June 25th, 2011

wesley grr


So I read Jezebel, the feminist internet blog of the world (lol). There was a post and someone commented and it got a lot of replies. This was SUPER helpful to me and so I'm going to repost relevant bits of it here. Though you can find the original post (and comments) here.

Background: my Mum has been obese for most of her adult life and I've never known her different. She's been on SO. MANY. DIETS over the years, works as an ED nurse and eats very healthily. There is a history of heart disease in her family and she has PCOS, which contributes to her weight. Apart from crappy knees (that it looks like I've inherited), I cannot see any health problems that the weight has caused. It really gets to me when people are all "overweight is disgusting and all overweight people are lazy and eating bags of chips" etc. Because that's NOT my Mum. Mum is beautiful and hard working and healthy. She went through some physical examinations before an operation and was found to be in great shape!

So on to the comments:
Is it true that because there are some overweight people that are indeed healthy that there isn't a higher correlation between being overweight and being unhealthy? I'm seriously asking because whenever it comes up on Jezebel there seems to be concerted effort to decouple weight from any and all health issues so is it completely false that scientists claim a link between obesity and certain diseases?

I honestly want to know. -Cookie Monstress

It's true on a macro, society-wide level - just as there are correlations between race and income. But mapping statistical correlations onto individuals is premature judging, or prejudgment. Another word for premature judgment is prejudice. Because of word creep, the meaning of the word "prejudice" has expanded to include bigotry. Prejudging somebody based on statistics isn't necessarily bigotry, but the evolution of the English language would indicate that we as a society consider it Not Good. -RocktheDebit


That's because fatphobia and sizeism have absolutely nothing to do with health. People only cite health reasons to justify talking shit about fat people. -cassiebearRAWR


I'm slightly confused by this. If I express concern about a friend - or anyone - solely because they have gained considerable weight, am I engaging in sizeism and fatphobia? My concern is primarily because of their size. I mean, everyone has the "I HAVE A FRIEND" story, but I had a friend who gained considerable weight over the years through overeating and drinking, and then had a heart attack and died at 38. Am I sizeist to consider his weight and size to be the deciding factor, based on the report of his doctors?

I'm not being snarky, I'm legitimately asking, as you are obviously invested and I would like to understand. -Lassus
The weight was CAUSED by the overeating and drinking. The weight is not the cause of his heart attack-- the poor lifestyle choices were. That's why the two are worth decoupling. -WitteeFool


It is not that weight doesn't correlate to an increased risk of certain health complications, it is that weight does not exclusively indicate one's level of physical fitness and nutrition. When one looks at a person who is heavily overweight, society tells us that it is okay to assume that they must not treat their body well, that they do not live an active lifestyle, and that they do not eat healthful foods. However, one is not urged to automatically assume this of naturally thin people. Outward appearance is only part of the equation. I know numerous people who are stick thin and eat absolute garbage and sit around all day. Whereas I am by BMI standards overweight, but perform 4+ hours of cardio a week, eat around 1200-1500 calories a day, and get almost all my calories from lean meats, whole grains, fruits and veggies.

Being overweight can be an indicator of potential health risks, but that is only because it is an easy, visual signal for people to make assumptions off of. You can't just look at a person and know that they are unfit and unhealthy. You have to actually observe their fitness and nutritional behavior. So Jezebel is really making the point that every person is individual, and to make broad statements about weight correlating directly to health is as foolish as making broad statements about one's skin color correlating directly to intelligence, or religion correlating directly to morality. -RayRayS


I don't think you're sizeist.

I think the major problem with fatphobia is that people assume that those who are overweight/obese are at fault for being that way. Often, people don't consider hypo-thyroid, or other health issues, which can cause otherwise healthy, active individuals to pack on extra weight.

If a friend is drinking/eating in excess and ruining her life, that's most likely an emotional issue that can be remedied and fixed. If you see an obese person walking down the street and feel obliged to "help" them by forcing them to confront their weight, you are an asshole. What if that person has a serious disorder and must struggle to keep their weight down.

It's really a handicap vs. lifestyle issue with obesity. Unless you know the person, you can never be sure if it's one or the other. -Melissa von Conser

So yeah. Thoughts?