Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I've been reading a lot recently about fat acceptance and Health At Every Size.  I can't help but feel that fat-hating is right next to gay-bashing as one of the last socially accepted prejudices.  Life not turning out like you planned?  At least you can still look down at fat people.  It's okay to legislate against both groups (I'm surprised no one has tried to take away fat people's right to marry... because, you know, they might have fat kids) and to punish people for being either fat or gay (pity the poor soul who is both).  The reading actually kicked me into doing some hard thinking, because I was pretty guilty of buying into the OBESITY CRISIS! bullcrap.  Not that there isn't an OBESITY CRISIS! but... it's not so simple as saying, have a carrot and a jog and get skinny and you'll be healthy.  We could make do with a lot less shaming and a lot more acceptance.  Also, dieting is really, really bad for you, body and mind.

But, you say, we might end up telling people it's okay to be fat?  Well, guess what?  There are fat people, and they are still people.  They may stay fat whether we treat them with dignity or not, so I say we should err on the side of compassion and remember that they are people first.

Another important point is that in no way does skinny equal healthy.  You can quite easily have a skinny person who eats like a character in one of those awful Stig Larson books and a fat person who eats a balanced diet.  You can have a skinny person with truly terrible cholesterol.  Put them next to each other at a picnic, and only the fat person would be shamed for eating a cheeseburger.  I won't go as far as saying that obesity does not cause problems for the human body - joint issues and insulin resistance spring to mind - but it is important to realize that a person's weight is often the result of other health circumstances in the first place.  I also suspect that instead of addressing a person in a holistic manner that encompasses ability, diet, and genetics, a lot of doctors may just be saying "lose 100 pounds and come talk to me then."  I have had someone tell me that her doctor insisted she lose weight before he would address another problem.  How is that helpful?

For me, though, the most important thing I took away was this imperative:  honor your body.  Feed it wholesome food, use it to its full capability, and appreciate the wide (and yet ultimately narrow, since we are all humans) scope of forms of which you are a part.  I have come to realize that I should rejoice in my temporary able-ness.  (We are all surely temporarily abled just as much as we are temporarily alive.)  This body?  Except for an occasionally mutinous left knee and nearsightedness, it is in pretty good shape, and definitely capable of doing more than just walking to get groceries and back.  I should make it strong so that it will not atrophy.  I should have regular conversations with it.  With that in mind, I find myself four training sessions into the 27-session program of Couch Potato to 5K.  The weather is not ideal, nor are the sidewalks (the tracks are snowed over as of now, although that should change tomorrow with warmer weather and rain), but other people manage and so do I.  I am utterly amazed at how quickly my body is adapting and getting stronger in between sessions.  I am pretty amazed that I can run for 90 seconds straight without passing out.

So, let's stop hating ourselves and other people for not being thin and using that hate as an excuse to push a severely misinformed pseudo-scientific agenda that is making us less healthy than we would be otherwise.  If I hear one more person talk about the weight they "need" to lose, how they are watching what they eat, how they are "trying to be good" (what does that even mean?!), or anything similar, I may just have to say something ridiculous like "I think you're beautiful the way you are" until they get the message.

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