Why is it still socially acceptable to discriminate against fat people?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, as I reflect back on conversations I’ve overheard, see things come up in my social feed, or think about things I’ve seen on TV or in movies. While racism and homophobia continue to be embedded in our culture, most progressive people would be horrified if you made a racist joke, or mocked a gay or lesbian person. While institutional racism and homophobia continue to exist, it’s become commonplace to shame or critique those people who are outwardly racist or homophobic. Yet somehow, it’s still considered completely socially acceptable to mock, criticize and devalue people based on their weight, and to tell fat people how to live their lives.
I’m not going to get into the ‘whether or not fat is a choice’ conversation. All I’m going to say is that every person is born with a different body type, and that in most cases, someone’s body size is not a direct reflection on their level of health. All you have to do is look at some of the awesome fat athletes who are demonstrating that there really is no universal “fit” body shape.
Our society treats fat people as though they are somehow eligible for another standard of judgment. It means that doing a lot of things in public that we all take for granted – eating, exercising, being with a romantic partner (especially one of different body size) – are bold (and often political) acts. Fat people should be allowed to live and eat and be happy in public just like any thin bodied person. I should be the first to acknowledge that I have been guilty of thinking “maybe she shouldn’t be eating that” or feeling somehow sad or sorry for a fat person. This is not ok. I’ve made the decision not to make internalized (or externalized) judgments about a fat person I wouldn’t make about a skinny person. This is called acknowledging my privilege.
There are so many women and men who are talking about this better than I could. Lindy West, who wrote so beautifully about being a fat bride. Or this amazing looking film Fattitude. Or the entire #EffYourBeautyStandards movement. I’m sure there are many awesome writers/activists (especially people of colour) that I should be following, so please, leave a note in the comments with recommendations or links.
And finally, I leave you with a recipe, because that’s what I seem to be doing around here – mixing rants with food. I make these granola bars pretty often, since most store bought varieties are either gross tasting or loaded with gross ingredients. They are gluten free optional (just use gluten free oats), vegan optional (just use vegan chocolate), and damn delicious.
Please note: I’m trying to use the word fat here in a body-positive way, the way that fat activists use the word. I use it without judgment or negativity (such as terms like “over-weight”). That being said, if someone feels I’m using it inappropriately, please let me know.
fully loaded granola bars
Recipe adapted from this awesome guide from The Kitchn
Cooking soundtrack: Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds and pecans (or other nuts)
1 cup brown rice cereal
1/4 cup chopped coconut flakes (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips/chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons almond butter
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 8×8 baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray or rubbing it with butter/oil. Lay a piece of parchment across so that the ends are hanging out (this makes it easier to lift the bars out once done).
2. Lay the chopped nuts (and coconut if using) and oats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Let the nuts and oats cool completely.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the oats, nuts, brown rice cereal, dried cranberries, and chocolate to combine.
3. Warm the brown rice syrup for 10 seconds in the microwave. Mix the vanilla, salt, cinnamon and almond butter into the syrup. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until combined (it will be thick and clumpy – that’s ok).
4. Add the mixture to the prepared baking pan. Use slightly wet hands to squish the mixture down so it’s evenly distributed in the pan and somewhat flat.
5. Bake the mixture for 25-30 minutes (depending on how crunchy you want them). Once they are done, remove from the oven and immediately use a slightly oiled spatula to push the mixture down into the pan for nice, compacted bars.
6. Cool completely. I’m not kidding, slightly warm bars are a nightmare to cut. Once cool, cut into 8 bars using your sharpest knife.
To store: I wrap each individual bar in saran wrap and store in a container. That way, they are as easy to grab as the packaged store bought ones. I find they keep well for a week. Enjoy!
Obesity is at epidemic standards, killing more annually than smoking, drinking, and poverty. You should take down this glorification of gluttony.
Thanks for your bravery Anonymous (lol). I don’t think you understood the argument I was making here at all, let alone read the article I linked to. Have a nice day!
I don’t understand how this post glorifies gluttony. All the author is doing is pointing out how despite physical appearance a person can be “objectively healthy,” and that in light of this one should refrain from making judgments regarding a persons health based solely on their physical appearance. Furthermore, the author shares a healthy granola bar recipe! How does this “glorify gluttony”?
I won’t dispute that processed foods and poor eating habits can and do contribute to a global increase in disease and mortality, however this isn’t argument for the public shaming of the obese. If public shaming and judgment did anything to change behaviors there wouldn’t be an “obesity epidemic.” In fact, you could make the argument that the only thing that shaming and judgement accomplishes is an increase in the comorbidity of mental health issues and obesity, perhaps even further fueling unhealthy behaviors that lead to the initial obesity.
Wow, what a remarkably ignorant, narrow-minded comment. Seemingly from someone who either did not read the post or immediately forgot every word of it upon finishing. This is about all the same issues that also cause anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia– we need to learn self-love and body acceptance and balance, because everything else is toxic.
There are many, many reasons why a person may be “fat” (I use this as unpejoratively as possible, as Michelle did), and to reduce those all to just gluttony is the blind privilege of someone who is probably naturally slim and hasn’t dealt with any of the physical health, mental health, and metabolic issues that can contribute to obesity.
And regardless of the reason why somebody is heavy, it’s just none of your fucking business to correct or condemn it unless you are that person’s doctor. For all you know, they could be eating and exercising better than you. You don’t know their life or their journey.
Yes. To all of this. Thanks so much for your thoughts!
These were great!
I’m so glad you made them and liked them! Made my day 🙂