have Hashimoto's disease which is one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism, it is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the thyroid gland resulting in fluctuations of thyroid hormone in the body.
My weight has gone down about 70 to 80-lbs since the beginning of my illness,being on the correct dose of thyroid medicine helps, but it doesn't solve all of my problems, and I'm still a good 60 to 75 lbs overweight.And until I get the tumor removed, my weight could balloon back up at any time. This is just one of many many medical reasons for weight gain, other thyroid issues,PCOS or other hormone or endocrine disorders,certain medications and on the list goes are reasons for weight gain. And I won't even get going on the psychological reasons why someone might want to hide behind being heavy in order to "disappear." Bottom line though, none of that matters and heavy people are just as deserving of respect and kindness as anyone else. Regardless of size, we are all human beings with thoughts, fears, loves and emotions. I cannot wrap my brain around the anger that is clearly rooted in fear that manifests as something near hatred toward those of us who are fat. I wish I could say that I've only experienced it online, but I have felt it in my daily life as well. Just an example. Out at a local bar with my then fiance, now husband, some drunk guy approached our table trying to pick up on our female friend. The conversation turned to my guy and I getting married. This guy looked at me and then at my now husband and said "you're marrying....THAT?" We were both so shocked that neither of us responded to him. But as the days passed afterward, it really upset me and cut me to the core that because I was fat, I was somehow less than human and unworthy of love. Thankfully my husband loves me exactly as I am.

Being fat is A CHOICE

Ask me if I care. You're fat by choice. Get over it. Grow up.

"Being fat is not a

"Being fat is not a choice"
Aaaand that's where you're wrong for 90% of people.

I'm curious as to where you

I'm curious as to where you get the 90 % statistic. Can you back that up with facts?I also find it interesting that when making such a claim you'd post as anonymous. I guess it's easier to fat shame when you're hiding behind the screen. and in the cases where perhaps it is a choice, it doesn't make that person any less deserving of respect as you are.

You are pure awesome.

I was going to point this out, but you were on it already. Love it!

well duh

Because everybody can lose and maintain weight by dieting. If you eat more than your body uses, then you choose to be fat and unhealthy. Conditions like thyroid problems and diabetes only limit your diet, you still choose to ignore your dietary limitations and overeat if you gain weight.

sincerely,
a fat ass without excuses.

Thank you!

Thank you for having some common sense! Be fat if you want to. I don't care; it doesn't affect me, and it's not my body. But don't make excuses for why you're fat and act "oppressed" just because you want to eat crap food as much as you can and not exercise.

Your name is unverified,

Your name is unverified, there is no difference. Don't like the point they make so attack a meaningless part of their post, that'll show them who's right!

Unabashedly Not Anonymous

If it's the anonymity of the poster that makes you doubt them then I will gladly step forward with my name to defend what I believe. You want respect, yet you call someone a fat shamer for simply stating that they have a different opinion than you. Respect is earned, not given. Regardless of whether or not it is a healthy choice, being overweight is a choice. If the body takes in more calories than it burns, the calories are stored in lipids. That's just the way it works. Cut out the extras not being burned and viola, the lipid storage disappears.

Bravo!

There's not a conspiracy against you. No one forces you to take any diet supplements or participate in anything the diet industry has to offer, so stop blaming them. Count calories and exercise if you want to lose weight. You don't even need a gym! Stop making excuses! Being morbidly obese is not healthy, and that's not a world-wide medical conspiracy against you either. The fact that some people have written books telling you that it is does not make up for the fact that it's a scientific and medical fact that if you're obese or morbidly obese, you WILL have more health problems than someone at a healthy weight. If you want to be fat, then fine, but HAES? Absolutely NOT.

Thank you

I want to thank you for your articles on this. Although I love this article and want to come back and read it again and again; I know I won't because of my fear of the comments. I expect fat-hating and shaming on comments from other websites, but not from fellow rad queer feminists. Reading the comments last time was triggering and heartbreaking. Reading the comments from folks who advocated fat-shaming as a weight loss method certainly didn't make me any less fat. Reading fellow queer folks insinuate I didn't belong in 'their' community or that this wasn't 'their' issue, did however, make me feel less accepted in one of the only spaces I felt I belonged. I hope that people's views on this evolve and change as it is brought into their awareness. I hope that reading that an actual live queer fat feminist person was deeply hurt by those comments helps to personalize the issue so that maybe folks will think twice before being so demeaning to others in their community and beyond.

This is for all Social Justice Movements

This is not just for queers. This is for all social justice movements. I hope one day we will move past the surface and even go beyond judging. Deeds: That is the only way to know someone.

Deeds: the actions of fat

Deeds: the actions of fat people which lead them to become fat. If you can't be responsible with your own body, the one thing you're stuck with for life, why would I ever trust you to take good care of something else?

Thank you.

I have radical, feminist, queer friends in the medical community who *still* push weight loss despite what you've correctly outlined here - weight loss doesn't work, doesn't stick in over 90 of cases, and losing and regaining large amounts of weight actually harms the heart. The reality is, the best thing they could do is to promote healthful living - more veggies, more fruit, more unprocessed whole foods, less sugar, more movement, more sex, more meditation, more joy - and leave the obsessing about weight loss to the patriarchal bullshit corporations that get rich off of it. I do not understand how these science devotees can unplug their brains when it comes to this issue and at least admit that its terribly unlikely to work at best to attempt weight loss instead of focusing on healthful, joyful living.

addendum

*If* sex is your thing, that is. I want to acknowledge those that are asexual as well. I brought it up as something that has consistently shown health benefits for many. In general, more things that get us moving and create more joy in our lives!

Can you site your source for

Can you site your source for that 'doesn't stick in 90% of cases'? (Not using the 1950's study that only had 100 people in it.) People keep referencing about 5 different books or studies to justify this "healthy while being obese" crap, guess what? There are a thousand more studies and books saying the exact opposite thing. People are just clinging to the one that validates them and the choices they made that led them to be unhealthy. You want to be fat? Fine. That is your choice. The vast majority of people who are obese didn't get that way because of some disease, they got that way because of their lifestyle. They can lose the weight and become healthy by changing that lifestyle, they choose not to. People will judge you for this because it is a decision you made, just like you can and likely will be judged for every decision you make. It's fine if you want to be fat. You're an adult and that is your choice. Pretending there is no solution for the vast majority of obese people is being delusional and either is a) lying to yourself, or b) being objectively stupid. Yes, stupid. Below average intelligence. I'm not calling you stupid, I'm just telling what the cause of thinking that would be. If you claim you aren't lying to yourself then it's you picking the other option.

Sure, here's an example

Sorry to reply to myself but

If you don't want to click the link, here's a delicious nugget of factualness:
"Dieting is not the answer

The research is now clear. The burgeoning commercial weight loss industry has actually contributed to the current health issue in many ways. Directly associated with the behemoth that is now the commercial weight loss industry, not only are more people at a higher weight compared with 20 years ago, but increasingly, people are developing difficulties with their relationship with food.

These difficulties can range from people feeling like they shouldn’t keep biscuits in their house for fear of eating all of them, all the way through to the development of disordered eating and eating disorders.

Mann and Tomiyama, in a review of 31 studies, found that “several studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain. One study found that both men and women who participated in formal weight-loss programs gained significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who had not participated in a weight-loss program”.

“[And] these studies show that one-third to two-thirds of dieters regain more weight than they lost on their diets and… these studies likely underestimate the extent to which dieting is counterproductive.”"

Please Don't Use Paul Campos as a Source for Science

As a scientist, it really makes my blood boil to see someone cite Paul Campos for a source on science. First of all, he's not a scientist, he's a lawyer. Secondly, he has made serious errors in the interpretation of epidemiological data. In the Obesity Myth, he insisted that the technique of adjusting for smoking status was questionable and referred to data thus analyzed as "manipulated". In epidemiology you always adjust for smoking because it is the worst thing you can do for your health. (Aside from cleaning up a nuclear reactor without a radiation suit.) If you don't, then benign factors that are more common in smokers appear to be risk factors.
Katherine Flegal, a very reputable scientist, recently published a paper finding that people with BMIs in the overweight range had a lower death rate. The case can be made without using sketchy sources like Paul Campos.

why is it whenever i read an

why is it whenever i read an article that touches on weight issues written by a thin woman, she has to point out that she's thin? (she even gloats about how much she eats while staying magically svelte.) like, maybe her opinion is more valid if she's thin? or as much as she's all about telling us how she thinks fat girls are hot - that's how open-minded she is - she wants to make sure no one gets the wrong idea and lumps her in with those people? some other reason? i don't get it, i just know it gives me the creeps.

Smartygirl: I actually think

Smartygirl: I actually think the reason is far scarier than that - A thin person knows that fatphobic people will listen more to her if she tells them she's thin. If they know this article on weight and fatphobia is written by someone who isn't fat herself, they can't say "Of course she'd say that, SHE is fat". And as long as it's only fat people who are criticizing them for being fatphobic, and pointing out the myths about weight and health, they can just keep thinking it's fat people defending their lifestyles bla bla. But if a thin person brings these issues up, it's not as easy to dismiss as "fat propaganda".

It shouldn't work that way, but I'm afraid it probably does.

that's what i meant by "her

that's what i meant by "her opinion is more valid if she's thin." buying into that is perpetuating it. but some of her best friends are fat, so it's ok, right?

it just kind of reminds me of those creepy white guys i know in university who exclusively dated brown women to show how "progressive" they were. or, you know, not.

I think in that case it boils

I think in that case it boils down to whether you think the best thing for an ally to do is use their privilege to broadcast the message louder (e.g. this writer or, for race issues, someone like Tim Wise)--ideally while calling attention to the fucked-up fact that the only reason people are paying them so much attention is because they have that privilege--or get the fuck out of the way of the people whose issue it is (e.g., respectively, fat people or people of color). I personally think both types of voices are important, but it's also crucial that those with privilege don't step on the voices of the people they're supposedly trying to help. In a best-of-both-worlds scenario, it would've been nice if the author had also signal-boosted some work by fat activists who are fat themselves.

Ew

I'm a white guy and I am dating a fat woman of color. I guess that makes me "creepy." Way to delegitimize everything you say by hating on people that date people of different races, because that's bad?

One thing I get really bothered by as a political activist who has spent years now doing my small part to engage these issues and fight oppression, is that nobody wants my help. Because I'm a white straight man. Of course, I grew up very poor and was fat and beaten up constantly for it and also for seeming gay, but none of that must have mattered the day I lost a little bit of weight and was issued my Patriarchy Card (still in the mail I suppose). I hear constant attacks on white male activists for supporting causes and not being sexist racist scumbags, and now I am seeing yet another attack on a queer woman because she is thin. Seriously? Because she is thin she is "perpetuating it."

If you can't be inclusive, and you need to rain on everybody's parade, maybe you don't want problems like racism to go away. Would you prefer all white men in University date other white people exclusively? That might be less "creepy." And the only people who can raise their voice are people who are black, fat, queer, trans, disabled, mentally ill, senior citizens (as in all of the above) because they must trump all other oppressed groups.

I think this is a valuable article and I appreciate Anna Mollow speaking about anti-fat prejudice. I think it is important to identify prejudices within groups of already oppressed people. The queer community needs to support liberation of all forms, especially if it wants support from other groups. This is a solidarity effort, not a competition to see who has it worst.

Oh, Jesus.

You are not owed a cookie for "not being a sexist racist scumbag". That is at best a MORAL NEUTRAL. You are nowhere near as enlightened as you think you are. Go back to square one.

holy missing the point batman

i didn't say all white men are evil or all thin people are evil, and i certainly didn't attack the author for being thin.

i said it's depressing/typical that when discussing fat-related issues, the author feels compelled to *mention* that she is thin. not that she *is* thin, but that it her weight needs to be stated so it doesn't get speculated upon. and because her (perceived) weight will have an effect on her credibility. in the 21st century. it's depressing.

and by way of analogy i said it reminds me of people i have known who have diffused their own position of privilege by borrowing the oppression of others. it isn't just white guys doing it, but the most glaring example i oculd think of would be white guys (multiple) i knew at uni who exclusively dated non-white women not because they had so much in common or whatever, but solely as a way for them to bask in the glow of reflected credibility. you'd see them getting into big debates with one another at party while their girlfriends were busy in the kitchen getting people drinks or whatever, a parody of the stereotypical 1950s north american household.

another example i can think of is a woman i used to know who didn't like hanging around with people who didn't at least have a masters' degree because she "couldn't relate to them," but made an exception for a mutual friend of ours because he was gay. i don't know if she kept a scorecard for acceptableness of acquaintances or what.

i have also known many white men (and women!) who have had *genuine* relationships with non-white people, nothing wrong with that. love who you love. but people who go around saying "look how open-minded i am allowing a minority person into my life" need to get over themselves.

the difference is intent.

or maybe i'm wrong, and straight white guys really are the most oppressed group on the planet. whatever.

see also: derailing for

see also: derailing for dummies: derail using entitlement http://www.derailingfordummies.com/derail-using-entitlement/

Fatness and feminism

Surprised you did not reference "Fat is a feminist issue"-by Susie Orbach.

nobody's business

I'm fat. always have been. there are times I've been active in fat acceptance politics and other times when I've found it hard to give a shit. sometimes I'm cool with who I am, sometimes not. sometimes I workout, sometimes I don't. sometimes I'm assertively comfortable with my body sexually, sometimes I'm not. sometimes I eat well, sometimes I don't. but here's the thing: none of this is anybody's fucking business. and they certainly have no right to assume or presume any-fucking-thing about me, nor mistreat or inferiorize me based on my size. none of the above really matters -- whether obesity is medical, whether 90 or 11% of us are fat by choice. here's what does matter: no one should be discriminated against for how they look. period. fat folks are pretty much the last acceptable target of malice, mocking, shaming & judgment. that's why this is a cause worthy of support from the queer community & progressives of all movements. i am so sick of so-called progressives echoing the same kind of judgment we've come to expect from narrowminded mainstreamers. to cast moralistic sanctimonious stones from glass houses is to entirely miss the political point: fat discrimination persists, is unacceptable, and theoretical rhetoric about socialization and body image norms is no excuse for dissing the call to action. it should never be okay to treat fat people as anything but equal.

Really?

I actually fail to see your point? People are mean to fat people? Fuckin deal with it. People are mean to other people.. The fact that you can even compare the oppression of the gay community to being told to lose a bit of weight is frankly insulting to the gay community

Yeah, cause there are no fat

Yeah, cause there are no fat people in the gay community...oh, wait.

Yes, Really!

The fact that you minimize that oppression and hate that fat people endure to "being told to lose a bit of weight" is insulting. Take a look at any area of life and there is fat discrimination: health care---incessant pressure and bullying to undergo bariatric surgery (which has horrible complications) and restrict calories (starve oneself); education--fat kids getting bullied; families--fat shaming, teaching kids to hate their bodies; comedy/entertainment---fat people are on the receiving end of horrible jokes; fat activists---receive full on death threats. The examples go on and on. There are so many books, blogs, and organizations where you can go to learn about the fat liberation movement (i.e. HAES website, NOLOSE). This may help you see the authors point in this article and realize that telling fat people to "fuckin deal with it" is really your own unnecessarily harsh way of not dealing with your own fatphobia.

How do you deal with losing jobs, promotions, apartments?

Just deal with it? Hey Joe, how do you deal with not getting a job you know you were the best qualified for just because they hiring panel didn't like how you looked? And they hired someone not qualified just because they were thin? How do you deal with getting passed over for a promotion in lieu of a lesser qualified thin person just because you're fat? How do you deal with not getting an apartment when the owner sees your fat and is afraid you'll be walking too heavy on the floor and bother the person below? How do you deal with people assuming fat people smell (which we don't anymore than thin people do) and shy away from sitting next to us in theatres or restaurants or standing in line next to us at the checkout? How do you deal with bartenders at bars acting like they don't see you just because they don't want to serve a fat person they think shouldn't be in a hot person's bar, like they only want thin people in their bar? How do you deal with clothing store clerks coming up to you and assuring you they have nothing in your size just because they don't want fat people in their store for image or because they don't want you discheveling the store they will have to straighten with no sale from it? How do you deal with a restaurant manager making you wait much longer than thin people for a table because they assume you can't fit into a booth without even asking you? How do you deal with looks from every waiter or server who ever takes your food order saying clearly with their eyes "yeah, like you really need this"? How do you deal with, despite the fact that 25% of America being obese but airplane seats, car seats, train seats, amusement park ride seats, pretty much any public seat is designed for thin people, with no seats set aside designed for larger people, completely ignoring the fact that 25% of America is larger frame? How do you deal with being humiliated by angry flight attendants when they think you are too big for an airplane seat with not a single seat on the plane designed for a person larger than the average person in society - a thin person? Hmmmm - how do you "just deal with" all of that?

>Hey Joe, how do you deal

>Hey Joe, how do you deal with not getting a job you know you were the best qualified for just because they hiring panel didn't like how you looked? And they hired someone not qualified just because they were thin? How do you deal with getting passed over for a promotion in lieu of a lesser qualified thin person just because you're fat?

I've heard this mentioned a few times now, and I'm curious; did they actually tell you that the reason they turned you down was because of your appearance or weight? If so, I'm pretty sure that's grounds to sue under equal employment standards.

How can you tell you were more qualified than the other candidates? Were you in the room during their interviews or did you read their resumes?

Or are you, and not just you in particular, DT, the other people using this argument in the comments as well, just assuming that was the reason for being turned down?

actually no, fat is not a "protected class" for EEOC purposes

Nice try, thanks for playing.

Interesting stuff

This was very articulate and well thought out article, I also enjoyed all additional links you included in here, I think this is an important issue.

A question/concern:

You make it very clear that you believe that being obese/overweight is NOT a health issue NOR a choice, and for the majority of cases this rings true. I know very many healthy "fat fit" people that carry a little more simply because their metabolisms operate differently than those with high metabolisms.

I'm not going to attack all overweight people here and tell them they need to stop eating McDonalds and get regular exercise, but the truth is there ARE many people (especially here in the U.S.) who's weight is directly related to a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet.

Now, while their WEIGHT may not actually be a health issue, things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes ARE unhealthy and being overweight/obese is a SYMPTOM of that.

What concerns me is not a person's weight: it's the culture that embraces sitting in front of a screen all day and poisoning ourselves with over-processed junk that contains nothing but empty calories and chemicals.

While this article is a good reminder that overweight people are not always unhealthy and that I should be careful with my judgements, I will not embrace the culture that has caused a serious increase in health issues such as diabetes and heart disease (Which is a problem especially for Americans both thick and thin).

It is too bad that being overweight and obese is a symptom of this cultural addiction to an unhealthy lifestyle, but that's why it can be hard to separate that issue from the one of "fat shaming". So any insight you can offer drawing the distinction would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for pointing this

Thank you for pointing this out. I'm not saying everyone who is overweight is inherently unhealthy, but being overweight does lead to health issues. There's also a difference between being 5'5'' and weighing 160 and being a similar height and weighing 250. There's a difference between overweight and obese. Someone who is slightly overweight may be genetically predisposed to being heavier. Someone who has packed on hundreds of extra pounds is obviously eating more than they need to be. Health issues work both ways too. Being underweight isn't healthy either. These are choices to not put the work in to change how you look. I'm sorry, but I don't think society should condone people being severely obese. It's unhealthy in almost all cases. Society trends to dislike other unhealthy behaviors, why should this be any different?

Just to add to the above

Just to add to the above comment -- I also appreciated the mention in this article that different people have a "set weight" that you can only deviate from by 20-30 pounds over the long term. I think this is true for many people, such that heavier people can indeed live very healthy lifestyles but remain heavier then some of their peers who in fact take less care of themselves. So, yes, weight is not always correlated to health.

However, like this commentator, I have a similar question for the author of this article, namely, how do we explain the dramatic *increase* in obese and overweight people since the '60s? We have the same sort of gene pool; there's no way that it could change so dramatically over such a minuscule period of time. However, far more people are fat then there were about 50 years ago. Our diets and lifestyles have changed, and this does seem to be responsible for that change. I don't have to enumerate the ways, but some are as simple as the prevalence of escalators versus stairs.

I agree that fat shaming is never appropriate, particularly as eating a healthy diet *is* harder if you are poor. It's hard to find the time to prepare healthy meals and the money to buy fresh ingredients, particularly given the "food deserts" that many Americans live in. It's also very hard to avoid an advertising culture that consistently encourages eating high fat, high sodium food, perhaps deceitfully "enriched" with some vitamins. The solutions to this have to be social and economic, rather then expecting individuals to be able to change their lifestyles all on their own. Nevertheless, it IS a problem, and to present it otherwise ignores my question: why are there so many more fat people then before, and why, though some fat people are healthy, is being fat often a symptom of underlying health problems?

You just said so amazingly what I've been saying for 30 years.

Wow - you just said so succinctly and amazingly what I've been saying for 30 years. For 30 years I've been saying being fat is not just slovenly and gluttoness people who have no self control. Being fat in America is alot more complicated from a medical standpoint than just eating less and being more active. For decades I've seen thin people gorge themselves at buffets and watch fat people starve themselves only to have the thin people stay thin with no effort and the fat people stay fat for no justifiable reasons. Our body chemistry does in fact impede weight loss for those genetically programmed to be fat. Try convincing a fat bigot of that and they'll just say you're making excuses for your own weaknesses. The comment from the worker that said prospective employers drop their faces when they see you after initially being excited from your resume hit the nail right on the head for me. I can't tell you how many times I've had that disappointed look, from dates, friends, doctors, employers, coworkers, strangers, Hell even the woman behind the cash register at a store. Bill Maher spreads this fat hatred on his show by calling heavy people "fat fucks" with hate in his tone. I wonder if he had a bully who was fat beat Bill up when he was a kid and Bill is spending his lifetime hating fat people and never knowing why? Perhaps some therapy for Mr. Maher, or some medical education is warranted?

Thank you again for writing an amazingly on-point article, and I hope your thinking spreads far and wide, as the battle for fat acceptance and fat equality is only beginning, with an even harder uphill road to go than the gays have had.

I always scratch my head when

I always scratch my head when people compare being fat to a REAL disability. Being overweight is not a disability. A disability is something you have no control over and possibly take medication for like lupus or cancer. Being fat is TOTALLY preventable. It has to do with just plain laziness! Is everyone destined to be skinny? Of course not. But it 's not about being skinny. It's about health. Being overweight puts you at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, joint pain, cancer etc. etc. Almost every disease known to man can be prevented or eliminated entirely by simply losing weight. It is pure laziness. Being fat is NO WHERE NEAR the equivalent of the sheer violence that we face as LGBT. It is quite insulting actually. You have the option of losing weight but your sexuality cannot be changed.

I don't know whether to be amused or disgusted...

This article and its supporters are absolutely remarkable. A sexual preference is not a choice. For most, the conscious mind is not even involved. People shouldn't have to suffer or face discrimination for something they have no control over or hope of ever changing.

And granted, being fat is not exactly a choice either. However, unlike with sexual preferences and skin color, it is most often the direct result of poor choices that were made, typically when it comes to diet or exercise. I won't argue that for some, very small portion of the overweight population, genetics and serious problems such as diabetes and thyroid problems can be major contributors to the issue of obesity. A scant few others suffer it among the side effects of certain antidepressants (nice work on that formula, docs). As do physical disabilities that limit physical exercise -however, if you take a look at the Special Olympics, you would see that there are much fewer of these than many enablers would have you believe. However, that does not excuse the individuals who do virtually nothing and eat for 3 or more people.

I am of the firm belief that the behavior patterns that lead to the kind of repulsive obesity that the U.S. is tragically (and sadly, rightfully) being associated with can be readily identified as those of addiction. The people who have become fat through this means (and whom can be identified by eating excessively and especially by defending such a diet) are indeed suffering -from an addiction to food. They don't need to be taught to love themselves the way they are. What they need is an intervention from caring friends and family, and support in overcoming this embarrassing, crippling, and in some cases fatal habit. But as with overcoming any addiction, the first and most important step is for the person suffering from it identifying it for what it is. The second one, which is only marginally less important and will be required for the duration of recovery, is understanding the need for this change and developing the internal motivation to make it.

So yeah... I'll say that fat people are victims. In the same way that smokers, alcoholics, potheads, and other such people are victims. Their primary abusers are themselves and those that contribute to their condition by telling them being obese is beautiful. Some do suffer the habits of their parents, and will need more support, both from within and without, to conquer them. And if they're ok with that fact after accepting it, then no problem. But I refuse to support any movements to facilitate this or any self-victimization.

I will not be surprised if I find my inbox flooded with hate emails over this. I don't care. It needs to be said.

Agreed

I'm totally with you. Carry on making sense! For very, very few people there are actual medical problems that prevent them from EVER losing weight. Also, I don't think medications like antidepressants make a person 100 lbs overweight. Otherwise, it's a lifestyle. It's especially worrying how many children are now obese or morbidly obese, and it's not genetics. It's parents making poor choices for themselves and passing it on to their kids. Like the above poster, I can't support it either.

Just a little question

What do fat justifiers and enablers call their 'former fat comrades/fellow victims' who have made the effort to lose weight and improve their physical condition, succeeded and stayed that way?

Hypocrisy

I love how fat justifiers run down people who used to be fat and have chosen to lose weight (hopefully in a healthy way). Now who's body-shaming?

NOBODY CARES. Being fat does

NOBODY CARES. Being fat does not make you a minority. It's not like skin color, not like gender. You're fat because you:

1. Eat too much bad food;
2. Enjoy a sedentary lifestyle with no physical activity;
3. You don't care about your physical appearance.

It's that simple, fatso. It's simple math, physics and chemistry based around the Laws of Thermodymanics. You consume fewer QUALITY calories than you expend, ergo you will lose weight. You're problem. Do you understand! You're morons. Being fat IS A CHOICE you delusional, histrionic, irrational, shrill, bitter, angry, FAT, logically/factually/intellectually challenged half-wits. It's disgusting to allow yourself to become built like a small car and it's a conscious choice enabling actions to lead to that conclusion.............you fat slob. Cry me a river.

You have no idea what you're talking about

You need to check your privilege! Diets do NOT work. I changed how I eat for almost a month, and didn't lose any weight. My body is just made this way, I am active (I walk everywhere, like the supermarket and the mall,) I eat healthy (for breakfast I had a few cups of oatmeal with honey and brown sugar and a few eggs,) and I avoid bad things like soda (I drink lots of juice instead!)

So why am I still big? It's because this is how I'm made. My family is big, I am big. It's in our genes. And I'm still as hot as ever!

You have to track calories.

You have to track calories. You could eat all healthy foods, but if you eat more calories than you need you'll gain weight. Also, a month is isn't really long enough to notice a difference. If you really do want to lose weight (which you may not want to), you should check out any online food diaries where it helps you track what you eat.

"a few cups of oatmeal with

"a few cups of oatmeal with honey and brown sugar and a few eggs"

WHAT.

This is the kind of claim that drives me completely crazy. Someone says that they are on a diet and can't lose weight, and then once the "diet" is revealed, it becomes apparent that even the amount of calories that they are eating on the "diet" would be enough to make a thin person gain.

After losing fifty pounds by eating healthy over the course of two years, I am now in an average weight range for my height, but not skinny, and if I was to eat the meal that you considered to be a "diet" breakfast, I would gain ten pounds in a week!

Also, staying away from soda does nothing if you are replacing it with juice. Most juices have no nutritional value and are all sugar.

By all means, if you are happy being fat, be fat!

I had no problem being classified as obese until I started noticing that the stress on my knees was making it uncomfortable to be active.

But don't try to claim that diets don't work if you clearly have no idea how to diet, or what your caloric goals should be.

Dieting doesn't have to be awful, but if you have no understanding of portions and just how many calories are in foods like the eggs you mentioned, or the sugar on your oatmeal, you will likely just be frustrated, because you won't lose a pound.

I hate to break it to you

Uhm, I don't know how to tell you this, but I think the user is a troll/agreeing with the original comment.

Why dieting really doesn't work.

Calories in, calories out. Can't explain that!

I would say that the author

I would say that the author of this article doesn't quite understand how weight loss (or gain) occurs. Changing fat intake doesn't affect weight, and volume of food doesn't necessarily indicate calorie content. You could eat 2 cups of broccoli and your partner could eat 1 cup with some ranch and she'd be consuming more calories than you. More calories consumed = higher weight. Weight loss is not impossible, but it can be difficult when people don't know how to do it. You should check out the forums of myfitnesspal to see a lot of people who have been very successful at losing weight and improving their health.

Fat acceptance is great, but don't support it by spreading false or misleading information.

Fat Liberation is Totally NOT Queer

This article is nuts. I'm a thin person, and my partner is 160 pounds overweight - and I'm not crusading to change OTHER people's minds about his weight . I'm crusading to change his eating and exercise habits so that he doesn't die many years before I do. Obesity is a MAJOR health crisis that is causing more premature deaths than all other major causes of death combined. People should be focused on changing their own minds about their own health situation vs. changing the minds of others about it. Discriminating against overweight people and discriminating against LGBT people are both discrimination - but that's where it ends. People are not born overweight and LGBT isn't a health crisis. They are two completely different things, and I don't see how any rational person can compare the two the way the author has. It is completely ridiculous. I agree that all people should be treated with love and respect regardless of their size, but do we really need to stop seeing this as a disease / health crisis in order to achieve that? Lots of people are treated badly for lots of reasons - so why not campaign for us to all be kinder to one another vs. accepting obesity as something other than what it is: the worst health crisis in the history of America.

Not the same

In Nigeria, you can be EXECUTED for being gay or lesbian.

You can't be executed for being fat.

It's not the same, please stop pretending it is. It really undermines the true struggle of the LGBT community. If you would like to post about your rights as an overweight person, be my guest. But do it separately, as its own cause, and don't compare it to this.

Excellent argument

All the people bitching about "its a choice" or its "unhealthy" are sooo totally missing the point and are just using it as an excuse to be a self righteous asshole. Nobody honestly cares if some total stranger is healthy or not or if they brought it on themselves. The bottom line is that they have a problem with the way somebody LOOKS and it makes them uncomfortable. There are plenty of ways that a person can make themselves unhealthy, but as long as their health problems are invisible nobody minds. The state of one's health is between them and their doctor and being publicly shamed is not helpful or deserved. Some fat people caused their own health problems, some suffer from a disease, and there are also fat people who are otherwise (gasp!) healthy. i've known fat people who are active with good stamina who have normal to better than average blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, much to the surprise of their doctors. Making negative generalizations about someone based on the way they look is the very definition of predjudice. So don't fool yourself into believing that its all about health. The fatphobes simply have a problem with "ugly" - and that is NEVER an acceptable reason to disrespect, humiliate or discriminate against another person..

It's My Choice Too

I'm very glad that DOMA and Prop 8 were overturned, that's a huge step towards the American goal of all men created equal, but I'm sorry to say that I can't agree with you when it comes to fat people facing the same discrimination as gay people. There was one statement here that particularly bothered me. "Yes, fat people can get married, but many thin people would not consider dating, let alone loving and marrying, someone who is fat." Is it not my choice to date who I want to date? You cannot force a thin person to love a fat person, as you cannot force a gay man to love a woman.

Interesting

As a fat queer person, there are some problems I see in this article. First of all the idea that we should move on to "the next thing" is a little ironic given that any queer person who's not white and affluent and cisgender is hardly feeling that equal these days. And we just moved way backward on the Voting Rights Act. So I don't subscribe to the model that we move from one identity issue to another, fixing each single oppression and then moving on.

That all said people who subscribe to the 'it's all your fault fat people, it's your choice not an oppression' are really super duper fucking clueless. I could easily argue that feeling super oppressed as a white gay person in 2013 in the US is a big fat fucking choice, cause seriously on the scale of oppression in the entire world most of you really have it awesomely good. Everything about how we live and interpret our lives is a choice, but that doesn't mean it's anyone else's fucking business if it's not harming someone other than ourselves.

But more importantly, by doubling down on this fake and ridiculous myth of a self-contained individual world where its all about calories in calories out, you're really fucking yourself by ignoring the huge forces at work here, from pharmaceutical companies, to factory farming of GMO's, to a massive advertising industry that is completely dependent on everyone feeling in some way like they're not enough. Does it matter to anyone else here that this whole dieting industry and its associated eating disorders and mental problems cropped up at precisely the time that the second wave feminist movement was starting to win? And wait, isn't this a feminist website-- promoting the movement that first realized personal decisions are political in nature?

Yall need to wake up.

Thank you Hannah!

Thank you Hannah for your comments here - I am also fat and queer and the fact that the author is celebrating marriage with no feminist or queer analysis about its racism, sexism, heteronormativity, or neoliberal reification of the state is something I find incredibly problematic here.

Why does one need to couch an article about why fatphobia is bad within the terms of marriage? Fatphobia is oppressive and as so many of the negative comments attest, it is pervasive and frightening and part of the dominant paradigm of American culture. Making parallels between LGBT/Q movements and fat rights movements and fatphobia and homophobia can be useful - but couching it in marriage is simply an "easy way out" that does not address the serious problems with or critiques of marriage as an institution in the first place - or the fact that the SCOTUS DOMA ruling gives some people access to federal benefits while others - those who aren't, can't, and don't want to be married; those in states with constitutional bans against same-sex marriage; those who have relationships with more than 1 other person, etc. - are not allowed to access these same benefits.

And also...

Why are there a shit load of men on a feminist website saying that fat is not an oppression?

thank you!

Thanks for your article here and your work in general. Every time I read something from the fat acceptance movement I feel a little more hopeful that I am desirable (not just sexually, but in a broad way) as a human being. It is difficult to live your life thinking that you have nothing to offer because of the shape and size of your body, your economic status, your color, gender presentation, sexual orientation or other factors that should make you who you are (whether you chose them or not).

I refuse to play a game of one-downmanship with other people. I hope that people will one day acknowledge that when one group is treated as "less than" it holds everyone back.

When people are marginalized, silenced and ostracized just thinking of the waste makes my heart HURT.

Those commenters are WOMEN-HATING TROLLS

The men posting horrible, hurtful comments are TROLLS, and not only do they purposely follow fat (women’s) acceptance sites, but they have created numerous “I hate fat women” sites. They spew their vitriolic bile just to make themselves feel better. Really, I think they secretly are attracted to fat women and turn that attraction into hate toward themselves and the agents of their desire. You know "protesting too much!"

Conflicted...

I'm not fatphobic. My father has been fat my entire life and I have friends who are fat (and proud)! Just like the homophobe who has gay friends, right? (This isn't looking good for me already). I'm not small either, but I don't think that I can speak as a fat person - I've never experienced many of the issues described in the article.

I agree, BMI research is shotty, and indeed, people can be large, active, and very healthy. And NO ONE deserves to be ostracized and made to feel less valuable because of their size. The only sector of society, it seems, that it is still acceptable to ridicule and to taunt publicly are fat people. And that needs to change.

So now that I've prefaced with that, I hope that what I'm about say will not come off as fatphobic in anyway. I don't want to offend, I want to have a conversation.

I find it hard to believe the suggestion that obese people (and I don't just mean obese on the BMI scale) eat a normal diet and get to the size they are. Granted, some people can eat double what an obese person might eat and remain thin. But that doesn't mean that fat people should be eating double a normal portion either. Some people need more food, others need less and we all need to find a balance that works for us as individuals. And then there's the types of food we eat which also factor into rates of obesity.

Suggesting that the obesity epidemic is a myth seems absurd to me. Maybe it is overblown, but then you still have the high obesity rates in places like the U.S., Australia, the U.K. and Canada. Why might that be? Why not in other parts of the world? It's one of two things which science still seems to back up: diet and exercise. Now, while there will always be different body sizes and there is not one calorie intake - calorie burn ratio that can even remotely apply to everyone, I think we also have to acknowledge that there is a point where people can get too big - and (likewise, people can also get too small).

Now there are some (maybe many) people who some people who are extremely large (and it gets hard to define, but lets say they are over 300lbs, or better, let's just say, they are visibly, very large), who are fit, have no health complications, and who eat the same diet as "the rest of us."But they are the exception not the rule.

I just know my father didn't get to be 300 lbs by eating steamed vegetables and chicken and running every day. And I worry about the suggestion that diet and exercise (granted, many will call them personal "choices") dont contribute to one's size - or more importantly, their health.

At the end of writing this, I'm not sure of where I really stand. I think it is more important to treat people with dignity and respect than to worry about whose health is at risk and whose is not. And I certainly don't believe that fat-shaming does anything to solve (I'm sorry) what I see as a major health problem of modern times. I'm just concerned that the idea that there is no problem at all - and the idea that i've read over and over again that seems to suggest that we have no control over how large our bodies become - could serve as an excuse for not taking care of ourselves. And in that respect, I think real obesity is in a different than being queer. But I'd love to hear your thoughts.....

This is how I feel as well. I

This is how I feel as well. I don't think we should be treating fat people horrible, but I don't think the "love your body as it is" attitude is any more helpful. I'm about twenty pounds overweight, and seeing as I don't exercise (besides some walking) it's probably my own fault. But being twenty pounds overweight is completely different medically than one hundred pounds overweight. You shouldn't have to deal with shaming, but you shouldn't just accept that you can't change if you want to.

lol

fat people

This is absolutely horrendous

Seriously, how can you compare the two?!? Do you sincerely believe anything you're saying? Being fat is absolutely nothing like being gay. Dear God, this kind of excrement makes me sick. I do not choose to be aroused by other women. I do, however, choose to pass on second helpings and dessert.

I come from a very overweight family. Morbidly obese back three generations. My father decided he wanted better for his family so he taught us to eat better and stay active. You people aren't fooling me with this "it's my hormones/genetics/thyroid" garbage. I also have an underactive thyroid because that runs in my family on my mother's side! Yes, I gained some weight when that happened but I also wasn't watching what I ate. PCOS? Got that, too. I have every single excuse that lazy, gluttonous, whiny human beings cling to. When I realized I can't eat whatever I want in terms of junk food and began eating normal-sized portions (NO I don't starve myself and never have) the weight *gasp* came back off!!! I was obese for a good chunk of my 20s. I'm in my 30's and I've kept the weight off. I know it is absolutely possible. And guess what? People are nicer to me. I can find clothes more easily. I appear more confident. I am more social. People are more likely to approach me with romantic intent. All this because I do not spend my nights and weekends on a couch unhinging my jaw to slide another tub of ice cream down my gullet. I run 5k's and triathalons with two bad ankles, a bad knee, bad hip, damaged spine, and a bad shoulder (military injuries FYI). There is absolutely no excuse for you to be the way you are if you don't want to be.

If you like yourself as a larger person, good for you! I mean it. I appreciate your positive self-image because everyone should love themselves and I don't think fat is the standard by which you should judge someone. Fat jokes are unacceptable and despite what you may think from my ramblings, I find them to be immature and offensive. But please don't start spewing bile about being unable to lose weight and how tragic it is that airlines don't accommodate you while inhaling your third donut. Don't call it "thin privilege" because I don't want you to take up all of your seat and half of mine. Do you know why I fit in my own seat? Or why I can find clothes in my size in every department store? Or why the attractive guy/girl will walk past you to talk to me? Because I sacrifice my lazy Saturdays to improve myself, and you can see that by looking at my figure. Put down the diet coke and snack cakes and run until you can't go another step, then run some more. Then do it again the next day, and the next. Or don't complain that you're treated differently. If you are obese you look the way you do because you chose the path of least resistance. Until the obesity epidemic reaches impoverished and famine-riddled 3rd world countries, your excuses are just that.

And if any person here is deluded enough to think that a 300lb obese person can be HAES, I challenge you to a 3 mile foot race.

[comment removed]

[This comment has been removed because of disrespectful name-calling. Please read Bitch's comments policy here! — eds.]

A secret contest being run by Bitch Magazine

Is there a secret contest being run by Bitch Magazine?
Is the goal to find the most hateful and disgusting things one can say to fat people? "Little kid tells you...?!"
Okay, this self hating, vicious commenter might be the one to take the Bitch prize! So,maybe the rest of you can stop attacking now?

What kind of fear did this article activate in the morbid and hellish hearts of these hate filled people?

I don't think it was an attack

I don't feel the commenter is self-hating at all. I think he was illustrating some of the excuses perpetuated by HAESers. And there is no fear in any of this; rather I think it's rage at the insinuation that there is some kind of parallel between homosexuality and obesity. I think it's popular opinion that only one of them is a choice. When you've spent your life fighting discrimination for something you legitimately can't help it can be frustrating to see people want to hop on your bandwagon over a self-induced issue that can almost always be changed. The spike in obesity in the developed world is caused by gluttony and lack of self-control. I know it hurts to hear but it's the truth.

It's Common Sense

I love you, Kristi.

A choice? I think not.

First, I am uncertain whether or not I buy that being fat is not really a choice. Certainly, there are clear cut cases in which it is not, where individuals have genetic conditions with the side effect of weight gain that cannot completely be offset by proper diet and exercise (for whatever biological reason). However, those conditions, to my knowledge are not common. However, and this is a BIG however, in most cases, I find the argument unconvincing. Let me explain. The rise in the rate of obesity, or shall we say people being overweight in comparison to previous times in history, since the BMI is a suspect measure, has accompanied other trends in our society - a lack of physical activity in work and school (for most of us), eating calorie dense and non-nutritious foods, the dominance of non-physically active leisure activities (ex. television, videogames, internet), and so on. It is a simple formula, really, we consume far more calories of a non-nutritious nature and are more stagnant, resulting in weight gain. Or did we all suddenly become genetically predisposed to being overweight... Did you know that if your body does not get the nutrients it needs, it can still be hungry, even though you have consumed enough calories - this causes you to overeat? Surely you must have noticed how fast good food fills you up. And beverages are a huge offender here because you don't even think about what you are putting in your mouth, but over the course of the day you can drink hundreds, even thousands, of extra calories in juices and sodas quite easily. The solution here is to drink mostly water. Anyway, I digress.

The second thing I wanted to mention is the misuse of the word "diet" in our contemporary society. People use it to mean a temporary restriction in eating intended to bring about a loss in weight or an improvement in health. This is not what the word diet means and this is why most "diets" fail, including those taken on by individuals who are extremely overweight. Now, what the word diet really means is one's day to day eating habits. One does not "go on a diet" to lose weight - that will rarely work. The only way to lose weight effectively is to permanently alter eating habits (as opposed to starving yourself for a period of time or just eating whatever miracle food they come up with). Simply eat a reasonable amount of healthy food (combine with exercise of course - that is important if only for health reasons) and weight loss will occur slowly. And bear in mind, what appears healthy is not always healthy, especially pre-packaged foods and beverages. You have to really read labels carefully. And you have to keep to this diet forever. This is why people always put the weight back on, they think that once they reach their target they can just go back to eating and behaving like normal...well of course the pounds go right back on.

Finally, I want to make one thing crystal clear, although I just wrote all that about overweight being a choice, that does not mean that I think it is acceptable to be discriminatory or prejudiced toward individuals who are overweight. That is morally repugnant to me because people should be treated equally and as these individuals have done no harm to others they should not be punished for their personal lifestyle choices. They may very well be causing harm to themselves, but then, many of us make decisions that have or potentially have harmful effects on our health and we are not stigmatized for those as long as the harm extends only to ourselves and is the result of the choice, not the choice itself. However, what I object to is pretending that there are no negative effects of being overweight, not being permitted to be honest about the fact of the matter, and children being forced to subsume the risk by their parents. It is one thing if an informed adult wishes to assume such risks his or herself - that is none of my business - but such an adult does not have the right to assume such risks on behalf of their children. I would argue that in the case of children, parents have an obligation to raise them to be as healthy as possible so that they are free to decide about matters of health for themselves, when they are old enough. I am not sure that there shouldn't be a stigma attached to parents who don't care about their children's health even if there isn't one for parents who don't care about their own health.

So in sum, if fat liberation means not discriminating against people who are overweight - then I am fine with that. They can choose to be that way if they want, I may think it unwise, but ultimately it is their decision. I have no right to treat them poorly for it nor to interfere (provided it was autonomously made in the case of the latter). But if it means pretending that being fat isn't a choice, that there is nothing harmful about it (to them, not to me), giving people the right to visit it on their children, then I am not for it - I won't lie and I won't participate in the harm of children in terms of their health or their autonomy.

Agreed

Agreed

Utterly confused.

I don't see any laws that discriminate against fat people. And what does the LGBT have to do with this.

Healthy Diets DO Work

If you go on a healthy diet with exercise and make that choice to change your life for the better by losing 50+ pounds, you will keep the weight off. If you're going to crash diet, take supplements riddled with caffeine and who knows what else, or go on stupid fad diets of starving yourself, then no, the results won't last. But you can't claim that NO diets work and no one EVER keeps the weight off. That's just making an excuse not to change your lifestyle.

I know that anecdotes are not evidence, but allow me one example. Both of my parents because morbidly obese over the course of many years due to a poor diet and being sedentary. Both of them started having major health problems and had to take drugs for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I was very, very worried that I would lose them sooner than I want to. And you know what? They decided to change. They started counting calories, eating a LOT less fat and sugar, and exercising several times a week.

My parents lost 95 lbs and 85 lbs. They run 5ks. They don't have to take medications. My dad is no longer facing surgery for one of his legs. So far they've kept it off for two years, and I couldn't be prouder. They are having the time of their lives travelling and doing whatever they want. Soon they'll be going on a zip line tour they couldn't do before because of the weight limits. I know they will never let themselves gain that weight back.

So be fat if you want, but don't make blanket claims that every diet fails, and everyone gains the weight back anyway, and it's all a big conspiracy against you.

Excellent article

People who are disagreeing with the points made in the article are not familiar with the research. Fat acceptance, size diversity and HAES are growing due to critical analyses in a multitude of fields that look at body size, weight, and health and dare to challenge what is seen as "normal." In ten years, people will be embarrassed at their own ignorance and may even remember (with shame) the hateful comments that they've written in response to articles like this one.

Bodies Out of Bounds, Then and Now

The parallels between the movement for queer rights and fat rights are apparent to those of us with intersecting identities, and we have a right to name our lived experience. If you didn't live thought the last 60 years you might not realize how similar the shaming, pathologizing, medicalizing, and internalized oppression was as LBGT people tried to conform/reform, how the ineffectual interventions felt like personal failures, how impossible it seemed to imagine a world where people with diverse sexualities could respect and admire each other. But we lived through it, we saw how culture can make room for diverse representations of "normal" and "worthy." Even when everyone is doing everything right according to the food and exercise police, there are some people at higher weights. The goal can't be to get rid of those bodies. Those of us in the LGBT community also have a great deal of body fascism that is related to having to prove we are good enough, and we need to face that problem and get help to the people who need it and put an end to that suffering too.

bigotry in ALL of its forms

Not surprising to see the trolls pile on in the comments here. They love to judge against others. And they're prone to jumping at conclusions based on fragile thinking. And it's always that "Yes, but..." response. If they had experienced actually living in a fat body they would never say such things.

Here's a bit of an inducement toward re-thinking attitudes toward fatness: http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/1/55.full

Those who have been the object of bigotry, you'd hope, would have a certain sensitivity to that problem. But most people don't or won't connect the dots. Their own particular biases are dear to them. Nationalism, political segmentation, religious intolerance (including hatred of Atheists), and homophobia are just a few cherished aversions. They are all barriers to the grasp of interconnectedness. Grievances hide miracles. We could stand to have a few nice miracles right now, but they're being delayed by collective torpor.

I do have some experience in this realm: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-968195

There's no reason why Quantum Change can't happen right now. And please don't say "Yes, but..."

What does intersectionality say?

I find it hard to wrap my head around comparing something such as being fat to something like sexual orientation, gender, or race. The ladder three have hundred of years history of oppression and violence against such minorities. For the most part, people aren't being killed, jailed, or hurt for being fat. But please correct me if I am wrong. I understand there is fat discrimination in the media and applying for jobs. I am talking about true physical danger by the hands of bigots.

Yes, some people have serious medical issues that cause them to be overweight or obese - this could be either physical or mental reasons. And yes, there are queer fat people, who may have to fight a slightly different battle than those who are queer and slim. Perhaps I am just misunderstanding the author's (and the other commenters) views on intersectionality?

As a person who has watched family member struggle with obesity, my heart is with those who do, but I still cannot justify comparing being fat to being queer, female/another gender minority, or a person of color. I do recognize being fat as it's own struggle - I just don't like the comparison.