Today in Fat Hatred

[Content Note: Fat hatred; bullying; body shaming; child abuse.]

Some of the external commentary, and the dehumanizing "headless fatty" picture, accompanying this interview with Harvard University anthropologist Susan Greenhalgh, author of Fat-Talk Nation: The Human Costs of America's War on Fat, is problematic, but the interview itself is excellent and very important.

Greenhalgh wrote Fat-Talk Nation after doing an "auto-ethnography, a method in which the researcher gathers narrative accounts from individuals who write about their lives. This approach differs—quite purposefully—from a biomedical discourse that relies on statistics and, through which, scientists 'impose their understandings of what matters and why on people's lives,' as Greenhalgh phrases it." In other words: It is a research method that centers people's accounts of their own lived experiences and allows them to be authorities on their own lives.

And what Greenhalgh found is, unsurprisingly, what other fat people have been saying for many years, despite our voices being drowned out by "obesity experts" and the cacophonous shouts of "calories in! calories out!": That fat hatred is harmful.
The core message is that 15 years after the launching of the public health campaign against obesity, we are now in the midst of a gigantic, society-wide war on fat in which virtually all of us — including you and I and your readers — are unwitting agents. All of us are making war on fat through constant fat-talk. Yet because very few people can lose weight and keep it off, the pervasive fat-talk does not have its intended effect; instead, it is causing terrible, yet often, invisible harm.

The harm to individuals includes emotional distress and, often, physical injury from trying too hard to lose weight. The war on fat is also damaging critical social relationships, especially the crucial bond between mother and daughter. The stigma and discrimination against fat people are now well known; what isn't known is that the human costs of the war on fat itself are harmful to people of all sizes and to us as a nation.
Emphasis mine.

Fat-shaming is bullying; is is abusive. And Greenhalgh's work is an important document to begin to correctly identify the shaming central to much of the campaigning against "childhood obesity" as what it really is: Child abuse.

And it is abuse with reverberating implications throughout one's life, because there is no incentive to take care of a body you hate.

How good I feel about my fat body is absolutely and inextricably related to how well I take care of it, from the food I put in it to whether I go see a doctor when there's something wrong. That's not a fat issue: That's a human issue. Many of my thin and in-betweenie friends and colleagues have the same experience around their body image and self-care, because we all live in a garbage culture of judgment that conspires to make everyone feel flawed and inadequate in some way.

If we want fat people—or any people—to treat their bodies well, then we must encourage them to love their bodies, no matter what they look like.

No one has ever gotten healthier, in any way, by being constantly treated like garbage. And no one has ever gotten bullied into feeling better about themselves.

Acceptance is only a dangerous idea to those who are hiding aesthetic distaste for fat bodies behind sanctimonious concern trolling about fatties' health. If you want us to be healthy, not fucking bullying us would be a great place to start.

Anyone who purports to be concerned about fat people's health will stop trying to demonize our bodies and shame us for having them, and instead get on board with the idea that fat hatred harms, and fat hatred kills.

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