Fatsronauts 101 is a series in which I address assumptions and stereotypes about fat people that treat us as a monolith and are used to dehumanize and marginalize us. If there is a stereotype you'd like me to address, email me.
[Content Note: Fat hatred; disordered eating.]
#4: Fat people eat enormous amounts of food.
This is closely related to Part One, but, beyond the notion that all fat people consistently "overeat" to get fat, there lies another myth that all fat people routinely binge on massive amounts of food.
After I wrote about a trainer who gained and lost 70 pounds to "understand fat people," several Shakers noted that another trainer who did the same thing—and achieved his weight gain by eating 20,000 calories a day.
That is flatly not how the vast majority of fat people get fat.
And yet not only is that considered a close enough approximation that someone who "gets fat" eating that way is regarded as having something profound to say about the experience of fatness, but it stands to reinforce the narrative that fatness is primarily a function of disordered eating, especially binging.
There certainly are fat people who binge-eat, or formerly binge-ate, but there are also fat people who have never binge-eaten, have never had disordered eating, have never eaten occasionally or routinely the enormous amounts of food associated with fatness.
I have never, in one sitting:
• Eaten an entire gallon of ice cream.
• Eaten an entire pint of ice cream.
• Eaten an entire bag of potato chips.
• Eaten an entire box of cereal.
• Eaten an entire cake.
• Eaten an entire pie.
• Eaten an entire bag/box of cookies.
• Eaten an entire pizza.
• Drank an entire 2-liter of soda.
• Drank an entire 6-pack of soda.
• Drank an entire 6-pack of beer.
• Drank an entire bottle of wine.
• Et cetera.
Which is not to say I've never "overeaten" at a meal. I have. I've eaten more bites than I needed to be full. I've eaten dessert I didn't need. I've eaten too fast and thus too much when I'm really hungry. I don't feel obliged to hide these things nor do I feel ashamed of them; I've seen every person of every size I've ever known do them at one time or another. I'm not going to beat myself up about it any more than I do when I get wrapped up in writing and lose track of time and forget to eat anything until I'm woozy with crashing blood sugar. (Whooooops!)
I don't compulsively binge-eat, but, if I did, I would openly admit it. I am not invested in the idea that fat people who binge-eat are "bad" and fat people who don't are "good." I don't attach moral judgments to fat.
The thing is, other people do. And those moral judgments are starting to influence policy, from accessing health care to junk food restrictions.
So while I don't really give a flying flunderton whether anyone thinks I personally sit around eating whole loaves of pathetic anger bread all day every day, I do care, very much, about the fact that the erroneous belief everyone who looks like me got that way by unfettered gluttony (NB: disordered eating is not unfettered gluttony) underwrites the bigotry used to marginalize us.
Naturally, even if every last one of us was fat by conscious choice, it still wouldn't justify rank hatred and bigotry.
But as long as the proponents of that bigotry continue to claim it's a response to our alleged lack of good choices, I'mma keep challenging the veracity of that allegation, until finally, one day, that bigotry is exposed as nothing but the sneering aesthetic displeasure for difference that it really is.