Social Justice

Some simple facts that are weirdly controversial

Updated December 1, 2022

Here are some values I hold:

  • fat people deserve to live
  • fat people deserve to live free of harassment and discrimination
  • fat people deserve access to quality health care
  • individual health is not a moral duty or something we owe society
  • fat people are worthy of love and respect

And just for shits n’ gigs, here are some facts that should be simply self-evident but are somehow controversial:

  • you can’t know a person’s health status just by looking at them
  • individual health exists along a spectrum, and is a continually changing state
  • fat people can and do live long lives
  • thin people can and do live short lives
  • most of us will become disabled before we die
  • all of us will die, so projecting the fear of death onto fat people is weird (ok, that second clause is not a fact but a value judgement)
  • there are no diseases that only fat people get
  • weight cycling, aka yo-yo dieting, is physically harmful
  • not all thin people are healthy
  • not all fat people are unhealthy
  • eating disorders are profoundly unhealthy
  • eating disorders are the deadliest of all mental illnesses
  • many fat people have disordered eating or eating disorders because of the social, political and medical pressure put on them to become thin
  • medical discrimination exists in the health care system to a significant degree
  • it is difficult for a fat person to access weight-neutral health care
  • many fat people avoid medical care due to fear of medical discrimination and weight stigma
  • not receiving medical care has a direct impact on an individual’s health
  • a fat person who has anorexia (labelled by medicine as “atypical anorexia”) is often praised for their “healthy eating” (i.e. presumed weight loss efforts)
  • one’s weight in relation to their height is not an indicator of disease (i.e. BMI is trash)
  • fat is not a behaviour
  • the presence or absence of fat on the body is the result of a variety of factors, including genetics, hormones, income inequality, and environmental factors
  • individual health is impacted by social determinants to a much greater degree than whether or not you eat “processed” food
  • fat and fat bodies are not an aberration but are in fact on the spectrum of normal human shapes/sizes. They can be seen in people, art and artifacts around the world going back thousands of years (here is a wonderful one that is 8,000 years old, unearthed in what is now central Turkey). Thus fat bodies are not unique to post-WW II North America

So many folks are deeply invested in making health claims that can be used to legitimate discrimination against fat people that having a genuinely good faith conversation about weight and health is rarer than finding a unicorn with a rainbow for an asshole. All too often, “health” is played like a trump card against people who are perceived as being in poor health, i.e. fat people. And for me, the bottom line is that I just don’t engage in conversations where the very humanity of larger-bodied people is up for debate.

Conversations I am open to having? One-on-one conversations with people who genuinely are open to exploring the possibility that what they’ve learned about fat from billion-dollar diet-industrial complex may be wrong, and coaching clients who want to pursue their health goals in a physically and psychologically non-harmful way. If you are one of these two types of people, I’d be happy to hear from you.