Centuries ago, being fat meant you were wealthy. You had more than enough food to go around. And if you were poor, food was not plentiful and so you were thin. Body size was one of many ways to assess class.
Today, we gauge people’s personal worth and right to respect by the size of their body. Thin bodies having superior privilege to fat ones. I could dissect the various reasons we got here, but I’m sure you’ve heard it all before. And I want to talk about other shit.
I will, however, break down the reasons I think society has vilified fat.
We can’t always identify people’s socioeconomic status by looking at them. Rich people wear t-shirts and jeans just like the rest of us. As a regular person walking down the street, I have no idea if they’re carrying an Amex Gold card in their wallet or an EBT card. I can’t tell a real Gucci from Cucci. And if we lived in a utopia where shit like that didn’t matter, then I wouldn’t have to write this article.
But it does matter. Because we’ve decided it does.
Just like we’ve arbitrarily decided that thin is good and fat is bad. It could just have easily been the other way around. If instead of diets being forced onto women 50 + years ago, we decided that having rolls of gorgeous fat was aspirational, then right now I’d be writing an article about the plight of thin people.
This whole deal is about money, oppression, and class.
The private sector is concerned with making money at any cost. And if that means oppressing an entire group of people, then so be it. The health industry in conjunction with the diet industry, have created a powerful monopoly on people’s self-worth. They’ve capitalized on people’s egos. Most of us want to feel like we’re on top of the world — beautiful, smart, worthy. So what happens when you start selling the idea that worth can be bought? You make a shit ton of money.
I’ve spent my fair share of money on diet programs, pills, shakes, and books meant to inspire me into action and hopefully, thinspired bliss. I searched long and hard for the route to my “goal weight” and hoped for an esteemed place in my thin-centric culture. I would regularly visualize what my head would look like on a thin body, and what that meant for my life. I can tell you that wearing expensive clothes, traveling first class, and having hot men fawn all over me was part of the dream. But when I did get thin, I still had to go to my crappy job, travel economy, and meet disenchanting male suitors.
What had gone wrong? Why didn’t my life magically change? I was pissed. This couldn’t possibly have anything to do with my shitty self-esteem.
Years of therapy later, I know that my shitty self-esteem stemmed from over exposure to media that blatantly told me and others in as many ways as possible, that my body was undesirable, lazy, and in need of change. Those messages were supported by family members and peers who had also been exposed to the hateful propaganda.
As a result of this negative messaging, generations of people, particularly women, are now trying to either recover from the damage that years of self-hatred have had on them, or they still believe in The Big Lie — that attaining a thin body will transform both your internal and external circumstances for the better.
And we’ve rewarded thin people with access to exclusive clubs, clothing, and experiences that validate their hard work.
Having been medically classified as fat for a good part of my life gives me license to say that fat is normal. Lots of people are fat. They are also accomplished, funny, sexy, successful, hard-working, athletic, and happy.
What do non-fat people get out of hating fat people? What is the fear of seeing our bodies represented in media in a positive way? Is the fear that fatties will destroy the status quo by affirming that our bodies are just as valuable as thinner ones? I fucking hope so.
And I hope that as a result, the billion dollar diet industry will lose its stronghold on desperate consumers, willing to buy the next great thing in order to just be fucking accepted.
And that would be fine with me.
Fat is descriptor, not a life sentence. I am fat and my life is fucking great. I see my beauty and my relevance in the world.
I hope we can change hearts and minds so that we can focus on eradicating things that matter, like poverty, hunger, racism, classism, homophobia, diseases, and pointless wars.
That’s about all I have to say on the matter — for now.