Diet & Weight Magazine

Cool Story Bro

By Danceswithfat @danceswithfat

Small - Things you can tell by looking at a fat personOne of the ways that fat people are oppressed is that people feel free to substitute their stereotypes and stories for our actual experiences.

Studies claim that they have found a way to prevent/cure obesity when what they actually studied were calories consumed, or protein consumption, or consumption of fat etc.  That is not the same thing as body size.

Possibly the most egregious example I have seen of this is a list called “27 People Confess to the Fattest Thing They Ever Did”  (no power on Earth will make me link to it) Basically it’s story after story of people who ate a lot one time.   That not being fat, that’s eating a lot one time. Fat is a description of body size (and sometimes composition), not of behavior.  The practice judging other people’s eating, then associating that eating with a body size, then justifying stigmatizing people of that body size based on that platform of judgment and stereotyping is, not to put too fine a point on it, bullshit.

I was once in a discussion with a therapist who specializes in working with people who have Binge Eating Disorder (not any of the cool people we know, don’t worry) during which she told me that “In my experience, everyone your size has Binge Eating Disorder.”  I replied “Doesn’t your experience including a sign on your door that basically says ‘Come Here if You have Binge Eating Disorder’?”  I asked her how many people my size she had spoken to about their eating outside of her office, and how exactly did she broach that topic and she admitted that there weren’t any.

I asked if she would think it was reasonable for an orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee problems to say that in their experience everyone who is 5’6 has knee problems because everyone that she sees who is 5’6 has knee problems. She admitted that she wouldn’t and then said “I just don’t see how someone can be your size without binge eating.”  I mentioned a number of things that can lead to people being fat beside Binge Eating Disorder (genetics, weight cycling -aka yo yo dieting, certain health conditions etc.) and asked that she please not substitute an eating disorder diagnosis for a lack of her understanding of how body diversity works, especially since it does a disservice to people who are suffering from BED but aren’t fat and have trouble being taken seriously, as well as the mistaken belief that ending Binge Eating Disorder will result in a thin body.

I spend a lot of time doing research.  Often I explain that Matheson et. al. did a study of 11,761 people and Wei et. al did a study of 25,714 people and that the Cooper Institute Research on fitness and weight is based on the Cooper Institute Longitudinal Study which is a database that has more than 250,000 records from nearly 100,000 people totaling more than 1,800,000 person-years of observation and that this research supports the idea that, knowing the health is multi-dimensional, not an obligation, barometer of worthiness, or entirely within our control, healthy habits are a far better way to support our bodies than weight loss is.

Then I have to wade through 12 comments a day that say “I think you’re wrong because my Aunt Gertrude lost weight and got healthier” Ok? Are you sure it’s the weight loss and not the behavior change that lead to better health?  Do you really think your aunt’s experience trumps a combined sample of more than 120,000 people?

Or this one “All the people I know who have type 2 diabetes or heart disease are fat.”  Is this a frequent topic of conversation among your friends?  Do you know the T2D and heart disease status of more than 120,000 people?

How about this –  instead of tell stories to justify size-based stigmatizing, stereotyping  oppression we could fight it instead.

It’s Weight Stigma Awareness Week, check out this call to action!

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Book Me!  I give talks all across the country about self-esteem, body image, health and wellness for people of size and more, and I’d love to speak to your organization. (I’ll be in Northern New York and Central Pennsylvania in the next couple of months if you are in those areas and would like to add an event to those trips.) You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Here’s more cool stuff:

Buy my book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

Dance Classes:  Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details 

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