Johns Hopkins Guest Speaker Argues that Obese People Can be Healthy

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The prestigious Johns Hopkins University hosted Health at Every Size author Linda Bacon on Wednesday evening.

Author Linda Bacon, who wrote the controversial book Health at Every Size, spoke at Johns Hopkins Universty on Wednesday evening. Bacon’s book argues that humans can be healthy at any body weight.

Bacon’s claim is widely disputed. Austrailian medical researcher Amanda Sainsbury argues that the “Health at Every Size” movement may be convincing some to ignore their weight as it increases. Sainsbury cites a large amount of research that maintains that it’s impossible to maintain health at any weight.

Despite the research, Bacon received a warm welcome at one of America’s most prestigious universities. “The talk was empowering and paradigm-shifting. Recovering from an eating disorder can often feel really isolating, so to hear it framed as a social justice issue is incredibly powerful,” a Johns Hopkins senior told the school’s student newspaper. “I appreciated her recognition that… body discrimination is inextricably intertwined with race, class, gender, orientation and ability among other things.”

“So many of us hold the belief that being fat is unhealthy, so it was surprising and compelling to hear all of the data and facts supporting a stronger focus on social determinants of health instead of weight,” she added. “It was also really sad to hear how much body discrimination impacts medical practice.”

Yes, that’s right. Proponents of the “Health at Every Size” movement believe that discrimination against fat people is what drives doctors to suggest that they lose weight to benefit their health.

Another senior, Theo Kranidas, said that he found the event helpful and informative. “I thought it was helpful to have scientific information that counteracts the social interaction. It guides us in how to take that academic information and use it in everyday life,” he said.

Kranidas added that the event forced him to confront his personal biases against fat bodies. “It was important for me to look at things like the gender binary and acknowledge that I know what should be right. But I’m not to the point where I believe that I engage in society in a way that I do what we should be doing,” he added.

The main theme of the talk was acceptance. Senior Kelsey Harper argued that the event had a great message about accepting others in a society that is “toxic” towards fat people.

“The talk did a good job of tying these issues under the umbrella of accepting yourself and accepting other people. Finding ways to mitigate that stigma and be successful in this society that can be toxic and isn’t accepting of everyone at this point,” Harper said.

Breitbart News published a widely shared column about fat acceptance in early 2017.

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.

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