Okay, the trolls are rolling in after yesterday’s post got me over 500 800 hits (normally I might hit 15-20!), so I’m going to do a very brief primer on FA and then leave it at that. This is not principally a FA blog, although it is an issue I care about a great deal. But the blogosphere is full of focused FA blogs where people have already addressed and continue to address every one of these arguments every day. So I’m not usually going to focus here on knocking down every single one of your fat-hating bingo points. (As the bingo cards should demonstrate, though, we have heard most of it before.) But still, I’ll give a little background and a few links.
The idea that being fat might possibly be acceptable is clearly just shocking to people who have had nothing but the opposite message bombarding them for their entire lives. Fair enough – it can be very, very hard to step outside that box and consider another viewpoint. But there is a growing group of people of all sizes who are saying exactly that: it is and should be acceptable to have a body of any shape or size without inviting intrusion, condemnation, vilification, disrespect, abuse, or a lack of dignity. The “scientific” data (I say as a scientist, though not a medical biologist) that are presented in mainstream news articles and magazines and diet books are generally distorted in one way or another, in part because one goal of those media is to sell a product (I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but it can’t be denied that the weight loss industry is a huge part of our economy). Other reasons have to do with the fact that we like to police each other, we like a good scapegoat, and we have a tendency to vilify anything we associate (wrongly or rightly) with unabashedly living and enjoying life without self-deprivation and Puritan asceticism.
I encourage you to read Kate Harding’s sum-up of some major FA points. There have been some newer studies since it was written, but it’s a good start. There are also a large number of linked studies in this open thread, including links to some other 101-type posts. So before you start wailing about the OBESITY CRISIS BOOGA BOOGA, please just read those. I have no interest in arguing about basics with the entire internet, when you could read up yourself and then we can have a more informed and respectful discussion about all sides of this issue.
If my suggestion that long-term weight loss isn’t possible OR necessary is really deeply upsetting to you, because you or someone you care about wants to lose weight or has lost weight recently, please please read the Fantasy of Being Thin. It is a brilliant post that might turn your brain inside out a little.
A few major points worth repeating here:
- Diets don’t work, including diet-and-exercise, “lifestyle changes” with the goal of weight loss, any of it.
- Correlation does not mean causation. Causation might be worth exploring, but it’s not automatic. Or dictated by gut feelings (“But I just KNOW fat people eat more! It has to be true!!”).
- Attractiveness is not a requirement of living. Certainly no one owes it to you to look better.
- People find different things attractive, anyway.
- You are going to die. Someday. We all are.
- Evo psych is crap. So are “caveman” arguments.
- You can’t tell anything about a person’s habits or health just by looking at them. No, really.
- If you aren’t a specialist in biomechanics, please don’t try to make arguments about thermodynamics or how human joints work. It’s actually not simple physics. Your body is not a bunsen burner, as they say (who first said that, anyway?). And your skeleton is a complex thing.
- It’s generally a good rule to stay out of other people’s business, even if you disapprove of whatever they’re doing. Unless they’re beating another person in front of you, or asking for help, it’s not your problem.
Please read and consider the comment policy before posting. Disagreement and dialog are just fine. Trolling is not.