Unless your summer home is in a cave in Tibet, you're probably pretty aware that popular culture isn't kind to fat people. Every day, we hear we're in the middle of an Obesity Epidemic(c), that fat people cause our healthcare costs to skyrocket, that fatness is the greatest social ill facing us today. Fat people are everywhere. Yikes! But it's okay, as long as fat people are trying to be, you know, not fat. As long as they know to be ashamed of their bodies.
Those who aren't ashamed? They're Promoting Obesity!
This may come as a shock, but I'm a fat woman. I'm also pretty comfy with my body, at home with its aesthetics, functions, and abilities. I've even been known to publicly sing its praises, because hey, if no one else is gonna do it, someone should! I didn't know I was Promoting Obesity. I thought I was just carving out a space in this fat-hating culture to honor the appearance and utility of a perfectly legitimate body.
I guess I should have asked other proud fat people about this. I mean, if there's some kind of Fat Agenda out there, where we normalize fatness in order to secretly brainwash people into gaining weight, I'd sure as heck like to know about it. And if I've been doing it for free all this time, can't I demand some kind of reward? A stipend? Paying my annual membership dues in the Fatty Recruiters Club? A toaster?
Little did I know that by trying to claim some legitimacy for my body, I was actually saying, "Hey, kids! I have body satisfaction! Want a sample? Come on -- everybody's doing it. Join the Fatty Gang; we have cupcakes. And body love." I should have known, I guess, since every time I see a picture of a happy, rockin' athlete who uses a wheelchair, I know I think, "You know, I could be an athlete, too, but only if I acquired a spinal injury or got MS." Or, you know, when I see an astronaut who's a male, and I ponder how I could maybe someday become a scientist who explores space... but only if I break off a section of that pesky second X chromosome!
Hmmm. I have a sneaking suspicion. Perhaps by saying happy fatties are Promoting Obesity, we're actually saying the notion of happy, fat people is somehow offensive. Because fat is bad, right? And we do a lot of things to ensure we stay thin or try to diet our way out of this terrible, awful physicality. A happy fatty kinda flies in the face of all those messages about death, dieting, and self-denial, right? Not to mention a $60 billion a year dieting industry. Kinda threatening to the whole kit and caboodle, if you ask me!
But no, silly Elle! A happy fatty implies we should discard the cloak of health and indulge in unhealthy lifestyles! Because fat people all eat too much and don't exercise*! Because fatness is something that, like a cold, you can catch if you don't take precautions. Because, as research surely tells us, fat always equals unhealthy and thin peeps are always healthy.
Oh, wait. I almost forgot -- weight and health aren't causally related.
So, if science says body size isn't a perfect, or even good, indicator of health and logic tells us that seeing someone happy doesn't mean we're going to emulate every detail of their identity, Single White Female-style, then maybe by being a happy, body-positive fat woman, I'm not Promoting Obesity or anything else except, well, me.
Dang it! I really needed a new toaster!
* Not true. This book discusses that.