… I recently told a friend who had lost weight.
“Not to be sizist about it, but you do, you look terrific.” She thanked me and talked about the time she had put in at the gym. And she did look great. But then, she looked great before she lost weight, too. And as you can tell from my smartass qualification, the exchange had me thinking — mid-exchange — about fat shaming and how to respect one person’s goal for her body while equally respecting other bodies of different shapes. I’ve been thinking a lot about it since I stumbled on the a blog called Dances with Fat. (Motto: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent.”)
It’s easy: just respect every body. Everybody and every BODY.
This concept is at the core of the disability rights movement. That bodies of all shapes and functionalities — and the people inside them* — are equally deserving of respect. Hell, it’s at the core of the civil rights movement: that people, regardless of the color of their skin or shape of their privates, are equally deserving of respect.
But it seems like the last group of people it is respectable to out and out ridicule — besides lawyers — are fat people. From Conan’s mocking of Kirstie Alley and a female Olympic weightlifter (who pwnd his sorry behind), to Jiminy Glick a/k/a Martin Short in a fat suit, we hear and apparently tolerate jokes about weight that we would never, in a million years, tolerate about, say, race or religion.**
And we’re supposed to “fight obesity.” In one of many examples, the Denver Post reported in July
A 2011 state law requiring 30 minutes of physical activity a day for elementary students was supposed to mark a new tool in the fight against childhood obesity . . .
OK, that’s not a report, it’s a sentence fragment, but in that one fragment, you see the problem: can we encourage physical exercise without “fighting obesity” — which is really asking us to fight against someone else’s body? Why on earth is the shape of your body any of my business much less something I should fight against?
Health risks? Everyone gets to take their own risks. Health care costs? If that’s the real worry — and not our judgmentalism — then encourage healthy eating, not fat shaming.
Here I have to take issue with the First Lady — on whom I otherwise have a totally embarrassing girlcrush. I’m very sorry she decided to label her cause “the epidemic of childhood obesity” rather than keeping the focus on kids eating a lot of stuff that’s really bad for them. You can be a healthy fat kid and you can also be a scrawny kid who eats only poptarts, peanut butter, and microwave pizzas. Though I doubt that either Lady Bird Johnson or Pat Nixon could have gotten me to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Moral: Be happy with your body; don’t judge other people’s bodies; eat more fruits and vegetables!
For example, from a website about my favorite fruit, I <Heart> Coffee
*Assumes a duality that we could argue over — from a philosophical, religious, and/or identity perspective — for days, possibly millennia.
the fringes of the Republican party.