I just had one of those lightbulb moments. I was reading this excellent piece on domestic violence on Big Blue Dot Y’all and while talking about leaving counselling, the author used this sentence:
“You cannot help those you loathe.”
And something went “click” in my head. All those weight loss surgeons, those “obesity” experts, the weight loss industry, bullying personal trainers, all those people who claim they want to “help” fat people… they loathe us. If it’s not us they loathe, it’s our fat. And by hating fat, and failing to see that our fatness is part of who we are – not a growth or some kind of removable shell, they are therefore by default loathing us.
And you cannot help those you loathe.
You cannot help those you loathe.
Think of the language they use around supposedly “helping” us. It’s all violent, aggressive and full of hate.
- Fighting fat
- War on obesity
- Fat busters/blasters
- Eradicate fat
- Fat is “killing” you
- Obesity epidemic
These are just a few of the terms they use in the rhetoric of weight loss and anti-“obesity” campaigns. Everything is framed around sickness and disease, war, violence, anger. This is not the language of helping fat people, it’s the language of waging battle on them. And as Marilyn Wann says – you cannot have a war on fat without having a war on fat people. The two are not separate entities – our fat is part of us, part of our bodies, part of who we are. Bodies are not disposable shells made for modification , they are an integral part of the human being.
This is why so much damage is being done to fat people. Because of this loathing of fat. Instead of working with us to make our lives as full and as rich as they should be, society wages war on our bodies and therefore ourselves. In fact, more often than not, we are enlisted as soldiers in that war, in a kind of twisted friendly fire. It’s as though in the “war on obesity”, the people who are fat are considered “collateral damage”. Some of us will die, many of us will be physically scarred forever, almost all of us will have emotional and psychological trauma that we will never lose in the vain hope that they win the war. What it does to those who are on the front lines matters not to those waging war. We’re the cannon fodder. Those in power are safe back in the war room, viewing it as a series of strategical moves and sending forth more and more troops to get bloody on the ground.
Anyone who truly cares about the wellbeing of fat people cannot possibly feel the need to wage war on fat. That level of aggression and loathing negates any care that may have once been there. There is never any care or compassion from someone who enacts violence on another. It is no different in its effect on us than the open hate and bigotry we receive from the likes of bullies and trolls. It is all trauma enacted on us.
Look at what happens to fat people when they are given compassion, care and support by those who truly want to help in our wellbeing. When we are taught to value our bodies, and treat them with kindness and compassion, suddenly our quality of life gets vastly better. When we find supportive doctors, our health gets better. If we need help with eating and nutrition, those in the field who genuinely care help us heal the damage done by diet culture and fat loathing. When we find an environment that we can enjoy physical activity without shaming or stigma, we learn to enjoy things like dancing, swimming and other activities. When our families and friends love us and support us as we are – we are able to heal from the trauma of shame and stigma.
When we are treated with respect and dignity, our wellbeing and quality of life improves. Regardless of what weight we happen to be.
Because hate does not help. Hate does not heal.