A recently resurfaced article from a leading online feminist magazine, Everday Feminism, argues that “glorifying obesity” is a good thing and that “weight loss doesn’t actually improve health.”
The article, entitled “11 Reasons Your Phony ‘Concern’ for Fat People’s Health Has Got to Stop,” is an attempt by columnists Melissa A. Fabello and Linda Bacon to suggest that people that claim to be concerned with the obesity epidemic are insincere, angry, and misinformed. In the article, which has been shared almost 40,000 times, Fabello and Bacon argue that feminists who don’t believe in “glorifying obesity” need to be educated on why we must praise obese bodies so that obese individuals can learn to love themselves.
The following argument about the danger of fat acceptance has nothing to do with individuals who are moderately overweight. This is because the fat acceptance movement is primarily concerned with promoting convincing medically obese individuals that they should radically self-love their bodies. I personally find plus-size model Ashley Graham to be stunningly attractive. Unlike fat activists, Graham promotes a healthy lifestyle and regularly shares photos from her daily trip to the gym. Her breakthrough into the modeling world is a reminder that women don’t have to be a size 2.
To Fabello and Bacon, a person’s obesity is as much a part of their identity as is their skin color, gender, or ethnicity and because of this they argue that obesity is “simply a state of being.” Since someone’s body is an intrinsic part of who they are, Fabello and Bacon argue that “glorying obesity” is akin to accepting yourself for who you are: “But when it comes to “obesity” – which is not an illness (contrary to what the AMA might think!) or purported as a lifestyle choice, but rather, simply a state of being – what folks are calling “glorifying” can only be, in reality, normalization.”
Fabello and Bacon link to an article on glorifying obesity by a blogger and fat activist Jes Baker. Baker suggests that all bodies should be glorified, arguing that “every single person in the entire world deserves to feel good about and love themselves.” Despite the seemingly sweet sentiment, in reality, Baker is an advocate for body nihilism or the idea that nobody, no matter how large, should care about the size of their body or the health problems that may arise as a consequence as long as they are happy.
Regardless of health: I believe in glorifying all bodies. All of them. Because every single person in the entire world deserves to feel good about and love themselves. It’s that simple. Fat and thin; healthy and unhealthy. Everyone deserves happiness and when people start to embrace themselves just as they are, the world as we know it will transform into a happy, balanced, healthier (physically and mentally), and more beautiful place.
Baker’s writing is largely empty and meaningless. She skirts around the real debate on whether or not it is culturally acceptable to glorify obesity, instead arguing that she just wants everyone to be happy. In reality, by disregarding established science on the dangers of obesity, she is setting up her disciples for a wide array of medical issues. Like other progressive initiatives such as the push for a $15 minimum wage, Baker’s fat acceptance crusade will likely only harm those she intends to help.
The argument that I’ve made against Baker’s drivel rests on the assumption that she actually accepts the reality that obesity is directly responsible for severe health issues up to and including death. Unfortunately, both Baker and Bacon reject this scientific reality. Bacon released a book in 2010 entitled, Health At Every Size that revolutionized the fat acceptance movement. Promotional material for the book argues that thin isn’t always healthy and that individuals can be healthy at any size.
Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates “thin” with “healthy” is the problem.
Health at Every Size.
Bacon argues that individuals should focus on happiness rather than size: “Eat what you want, when you want, choosing pleasurable foods that help you to feel good.”
One of the sections of the Everyday Feminism article is entitled, “Because Weight Loss Doesn’t Actually Improve Health Anyway.” Considering that this article has been shared nearly 40,000 times, it’s shocking that this kind of misinformation didn’t receive widespread criticism. Nearly all medical research conducted on weight suggests that even moderate weight loss has beneficial effects to an obese individual’s health. For example, research conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis concluded that even moderate weight loss can improve heart health for obese patients.
“An obese person requires a heart that is able to pump greater amounts of blood, so the chamber size—the actual cavity of the heart—enlarges, and the muscle gets thicker as well,” says Lisa de las Fuentes, MD, a Washington University cardiologist. “Over time in some individuals, the heart cannot compensate, and after a while, it begins to lose some of its ability to relax or its ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. Both can lead to heart failure.”
A more recent post from Everyday Feminism entitled “How to Have Fat Sex,” includes a vlog from a YouTuber who claims that she frequently receives messages from viewers who claim that they are too overweight to participate in standard sex positions. The problem with the fat acceptance movement is that fat activists are rejecting blatant red flags about their health in favor of adopting failing campaigns to convince themselves that their partially-functioning body is a charming and lovable part of their identity.
Obese individuals should not hate themselves nor should they praise and glorify their condition – both are equally unhealthy. It is important to consider that our bodies exist separate from our souls. Radical self-acceptance of our bodies, as most fat activists promote, is not the same as acceptance of our race, gender, sexuality, and ethnicities. Self-criticism with regards to the things we have control over is an important and necessary element for personal growth.
The fat acceptance movement is perhaps the most radical extension of social justice’s desire for a tolerance and acceptance. Just as with trigger warnings and safe spaces, radical social justice often promotes counterproductive methods of coping with weaknesses. For example, although many are genuinely triggered by certain stimuli, it is unrealistic to expect your environment to always cater to what may set you off. In reality, repeated exposure to the triggering stimulus would actually lessen the individual’s sensitivity to that stimulus. In a similar sense, the fat acceptance movement disregards the reasonable course of action an obese individual might take (exercising and adjusting a diet) and sends them on a path that will likely make them gain more weight.
Social justice efforts have cultivated a culture of complacency. Rather than addressing areas of weakness on their own, young people are being conditioned to blame others for their shortcomings. A triggered student might get angry at a teacher who assigns a text that has violent material (without a trigger warning) in it rather than learning to cope with unexpected exposures to violence on his or her own. An obese millennial may sit at home all day and wonder why her body isn’t considered attractive in our capitalist and patriarchal society rather than going to the gym.
The fat acceptance movement was born out of nothing more than a desire to spare the feelings of the obese in a 21st-century society that places significance on health and body image. The path to happiness for obese individuals is not radical self-love but rather accepting that obesity poses legitimate health risks and then taking the necessary steps towards obtaining a healthier body.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about social justice and libertarian issues for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org