How ‘body positivity’ lost its true and radical meaning
April 28, 2017 9:49 AM   Subscribe

'The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was snatching body positivity out of the hands of fat women and then convincing them it was never theirs in the first place.' Writing for Dazed, fatshion blogger Bethany Rutter dissects the ways in which the body positive movement has been 'co-opted by [Instagram] models and fashion labels to reject bodies it should celebrate'. [TW: discussion of fatphobia.]

More from Bethany Rutter: Twitter and blog.

Bonus:
[TW for discussion of eating disorders]
'Why One Woman “Broke Up” With Body Positivity' , by Kelsey Miller at Refinery29, which delves into the reasons Joni Edelman - author of a viral pro-body-positivity article in 2015 [SLRavishly]- now rejects the movement [SLRavishly].

Body positivity previously on the Blue:
- Lindy West on being a fat bride
- Marie Southard Ospina on wearing a low-rise bikini on the beach as a fat woman
- Erica Hanna on shopping for clothes
- Body positive Tumblrs
posted by thetarium (66 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
My cynical take on this is that there is no escaping the co-opting of every, single, positive, emergent social movement under the umbrella of crass consumerism and that those of us involved in movements prior to the co-opting are doubly fucked because we've both 1) had something important taken from us just to sell shit and 2) are seen as sell-outs after the fact by those who never participated in the movement in the first place but prize being holier-than-thou above everything else.
posted by scantee at 10:19 AM on April 28 [47 favorites]


My cynical take on this is that there is no escaping the co-opting of every, single, positive, emergent social movement

IIRC, that was the underlying message of "Society of the Spectacle."
posted by drezdn at 10:39 AM on April 28 [6 favorites]


Bethany Rutter is an absolute treasure. See also this piece with absolutely gorgeous photography.

Its very easy for me not to buy things from Lush, so I won't.
posted by threetwentytwo at 10:42 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]


The Food Psych podcast recently had a great interview with Virgie Tovar where they talked a lot about this. And what struck me is that it's a reflection of what has happened to the environmental and feminist movements as well. These were collective, political movements and capitalism found a way to take away the collective solution, and make it about "choice" and individualism, specifically the individual choice to buy a specific product.

The other thing they talked about is that this had movement centered around improving things for people who were targets of our society's fat hatred. The movement has become more "inclusive" of different body types, and in some ways, I think that's right - because our society tells most people, especially women, that our bodies are wrong in some way. BUT it can then lead to this situation we see, where fat people are pushed back out to the margins and it's used to celebrate thin bodies.

The interview is really great - definitely suggest anyone who's interested in this topic give it a listen.
posted by the sockening at 10:48 AM on April 28 [11 favorites]


So, I have an honest question that I have tried to get an answer to from Internet searches a few times, and never got anything resembling a good answer out. And I know that this is going to seem like a dig, but I'm really, really curious about it, and mean no harm by asking it. So.

How does body positivism for all weights and types square with health outcomes? I've imagined it being something like a combination of "I've done everything reasonable and I'd rather be happy and have potential health outcomes than spend a ton of money and feel like crap", "Not everyone is physiologically set up to be the Western ideal and that's okay", and "I choose to live my life the way I want to and it's not your business to shame me for living how I do", but I've never been able to find a good answer.
posted by Punkey at 10:52 AM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Yes, Punkey, that's basically it. Choosing to be positive about the way my body looks now was the healthier option, given that my other option was to keep hating myself for not being thin, keep abusing my body in scary ways to try to get thin, refuse to actually live a life at all because only thin and beautiful people deserve to have love or decent jobs or ever have any fun or dress in nice clothes or like themselves in any way... basically, it was learn to like myself the way I am, no qualifiers, or continue on the path I was on, which was leading to suicide.

So. Good enough answer?
posted by palomar at 11:02 AM on April 28 [62 favorites]


Like, I wish the concern about "health outcomes" ever included "will this person survive if they keep being abused this way", but it rarely does.
posted by palomar at 11:05 AM on April 28 [76 favorites]


Pretty much what I figured, thanks. :D
posted by Punkey at 11:05 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]


One thing that I have now stopped doing, thankfully, due in part to the awesome fat women on Twitter and in part to the awesome fat women on Metafilter, is stopped justifying how much exercise I do, or pointing out that I walk practically everywhere, or that I eat healthily. It's pointless (the people you are trying to convince don't believe you anyway) and it's none of anyone's business. I can worry myself every single day and pass on that complex to my kids and starve myself or I can get on with being my best self.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:05 AM on April 28 [23 favorites]


How does body positivism for all weights and types square with health outcomes?

How does body negativity for certain weights and types square with health outcomes? Has anyone demonstrated that shame actually leads to better health outcomes? Are physical health outcomes the only important factor? What about mental health, does that count? What about economic outcomes? What about relationship and family outcomes?
posted by melissasaurus at 11:06 AM on April 28 [65 favorites]


How does body positivism for all weights and types square with health outcomes?

Unsurprisingly this is addressed very succinctly in the OP top-linked article:
Health has become the stick with which to beat fat people with, and the benchmark for whether body positivity should include someone. This fails on three levels, though: one, the idea that you can tell the state of someone’s health by looking at them. This is false. Two, the idea that by being fat, you are intrinsically unhealthy. This is false. Three, the idea that being healthy is important and a moral imperative
Emphasis mine.
posted by muddgirl at 11:06 AM on April 28 [44 favorites]


Health outcomes based on weight are complex as hell to not correlate out other things. BMI is a population measurement and doesn't work on individuals. Two people with identical BMI can have very different body fat distributions and states of health. Medical staff should know this and ignore the scale number as essentially noise, but social conditioning is loud.

I've been overweight for BMI for a long time (medication side effect pushed my BMI way down recently but still above the 'perfect') and in all that time of multiple health issues due to genetic stuff - my blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes etc have been excellent. I've mostly had good doctors but I'm still wonder if I was thin would I have been diagnosed earlier with strokes than just waved off as stress "exercise and eat better".
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:09 AM on April 28 [5 favorites]


I should also add that it took me years and years to sit with the idea that there is no moral imperative to be healthy. It's an incredibly frightening idea that I'm not a bad person for being in poor health, that I don't have to beat myself up for being out of shape.
posted by muddgirl at 11:09 AM on April 28 [29 favorites]


And yes, all of the abuse and neglect and shaming are really very bad things that I think anyone with the capacity for empathy should be opposed to. It just seems to me like two separate but linked issues, and both should have good answers.

And I think there's a difference between "being healthy" meaning as healthy as humanly possible, comfort and sanity and finances be damned, and "being healthy" meaning taking reasonably good care of yourself. You can do the latter and look more or less however you want, I think.
posted by Punkey at 11:10 AM on April 28 [1 favorite]


I've seen research suggesting that if one's maternal grandmother survived food stress, one is likely to inherit a metabolism tuned to hang on to calories. (Broad survey in Europe after WWII, mechanism observed in mice, IIRC.) And I imagine the psychological utility, as the US middle class gets squeezed, of an excuse to disdain people whose grandparents were poor -- this is how we justify the devolution into a gentry of people who can do unpaid internships.
posted by clew at 11:11 AM on April 28 [16 favorites]


Exactly, clew, there's all sorts of research showing that there's no one-to-one link between putting food in your face and exercise and your body fat content. It's not about "HOW DO YOU JUSTIFY BEING FAT AND DYING YOU HORRIBLE PERSON", it's about there being a broad-based potential for risk, and how that risk is confronted. Seems like there's a pretty good answer for the most part.
posted by Punkey at 11:14 AM on April 28 [1 favorite]


How does body positivism for all weights and types square with health outcomes?

Before I get to the health bit, an important reminder. Body positivism is supposed to be about loving and taking care of yourself no matter your size or shape. This should be acceptable for all people no matter their health situation. After all, we wouldn't say that people with cancer or diabetes shouldn't love themselves, right?

As for the health bit, if you are really curious, I would suggest reading a book like Health at Every Size or Intuitive Eating, which goes in-depth on the history of weight control. It's really interesting. A few things I took away:

1. Yes, most studies (not all! but most!) show that overall, it's better to be a healthy weight than obese. But that overlooks the vast differences in body type, genetics, etc. For instance, I have never been a "healthy" BMI as an adult - but even when I was well into the "overweight" category, I did not appear to be seriously overweight (because of how I am built) and I had zero health problems associated with being overweight.

2. Diets unfortunately do not work for a large portion of the population, like probably the majority. Most people WILL lose weight in the short term, but then regain it back and more. There is at least one study showing that going on a diet is actually a predictor of long-term weight gain.

3. However, exercise and eating fruits and vegetables are healthy for everyone, regardless of size. Regular exercise has similar impacts on likelihood to develop Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease regardless of body type. So doesn't it make sense to focus on health rather than weight? But the serious moral stance our society tends to have towards fatness makes it really, really hard to untangle the two. So exercise and healthy eating can be really fraught.
posted by the sockening at 11:14 AM on April 28 [20 favorites]


I will say, the interview with Joni Edelman was really interesting to me. I have completely accepted that I will never be thin (again, just my body type!) and I'm committed to getting healthier and stronger in the body I have. But, like, I would also like to be able to buy clothes in straight sizes. And as I get older, I have some issues with knees and ankles that would be easier to manage if I weighed 25 less pounds. But it is SO HARD to lose mass without getting into all that diet thinking, which I know is really toxic for me. I've actually been looking for a body positive dietician to work with.
posted by the sockening at 11:19 AM on April 28 [5 favorites]


This, from Clickhole's Instagram, seems apropos.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:20 AM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Point 3 was pretty much the basis of my first statement, the sockening. It's certainly possible to not have a sub-25% body fat percentage and be healthy, more common that people think it is. My curiosity had more to do with squaring the still-increased-risk with the moral imperative to not treat people like garbage for not fitting in with a perceived standard. All three of those systems - physiological outcomes, the moral need to not treat people like shit, and the perceived standards and social pressure - all interact in some weird ways that I'm not 100% privvy to, so I wanted to get a different perspective than my own.
posted by Punkey at 11:20 AM on April 28 [1 favorite]


You can do the latter and look more or less however you want, I think.

Body positivity has nothing to do with "looking more or less however you want." Body positivity is a movement that is founded on the radical notion that it is OK that you look the way you look right now. You don't have to wait to meet some goal waist size or goal bicep diameter to start loving yourself, to start taking care of yourself, and to start getting respect from others.
posted by muddgirl at 11:21 AM on April 28 [38 favorites]


I meant that in the sense of including "how I look right now is A-OK", muddgirl, but I can see the need to clarify that.
posted by Punkey at 11:23 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]


I think there's a difference between "being healthy" meaning as healthy as humanly possible, comfort and sanity and finances be damned, and "being healthy" meaning taking reasonably good care of yourself.

I don't understand how these concepts are different, frankly they just sound like buzzword phrases that haven't been examined for meaning. Can you please elaborate?
posted by palomar at 11:24 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]


"Not everyone is physiologically set up to be the Western ideal and that's okay"

I think this is the key, but I've wondered if how it's formulated specifically might matter.

I've never really liked the formulation of body positivity that seems to amount to "all bodies are beautiful." In fact, as long as we're ranking the tricks the devil is pulling, I suspect there might be an infernal trick hidden in there. If you invoke the idea that all bodies are beautiful, even assuming it's true, at some kind of don't-think-of-an-elephant level you're participating in and maybe even reinforcing the idea that beauty is a standard (maybe the standard) by which value is assessed. I'm not sure how much it matters that the intention is to push the boundaries of the standard to the point where everyone is ostensibly included. Partly because there are probably limits to how much of the standard is in fact cultural, partly because even within *that* range, there are going to be variations in how much people genuinely value any efforts to change standards, and then, again, partly because of the frame reinforcement.

But I do think what can make it okay that not everyone is set up to be the Western (or any) ideal is this:

  You don't have to be perfect to be valued or even loved.

That formulation not only doesn't reinforce the beauty = value frame, it walks right by it almost without noticing, and tackles the central issue of wrestling with the inevitable distance we'll all feel between *any* ideal and personal reality. And the place where I've found body positivity to be truest is where the gloss of personal affection pre-empths the gaze and bodies become beautiful because of how you feel about the person. Or yourself.

All kinds of privileges make life somewhat easier, beauty is one of them, and it's good to be aware of that. But easy isn't the only route to a life worth living, and there are many roads to cultivating affection and beautiful relationships where you're beheld that way.
posted by weston at 11:26 AM on April 28 [23 favorites]


Like, going to the extremes of surgery or radical calorie deprivation diets. That stuff works, ish, for some people, but it's also really expensive (which puts it out of the reach of a lot of people especially in a country where lower income levels are correlated with obesity in no small part due to the horrible state of nutrition for those populations) and it's...not really fun or a good way to feel good about yourself.
posted by Punkey at 11:26 AM on April 28


Also, this: all of the abuse and neglect and shaming are really very bad things that I think anyone with the capacity for empathy should be opposed to.

It may shock you to realize that the majority of the abuse and shaming over body size and diet/exercise habits has come from people thinking they were being kind.
posted by palomar at 11:27 AM on April 28 [30 favorites]


Nah, concern trolling is 100% a thing. Needing to "teach someone a lesson" because "they're a good person trying to help" is kind of a Western left/liberalism specialty.
posted by Punkey at 11:29 AM on April 28 [2 favorites]


It may shock you to realize that the majority of the abuse and shaming over body size and diet/exercise habits has come from people thinking they were being kind.

Anecdotally, for everyone I've personally discussed this with, it started with their mum, who herself was on a diet the majority of the time.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:37 AM on April 28 [16 favorites]


I gotta go back to work, but I hope I hung around long enough to un-rustle some of the jimmies I stirred up.

Personally, I don't give a fuck what you do beyond a general desire for people to live happier lives - being healthier can help with that, but there's a point where the effort, expense, and stress overwhelms what benefit you get out of it - and it's your choice to determine how things weigh in the balance for you. We all should be so lucky to have friends and family that love us for who we are and what we look like, no matter what our choices are, but also support us making our lives better however we can. This is just a thorny issue where those two desires cross paths (and a whole bunch of other nasty social pressures come into play), and not something I have a lot of experience with the debate on, because, well, as I said, my attitude towards my friends that don't fit society's standards for fitness is that they're awesome people and that's why they're my friends, not because of their waist size.
posted by Punkey at 11:44 AM on April 28


[Punkey, I appreciate you're trying to sort of work out answers to questions in good faith but at this point this is turning into a kinda dominating subthread of this conversation; maybe give it a pass at this point and do some independent reading etc.]
posted by cortex at 11:44 AM on April 28 [17 favorites]


Anecdotally, for everyone I've personally discussed this with, it started with their mum, who herself was on a diet the majority of the time.

And don't forget the dads who criticize the moms for being fat and criticize the moms for being on a diet, and who will let their preteen daughters know that they're "starting to get a little chunky, are you sure you want to eat that?" (even though said daughters already display disordered eating habits and/or eating disorders).
posted by melissasaurus at 11:48 AM on April 28 [16 favorites]


ugh wrong not "healthier" more fit stupid me
posted by Punkey at 11:49 AM on April 28


Having lost 40 pounds recently because I was having difficulty walking (short story: torn meniscus; long story: retirement gave me time and reduced my stress), I can attest that body shaming, especially of women, has nothing to do with health and everything to do with horse hockey. All right, I don't have heartburn any more, my knees don't hurt, and my plantar fasciitis cleared up, but I'm no more athletic than I was before (I'm an athlete, and I was before) and my heart is in no better shape.

I'm at higher risk of bone density problems if I lose any more. My skin is wrinklier at my current weight and I still have loose belly fat. And yet people's reactions are still bizarre. I had a guy tell me to learn to take a compliment because he said I looked really fit and I told him no, I wasn't actually. I had two people in my Weight Watchers class say they hated me because I was at goal. The next door neighbor said, "You look like a model." (No, I don't. I'm a short-legged 65-year-old with wide hips and I'm carrying a good thirty pounds more than a 5'10" model would be.)

Last weekend quite a few people saw me for the first time in months and noticed something; they asked me what was different. I told them they weren't used to seeing me with lipstick and almost all of them bought it. That tells you how important weight is.

And I'm not really eating less. I can afford to eat a lot more, actually, and I do. So it's not about less greed, either. I'm as greedy as I ever was. And as lazy, and as irritable, and as likely to tell people to go to hell. I'm still morally reprehensible. And I'm still as likely to gain the weight back as I was the other times I hit this weight, if I stop writing everything down and going to weekly meetings, because I tend to drift happily back up until I get to my old weight and stop there.

It just doesn't make any sense to me.

My mother fought with her weight all her life (her go-to insult for other people was "fat"), even though she had a lot more willpower than I ever will. When she was dying in the last stages of Parkinson's, you know what she was happiest about? That she weighed 129. She was happy because she had a disease that warped her body into a pretzel, destroyed her ability to think and walk, and didn't let her swallow, and she was happy because she had lost weight.
posted by Peach at 12:00 PM on April 28 [25 favorites]


Personally, I don't give a fuck what you do beyond a general desire for people to live happier lives - being healthier can help with that, but there's a point where the effort, expense, and stress overwhelms what benefit you get out of it -

I think the point you keep missing is that health does not correlate to weight, and having a lower body weight does not equal being healthier.
posted by palomar at 12:06 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


The "rejects the movement" piece from Jodi Edelman gets at this middle place where both movements begin to falter-- the experiences of people who have lost weight, but have not lost enough weight to be skinny or trim.

In the boho instagram "I love myself even though I am a curvy size 4!!!! #bodypositivity" world, getting down from a size 18 to a size 14 is kind of a why-bother step. They don't actually care if you feel better, because the aesthetic is still lacking.

But in some very prominent parts of the original body positivity movement, losing any weight is viewed as a betrayal and a capitulation to those same instagram waifs, and discussing the health impacts of obesity is treated as an attack. (I don't mean concern trolling "I'm just worried about your health!!! bullying. I mean literally any discussion of medical discussions surrounding obesity, or of an individual making personal medical decisions.)

Edelman lost weight and felt better, and her former community that claimed to believe in health-at-any-size ostracized her. I have friends who characterize medical research into obesity as hatespeech. There are people who now dislike Gabourey Sidibe because she had weightloss surgery and that was a "betrayal". And meanwhile, we still live in a culture where redpillers call Jennifer Lawrence fat because her cheeks are slightly round. Sometimes it feels like all the attempts to create safe spaces to be kind to ourselves just inevitably become commodified and weaponized no matter what we do.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:11 PM on April 28 [33 favorites]


3. However, exercise and eating fruits and vegetables are healthy for everyone, regardless of size. Regular exercise has similar impacts on likelihood to develop Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease regardless of body type. So doesn't it make sense to focus on health rather than weight? But the serious moral stance our society tends to have towards fatness makes it really, really hard to untangle the two. So exercise and healthy eating can be really fraught.

I'm a public health professional. Like many fields do, mine takes shortcuts.

BMI is easier to glean from existing data than height-to-waist. Both of those are MUCH easier to measure than FVI, or physical activity - like, logistically speaking.

So, unfortunately, weight remains a stand-in for health. And it works, sort of kind of with caveats, on an aggregate level.

But anything on an aggregate level tends to wreak a certain havoc on the individual people who make up the variations.

I'm worried that, by and large, public health - let alone society and culture as a whole - is heading toward a monumental fuck-up in how it approaches obesity.
posted by entropone at 12:26 PM on April 28 [8 favorites]


Body positivity being hyjacked is an absolute shame; but I do want to take a moment to acknowledge that anorexia is the deadliest mental illness, and requires extensive treatment.

I've been on both sides (anorexic and medication side effect weight gain that threw me into overweight in my 30s) and honestly the body postiveity movement was helpful in both instances and helped me. I think it was critical to allow me to recover from anorexia, and break down stereotypes I had about people because wow our society is really messed up which was equally important imho and made me a better person. 10 years later I took 50 lb weight gain rather well considering, and was able to live my life with minimal parsing due to the great work of this movement.

Loving yourself is integral to well being.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:35 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of something I saw on FB today about re: fat-shaming in the vegan community. Someone was modeling a new t-shirt and the comments immediately filled up with things like, "Ugh. Fat Vegan." and "This doesn't show that a vegan diet is actually healthy", etc.

I was mad, y'all. So fucking mad. (Still am.) Much like every other person in the damn world, veganism does not equal weight loss--ask me how I know!--and this ugly open secret of shaming vegans who don't fit the skinny hippie Instagram model or the weight lifting muscle-rippled athlete is horrible.

There's a lot of fucking stress in the world out that women, regardless of diet or skin colour etc, have to deal with on the regular. I'm tired of it. I'm tired that my worth in the world is still measured by whether or not I'm remotely fuckable, if I don't have a muffin top (I do) but a six pack.

Also, dammit, Lush, now I can't buy anything from you ever again.
posted by Kitteh at 12:36 PM on April 28 [14 favorites]


But in some very prominent parts of the original body positivity movement,... discussing the health impacts of obesity is treated as an attack.

That's one way to put it. Another way to put it is that there are approximately 1 million places on the internet that someone can go to talk about the health impacts of obesity. Body positivity communities want to preserve their space as the one singular place where such discussion isn't the overwhelming norm.

I don't fault Joni Edelman for wanting to talk about weight loss and how it made her feel better physically. That's fine, but that doesn't mean it's a natural fit for the body positivity community.
posted by muddgirl at 12:40 PM on April 28 [11 favorites]


It's really really difficult to navigate everyone's interpretation of body positivity and navigating the vastness of the internet and peoples thinking regarding this topic.

It is a scary place out there, and difficult to find safe spaces. Also there is a lot of misconception and discrimination

It is hard to navigate, and many communities don't nessisarily do it well, but there are communities out there that do.
posted by AlexiaSky at 12:48 PM on April 28


muddgirl, I think you're right about that but wow, do I wish there were a place on the internet I could go to talk about weight loss in the context of body positivity. Because most of the places to talk/get advice about weight loss online trigger all that old toxic diet mindset for me like crazy. But I would like to talk about it and get body positive weight loss advice for the reasons I listed above. It's frustrating that I haven't really been able to find anywhere to do that.
posted by the sockening at 1:23 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


There are also consequences to the popular conception that thinness=health beyond just cruelty: people who are thin or "normal" end up dismissing their unhealthy habits because in their mind, they're thin enough, so they're OK, when in truth they have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or... Hell, I used to think I didn't "need" to exercise because I'm young and thin.

So: if you truly, genuinely want to promote healthfulness, promote having healthy habits as the ideal, instead of being thin as the ideal. That's best for everyone, regardless of their weight. At least, in my completely uneducated opinion.

Also: the only person in charge of a person's health, besides that person herself, is her doctor. I think doctors are within their rights to recommend, in their expert opinion and capacity as the arbiter of health, that a person lose weight. Otherwise, it's just not your business.
posted by perplexion at 1:34 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


My cynical take on this is that there is no escaping the co-opting of every, single, positive, emergent social movement under the umbrella of crass consumerism

For everything you love and hope for, somebody's trying to find a way to sell the dream of it, if not the reality, back to you.

Every commercial you find funny or endearing is cover for the ones that shit all over you, tell you what your problem is, and offer you a solution.

Finance capitalism puts up a piece of protest art in front of the Wall Street Bull. Pepsi tries to tell us that Blue Cans Matter. The dream of national health care is repackaged as a new way to give money to the same system that created the problems in the first place. Identity politics are leveraged to defend $400k speeches to Wall Street feelgood conferences. $1000 dollar diamond and gold safety pin jewelry. "All bodies are beautiful" (within narrow confines of what a fashion magazine editor can be drugged into tolerating) editions.

FFS 1 Timothy 6:10.
posted by turntraitor at 1:35 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


I think doctors are within their rights to recommend, in their expert opinion and capacity as the arbiter of health, that a person lose weight.

I guess, but on the other hand, it isn't like fat people are somehow surprised by the fact that they are fat, and doctors pushing weight loss as the only solution to every medical problem just keeps fat people away from the doctor.
posted by jeather at 1:37 PM on April 28 [14 favorites]


To clarify: I am not proposing that we should remove moral odium from fat people who have an inherited tendency to fat. I am hypothesizing that we have put moral odium on fat people to justify an inherited economic class system.
posted by clew at 1:44 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


I guess, but on the other hand, it isn't like fat people are somehow surprised by the fact that they are fat, and doctors pushing weight loss as the only solution to every medical problem just keeps fat people away from the doctor.

Yeah, I said that largely as a response to the "but losing weight sometimes IS the healthy choice!" argument for society promoting thinness. If we ever reach a point where society is truly accepting of all body types, then it can fall to doctors to inform people when it might be medically ideal to lose weight. Of course, that's not exactly a problem for now or for the foreseeable future.
posted by perplexion at 1:45 PM on April 28


Also, I love (and by "love" I mean "am sickened by") the use of health as an excuse to mock or marginalize fat people, because what's healthier for a person than being mocked and marginalized? It reminds me very much of the conservatives who want to make life as difficult/humiliating as possible for people on benefits.
posted by the sockening at 1:57 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


I think doctors are within their rights to recommend, in their expert opinion and capacity as the arbiter of health, that a person lose weight.

This is addressed in the article, but sometimes, no, it isn't the best thing for doctors to suggest that you lose weight when you visit for an entirely unrelated reason. I don't need my (entirely normal) blood pressure taking if I'm attending for something entirely other than that.
posted by threetwentytwo at 2:08 PM on April 28 [7 favorites]


It's not only "not the best thing", it's actively harmful because it reduces the likelihood that the patient will visit doctors in the future as needed.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:18 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Also: the only person in charge of a person's health, besides that person herself, is her doctor. I think doctors are within their rights to recommend, in their expert opinion and capacity as the arbiter of health, that a person lose weight. Otherwise, it's just not your business.

I have super-duper bad news for you, which is that doctors don't usually seem to have any more or better information about weight-loss than anyone else. They have many of the same biases as random people off the street, and often blame non-fat-related ailments on being fat.

signed,
A lady who got lectured about weight loss by a doctor who was giving her travel vaccines
posted by purpleclover at 2:29 PM on April 28 [28 favorites]


So far as I know, body possitivity got started when people in fat acceptance got pushback for "real women have curves", a slogan which was unfair to women who aren't curvy.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 2:38 PM on April 28


If fat shaming worked to make people not be fat, we wouldn't have a lot of fat people in the US.
posted by Anne Neville at 3:18 PM on April 28 [5 favorites]


I don't need my (entirely normal) blood pressure taking if I'm attending for something entirely other than that.

Lord knows I'm not here to proffer some dumb drive-by opinion on the complex subject of medicine and weight. Incidental to that though I'm honestly a little confused by this - don't they tend to check everybody's blood pressure as a matter of routine, just because they can (and perhaps because it's something to do while you're waiting for the actual doc to show up). Is this a U.S. thing?
posted by atoxyl at 3:24 PM on April 28 [4 favorites]


My mother fought with her weight all her life (her go-to insult for other people was "fat"), even though she had a lot more willpower than I ever will. When she was dying in the last stages of Parkinson's, you know what she was happiest about? That she weighed 129. She was happy because she had a disease that warped her body into a pretzel, destroyed her ability to think and walk, and didn't let her swallow, and she was happy because she had lost weight.

Yep, after three strokes and several years in assisted living, a nursing home, and now hospice, my father is quite thin for his 6-foot frame and can no longer complete any activities of daily living on his own. And yet he still has the dieting mind-set he imposed upon all of us while I was growing up—he worries about his weight still, even though he has barely any muscle tone, and he sometimes refuses food he thinks will make him fatter somehow. It's so sad and yet it's just how he is—that, too, I have to accept.

Some days I rail against even acceptance, though. 'Cause I'm inevitably going to have feelings about that and a lot of other things in this regard, and those feelings have to find some expression. So that's a difficulty of all of this as well. It's hard to find an acceptable way to express one's feelings about one's body as a woman in Western culture. It's so often too much to express any of this to anyone—and even positivity starts to feel like another box, another way to get women to shut up with all their messy feelings, another way for women to avoid making other women feel various ways, and thus another form of emotional labor. Conversation about one's body starts to feel like a flowchart with a lot of potential pitfalls: Are you triggering someone else? Is the thing you hate about your body something someone else loves about it or struggles with in their own body? Are you denying their feelings by expressing that you don't like it? It starts to seem better not to talk about bodies at all—but that's also no kind of answer. As discussed elsewhere recently, the "San Junipero" afterlife isn't going to be here anytime soon, so we will continue to have bodies for the foreseeable future, with all that entails.

Apologies if I sound triggered by this thread. I kind of am. I went shopping for clothing yesterday at a Macy's sale and a shoe store at the mall, then Lane Bryant, and I broke down in tears while driving between the two locations, after spending a couple hours in Macy's trying to find "woman" clothing that fit and was flattering in some way. The thought in my head was basically, I'm so not doing body positivity right. The thought was, this is why I can't get what I want in relationships. The thought was that to be loved, I need to first love myself—yet even loving myself feels like an unnecessarily punitive requirement some days. I know it's more attractive to love myself. I know it's more attractive not to be angry. Some days I want to be freed from the burden of wanting to be attractive, but I do want to be (and I know that to some people I am or have been). I want to be a person who is wanted and desired and has relationships that are body-positive and satisfy my needs as a human being who has a body. And I often fear I'll never find that again. These are all very real feelings in my life right now.

I also know that, as someone prone to depression, I have at times been able to push myself to feel better somehow, even if I feel like this shouldn't be a way to give myself positive feedback, by "taking better care of myself" in all the classic ways—through clothing, through grooming, through appearance. It's hard, then, when it's out of reach for me to achieve what I want in those respects. And this supposedly basic stuff is so often out of reach for my spouse and everyone else who has significant health issues. These are all such complex things, and they're too often glossed over.

I just want to be loved for who I am, even if I don't always love who I am. And lately it seems like people in my life too often have some unspoken requirements I haven't met, some reason why I'm not yet worthy to be accepted as I am—because I haven't totally embraced who I am, because I'm not confident enough, because I feel like a failure when I go shopping for clothes, because the timing isn't right for what I want, because my partner may have his own issues, because there's always something more I could be doing in any arena, whether that's caring for a partner or exercising or working or even trying hard enough in my own hobbies. There is no magic that will make me someone I'm not. And yet I never feel like who I am is enough, even when (or perhaps especially because) who I am is in fact too much in every possible way for some people.

I've been seeing a therapist for more than a year at this point and do discuss these things, so I have somewhere to do that. But yeah. I thought it might be useful to the discussion to express some of this here.

I try so hard to feel positive and accepting of my own body, because I know, for all kinds of reasons (epigenetics, genetics in my own immediate family, specific health reasons), this may well be how it is for me. And that needs to be OK! I can't live the next 65 years, or however many more I get, feeling like this. But God, I have to wear clothes, and the experience of going shopping for women's clothing is such a painful one. It's probably more painful right now because of all the ancillary life stress I have. So since I work from home and can wear black T-shirts and basketball shorts every day, I usually avoid shopping for clothes until I have travel or client meetings for which I need to prepare. So I can go for months being me, wearing what I want to wear, and building up fairly positive feelings about all of that, only to fall to pieces after spending a couple hours in a department store.

It makes me alternately despair and rage.
posted by limeonaire at 3:45 PM on April 28 [35 favorites]


To clarify: I am not proposing that we should remove moral odium from fat people who have an inherited tendency to fat. I am hypothesizing that we have put moral odium on fat people to justify an inherited economic class system.

Okay, but "don't be cruel or impute moral value to people based on their body weight" seems more likely to be achievable in the foreseeable future than eliminating the inherited economic class system. Working towards eliminating classism is valuable; pushing back against "ugh, some people have no self-respect or they'd be fitter" and "I'm being bad by having dessert" is more immediately achievable.

I think doctors are within their rights to recommend, in their expert opinion and capacity as the arbiter of health, that a person lose weight.

No. This sounds reasonable at first blush but it doesn't work. I'm not even speaking from first-hand experience here; I've always fallen within the weight range where doctors assume you're fit (ha ha no) and healthy. But my mother was fat most of her life and dealt with doctors who told her that being fat was the cause of every problem she had. Trouble with the asthma you've had all your life that's gotten worse now that you live in an agricultural region where they burn rice stalks? Nah, it's because you're fat. Everything else she dealt with – eczema? joint pain? fatigue? depression (as a divorced mother making her way through a Ph.D. program)? Must be because you're fat!

As a result of this kind of ongoing shaming and useless lecturing about needing to lose weight (yo assholes, maybe helping with the asthma would have made it easier for her to exercise? just a thought) when she felt a painful lump in her breast she put off seeing the doctor until she couldn't avoid it any longer. Stage 4. Ultimately fatal.

No. Fuck the idea that doctors should lecture their patients about needing to lose weight. I would bet cash money that there is not one single overweight person alive in the US who hasn't been told repeatedly by multiple people in various ways that their body is wrong and they need to lose weight. It doesn't work, it's not helpful, and it keeps people who need medical care away from getting that care.
posted by Lexica at 4:56 PM on April 28 [39 favorites]


Like every single fucking discussion about body positivity, it's imperative that someone come in to ask "but what about health? has anyone thought of that? and I don't care how well-intentioned it is, it's frustrating at best and abusive at worst.

Here's the thing. You don't owe anyone health, EVEN! YOUR! DOCTOR! But what about if my mom is fat and her health is failing, how dare she refuse to lose weight for her grandkids? What about my boyfriend, Dan Savage says he owes me weight loss, shouldn't he lose the weight for me if he loves me? What about my doctor, don't I owe it to her to be a good fatty and do everything she tells me? She went to medical school, which means I owe it to her to believe everything she says.

The answer to all of this is no. No. No one fucking owes anyone even an explanation of their health. Body positivity is so much more radical than 99% of that tag on Instagram. Body positivity is about giving everyone their inherent right to be the boss of their body — women barely have the right to choose, so of course body positivity is merely the thinnest shield in which to protect yourself from hate. Of course you might not love your body even if you know you're making the best choices for yourself! Almost every message we receive is that we shouldn't love our body, no matter what, so I think feeling like a failure if you feel shitty about your body is understandable, but also, body positivity isn't going to be able to block out all the external messages that tell you that you're disgusting, you're a burden, you're selfish and that doesn't mean it's a worthless ideal.

This is an imperfect solution to finding clothes that make you feel good about your body, but I have accepted, begrudgingly, several things: 1.) Online shopping and trying things on at home is really the only way to find what I want and to avoid feeling judged about it and 2.) It's okay to spend money on my body. Even though thinner people don't have to spend as much money because they have more choices for fast fashion or thrift shops. Everyone has privilege in some way and wearing clothes off the rack isn't mine, and that's okay.

I grew up, um, full-figured. I wore a bra in the first grade, got my period soon thereafter, which I hear is more common now but at the time I was so self-conscious about my boobs that I had dents in all my shirts from where I pinched them to keep them away from my chest because I thought it would keep people from noticing them. Instead I got hit on by old men at age 11, yay! I couldn't wear cool clothes like I saw in Delia*s or Pac-Sun or, obvs, Abercrombie & Fitch and I spent most of my high school days wearing a printed wrap like a skirt because jeans didn't fit my unheard of hips, even if I could find jeans that went up to size 13 or 15.

So in my 30's, I'm an extreme clotheshorse. It turns out basically everything I've ever lusted after in a magazine exists somewhere in my size (size 20-22 — I recognize, size 24+ is a different world): knee-high boots, skinny jeans, a tutu, the plaid shirts of my lesbian dreams, moto jackets. Clothes are another part of the shield I wear as a fat woman against the world, and is that horrible, in so many ways? Yes, it is. So is the fact that people are nicer to me when I wear makeup, so I always, always wear makeup even if I don't know if I'm going to leave the house that day. I also do months of research about whether a doctor is fat-friendly and I take a Xanax and I still end up in the car sobbing after every doctor appointment. All of this is the worst, all of it is the price I pay for a body that's fat even though, actually, I am a good fatty who has perfect blood sugar and blood pressure and all the other markers of good health except weight! I exercise and eat better than anyone I know, but it turns out we don't know how to make fat people thin permanently and actually, we also don't know how to make thin people fat permanently, which says a lot about how little science is behind weight loss.

All of this is to say that the only thing we can do is to fight fat phobia and misogyny in the ways that we can bear, and for me, looking amazing and being known as a stylish, beautiful woman even though I'm three hundred pounds—deathfat, is the term for me—is the way I bear it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:16 PM on April 28 [36 favorites]


Lord knows I'm not here to proffer some dumb drive-by opinion on the complex subject of medicine and weight. Incidental to that though I'm honestly a little confused by this - don't they tend to check everybody's blood pressure as a matter of routine, just because they can (and perhaps because it's something to do while you're waiting for the actual doc to show up). Is this a U.S. thing?

Yeah, this has been a thing all my adult life. Regardless why I go to the doctor, blood pressure, weight, temperature routinely checked, along with any routine blood work that I'm due according to my record. I suppose I could refuse if I want, but I doubt it's really helpful to anyone in the end, especially myself. It does feel a bit like I'm being harangued about my weight and blood sugar levels when I'm there to see about getting a PT referral about my injured shoulder.

This issue reminds me a little of the gun nuts who've got all hurt-y and shamed when their doctors started warning them about the statistical dangers of exercising their god given 2nd Amendment right of having firearms in the home, to the point of political action. It's not terribly relevant if you got a Glock in your house, when you need to get an ingown toenail removed. But primary care systems have long been moving toward recognizing and flagging a wide array of potential health risks, going beyond sheer physical health.

I can't really see a future where a primary care doctor doesn't talk to you about obesity and weight related issues because these are some of the easiest and most common markers to recognize and advise about. If your weight is an issue, and you are not being advised, it's probably because you've got some other issues seriously overshadowing your weight, or your doctor has kind of written off the possibility of changing. At which point, the focus increasingly becomes managing the results of weight related issues. This is pretty routine, and keeps a whole swath of medical practice in business.

Yes, it kind of sucks when you're fat. Even in the most body positive world, there's no escaping this angle.
posted by 2N2222 at 5:18 PM on April 28 [3 favorites]


Along the lines of what you just mentioned, the thorn bushes have roses, I should be clear, too: I was thinking while I was out that I say all of the above as a woman with major privilege in some respects, who just returned from paying the mortgage and has no issues doing so; who is successful and was recently promoted; who in school was at least a couple standard deviations above the mean on intelligence tests; who is able-bodied; who is fairly young and attractive; who has had partners who've been largely body-positive; and yeah, who is married. Yet even with all that going for me, I still have this complex web of feelings regarding my body and others' perceptions of my body that overshadows too much good in my life. Body issues like this on both our parts are also the source of significant ongoing conflict and bad feelings between me and my spouse.

And in fact, like Lexica relates, I'm pretty sure that doctors repeatedly looking at me and deciding the answer was simply that I needed to lose weight is why it's taken me about 3 years to get to a point where I'm only just this month getting diagnosed with a condition that could in fact have been causing me to be increasingly overweight, among other deleterious effects. Talk about crazy-making. I love how that works.

Going through this has certainly given me a much more feminist perspective. I feel like to some degree, a downward trend in the quality of my work relationships at a past job coincided with my taking on a caregiver role for my spouse and father and also gaining weight (quite possibly due to an exacerbation of the above condition), plus developing some other health issues due to the associated life stress. Some people, women and men alike, totally freak out and grow judgmental when the devoted young ingénue who works robotically long hours is revealed to be a real live human being with a human body and human responsibilities, plus increasingly liberal human sympathies.

Whereas in my current position, while the work is similarly fast-paced, it's flexible and remote—though some number of times a year I do appear in person and experience the associated stress from that (fear of my body being judged, etc.), I'm generally able to completely be myself and play to my strengths in my workplace because my work is done largely in raw text in chat and over conference calls. And I'm able to work flexibly even when my spouse has health issues. People sometimes assume that remote work is the cause of one being overweight, but 1. looking at my colleagues, I can say the two things don't necessarily correlate and 2. if you are overweight, it is so much less stressful not to be stared down every day while you're trying to get work done.

So it's interesting—to me, remote work has been nothing but good, from improving my body image to allowing me to dress casually most days. And the biggest difference is this: I'm in an environment where my work, not my body, is what I'm recognized for and rewarded on my own merits for every day.
posted by limeonaire at 5:41 PM on April 28 [6 favorites]


"Kind of sucks when you're fat" is vastly understating it it, 2N2222. Fat stigma actually kills people, so why are you just shrugging it off like it's just a little bit of a bummer and something we should accept? Medicine is not a precise science and views that were long held for years have been revised, best practices have been updated.

Here's the thing, gun violence prevention is a provable positive thing. Weight loss and the links between weight and health are not, and that's even though the weight loss industry spends over $6 billion to tell us otherwise. You're not linking two related things, to me it felt insulting that you tried.

limeonaire, that is my experience from working remotely, too! It actually is a huge part of my mental health (and physical health, because I can eat what I want without the insanity that I've found in every office, where people obsess about food and make comments about what everyone else is eating and it makes it nearly impossible to eat intuitively around that toxic kind of talk.) I can wear comfortable clothing and focus just on work performance, and I really should have noted that if I couldn't do that, I don't think I would have the will or budget to dress well otherwise. Workwear is actually something I struggle massively with, to the point where I end up overspending to make myself feel more confident whenever I have to see clients in person (thankfully, only once or twice a year) and then stressing out about because I don't know if they still think I'm as good as before, because of course they don't, fat people aren't seen as professional.

Anyway, for my own mental health, I will stop participating in this conversation because I find it really stressful, even if it's gone relatively well compared to many previous discussions on Metafilter about fat!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:56 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


I don't see the problem with the Zara ad. Curves are not the exclusive domain of fat women by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by long haired child at 7:16 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


Some days I want to be freed from the burden of wanting to be attractive, but I do want to be (and I know that to some people I am or have been). I want to be a person who is wanted and desired and has relationships that are body-positive and satisfy my needs as a human being who has a body. And I often fear I'll never find that again. These are all very real feelings in my life right now.

limeonaire, forgive my brevity, but SAME. that goes for everything that's been said about working from home, too -- not having to dress for other people or listen to the never-ending diet talk that goes on in the office is so fucking liberating.
posted by palomar at 7:41 PM on April 28 [12 favorites]


This weekend, I'm babysitting my parents since it's the first anniversary of my sister's death, likely due to complications from obesity and diabetes. So I'm not going to engage too much.

She worked twice as hard on her health, and got four times as much shit for it as I did, because she was a fat woman. She was on portion control and signing up for fun runs in her last year. Fat shaming did nothing to help her. What it did was set up standards where she still got shamed for not losing enough weight and shamed for being a fat person at a fitness event. We got to do better than to take a look at a person's waist size and leap to an instant judgment about how much work they're putting in their health.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:41 PM on April 28 [10 favorites]


This topic (fat + health = how does it work?!) comes up on Mefi whenever body positivity or health at any weight or fat acceptance or whatever comes up. So as a nurse who has to give people lifestyle advice all the time I thought I'd throw my two cents in:

First: Health covers a lot of domains. I know from talking to literally thousands of people about their health that due to the messaging everyone gets from society (social media, peers, family, tv, etc) that most people seem to conflate eating well and exercising with health, and to do this to the exclusion of any other health. While I'll acknowledge up front that eating well and exercising are great, there are lots of problems with this way of thinking. For one thing it kind of eliminates a lot of really important domains that make up "health" that are as important (or more sometimes, because people are individuals). What about dental health? Vision? How about being free from pain or discomfort? How about the social determinants of health like housing? And a biggie, how about mental health? How about feeling safe and comfortable in your life and in your relationships and in your home? How about medication adherence? How about symptom management? It doesn't even occur to a lot of well meaning people to think about these other domains because the lifestyle movement has so effectively dominated the messaging around health.

Second: being fat is not being unhealthy. This is really difficult for people to grasp. If you imagine your health as like a house with a fence around it, risk factors are like the gates in the fence. When you have a risk factor it leaves a gate open for something to potentially come and interfere with your health. IT IS NOT IN AND OF ITSELF "UNHEALTHY". Again, because it can't be overstated enough - being overweight is a risk factor. The more gates that are open the more opportunities there are for something to come through into your house, but that doesn't mean that something will or is.

Third: you cannot tell by looking at someone how many of their gates are open. You may see someone who is overweight and go "Ha they can't possibly be healthy because of heart disease and diabetes etc I am so very clever." Can you tell by looking at them whether they are a substance abuser? Or a smoker? Probably not, unless they are currently holding a cigarette or a drink. Can you tell by looking at someone that they're really struggling with their mental health and feel like shit? Again probably not. Can you tell by looking at someone that they have insecure housing, are living paycheck to paycheck, can't sleep at night, haven't been to a dentist in ages, have shitty vision and can't see very well, can't fill their prescriptions because they don't have the money, or are have a low level of health literacy? Can you tell that they are genetically predisposed towards any number of issues and in fact have a strong family history of heart disease or stroke or whatever? Again, probably not. And yet these are all threats to health as well. These are all gates that are standing open.

Fourth: So given that that's the case, why do we fixate on appearance as a surrogate marker of health? Why do we feel qualified to pass judgements on complete strangers and feel that we know them inside out and upside down just by looking at them and thinking "fat"? There are a ton of reasons for this. But as exhibit A I present: the entirety of the historical weight of the sexist framing of women as valuable in as much as they comply with societal standards of youth and beauty. I also present the phenomenon whereby people are secretly delighted to be able to be unpleasant to people because they "mean well." These are garbage people.

Fifth: Once you have become overweight, it is effectively impossible to get back down to a healthy weight and stay there forever. It's not that it can't be done by anyone ever, but it's so incredibly rare. We have a thing as clinicians where we consider it unethical to ask our patients to do things we know they can't do. I can tell you that the cardiologists I've worked with have serious discussions around whether it's actually even ethical to give weight loss advice to their patients given that it's almost certain they will not be able to follow through on this. And don't even get me started on nutritional advice. If you ask a doctor "what is eating healthy? What does that mean for me?" you will literally get a different answer from every person you talk to. If you want to have fun get a group of cardiologists together and ask them about butter! Go on, it's funny! Anywho, given that cardiologists are conflicted about weight loss and nutrition, how are you, rando on the street, feeling confident that you grasp both the complexity of this issue and also what to do about it? I am giving you my skeptical face.

Sixth: If you are a non-clinician and you feel tempted to feel that you understand the complex health needs of a complete stranger I will suggest to you that you are full of shit. However if you feel so very strongly about the health of complete strangers I look forward to you dedicating your career to improving their health and wellbeing like I and every other nurse has done, and I also look forward to the news of your application to nursing school! In nursing school you will be formally educated to super care about the health of complete strangers, and given the actual tools to provide this service! I see you backing away. Oh wait you don't actually care that much about the health of other people? You just wanted to feel clever and maybe a little morally superior? This is not the way to do it. This is the way to be a garbage person. A better way would be to pick one pet health project you're worried about - for example maybe you're worried about the ACA being taken away (that would make a great Ramones song), or maybe you've noticed that mental health services are absolute rubbish - and lobby this shit out of the rich and powerful to improve these services. This will make you a mensch. Being a shit to strangers? Not so much.

Seventh: body positivity is 100% in keeping with being healthy, because what it is suggesting is that your weight has nothing to do with your value as a human being. And this is true. Being happy in your body is good for you. Feeling like you have worth as a human being is good for you. If you are a woman it is often sadly rare, but that doesn't make it not a worthy goal. Would you like to guess the health of people are who feel like shit about themselves? Did you guess - probably not so hot?

Eighth: it is entirely possible to eat well and exercise and still be overweight. And even though that overweight gate to your house is open, maybe nothing will ever come through it. Conversely, it is entirely possible to be a perfect weight, and to eat well and exercise, and to have a fucking heart attack. Ask me how I know! How does this happen, you ask incredulously. That person closed that overweight gate, so I thought nothing could come in! Well guess what else, they had other gates open besides that one. But as I said in my third point, you as a normal rando on the street cannot see these other gates.

Ninth: In conclusion - health is complex. Someone's appearance is not synonymous with their health. You are not being clever when you mind other people's business. You are being an asshole. If you care about peoples health be a nurse. If you care, but not that much, pick a pet cause and lobby powerful people. People have inherent worth and human dignity and this is utterly divorced from a number on a fucking scale. Don't be a garbage person.
posted by supercrayon at 11:05 PM on April 28 [224 favorites]


Supercrayon, I have but one favorite to give--but goddamn, that was beautiful and brilliant. I am giving you a standing ovation in my living room.
posted by Sublimity at 4:21 AM on April 29 [19 favorites]


My 36 year old brother was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer three months ago. He's obese. When my parents called to tell me about the diagnosis, my mom said, "Well, the bright side is that he's still losing weight!" She didn't get it when I roared, "That's because HE HAS CANCER!"

It turns out my brother has a genetic disorder where he doesn't have enough of the enzyme needed in the PTEN gene to suppress cancerous and non-cancerous tumors when they form. So the cancer has a big genetic component. I haven't been tested yet, but based on my health history, I'll be surprised if I don't have the same genetic mutation. So I'd like to go back to all the "caring" doctors in my past who blamed my health issues only on my weight and tell them to fuck off with their bullshit.
posted by princesspathos at 4:43 AM on April 29 [11 favorites]


I don't see the problem with the Zara ad. Curves are not the exclusive domain of fat women by any stretch of the imagination.

I mean.. the only visible curves in that ad are the model's jawlines. No one's saying curves only appear on fat women, but the women in that ad are the opposite of curvy.
posted by palomar at 1:52 PM on May 1


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