"Fat" isn't a negative adjective
January 31, 2019 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Do you believe you're a decent person, but not sure if you're harboring some fatphobia? Check out 51 Ways to Make the World Less Hostile to Fat People
posted by dancing leaves (65 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is really useful and had some things I hadn't considered before, thank you for posting.
posted by ITheCosmos at 3:08 PM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


30 is my number one. Opting out of a group lunch or having to change venues after arriving is embarrassing and/or frustrating for everyone involved. But the shear number of doctor offices I've been to that only have seats with arms (or worse the dreaded cantilever "S" chairs).
30. Find out about the physical pain endured by not only fat people on planes, but on rollercoasters, in theater seats, on massage tables, and other size-specific areas. Then, contact your airline to ask them why they scrimp on their seat sizes. Leave positive TripAdvisor reviews for restaurants with sturdy chairs. Encourage your office manager to purchase accessible seats for your workplace (no arm rests, please). We need you to be doing this labor, too.
posted by zinon at 3:08 PM on January 31, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'm totally cool with the socialist revolution if it happens but at this point I'm pretty much tuning out every article that wants to grab me by the hand and walk me over to The Evils of Capitalism no matter what it's ostensibly supposed to be about.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:23 PM on January 31, 2019 [13 favorites]


Thanks for this link! The website looks great, too, I'm excited to read 5 Must-Watch Sundance Films Directed by Women of Color.

I've definitely had fat-phobic thoughts and, in talking about my own weight loss, have probably said fat-phobic things.

On a semi-related note, I do wish we could talk more about fitness, exercise, and healthy eating as good even without possible weight loss benefits. I know that 'wellness' is new branding on weight loss, but I feel better when I exercise, and feel better when I eat better. I almost feel like I'm more successful at being healthy when I'm not thinking about losing weight. Does that make sense? Is it fatphobic to talk about that? Is it fatphobic to ask if it's fatphobic to ask? -_- Some of this stuff is hard but I also think we should all be trying to be kinder to one another.

I hope it's OK to also plug the company my boyfriend works for, Dia & Co: it's a subscription service for plus-size women.
posted by Eyeveex at 3:25 PM on January 31, 2019 [5 favorites]


I am on board with almost all of this, except maybe for "people, particularly women, are attacked only when their size begins to shine a light on the toxic fetishization of thinness."

I had a friend who was very, very thin, as was her mother before her. She ate plenty and was perfectly healthy and there wasn't much she could do about it.

She routinely had strangers coming up to her and telling her that looking at her made them sick. Or lecturing her about eating disorders that she did not have.

Did her thinness come with some privileges? Absolutely. And the difficulties she faced certainly did not rise to the systemic nature of fatphobia. But I don't think her size "began to shine a light on the toxic fetishization of thinness," and the harassment she experienced was very real.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:53 PM on January 31, 2019 [33 favorites]


The article is mostly not about the evils of capitalism, it only touches on them insofar as they contribute to fatphobia. Maybe four or five of the points relate directly to capitalism, which is, like, background-radiation-level.

Anyway, I can smugly say that I am already on top of this list. (Well, not the activism parts, but at least the everyday ones.) The one I think I actually have the most trouble with is Number One. I'm not sure that I believe that the thing for me to do is to just go back to calling people fat instead of large, or plus-sized, or whatever. Honestly what I currently do is just try to avoid referring to people's weight at all (there is always some other way to identify a person besides referring to their weight!) unless they do so first, and then I take my cues from them. Not everybody is ready to reclaim "fat," right? Or am I behind the times there?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:58 PM on January 31, 2019 [9 favorites]


#1 is not "call everyone fat." There is a mega-annoying trend where if I describe myself as fat, people rush to correct me because they think fat is a grave insult and I'm, like, fishing for compliments. #1 is "stop correcting people when they describe themselves as fat." You don't have to reclaim the word, but respect that other people want to.
posted by muddgirl at 4:02 PM on January 31, 2019 [43 favorites]


Encourage your office manager to purchase accessible seats for your workplace (no arm rests, please).

Oh man I tried to do this before I left a previous job. I was the office manager but needed approval to make the purchase. I couldn't get it approved.

"Why do we need to do this?"
"What if we have a fat client who comes here? There will be no place for them to sit."
"But why is it coming up now?"
"Because I just heard an interview with Roxane Gay where she talked about going places and not having chairs she could use."
"We can deal with that if it becomes an issue."

Like, buddy, it's gonna BE an issue if the client or an interviewee walks in the door and has no place to sit. And then what, you'll order an armless chair that doesn't match our other stuff from Amazon Prime or something? While the person waits?
posted by Emmy Rae at 4:11 PM on January 31, 2019 [32 favorites]


This is a good list, and something #43 made me think about is that the plus size models you see "carrying their weight in socially-acceptable places" are usually wearing shapewear but no one is talking about it. We are super weird about shapewear as a society. We treat it like a huge, shameful secret while simultaneously acting disgusted by bodies that don't look like they're wearing shapewear. I don't get it. No, I do get it, it's just sexism rearing its ugly head again.
posted by capricorn at 4:15 PM on January 31, 2019 [22 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification muddgirl, I feel like I can be on board with that. I try to refer to people using the terms they themselves use, just as a general rule.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:25 PM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Remember when this was one of the Things MetaFilter Does Not Do Well?
posted by Tom-B at 4:33 PM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]


I do wish we could talk more about fitness, exercise, and healthy eating as good even without possible weight loss benefits.

We can! Lots of people do this, and the more people who join them the better.

I feel better when I exercise, and feel better when I eat better. I almost feel like I'm more successful at being healthy when I'm not thinking about losing weight. Does that make sense? Is it fatphobic to talk about that?

It does! It's not!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:44 PM on January 31, 2019 [14 favorites]


> There is a mega-annoying trend where if I describe myself as fat, people rush to correct me because they think fat is a grave insult

In an archery group I read, a guy recently posted a photo of himself at a tournament with a caption along the lines of "A great thing about archery is that a fat guy can be considered an athlete." Some people rushed in to accuse him of fatshaming, and when he clarified that it was a picture of himself and that he loved how he looked but also thought it was funny (because it's true!) they said it was sad. But he was clear: he doesn't see "fat" as an insult.

It ended up being a great thread, as other archers posted photos of themselves being fat at the range, and then some of us started talking about neurodiveristy and archery, and someone posted a photo of his foot prosthesis, and it was all just supportive and lovely.

I still feel odd calling someone "fat," but will do so if they do first. It feels risky to call someone "fat" if they haven't called themselves it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:53 PM on January 31, 2019 [18 favorites]


I can talk a little bit about the fitness/wellness reframing, because I’ve been working on that. I’ve been trying to change my ultimate goals to not be about the way my body looks, but about what it DOES. I want to bench press 100 pounds. I want to be able to do 5 pull-ups. I want to go a month without refined sugar (i have a serious sweet tooth I need to get back to a “moderation” place again).
posted by jeweled accumulation at 4:59 PM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


#10 (flattering) is the personal hill I will die on.

I work for a major retail company, and their language around women's clothing consistently makes me want to light things on fire. Beyond the language of masking flaws and shaping you into something socially acceptable, I also hate the way it centers Being Uncomfortable and Being Attractive as central needs for straight sized women.

And I can feel the merchandiser's quizzical looks now. "But you wanted us to offer more attractive clothes for fat ladies! and now you want less attractive clothes?"

No. I want you to respect women and not market to them as objects that exist primarily for men's visual enjoyment.
posted by politikitty at 5:00 PM on January 31, 2019 [21 favorites]


I still feel odd calling someone "fat," but will do so if they do first. It feels risky to call someone "fat" if they haven't called themselves it.

I occasionally use the word fat to refer to myself, but would be shocked and annoyed if someone else took that as a cue that they could also refer to me that way. For me it would be like, I can say it but you can't. Anyway, how often does one need to refer directly to another person's size? Unless you are literally discussing fatphobia or related issues with them, in which case it seems prudent to look for an opening and ask the person if they have a preference.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:23 PM on January 31, 2019 [12 favorites]


I am fat.

Fuck fuck fuck these trendy fucking modern ("tolix") chairs that have been popping up in restaurants the last few years. I have no idea who fits in them. I literally do not believe my skeleton could sit back in one and not be squished in by the stupid fucking wire not-an-arm-but-fucking-your-shit-up-anyways piece.

There's a breakfast place I've been going to a few times a month for a few years that just did a minor remodel, and now has only these chairs. I discovered this last time I went. That may indeed be the last time I will ever go, because I'm not going to perch on the edge of a seat uncomfortably no matter how good your pancakes are.
posted by tocts at 5:49 PM on January 31, 2019 [13 favorites]


I’m average sized and I find those chairs horribly uncomfortable. Nobody is comfortable on a flat-seat metal chair with a round bar in their back.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:06 PM on January 31, 2019 [12 favorites]


33. Learn about the pay gap and employment bias faced by fat people. Yes, this is a very real thing.
Practically every job I've ever had (I've been overweight at best since I turned 20) the first couple rounds of interviews were over the phone.

tocts: "Fuck fuck fuck these trendy fucking modern ("tolix") chairs that have been popping up in restaurants the last few years."

I was in Gilbert last year and practically every restaurant in their tourist district had those chairs. It was the first time I'd seen them and figured it was some sort of local mandate from the business improvement district or something.
posted by Mitheral at 6:47 PM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


Thanks so much for posting this list. Most buses have those molded seats and I just do not quite fit into them either :S
posted by Calzephyr at 7:01 PM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Like, buddy, it's gonna BE an issue if the client or an interviewee walks in the door and has no place to sit. And then what, you'll order an armless chair that doesn't match our other stuff from Amazon Prime or something? While the person waits?

“Some stupid bureaucrat from the city told me I have to put in a wheelchair ramp because the stairs out front contravene some bylaw. I told him I’ve owned this store for twenty-five years and no-one in a wheelchair has ever even come in here!”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:49 PM on January 31, 2019 [30 favorites]


More and more I see chairs in business offices that fit all sizes of people--doctors, vets, insurance agents, hair salons. Hooray! And some of them are even comfortable! Others are just...waiting room chairs.

But this is a no for me:
Also, make sure your guest towels are the biggest size they have in the shop. Don’t make me scoot around your house in a towel that leaves me half naked.

Some people love to have company but don't have the biggest size towels. Some people don't even have a guest room. Some don't have a spare bed--maybe just a couch or even a sleeping bag. I will try to make you comfortable, and I will gladly give you two or three or even four towels, but you don't get to demand the biggest, the fluffiest, or the pinkest towels made.

And I don't care if you're my family or BFF--please don't scoot around my house nekkid. Unless maybe you're three years old and giggle.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:04 PM on January 31, 2019 [7 favorites]


Fatness is such an indicator of class to me -- I admit that my fat-phobic assumptions come up usually in this context, as ridiculous as they are. Namely, I get confused in operas where the more-noble heroine is fat and her sidekick is thin -- it really underscores how rare fat, seriously-powerful women (not the funny sidekick, not the accessory roommate) are in mainstream media.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:48 PM on January 31, 2019 [6 favorites]


you don't get to demand the biggest, the fluffiest, or the pinkest towels made.

It’s funny how a request for accommodation, supported by a reason, just gets immediately turned into a “demand” for some unreasonable preference.

Oh, wait. Not “funny”. Some other, not-funny word.
posted by Etrigan at 4:11 AM on February 1, 2019 [19 favorites]


Yeah, “big enough to fit my body” is very much not the same as “fluffy enough or pink enough for my sensibilities”. I actually somewhat agree that asking people to buy larger towels is a little bit much... especially since I would view walking around in just a towel as taboo when staying as a guest.

But the reason they are asking is that some towels do not fit their body, not that they want a spa towel and pampering.
posted by thoroughburro at 4:50 AM on February 1, 2019 [8 favorites]


I think it was more the concept of specific ‘guest towels’ as a standard expectation in the first place that caused something of a double-take, rather than the specific size, colour or fluffiness of said towels once purchased. It certainly was for me.

Besides that, this list seems full of fairly straightforward and sensible suggestions. I liked the reminder that the fat person sat next to the reader’s non-fat self on the plane is not only not deserving of your complaining about it but also likely far less comfortable than you are anyway.
posted by Catseye at 5:02 AM on February 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


It’s not a standard expectation, it’s a way you can help fat people feel like real people. If you dried off with a washcloth at every hotel and friends’ house, you would feel seen and grateful to be afforded a towel which works like for everyone else.

The list is asking for considerations, not demanding. My answer to that specific one is “probably not going to buy new towels, but I hadn’t considered how alienating it would be to have to use a tool not fit for purpose because my body is wrong.”

If your response is closer to a clever Princess and the Pea joke, well, maybe your house wouldn’t be very welcoming regardless of the towel size.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:22 AM on February 1, 2019 [13 favorites]


It’s not a standard expectation, it’s a way you can help fat people feel like real people.

I’ll try to explain again: many of us don’t own specific ‘guest towels’. I would of course want all my guests to be comfortable, and not to feel like they are drying themselves with a washcloth, but I do not think that ‘since you will of course own guest towels, ensure that you purchase ones big enough for any guest to scoot about the house fully wrapped in’ is a reasonable expectation to have, especially since the specified ‘biggest [towels] they have in the shop’ are not cheap. I apologise if this makes my house seem unwelcoming and dehumanising; if it helps, my towels aren’t big enough for me to walk about fully wrapped either.
posted by Catseye at 5:35 AM on February 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


I don’t own guest towels and our towels are rather too small for my tall body and my partner’s fat body.

I am asking for the response to be, “we can’t get a second set of towels, but now I appreciate another way that fat people are made other”, rather than “ooh, not fluffy enough for the royal highness, eh? Tough luck!”
posted by thoroughburro at 5:38 AM on February 1, 2019 [21 favorites]


I guess if having access to guest towels that fit one’s body well enough to let one wander about the house fully wrapped in comfort is a standard thing to expect, and therefore not having that is a way in which fat people are made to feel other from all the non-fat people who do have that, then maybe? But in that case we are probably coming from very different perspectives here.

It seems at any rate to me quite different from the ‘workplaces should have chairs fat people can actually use’ point, since being able to sit down in comfort in one’s workplace absolutely is a standard reasonable expectation for all employees and would clearly other someone who was not granted that in their workplace.
posted by Catseye at 5:44 AM on February 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


You are not listening to me. I also don’t have guest towels and will not be getting them; I am poor. What I am objecting to is dismissing the request as frivolous. It’s not.

I’m out.
posted by thoroughburro at 5:51 AM on February 1, 2019 [10 favorites]


Remember when this was one of the Things MetaFilter Does Not Do Well?

Still isn't.
posted by TwoStride at 5:53 AM on February 1, 2019 [16 favorites]


I don't own guest towels and do not live the guest-towel lifestyle, but if I were going to be hosting a houseguest who would benefit from bigger towels, I would go out and get a couple of bigger towels, because towels are not that expensive, and I want my guests to be comfortable. And that's not something that would have occurred to me, so I'm thankful for the reminder. To me, it's a reminder that I live with a lot of size privilege (which is something that I often forget, because I also live with a bunch of residual eating-disorder body dysmorphia), and I need to pay attention to the ways in which my space could be unwelcoming to people with different bodies. That doesn't mean that I can fix everything, because we're all dealing with budgetary and other constraints. But it is good to be aware of it and fix things when you're able.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:57 AM on February 1, 2019 [14 favorites]


Fuck fuck fuck these trendy fucking modern ("tolix") chairs that have been popping up in restaurants the last few years. I have no idea who fits in them.

I'm at the very low end of plus sizes and those chairs are objectively THE WORST. They are also awful for people with back issues, joint pain, or who are not in a certain height range.

I wouldn't have thought of the guest towel issue, but most of my friends are the kind of people who don't care if guests wear clothes or not. I will keep this in mind for the hypothetical future where I have money to buy towels though.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:23 AM on February 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


Fatness is such an indicator of class to me -- I admit that my fat-phobic assumptions come up usually in this context, as ridiculous as they are. Namely, I get confused in operas where the more-noble heroine is fat and her sidekick is thin -- it really underscores how rare fat, seriously-powerful women (not the funny sidekick, not the accessory roommate) are in mainstream media.

"There's always one fat girl at the debutatante party"-- The Fat Girl* at the Debutante Party

*My grandmother made me do it. I dropped out before I got to the ball with the white dresses and gloves, but not before I noticed that I was roughly double the size of the next largest girl, and I wasn't even that fat in those days. A fairly standard size 14 (US).

I didn't grow up with money, but I did grow up money-adjacent, which means my parents could not afford to pack me off to some fancy fat camp in California, but they could send me to a psychiatrist when they found out I ate four doughnuts when I was home alone on a teacher workday when I was thirteen because there was nothing else to eat in the house and We need to understand what underlying issues give you so little self respect that you would do that to yourself. Do you hate yourself or us?

I was so ashamed of it all that it was college before I admitted the thing to my (skinny) best friend. And she was like, "Dude, four doughnuts in one day is not, like, freebasing heroin. Jeez."
posted by thivaia at 7:26 AM on February 1, 2019 [10 favorites]


I think the misunderstanding stems from cultural differences. Where I live, the changing area and the shower are generally not the same area, due to humidity. The towels here tend to be bigger, though not as fluffy. You sometimes get a super thin waffle-weave towel. It's not as absorbent, but it dries quickly. Sometimes you get a robe.
If, and only if, someone is going to have to move between two areas of your home while naked, it's nice to make sure they can cover themselves. That's it.
posted by domo at 7:45 AM on February 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


I feel like the list has a lot of good, daily-life items that are totally actionable. Just the other day, I got to give casual off-the-cuff input about acquiring new chairs for a public area of my workplace. Given my personal experiences with seats, I always have armrests on the brain, so I brought them up and made sure we went primarily armrest-less. If more people are aware of armrests and similar things, without having to have their own personal negative experiences with them, then more people can do the smaller things that are like reverse-microaggressions.
posted by theatro at 7:48 AM on February 1, 2019 [3 favorites]


Fuck fuck fuck these trendy fucking modern ("tolix") chairs that have been popping up in restaurants the last few years. I have no idea who fits in them.

Oh is THAT was those torture-devices are called? UGH. I keep running into whatever the kind is that has a lower back, but still those terrible side-rails.
posted by theatro at 7:49 AM on February 1, 2019


And another think about those tolix chairs is that you can't just perch on the front half of the seat even if you want to, because the seat is slippery and slightly angled toward the back.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:24 AM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


So.... what do you do when you have a friend whom you love dearly who describes themselves as "fat" in a tone dripping with self-loathing? Who themselves equate "fat" with "disgusting" or "monstrous" (their own words)?
posted by hanov3r at 8:45 AM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


I love this comment from supercrayon, fat + health = how does it work?!.

See also Contrapoints' video on fat acceptance, and the link between the alt-right and r/fatpeoplehate in 538's analysis of r/The_Donald.
posted by Bodechack at 9:12 AM on February 1, 2019 [6 favorites]


Glad to see I'm not the only one who hates Tolix chairs. I will not go to a place that has them.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:31 AM on February 1, 2019


The towel derail was silly. If I ever find myself in a position to buy special guest towels, they'll be nice big ones. Nice big towels are better for everyone anyway. Until then, guests will have to make do with whatever spare towels I can scrounge up, or bring their own, and if need be they can put some clothes on in the bathroom, it's not the end of the world. I don't think anyone was claiming that it's the end of the world, though. Just that hey, if you're buying towels for guests, consider that maybe your guests won't be the same size as you and buy accordingly.

I think we were having an argument over basically a reasonable request that was simply phrased a little less than perfectly. If we could get past the phrasing and instead consider the intent behind the suggestion—that if you're having guests over, there are some small things you might do to make them comfortable regardless of what size they happen to be—I feel like there's not a whole lot to argue about.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:24 AM on February 1, 2019 [16 favorites]


i am a Very Fat Person. i do not expect you to have towels to fit around me. i have looked into buying them for myself and they're well over $100 FOR JUST ONE. that is absurd.

i also don't expect restaurants to have chairs that are comfortable for me. i am an outlier. it does not fit their business model to have all sorts of different seating for different sizes/weights of people. the only reason they have ADA seating is because it's federally mandated (and there are so many loopholes and exceptions to that).

would i like it if i could go places and be comfortable? of course i would. but i don't expect it, because it is not profitable.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:11 PM on February 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


That’s the cold logic, all right. I hope we’ll see body size covered under the ADA, eventually. Or some equivalent legislation.
posted by thoroughburro at 1:21 PM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


I've just clawed my way back from obese to overweight. For me fat will never be positive because it limits what I can do and the number of days I feel good. I don't want to fat shame anyone, but I feel a little of that shame myself and I always wonder if it spills over into my interactions with others.


33. Learn about the pay gap and employment bias faced by fat people. Yes, this is a very real thing.

A bit of a derail, but this applies more to women, better pay correlates to being overweight for men. I think it drops again for morbidly obese men.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:34 PM on February 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


The average American man weighs 15 pounds more than he would’ve twenty years ago. He has a 40-inch waist. 68% of American women wear a size 14 or above. The average American woman is a size 16 or 18.

These numbers are only going up.

If your restaurant isn’t providing seating for fat people, your restaurant is going to have fewer and fewer customers.

Some people are fat. We need to create a world which reflects that.
posted by aedison at 1:36 PM on February 1, 2019 [9 favorites]


I've just clawed my way back from obese to overweight.

Yeah, this is really gross language. And it conflates feeling better with your size. While your physiology might work so that treating your body better coincides with your body becoming smaller, that isn't a foregone conclusion.

You've been struggling to take better care of yourself. And as a result of that work, you are also at a more socially acceptable weight. By framing it as escaping obesity, you're reinforcing the stigma. And you're messaging that care looks like prioritizing diet and exercise over everything else, when it's perfectly reasonable that other people have other priorities.

I know that making better food choices and moving more will lower my risk for some diseases. But I'm also struggling to just manage crippling anxiety and depression. Food choice is just not on my radar, and engaging in societal discussions about whether food choice should be on my radar is absolutely a way to exacerbate those issues. So deprioritizing food choices until I can better deal with those feelings is part of taking care of myself.

I get that it's just how you personally feel. But the way we talk about ourselves communicates our values to the rest of the world. So it's important to tackle those internalized isms.
posted by politikitty at 4:29 PM on February 1, 2019 [13 favorites]


"Why are you packing that plastic bag?"

"So that my clothes don't get wet."

"But we're just going down to the hotel pool. Why are you taking your clothes?"

"To change into after we get out of the pool."

"Why not just wear the bathrobes they gave us?"

"Because none of them will stay closed on me."
You know those embarrassing hospital gowns that never stay closed in the back? Well to me every single dressing gown I've ever worn that has been big enough to tie closed has opened right at the upper thighs the moment I did anything other than stand stock straight. So yeah, I totally feel the towel thing.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 4:48 PM on February 1, 2019 [8 favorites]


but i don't expect it, because it is not profitable.

Neither are the signs in the bathrooms reminding workers to wash their hands, but society collectively agreed it was a good idea not to get a side of salmonella with every entrée.
posted by Etrigan at 6:47 PM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Thank you for everyone in smaller bodies who has approached this so respectfully. I missed the toxic comment about diva towels or whatever and thank you to the mods for removing it. As a superfat person, I travel with a microfiber towel that packs down tiny but covers me fully. I don’t expect folks to have towels to wrap my body when I visit and I doubt there’s a single fat woman (or any gender, for that matter) out there who has any expectations like that, we’re so hated and people think that allowing us access to spaces will just result in all of us being fat (nevermind that we actually don’t know how to make people stay fat if they’re naturally inclined not to be, anymore than we know how to make fat people thin). “Glorifying obesity” is still the biggest concern out there when we talk about letting fat people exist without shame.

On that note: I am happy to call myself and be called fat by people not using it as an insult, but I recommend that folks not in fat bodies consider a more neutral way of referring to bodies as such: person in a larger body, person in a smaller body. This is a way of speaking that’s being used a lot in fat-friendly spaces these days and I like it so much. It’s factual but not judgmental, the way that using words about bodies as being over or under weight or medicalized words can be (“obese” is so toxic).

It’s not perfect (by a lot), of course, but it seems to be gaining in usage and doesn’t stigmatize the way other words can. If you want to refer to yourself, you might consider talking about what access you enjoy: can you fit into chairs everywhere, are seatbelts long enough, do stores carry your size, do doctors treat your symptoms and not you body size, etc. Some smaller fat people enjoy some access and not others, and it can be useful to acknowledge the ways that you are accepted in the world and the ways you’re left out.

If you are in a larger body and wish there was a Yelp for fat people so you can know if there’s chairs that are sturdy and comfortable or tables not too close together or any number of things, there is! Ample is a review site that has many reviews from all over (though it was built in Portland, OR, and tested there so there’s a disproportionate number of reviews there) that talk about things like: this Pilates studio has equipment for fat bodies, or this place uses trans-inclusive language, or this place is run by BIPOC, or this place has a step to enter in the front but a ramp in the back. It’s about access in general but focuses mainly on places that are welcoming to fat people. It needs more reviews — from people of all sizes! — and I encourage you all to help out because it’s an amazing resource.

There is another app called AllGo that’s built on the same principle (I backed their Kickstarter) but it’s local to Portland and hasn’t expanded beyond it yet. If you live here and want to be a beta tester though, I think they’re still looking for folks.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:14 PM on February 2, 2019 [11 favorites]


"If you have children, be cognizant of how you talk about food around them. Many women, in particular, cite comments from their mothers as instigating factors in their shame around food. Teach your kids that their, and others', bodies aren't something to apologize for."

Welp. There's another item on my apparently infinite list of things to research before having kids.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 3:16 PM on February 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


misanthropicsarah: "i have looked into buying them for myself and they're well over $100 FOR JUST ONE. that is absurd. "

That would be crazy. For anyone wanting crazy large towels for cheep you can take moderately priced towels and just sew them together (anyone with a sewing machine can do this). Take for example this set of 4 bath towels for $40. Sew those suckers together and you'll have a 104"x 57" towel for a lot less than $100. We used to do this with thrift store towels as kids to make huge, cheap, beach towels (rugs really, these things were huge).

Or take this 6 pack of 24x48 gym towels for $31 and make one towel 144"x48".

No Idea if any of those are actually good towels; just an example from my first page of Amazon hits.
posted by Mitheral at 9:38 PM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


I really think we should just dismiss the towel thing as some sort of bizarre culture mismatch and pretend this was a list of only 50 points.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:50 PM on February 2, 2019 [3 favorites]




I've just clawed my way back from obese to overweight.

Yeah, this is really gross language. And it conflates feeling better with your size. While your physiology might work so that treating your body better coincides with your body becoming smaller, that isn't a foregone conclusion.


Yeah, I felt fine being obese for a long time, better that I felt trying to slim down, but then I got some more obesity exacerbated health problems on top of my existing broken metabolism health problems. It flipped dieting from being a misery inducing experience to a misery inducing experience that was better than the alternative. I know that everyone has a different experience with weight and health and we are all our own little ecosystems and there's no cookie cutter solution to wellness that fits everyone. I'm just stating what it feels like for me. Long term it may be that dieting plus exercise will not be a sustainable route to wellness for me. If so I'm probably in trouble.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:36 PM on February 4, 2019


BrotherCaine, you may be interested in the growing research showing that the health detriments previously regarded as being due to being fat are more accurately due to weight cycling. (Search for "cycling" to get to the relevant bits, though this whole paper is worth a read.) I truly hope you're able to find peace with your body at any size and to consider shifting your view of your own body as something you need to battle. The way that you talk about your body is hard to read.

A nice summary of the problems with weight cycling comes from an interview with an ASU professor who studies "obesity" about a recent perspective of his in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise :
Q: What are the dangers of obesity? Why do people think it’s more harmful than it actually is?

A: This is a great question. I think most people tend to think that many — if not all — of the health problems of large people are entirely due to their body fat. But is this a fair assessment? The dangers of obesity are pretty much the same as those associated with poor diet and insufficient exercise. So you have to ask the question, “Are the health problems associated with obesity due to the body fat itself, or the lifestyle associated with it?” It’s straightforward to answer this question. Just have individuals with obesity increase their physical activity and change their diet and observe the results. These kinds of studies have been published all the time, and they show that obesity-related health markers improve with little, if any, weight loss.

The health risks of obesity are also very much the same as the health risks associated with chronic weight cycling, or yo-yo dieting. So again, you have to ask the question, “Are the risks of obesity due to the body fat, or our obsessive efforts to get rid of it?” This is not trivial, because an obsessive focus on weight loss as the primary goal of “obesity treatment” could have unintended consequences.
I also wanted to point you to research that shows that weight stigma (such as using the terms overweight/obese) leads to "delayed health care, weight cycling, increased psychological and emotional stress, increased inflammation". The latter, inflammation, being something we hear about all the time as being caused by body size, increases risk for many illnesses. Decreasing stigma works to improve health in ways that losing weight does not (and again, weight loss is the best predictor of future weight gain.)
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:23 PM on February 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I was happy with a very stable but medically obese weight for many years, and more interested in feeling healthy and getting exercise than losing weight or dieting. At 252lbs I could bike 35+ miles with a 3500+ elevation gain, I could run 3 miles, I could leg press 45 reps of 600lbs, do (a few) pull ups, almost bench my body weight. Then my energy level dropped and I started feeling awful. Turns out I was developing a problem that the literature and my doctors pointed out a ketogenic diet or weight loss were the only fix for. As a type 1 diabetic I have no interest in a keto diet. So far I've dropped 30 pounds on a hypocaloric diet. I'm not crash dieting or taking weight loss drugs. I'm still exercising. My energy levels are back up (mostly), my blood work is back to normal and my food sensitivities are good. I just don't enjoy being hungry. If I could have kept going at the weight I was I would've, but it became impossible for me to feel well at that weight.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:01 PM on February 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


A long time ago someone on metafilter posted a page listing extremely (500+lbs) overweight people. What surprised me about it at the time were the number of people on the list who died very shortly after a crash diet. They lost too much muscle mass and became bed bound. It stuck with me, and I resolved to make health my number one concern over appearance or weight.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:08 PM on February 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


I could leg press 45 reps of 600lbs

Whoa. As someone working toward a 315lb 1RM right now, I have much respect.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:25 PM on February 4, 2019


But there are issues. And numerous instances anecdotally of hearing surgeons comment that the proceedure went easilly and well because relative was skinny. The word should not be pejorative, biases should be fought, the very concept of "diet" should be eradicated, but how can we encourage health?
posted by sammyo at 2:23 PM on February 5, 2019


You really think CNN is the place to go for news that objectively talks about fat health? You care about health? Then don’t share articles like this. Don’t share any media that shows headless or fat people from behind and contrasts that with pictures of people in smaller bodies in the gym.

From the article, buried in the middle:
"The study was not set up to establish causation," Chang said. "We know there are many factors that are associated with both obesity and cancer, such as lack of exercise and poor diet. How much each of those factors contribute to cancer is less clear."
We have Level A evidence (scroll to chart) that diets don’t work long-term. That’s the same strong evidence we have that smoking causes cancer. If we don’t know how to make fat people thin, we have got to stop sharing articles about the “obesity crisis” that talk about diet but don’t talk about weight stigma and don’t clearly state up front that we don’t know what cancers are caused by weight or correlated with weight. Articles which show one picture of fat people walking, sloppily dressed and faceless, from behind instead of showing us in the gym right alongside the thin people in tight clothing (less chafing!) and action poses. The implication from this article is that fat people have worse diet and don’t excericse compared to those in lower weight bodies. They never mention that fat people might have healthy behaviors and remain fat. If diets don’t work and excersise isn’t a way to permanently lose weight, why are articles like this equating weight loss with better health? Could it be the $60+ billion the weight loss industry has spent convincing us that weight is a moral choice?

We know that fat people get abysmal healthcare. Do you need me to link to the hundreds of anecdotes out there where a diagnosis was missed or a weight loss surgery — which has shockingly high mortality risk — was performed that led to death thanks to weight bias? Or should we again talk about how we need to do something about these fatties, taking up all our healthcare?

If you care about health, if you want fat to stop being a bad word, stop sharing articles like this. They are written to shame. They don’t contain information about the ways that adispotivity can be protective for all around mortality (“the obesity paradox”) or talk about how those at the lower end of the weight spectrum have worse overall health outcomes than most fat people. They simply exist to make life harder for fat people, which is the opposite of what the TFA is about.

We have to stop talking about weight as if it’s a personal choice. Did you know that tall people have worse mortality than shorter people? Do you know all the increased cancer risks associated with race? How about economic factors that lead to worse health? Until you’re up in Metafilter threads pointing out, essentially, that you’re going to get cancer unless you stop being tall/Black/poor or whatever — please don’t do it here. If you think fat people haven’t heard about the risks about being fat and feel the need to tell us about it at the end of a thread about ways to improve health and wellness in fat people, please...just don’t. Let us have one Metafilter thread without weight stigma. It might actually improve our health.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:20 PM on February 5, 2019 [10 favorites]


the thorn bushes have roses: flagged as fantastic
posted by Emmy Rae at 5:01 PM on February 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Let us have one Metafilter thread without weight stigma. It might actually improve our health.

That is really the most bonkers part about all of this. We have a vast and surprisingly consistent body of research that proves the following:

-diets don't work
-long-term weight loss is nearly impossible to achieve
-weight stigma is deadly
-there is still no evidence that being overweight is, in and of itself, dangerous to health

And yet, in every discussion about the subject, you have people--claiming to be logical and science-driven!-- worried about what will happen if we stop shaming people for being fat. We actually know what will happen: those people will get better, both psychologically and physically.

It's almost like the idea of people getting better without being sufficiently penitent and self-flagellating first makes people angry instead of relieved.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:13 AM on February 8, 2019 [7 favorites]


It's almost like the idea of people getting better without being sufficiently penitent and self-flagellating first makes people angry instead of relieved.

Yes. Exactly. There was a post about researching a pill that might replace diet and exercise by changing people's metabolism so they burn off weight and people pushed back against that too. I nearly lost it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:28 PM on February 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


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