people seem to think its something you choose to do
what people commonly refer to as “being offended” is actually
“being hurt by shit that is pretty legitimately hurtful”
“being hurt by reminders of my systematic oppression such as things that contribute to it”
Fat hating is ubiquitous though often well-intentioned. Accepting fat is revolutionary, and fat activism has a long and proud history in the struggle is to make a space “where bodies and identities are neutral, so there is room for everyone”.
a note: I’ve linked to some articles which are on protected databases. If you want a copy, hit me up and I’ll email you a pdf.
1. Fat is not an illness any more than smoking is an illness.
2. Fat, like smoking, is a risk factor for many diseases.
3. On the other hand, fat is known to have a protective effect: the relationship between fat and health is unclear and complex.
4. Therefore fat people can be, and many are, healthy.
So to be clear; from a health perspective the problem is not fat. The problem is a pervasive lack of access to healthy, nutritious, cheap, appropriate food; safe and friendly environments in which to play, love, exercise - and a culture which revels in bodies of all kinds caught up in a loved life.
For instance - food, briefly: Satter’s food hierarchy demonstrates the ways in which people meet their immediate nutritional needs. Before a so-called “healthy diet” can be maintained, enough acceptable food accessible in a reliable and ongoing manner must be secured. According to charity group Foodbank Australia, 12% of children live in poverty, and up to a million don’t always get enough to eat. Junk food is readily available from corner stores and is often the cheapest, tastiest food with the most energy. Of course parents and children facing hunger will spend what money they have available on the food which gives them the most immediate energy, is cheapest, and tastes the best. This is not poor decision making y’all. This is a bad situation. And with recent rises in fresh vegetable prices of over 10%, eating healthily continues to get harder.
But the health sector doesn’t talk about this so much. Instead the focus is on individual choices in the tradition of using health to justify patriarchal control over women’s bodies, presentations, and behaviours, particularly “proper” mothering (what you can feed your children, for instance); health science is also being used to position some bodies as more capable or more beautiful or of greater value than others, a problematisation of fat which also fails to engage in culture which values fat as a sign of prosperity and of good health.
Perhaps it is the bias of vested interest creating a bad situation. But I shy away from conspiracy theory; more likely clinicians in frontline services aren’t able to get enough distance for perspective and so aren’t able to see structural problems with access to food. I also suspect that a lot of clinicians misuse and misunderstand epidemilogical tools (in this instance the body mass index or BMI). BMI measurements are useful for population tracking but devoid of clinical significance. And of course, medical understanding of phenomena are acculturated. Whatever the reason, this fatphobic discourse misses the point (which should be preventing illness). Whatever the intent, the effect is that fat people are pathologised, body and mind.
(and, side note, don’t think it’s a bullshit evasive term like “politically correct”)
firstly: to me, calling someone out primarily means calling them out for abuse or assault. that’s the context I first heard the term in. like confronting a rapist, for example. therefore, I really dislike the…
So now intention, act, and effect, these three; but the greatest of these is effect.
- - after 1 Corinthians 13:13
Yes and yes and also; social systems of relation are recreated on all scales of interaction in an iterative fashion. These fractal patterns of behaviour don’t require full understanding or even intent to be repeated, and this does not make them any the less damaging. Even it’s not the act itself I’m concerned with, but the effect of the act - an outcome which is changed entirely by context. Regarding call-outs, I’m concerned by a very different but oftentimes conflatable (or at least conflated, especially by people who are being total fucking assholes) tactic, which has a lot more to do with ideas of “political correctness”: claiming offence.
For a witness to criticise behaviours (I mean here to include language) on the basis of being offended is a discursive tactic which establishes cessation as a favour to the witness; the behaviour is restrained out of deference to the witness’ sensitivity. Speaking of offence rather than outcome costs a potentially constructive exploration of the broader effects of the actor’s behaviour. There is a pain in witnessing which comes with the knowledge of the effect of the witnessed act and which may not be known or fully understood by the actor. Without denying this pain - or invalidating it as sufficient reason to ask someone not to be a jerk - I’d suggest that the witness’ obligation is more than to demand an opportunity to turn away or be absent from the act; it is to testify to the whole.
Which is irrelevant in the absence of goodwill; as so often, Lia Incognita says it better than I can:
“today someone said “I don’t like to drive around here because there’s so many Africans”. I don’t know what to say to that because it seems redundant to point out that it’s racist. But it also feels silly to counter that I have a problem with racism because surely that’s a foreseeable event that the speaker has chosen to disregard”
But maybe that’s a whole different kind of conversation and doesn’t really hold up to comparison.