[cutting all earlier replies because it got too long, click link for full earlier discussion. The person they are quoting is me, Feminist Disney.]
“But you are not entitled to critique a fat person because of their size,” I can’t agree with this line. I just can’t. Now I don’t think a fat person should ever have to hear they are worth less as a human being for being fat. I think fat people should be able to feel beautify and that society should support that.
But I also must say that there is enough studying for the health aspect of overweight that you should be able to say; I don’t think your lifestyle seems healthy.
Now, that shouldn’t be something anyone should just because it’s a fat person. But if you’re a doctor, or a close friend that know that the person is in a self-destructive pattern I think you have the right to speak up! Just as you can critic a friends choice to smoke, drink or do other unhealthy things.
Now, this were just one line in a much bigger commentary and in whole I’m with feministdisney. Just felt the urge to comment on that specific line.
Okay, I get what you’re saying, but I have to disagree, so hear me out on why.
1. The language being used here is problematic. Which isn’t like… I’m not usually a language police to a large extent, but it’s really hard to discuss this particular issue if that is off beat. “Overweight” is not always equivalent to “fat.” Fat is not a medical term- overweight is iffy in itself but at least more clear in that you are “over” a weight healthy for your specific body- and fat is the only thing we were talking about here, not any medical diagnosis of someone’s health. You can be fat and healthy, and even if you’re not healthy, it’s not necessarily fat that is the issue (it is often unrelated, or a symptom).
2. None of this conversation had anything to do with doctors- it was about how society reacts to fat people and portrays them (and their beauty, or perceived constant-lack-there-of). Bringing in the medical profession when the conversation had nothing to do with them was more or less a derail, if a well-intended one. And it’s not even necessarily true, because doctors are fallible and liable to believe in the same things many of us do. This is sad and scary but a necessary truth to recognize because of how many people it affects every day.
People who lose weight or who are thin for (problematic) health reasons are often misdiagnosed or diagnosed too late, because even doctors sometimes have trouble seeing weight loss, or an absence of gained weight, as a symptom of a larger issue, because the idea that “THIN=HEALTHY,” “WEIGHT LOSS=GOOD” is so, so strong in our minds. People have died from this. Same type of issue for fat patients- doctors misdiagnose, or diagnose too late, because they are so intent on seeing “fat” as the problem that they miss the actual problem, which sometimes is completely unrelated to the patient’s size. But because the idea of “fat=unhealthy and killing you” is SO hyper-prevalent, even many doctors have issues giving an unbiased diagnosis. The idea that anyone is automatically allowed to criticize your size, even if they have a medical degree hanging on their wall, is potentially a dangerous one.
But if you’re a doctor, or a close friend that know that the person is in a self-destructive pattern I think you have the right to speak up! Just as you can critic a friends choice to smoke, drink or do other unhealthy things.
Close friends, that would be a bad idea. Being fat is not the same thing as picking up a cigarette, which is a debatable thing to inform/chastise someone of anyway since I think we all know the risks by now and adults are allowed to make their own decisions about their body.
People are fat for so, so many reasons. Sometimes it is a result of eating too much, but sometimes it is the result of a medical condition. Sometimes it is the result of not having enough money to buy the “right types” of food. Sometimes it’s genetic. Sometimes people like how they look when they are fat and critiquing their body, even as a “close friend,” is not going to work out well. And in all of these cases, fat is only something you see- it’s not a diagnosis or necessary indicator of health. To assume otherwise reveals only our own internalized size biases. Would you ever pull over a thin friend and speak up about their “possible destructive lifestyle,” just because SOME thin people have eating disorders?? It’s not right. It just shames the person for daring to walk through the world in their own body. Let your friends deal with their body- it’s not yours. They’re not always going to do with it as you would. But it’s not yours. They’ll be okay, and if they have problems, they are adults and can consult their doctors, friends, et cetera, for advice if and when they want to and choose to.
At any rate it’s late and I’ve written about fat shaming and body policing probably 1000 times so people can check out “has this been asked before?” tab if anything isn’t clear. :P
Okay, one - talking to a friend about their weight, or being a doctor and discussing it with a patient, are not equivalent to a shitty comic making a tired fat joke.
Two - Even if you could say that it was appropriate, or even just not-shitty for you to be commenting to another person about their weight, consider that weight is not a barrier to health. A non-smoking, moderate drinker who gets a bare minimum of exercise and eats the medically-required minimum 5 fruit and veg per day has the same risk factors regardless of their BMI. Even then, an obese person who only fulfills two of those four criteria still does not have a significantly higher risk factor than a normal-BMI person, and actually has a lower one than an underweight person.
Four - really? Do you actually badger the fat people in your life? You get that makes you a shitty, self-esteem-destroying person, right? You get that fat people are surrounded, day in day out, by constant messages about their inadequacy, and that you’re telling them nothing new, right? That adding to the bulk of shame and judgement heaped on them day after day won’t actually dissolve the fat, right?