Fatsronauts 101

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 bias; trauma; discussion of disordered eating.]

#11: No one wants to be fat.

This is a subject that's come up a lot in comments here, and has certainly been discussed at other fat acceptance/Health at Every Size blogs—this idea that no one wants to be fat. It's often invoked, understandably, in response to the ubiquitous narratives that fat people could be not-fat if only we really tried, that fatness is the exclusive result of poor choices, and that all fat people need is more shaming! to cure us of our blissful fatitude.

I get why people (especially fat people) say it. But it's not true.

Firstly, there are people who want to be fat as an explicit objective—consciously, because they like the way it looks and/or feels; or subconsciously, often as a response to sexual violence/trauma.

And there are people who want to be fat as a tangential objective—that is, because being fat is part of, for example, maintaining one's health.

Just this weekend, @hamsterRelish tweeted at me: "I find the fat-hating self-righteousness of many people infuriating. No one wants to be fat!"

To which I responded:

That is A True Thing. For me to be not-fat would necessitate my ingesting such an extremely low number of calories that my nutritional habits would be classified as an eating disorder. I would be constantly weak and exhausted. My hair would fall out. I would probably stop having periods. My mind wouldn't work properly; I would not be able to write/work. My quality of life would be total shit.

And I would have to sustain that for the rest of my life.

Which wouldn't be very long, since my organs would probably start failing in short order.

That is just my experience. It does not speak to the experiences of people who are fat because they take life-saving medications. It does not speak to the experiences of people who are in recovery from life-threatening disordered eating. It does not speak to the experiences of people with illnesses that cause weight gain and/or make weight loss difficult, whose other option beside fatness is death.

Many of these people might say they don't want to be fat, because we live in a fat-hating culture where this perspective on fatness is radical.

But, in truth, what they probably really want is to not be subjected to the systemic abuses of a fat-hating culture. And the only way most fat people see out of that chronic bullying is to "get thin."

Because we continue to treat "I want to be fat" and "I want to be respected" as mutually exclusive desires.

It doesn't have to be that way.



#10: Fat people need you to intervene in their lives.
#9: Fat people don't know how they look.
#8: Fat people don't deserve anything nice.
#7: Fat people are permission slips for thin people to eat what they want.
#6: Any fat person eating a salad or exercising is trying to lose weight.
#5: Fat is axiomatically ugly.
#4: Fat people eat enormous amounts of food.
#3: Fat people are jolly/mean, and fat people are shy/loud.
#2: I can tell how someone eats all the time, because of how they eat around me.
#1: Everyone who is fat is fat for the same reason.

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