Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Don't Act Like You Know Me

November 16, 2012
Dear privileged thin people; don't act like you know me. Don't act like you have all the answers because we fatties have heard all this shit before. It's NOT as simple 'eat better and move more'.

A friend posted up an article about the withdrawl of the Denmark fat tax-they're getting rid of it not because it didn't work to slim Danes down and make them eat healthier food, but because it wasn't economically feasible. Or so they try to claim. (<--- a really great take-down, please go read it!) My friend runs a small, organic farm and is a brilliant, motivated and compassionate man. He is deeply concerned (and rightly so) about the fate of our world's food supply and our environment, and knows more than most about how those two things are tied together. He fights every day of his life against the enroaching reach of companies like Monsanto and Walmart and genuinely and passionately believes that together we can make this world a better place. We've had many deep and winding conversations about the above, and once or twice about fat and fat acceptance. I'm not angry at my friend for his post, but I am disappointed. In rebuttal to his post I left the link to UnAmerican Activities at Fierce Fatties, some food for thought on fat taxes since Ontario doctors are calling for something similar in my birth province.

Immediately someone else commented along the lines of 'why is it so hard to steam some veggies, boil rice and cook protein' and 'get off the couch and grow some salad'. Seriously? WHY is that so hard? Oh let me count the ways:
Fat people are often poor people, working poverty wages and living in undesirable areas (urban or rural, or in Canada's case, remote. Did you know a gallon of milk on some reserves is nearly ten dollars? A loaf of bread will run you five. Juice is three or four times more expensive than pop.) You'll see similar, though not as extreme, pricing on items in a convenience store, often the only place for the poor to buy food, as they live in a food desert with no grocery store for miles. What store would want to open a location in downtown Detroit or Winnipeg? Where's the room? Where's the clientele? Remember, these are the poor. We can't afford organic, whole-grain bagels and locally sourced cream cheese.  And grow some salad? Sure, where is that going to happen, and when? Most urban areas are heavy crime areas, and despite some cities having communal gardens and similar projects, this is not the norm. Going outside for a walk with your dog or taking your kids to the park might end up with someone getting shot. It happens nearly every day in some American cities.

Fat people are often minorities, which ties into the poor aspect. Despite all the feel good attempts in the history books we do NOT live in a post-racial society. The fact that people took to Twitter to bemoan "that n*****" getting relected, and that many Canadians complain about First Nations folk getting free school (they don't) or free gas (they don't, and thanks Beiber), are just two tiny examples in an OCEAN of racism people deal with on a daily basis.

Genetics plays a huge role in whether we will be fat or thin or inbetween. Do you have fat parents? Congrats! You are 70% likely to also be fat. Have you had an injury that prevents you from being active? This will very likely lead to weight gain. Were you born with some kind of disability that prevents exercise, or makes it painful? You're probably going to carry extra weight. Were you teased, bullied, harassed or threatened as a kid for being chubby and now can't stand the though of going to the gym? This is the reality for most fat folks. Do you constantly recieve disdain and endure being berated by your doctor for your weight, despite repeated attempts at dieting (which doesn't work and know we know that weight cycling leads to an INCREASE in weight over time), being active or even having had weight loss surgery, and therefore don't go see your doctor until whatever is bothering you is so bad you might have done permanent harm to yourself? Or maybe until it's too late, thereby costing the healthcare system more than if you had gone earlier? Ta da-there's the real reason why fat people are supposely costing taxpayers more.

As for the 'why don't you make home cooked meals every night' comment, let me tell you about a typical day for many poor folk. It involves getting up early to catch a bus for a long ride to a shit job with no benefits that pays minimum wage. You work 8 or 12 hours, then take that same bus all the way back home. By the time you get home your kids have already been home for a while, or at a friend's or family member's (daycare is too expensive for you) and have had some kind of snack, hopefully something nutritious but you never know for sure. You're too tired to cook so you stop in at A&W or Wendy's on the way home, then spend a bit of time with the family before bed. Once everyone's asleep it's time to get some of the housework done, or pay the bills, or have a quiet moment with your partner. Tomorrow you'll do it all again in the hope that you'll have enough money at the end of the month to pay the rent *and* buy groceries *and* pay the bills. Some months you have to choose which bills to pay, or what groceries you can do without.

This post was a bit rambling and mostly not about fat at all; rather it talks the poor.

The key element with regard to fat here is -

eating amazing fresh and nutritious organic produce won't make you thin.

I'm allowed to ramble on my own blog but yes, the too long, didn't read version is 'eating the right foods and being active wont make you thin'. Also, I get pissed when people make assumptions about others.

You mentioned genetics & that is the key to body size, it is indeed 70-80% & some of us who have plenty of access to any of the foods we want (well, I can't personally buy lobster as often as I would like) who exercise plenty (in my own case, over 300 minutes per week & for many years, or 4 hours per day) do not get thin. People should make enough money to live on, I won't argue with that, I come from poverty myself & have lived on the edge of it most of my life. I do buy my food at Walmart & Sam's Club, as I can get more there for the money I have to spend, & they do indeed sell fresh produce. And as a very healthy 63-year-old woman who has not had one-TENTH the health problems or hospital/doctor time of my 33-year-old thin daughter-in-law while eating a fairly standard diet with probably a bit less produce than it is today popular to preach that we SHOULD be eating & with many fat relatives who lived (usually in relative poverty) into their 80's & 90's, there is a lot more to life & to determining how healthy people are or how long they live than fruits & vegetables.

And many of those people for whom you spoke who live in remote places in Montana or wherever live there by choice. Many of them farm or ranch, hunt & fish, often do grow vegetables, & get plenty of exercise & are as likely as anyone else to be fat. Maybe they only drive into a big city for supplies two or three times per month, but they usually like their lifestyle.

I will agree that everyone should have enough money to live on with some degree of comfort & be able to buy whatever foods they choose to buy. Everyone should feel safe to move in whatever they choose IF they choose. However, I do think that the whole 'food desert' & 'the evils of processed foods' is greatly exaggerated. I don't want to make any assumptions about anyone based on income, body size, or whatever, & I don't like it at all when anyone makes assumptions about me either. But one thing we need to remember is that fat people are not a new invention, there were plenty of fat people before there were supermarkets, processed foods, or Walmarts. In fact, I will go so far as to say, considering what a good survival mechanism body fat is, that if there had NOT been fat people, the human race would have been extinct a long time ago. And if the world faces really tough times in the days ahead, it will not be the meek who inherit the earth, it will be the fat.

You repeat a lot of standard arguments about the food supply. Earlier posters have pointed out how some of them are pretty misleading.
I'll debunk another one of them. It's easy to find cheap fruits and vegetables in "downtown" Detroit (I assumed that by "downtown," you mean the city itself and not the central area that's all office buildings? Because, nobody lives in office buildings.)
Anyway, about a mile from the center of the city is a gigantic farmer's and wholesaler's market: the Eastern Market. It is by far the largest, cheapest and best market of its kind I've seen in North America.
There are plenty of grocery stores in the city, too. For example, there are two or three largish, full service grocery stores a mile up Woodward from downtown, near the Wayne State campus.
You probably don't know what I'm talking about, because to you, Detroit is probably just a place where poor people live. Here's a Google map of Detroit grocery stores for you:
https://maps.google.com/maps?client=safari&q=detroit+grocery+store&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
I grew up there, and Detroit it has its problems, but a lack of good food is not one of them.
Now, it's true that there are neighborhoods that don't have a good grocery store within walking distance, and where you have to drive or catch a bus to buy a full range of food. However, that's true in pretty much every city and even more so in most suburbs. I hate seeing Detroit used as a strawman by people who obviously aren't familiar with it.

I agree with your post. There is a tremendous relationship between poverty and obesity. Since having money in your wallet doesn't make you thin, maybe it's what that money can buy - like better food, full day care for your kids, a car.

Eating well may not cause anybody to lose weight, but eating badly sure will cause you to put weight on, especially if it's combined with stress.

There are people who want to believe that fat comes from nowhere, that it is only the result of genetics or dieting. That completely shuts down any discussion about the well-known nexus between poverty and privilege and obesity.

Hey. You don't seem to have gotten my point about downtown Detroit. Nobody lives downtown. It's all office buildings. Picture Toronto's financial district, but built in the 1920s. Detroit isn't a small city. It's closer to the size of Toronto than Winnipeg. It has 4 million people in the metro area, and a little less than a million in the city itself. The city proper once had 2 million residents, however. It's quite large, and it has a two business downtowns: the one on the Detroit river and another called the New Center, up Woodward Avenue. Those areas aren't residential, and therefore they don't need supermarkets.

You will find the poor and partially deserted areas of the city further out from the center, particularly on the east side. Seriously. Take a look at a map. The City of Detroit is spatially huge and underpopulated, and it was never a densely populated city, even when it had twice its current number of residents. it's almost all detached, single family homes. That's why there aren't supermarkets within walking distance of everyone. It's a structural issue that has to do with low urban population density.
I'll shut up now.

I agree. So many people think it's easy to have time and the ability to shop for healthy foods and cook them. I have that luxury and I'm very glad and happy to have it. I wonder if convenience stores could somehow be forced to carry at least a small selection of fresh vegetables? Or even frozen ones? I know that when I go to the grocery store, I often buy more than I could easily carry home on the bus.



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