I’ve been doing a little bit of thinking lately about the whole “But what about your health?” argument against fat acceptance. I’m sure you’ve all heard it, it’s a fairly common one. The idea is that being a Fatty McFattersons (oh how I love that term, it makes me smile every time I hear or use it) is a terrible compromise on your health and that you really just need someone to come along and show their concern for your health and that will miraculously have you seeing reason, so you’ll put down the cheeseburger and get off your fat arse, and lose the weight.
Because, you know, if you’re a Fatty McFattersons you just must be eating cheeseburgers by the metric tonne and you know, washing yourself with a rag on a stick and all, because you’re so fat you’re immobile.
The thing is, do you really think they’re doing this because they’re genuinely concerned for your health? How much do they really care about your health?
Do they care about your emotional health? Are they concerned that by making you feel ashamed about your body, they’re harming your self esteem and confidence? Do they care about the damage that the yo-yo dieting and exercise bingeing that many of us punish ourselves with to try to “not be fat” does to us in the long run?
Are they really that genuinely concerned about those of us who are fat and our health, or do we simply offend them with our fatness?
I am pretty sure in a lot of cases, it’s the latter.
Personally, I have two major issues with this:
Firstly, you can’t tell much at all about someone’s health just by their body size and shape. So how does that person have any idea how healthy or unhealthy a fat person is? Their body size doesn’t actually tell you what they eat, their genetic makeup, their medical history, how much activity they have in their life, what stress they are under, their allergies or any other valid information about their health.
And secondly, what business is it of any other person but you how healthy you are? It’s your body! You are under no moral obligation to be healthy. I know, shocking isn’t it? There is no law, no rule, no ethic or moral that says that you have to be a healthy person. Even if you DID eat two whole cakes for breakfast, and wash yourself with a rag on a stick while you change the television channel with a broom, that is your choice and it harms nobody but yourself (and that’s debatable anyway).
The people who are genuinely concerned for you are going to find out more about you than just what size clothes you wear or how fat you look. More than anything, they’re going to want to know how you feel, which is a better indicator of your wellbeing than anything else.
Don’t let folks shame you with false concern.