September 21, 2012 • In web :: Features
Health at Every Size
Continued from page 4
As we have seen, Health at Every Size is only one point of entry for a conversation about body autonomy and social justice. As Carrie explains, colonization has impacted the way she sees herself in relation to her ancestors. “My great-grandparents lived traditional lifestyles and were fat,” she says. “I’ve seen photos of Indigenous people in the 1880s who were fat. Their bodies were considered acceptable in their context. The media portrays fat as a new-fangled thing. Why is my body, that looks like theirs, not acceptable in my context?” She also has relatives who worked physically demanding jobs on farms and were both fat and thin, showing her from a young age that lifestyle and size are not directly related in the way current Western culture insists they are.
From Margarita’s perspective, “being in a marginalized group absolutely increases the impact of fat hatred. Fat hatred is often used to uphold racism, and vise versa …being fat (and a [self-identified] Queer Latina woman) has made me want to seek out images of people like myself throughout history, since they are so few and far between in mainstream media today.”
Health at Every Size can also been used negatively to set up a (false) dichotomy of fat people who are healthy (“good”) and those who are not (“bad”). This sets up a hierarchy where fat is only acceptable on people who are active and eat scrupulously healthy diets. Cynara sums up the issue:
Our cultural moralizes food and exercise and fears death to the point where I think some people actually believe that if they triathlon to work everyday and eat only boiled kale they will actually live forever and cheat death … do we really want to live in a society where only “genetically perfect people” are valued? Where a person wants to end their life because they won a silver medal instead of a gold? Most things happen for no reason. And there are a lot of aspects of our health and the human body that we cannot control one bit.
Rather than seeing this lack of control as a failing, maybe it’s time to see it as an opportunity to learn to let go of judgements about health and body size.
Health at Every Size resources:
Dr. Deah’s Body Shop
Size Diversity and Health
Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon
Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata
Fat Politics: The Real Story behind America's Obesity Epidemic by J. Eric Oliver
The Diet Myth by Paul Campos
Losing It: False Hopes and Fat Profits in the Diet Industry by Laura Fraser
Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture by Amy Erdman Farrell