My Obesity Came from the Andromeda Galaxy!

[Content Note: Fat hatred; body policing; privilege; dehumanization.]

"Where Does Obesity Come From?" wonders Derek Thompson at The Atlantic.

Such a perfect question, and a terrific complement to all those articles wondering where thinness comes from, amirite? Ha ha whooooooops those don't exist!

This article is terrible for a whole lot of reasons, starting with the headless fatty image at the top of the post. It's a ubiquitous image, the headless fatty, and it's an unintentionally ideal image to accompany the vast number of articles that discuss "obesity" as as abstract thing that exists in the world as a problem to be solved.

A dehumanizing picture of "obesity," rather than the image of a sentient, consenting, identifiable fat person, alongside a discussion of "obesity," rendered asunder from fat people. As if our fat exists separately from our humanity. As if our bodies are somehow separate from the consciousnesses that inhabit them.

But perhaps the worst thing about this piece is its author's insistence on attributing to "obesity" what is actually attributable to prejudice against fat people.
If there is there is a close relationship between weight and poverty, it is strongest among women, from the peak of the 1 percent to below the poverty line. At the top, corporate boards appear severely biased against larger women in a way they don't discriminate against larger men. Cawley's research found that obesity lowers wages for all workers but particularly for white women. Women who are two standard deviations from normal weight (64 pounds for the typical woman) earn 9 percent less, he writes. Obese women are half as likely to attend college, 20 percent less likely to get married, and seven times more likely to experience illness, depression, or death from being overweight.
None, not one, of those things are the result of simply existing as fat, as opposed to existing as fat in a profoundly fat-hating culture.

If (disproportionately male) corporate boards are biased against fat women, that is the result of the members of those corporate boards' prejudice against fat women.

If fat women (of any race) are subjected to lower wages, that is the result of prejudice against fat women.

If fat women are less likely to attend college, perhaps that's because expressed bias against fat women starts early and because school is a terrible experience for lots of fat girls.

If fat women are less likely to get married, perhaps that's because the pool of available partners who neither view us as someone to exploit by virtue of presumed low self-esteem nor fetishize our bodies is small, and we would prefer to be alone than married to a creep.

If fat women are more likely to experience depression, perhaps that's because we spend our lives navigating a world that admonishes us to hate ourselves and upholds eliminationist campaigns against us.

If fat women are more likely to be ill or to die, perhaps that's because we experience profound discrimination in healthcare.

These are not issues whose origins are in "obesity." These are prejudices whose origins are in fat hatred. The fact that the same discrimination is not leveled against fat men is evidence that it's not strictly about being fat.

A better question would be: "Where Does Fat Hatred Come From?" But of course that sort of article might inadvertently concede that fat people have a right to be fat, and a right to be treated like human beings, even despite our failure to conform to the aesthetic requirements of the privileged.

[Related Reading: Proposed.]

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