COLUMN: Why no fat person cares that you're 'concerned for their health'


While it’s no secret that our society holds intense prejudices against people of larger sizes, a new trend is people hijacking the “Body Positive” movement with hateful messages and armchair diagnoses.

It should not still need to be said that someone’s body is absolutely none of anyone’s business.

America’s history with weight-loss goes as far back as the 1800s, in which the first mainstream diet for women became widespread. After being coined by a Presbyterian minister, the diet targeted women by advocating for a “stimulant-free” and “overindulgence-free” eating plan. The diet was said to promote morality — so not only were women told to be skinny because it was pleasing, but because by being a certain weight, somehow you were of higher moral standing.

It’s hard to say why the shift occurred, but at some point we went from seeing higher weight as a sign of wealth and happiness to a sign of weak self-control and cleanliness.

This is disproportionately affecting women.

In the “Fat Studies Reader”, Esther Rothblum and Sandra Solovay show that studies prove people typically comment on women’s weight gain around 5 pounds, while they do not comment on men’s weight gain until around 9 to 10 pounds. 

That being said, The Body Positive started a movement to combat not only fat-shaming for everyone, but specifically targeting women. 

The Body Positive teaches women to find self-confidence in their bodies regardless of size by focusing on living joyously — via self-care, self-love and humor. 

This sparked the #bodyposi hashtag on Twitter, where people share photos of themselves that make them feel good.

It seems impossible that something so positive in nature and inoffensive would trigger an onslaught of angry people, yet here we are. 

The familiar gist of the essay-long quote retweets is that there should be nothing “positive” about being of higher weight as it’s “unhealthy.”

Yet when a size-two, conventionally attractive girl posts about eating a whole pizza, nobody on Twitter seems to be “concerned for her health.” 

Fat-shaming people who would otherwise be minding their business under the guise of concern is a disgusting way of conducting oneself.

Tess Holliday, a plus-size model and body-positivity ambassador, frequently posts her photos to Twitter with similar messages about loving and making peace with her body — which is a beautiful U.S. size 26.

However, Holliday is also unfortunately a frequent recipient of unfounded armchair diagnoses and unwarranted health advice.

Just this week, a tweet commenting on a photo of Holliday went viral, saying "Obesity Is UNHEALTHY, it’s a leading cause of death. Stop telling ppl to embrace their body and start loving yourself enough to take care of your body. This is sad smfh."

If people were concerned about health, they would be asking why junk food and high-fat processed foods are the only affordable and accessible groceries in low-income food desert areas. 

If people were concerned about health, they would be asking why our healthcare system is for-profit, thus rendering millions incapable of receiving adequate care.

If people were concerned about health, they would ask why more schools do not or cannot serve breakfast, lunch and dinner for food-insecure children.

These people are not concerned about health, they are fatphobic — and it’s showing. 

Ragen Chastain, a blogger who advocates for body-positivity, wrote a post about correlation and causation, focusing on the notion that obesity is always the cause of any medical problem. This practice is increasingly more prominent in medicine and it can be deadly. 

Doctors are treating the symptom of obesity by assuming weight-loss will cure whatever ailment the patient may have. Not only does this violate the basic rule of “correlation is not causation,” but it leaves millions of overweight and obese people vulnerable to inadequate diagnostics and care.

For example, if an overweight patient came into a doctor’s office with stomach pains, the doctor will more often than not prescribe “healthy eating” and weight loss as a solution for the stomach pain. However, if a smaller patient comes into the same office, with the same problems, the doctor will typically be more thorough in asking diagnostic questions, running tests and speculating causes. 

When you tell someone the cause of their symptom is their weight, you refuse to acknowledge that they might now just have the same problem in a smaller body. 

And if you’re the type of person who is incredibly flustered by somebody else’s self-love and body confidence, consider working on yourself before offering unwarranted advice.

So in reply to those who feel the need to go all Jillian Michaels on the next selfie you see, I offer one of my favorite proverbs — nobody asked you!

Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

More in Opinion

Comments powered by Disqus