Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Health and Wellness from a Fat Acceptance PoV

November 8, 2011

Yesterday's surprise nomination got me thinking about what health and wellness means to me through my feminist and fat accepting lens, my privileged, white, able-body, my glasses wearing and scars. What does it mean to be healthy? Does it mean simply to not be sick, injured or disabled? That's a nice base, but that doesn't really take into account a lot of other things. At this blog I'm actively promoting a vision of what healthy is that looks different from the usual.

People come in all shapes and sizes, always have and always will. Every kind of body has it's own place where it's healthiest and happiest, but not everyone is there and that's OK. Let me repeat that: It's not the end of the world if you're not that guy in the picture jogging along. Some of us have invisible illnesses, we have genetic markers, we have old injuries or new ones, we have mental or emotional health problems, we live in unsafe neighbourhoods, we can't afford to eat fair trade organic foods from the local green foods store. You get the picture. At the same time, there are people who don't have any illnesses or injuries, who jog or go to the gym, who live in nice places and eat all the 'right' foods and are still fat. That doesn't mean they're not healthy, of course not when they're doing all that great stuff, but they're still fat.

Being fat doesn't automatically mean someone is unhealthy. Being fat can be an indicator something isn't right, especially if there's sudden unexplained weight gain, but sometimes people are just fat. And that's ok. The wellness part of health comes from accepting people for who they are RIGHT NOW, and respecting them. Fat people do not get a lot of respect but get a lot of blame; global warming? It's the fatties who eat too much and produce so much garbage! Crappy healthcare system or high costs? It's those fat people who are sick all the time! Is your kid fat? Are you fat? Nevermind fat is as inherited as tallness, you must be an awful parent and we're going to take your kids away! There was a State, I think it was Mississippi, that introduced legislation to try and ban fat people from restaurants. Seriously. Fat people get a lot of terrible treatment and that is bad for our overall health and wellbeing. Being stressed from a lifetime of fat hate is probably what is actually making some fat people ill, not their actual fat, and nevermind the terrible treatment we recieve when we dare to go to a doctor.

Fat is also a feminist issue; all kinds of bodies are beautiful, not just one narrowly defined set of characteristics, and women and men have 0 obligation to try and fit into that mold. We're not here to be objects to look at, to be consumed. We're not here to satisfy the male-gaze or some arbitrary definition of 'manliness'.  We are here instead to live, to dream, to dance, to love and be loved and none of that has anything to do with size.

I have a dream; that someday people will be judged by the content of their character and not the size of their waist line, that children will play together and be friends regardless of their weight, that doctors will look at all their patients equally and treat illnesses or injuries with the thought of "Do No Harm" at the forefront of their mind instead of judging by size and recommending body-altering surgery.  I dream of a world where suicide because of bullying is a horrible thing of the past and not a terrifying aspect of the present, and where there are no boot camps, reality tv or talk shows devoted to erasing fat people. I refuse to be erased. I'm Fat and Not Afraid.

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