On Fat Hatred and Eliminationism

[Trigger warning for fat hatred; eliminationism; references to dieting and disordered eating.]

So this morning I see that professional fat-hater Jamie Oliver has posted a petition which he's asking people to sign in support of his "Food Revolution," and in which he's included the bullshit stat that "obesity in the US costs $10,273,973 per hour" (sure) and notes, in all-caps, "OBESITY IS PREVENTABLE."

Celebrities who have signed the petition are posted in rotation: Jennifer Aniston, Eva Longoria, P. Diddy, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Ellen Degeneres.

It's always nice to see wealthy people with access to the best food, comprehensive healthcare, personal trainers, private chefs, and individual nutritional plans put their names to a petition admonishing the fatties that OBESITY IS PREVENTABLE.

When there are people for whom that is not true, people for whom obesity is not preventable, for myriad reasons, to bray about how their bodies (our bodies; ourselves) are "preventable" is to engage in eliminationist rhetoric.

I will never be not fat.

To get rid of my fat body, you have got to get rid of me.

This is where the fat-hating narrative of "calories in, calories out!" and the universal treatment of every human body like it's a Bunsen burner gets us: It's all just about personal choice and fatties' bad choices, without regard for natural variation among human bodies, including disease and disability, individual histories of fad dieting, disordered eating, and/or trauma, or systemic problems like poverty, racism, fat hatred, food deserts, lack of safe outdoor spaces, corn subsidies, meat subsidies, and an entire industry that makes lots and lots of money off of shaming fat people that wouldn't exist if some people weren't fat, just for starters.

OBESITY IS PREVENTABLE: Except when it's not.

Fat people are not only tasked with finding individual solutions to systemic problems; they are, in many cases, asked to somehow overcome their very physiologies and make their bodies do things that they are simply unable to do.

We are literally asked to be people we are not.

That is eliminationist. Plain and simple.

And the only way to convince oneself that it isn't is to believe things that are simply not true, to pretend that every fat person in existence is just a lazy, gluttonous piece of shit who would totes be thin if only some sanctimonious assholes got together and signed a condescending petition outlining how OBESITY IS PREVENTABLE.

When the science eventually catches up to the reality that fat people who are not fat as a result of disordered eating already know, the people who are putting their faces and names to this campaign will be ashamed that they ever supported such naked bigotry, such rank hostility, such victim-blaming garbage. Paul Campos, who has written extensively about the OH NOES Obesity Crisis! and debunked many of the myths surrounding fat and health, has observed that the science, conventional wisdom, and cultural narratives of obesity closely mimic the science, conventional wisdom, and cultural narratives about homosexuality a generation ago, and has pointed out parallels between the gross "reparative therapy" touted to magically make gays straight and the gross "reparative therapy" touted to magically make fatties thin.

Once upon a time, most people thought not being gay was just an issue of willpower, too.

That's where we are with fat acceptance. And one day, people will look back at this revolting petition and wonder how the fuck such unapologetic hatred was popular enough that celebrities were tripping over each other to sign their names to it.

They'll say, "Oh, we didn't know back then." But they could know now—if they'd ever bothered to speak to any of the fat people they're so keen to help, from a safe and patronizing distance.

[H/T to @fatheffalump.]

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