She always has been. I write tenderly, looking for the fissures in the body she cannot bring herself to see. I write thoughtfully, bringing the care she has so long denied her own body. I do all of that for her, yes, and so I can set one small boundary at a time, and know that she can hear it. One delicate entreaty to do something differently.
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I write all of that so something might change. Because even with all that groundwork, even with both hands so tenderly held, she still cannot hear me. She has become too accustomed to thinking of her own body — white, thin, able, lithe — as the home of all the body-based hurt in the world. Her trauma is real and immediate, a membrane that encases her, but still shields her from so much. She seems to believe that acknowledging my experiences will somehow diminish hers. Instead, she reverts back to the comfort of judgment, shielded by the comfortable and seemingly impenetrable fortress of concern.
Her bigotry, she tells herself, is for my own good. And god help me, I think she believes it. I have spent so much of my life waiting for thin people to care. In moments like these, my faith in people who do not wear plus sizes is shaken. I struggle to know how to get it back. And lately, I struggle to want to get it back. I have fallen into the simple and disappointing rhythm of thin silence, forever waiting for a sound that never comes.
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I have grown frustrated, isolated, exhausted at the sound of so many thin people justifying and explaining away even the most cruel examples of anti-fatness. God knows I have, too — anti-fatness is everywhere. All kinds of people hurt and harm fat people, including ourselves. Instead, I find so much defensiveness, denial, justification.
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Instead, I find flimsy explanations for inexcusable behavior. Instead, I find behaviors that are minimizing at best, and abusive at worst. It hurts. That discrimination follows us everywhere, not as some willful, imagined rain cloud, but as a repeatedly proven fact. That too often, doctors are not our saviors, but our demise. Acknowledging that I might not be able to change my body through sheer force of will alone shakes their foundation.
It means that bodies might not be meritocracies, and theirs might not be an achievement. But more than that, it hurts. As if fat people cannot be hurt, and that pain cannot be honored. And as if the pervasiveness and ubiquity of anti-fat bias were the sole work of people with eating disorders. It hurts that so many thin people will so comfortably claim the moral high ground while pitting eating disorder survivors against fat people, and implicitly erasing fat people with eating disorders in the process. That dieting triggers eating disorders, and that our mental health matters to us, too. It is rare to see fat people humanized in the media.
For the most part, we are demonized, depicted as headless bodies in reported journalism. Many say the shaming is out of concern for our health. Whether [being fat] causes health problems or not, hating yourself for it is not going to make anything better. Among the activists, researchers, and experts with whom I spoke, there was a constant resounding chorus of a desire for equity, dignity, and recognition. Both Weinstein and Averill were on diets at six years old.
Weinstein, on the other hand, was forced into it. That led to a downward spiral of fighting against her body in order to be thin. Weinstein adapted dieting ideas anywhere she could find them. I was taking 30 a day. Averill and Newman both echoed a struggle with disordered eating and clinical eating disorders.
Not only are overweight and obese people just as likely to develop eating disorders as the general population, but biased assumptions about our size and eating habits often lead to a severe delay in diagnosis — an average of nine months — which can have detrimental effects on physical as well as mental health. Dawn Clifford, a professor of nutrition and food science at California State University at Chico, has conducted several case studies around weight bias and diet. Much of her work centers around debunking some of the myths around body size and health. So they avoid screenings… to avoid the fat shaming.
The stress of stigma itself [is] linked to increased cortisol levels and negative physiological outcomes on the body. Linda Bacon in her book Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight , and quickly began to gain traction and popularity within fat acceptance and alternative health movements. Its basic philosophy , rooted in evidence-based science, rejects the use of weight, size, or body mass index BMI as barometers for health. The guiding principles of HAES are instead weight inclusivity, health enhancement, respectful health care, eating for well-being, and life-enhancing movement.
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I feel like I care about myself and my health more than I ever have compared to when I was being shamed by my family and teachers and was yo-yo dieting. However, the research that does exist tends to be promising. Many studies point to positive results that generate greater physical and mental health, such as improved intuitive eating and food choice, increased metabolic health, and less weight bias. Metabolic condition and parameters are more important.
Any attempt not to diet was giving into failure.
- Faith Formation 4.0: Introducing an Ecology of Faith in a Digital Age?
- European Union Negotiations: Processes, Networks and Institutions (Routledge Advances in European Politics).
- Their bigotry, they tell themselves, is for my own good.