Sized UpWhy Fat is a Queer and Feminist Issue

Shortly after Barack Obama took office in 2009, first lady Michelle Obama kicked off the national slimming program “Let’s Move” and inaugurated an escalation of America’s already deeply entrenched “war on obesity,” seeming to interpret her husband’s campaign messages of “Hope” and “Change” in a manner fortuitous to our country’s $60-billion-per-year weight-loss industry

As with the metaphorical wars that came before it (against “drugs” and on “terror”), in the battle against fatness it’s difficult to discern the heroes from the villains—or, in terms made famous by the punitive yet highly popular reality TV program, to distinguish the biggest winners from the “biggest losers.” Those who soldier on in the war against “obesity” are at times ambiguous about precisely what (pounds of flesh?) or who (fat people captured on television eating fries?) are its intended targets. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” could be the rallying cry for America’s fight against the putative vice of fatness. The consistent butt of jokes, a handy icon of “unhealthiness” and loss of self-control, that which we feel we must protect our children from becoming—is “fat” what “queer” was a generation ago?

Ever since radical feminists Judy Freespirit and Aldebaran founded the Fat Underground in 1973, fat activists have worked to make visible the inseparability of homophobia and anti-fat prejudice. Today, a thriving fat and queer community is foregrounding similar intersections. But queer communities more broadly have not yet embraced the cause of fat liberation. “I don’t think that, in general, gay and lesbian attitudes about body size make fat people feel accepted,” queer fat activist Julia McCrossin remarks.

As an example, she points to weight-loss programs promoted by the Mautner Project (the National Lesbian Health Organization) that are premised on the belief that being fat is unhealthy. This is the first parallel between fat oppression and homophobia: the widely accepted cultural assumption that we’re dealing with a dangerous disease.

In 1966, Time magazine described homosexuality as a “pernicious sickness.” Today, “a deadly epidemic” is the cliché about “obesity.” The terms “obese” and “overweight”—favored by a medical establishment that receives generous endowments from the pharmaceutical industry (makers of weight-loss drugs) and the diet industry (funders of most major studies on “obesity”), and which itself has much to gain from the pathologization of fatness (bariatric surgery is big business)—give the impression that higher-than-average body weight is an illness. But the correlation between body size and health is actually minimal. Risks associated with being “morbidly obese” are no greater than that of being male, and “overweight” people live longer than people of “normal” weight. What’s more, the claim that fatness is a health risk ignores a basic principle of statistical analysis: Correlation is not causation. The small differences in life expectancies between average-size and very large people are most likely not caused by being fat but are instead the result of factors correlated with fatness: social stigma, economic discrimination, and the harmful effects of weight-loss dieting and diet drugs.

Conservatives blame the media-hyped “epidemic of obesity” on failures of individual will, while liberals point to McDonalds, high-calorie school lunches, and sedentary jobs. But it’s unlikely that any of these factors is making us fat. After all, thin people watch television and eat fast food, too, and fat people have never been proven to consume more calories, or more “junk food,” than others. And as numerous excellent books have demonstrated (see Paul Campos’s The Diet Myth and Gina Kolata’s Rethinking Thin for detailed explications of some of the scientific information presented in this article), we are not in the midst of an “epidemic” of fatness. Since 1990, Americans have experienced an average weight gain of about 15 pounds. Hardly cause for alarm, especially since this modest increase in our collective size may be a good thing: A decline in smoking rates could be a factor (quitting smoking typically results in weight gain), as could the increased popularity of weight-lifting and other muscle-building exercise (statistics on “obesity” are based on BMI charts, which classify Matt Damon as “overweight” and Tom Cruise as “obese”).

Nor is fatness, as conservatives often claim about homosexuality, a “lifestyle.” Body size is determined primarily by genetics, and while diets and exercise programs may produce short-term weight loss, they have a 95 percent failure rate over the long term. Yet like queer people living with HIV or AIDS, fat people are stigmatized for a condition that is imagined to be their fault. They are hectored by conservatives such as Mike Huckabee, mocked by liberals like Jon Stewart (who, of course, would never dream of making lesbians or gay men the butt of his jokes), harangued about their weight by medical professionals, and subjected to a barrage of advertisements promising “cures” for their supposed disorder.

Does this sound familiar? Remember psychiatry’s attempts to cure homosexuality? Our culture’s hand-wringing over the “obesity epidemic,” its hawking of one breakthrough diet or miracle weight-loss product after another, and its moralistic shaming of those it deems “too fat” are as conducive to self-hatred as “gay conversion therapy.” But while the harmful conversion therapy that religious conservatives practice on LGBTQ people has rightly been the target of political protest and legal intervention, the medically sanctioned use of weight conversion therapy (a.k.a. dieting) has provoked far less outrage on the Left. Let’s Move, as McCrossin observes, is essentially “a child-focused, government-sponsored fat version of conversion therapy.” If we would ban the use of gay conversion therapy on children (a practice now condemned by the American Psychiatric Association), then why do we foist similar programs on fat children—subjecting adolescents, most recently, to the humiliation and health risks of vying for the title of the Biggest Loser?

Is it that our collective psyche needs a scapegoat? Perhaps as LGBTQ people are beginning to gain legitimacy, a fill-in must be found, and fat people (along with other “outsiders,” such as Muslims, immigrants, the homeless, and the mentally ill) fit the bill. If there is a deeply rooted psychic urge within us all that impels us to make a disempowered “other” the object of our anger and dissatisfactions, then how can we resist acting on this impulse? These are questions we should be asking ourselves; but instead, it seems, we prefer to make psychological pronouncements about fat people’s supposed inability to resist their urges. We speak confidently about the causes of overeating (which, we readily assume, fat people must engage in): “emotional eating,” “food addiction,” fatness as a “shield” against “normal” sexuality, food as a “substitute for love.”

These pop-psychology explanations are as specious as past theories about “overbearing mothers” and “distant fathers” as the causes of male homosexuality, or “bad experiences with men” as typical precursors to lesbian identity. Yet they have the status of accepted truth, even among many feminists and queer activists. Fat, we have long known, is a feminist issue; but Susie Orbach’s bestselling 1978 book of that title has a decidedly fatphobic thesis. Readers are invited to achieve “permanent weight loss” by learning to “conquer compulsive eating.” Queer theorist Lauren Berlant also contributes to the stigma of fatness—and perhaps, inadvertently, to race and class prejudice as well—as she worries over “subproletarian Americans” and people of color succumbing to a “slow death” from obesity.

Death, slow or fast, is what we are really afraid of when we obsess about the “obesity epidemic.” As the liberal, gay rights–supporting columnist Leonard Pitts puts it, “We are a lard butt nation waddling toward demise.” Besides being cruel, this statement is inaccurate: Americans are living longer than ever before. However, Pitts’s remark is valuable in that it clarifies the function of the concept of obesity in our culture today. Obesity parallels and intersects with homosexuality, both terms serving as proxies for Americans’ anxieties about death, disability, and disease. In discussions of aids, conservative commentators inveigh against the “disease” of homosexuality and call gay male sexuality a “culture of death.” According to the right wing, queer sexualities are a threat to our children, a risk to our national security, and a blight on our future. Similar claims are routinely repeated about “obesity,” on both the Left and the Right: Fat people are charged with “eating themselves to death,” weakening our military, overburdening our healthcare system, and promoting disease among children.

Clearly, the politics of homophobic hate are inseparable from our culture’s fear and hatred of fat people. The slur “fat, ugly dyke,” used to police women of all sizes and sexual orientations, exemplifies the deeply rooted intersections between fatphobia and homophobia. Sure enough, a new federally funded study plans to determine why lesbian and bisexual women and girls are among the “hardest hit” by the “obesity epidemic.”

Queer women are not the first group to be singled out in this way: Disproportionate levels of “obesity” among Latino/a and African-American populations have been the focus of public health interventions for decades. In her chapter in 2009’s The Fat Studies Reader, Bianca D. M. Wilson describes what it feels like to hear “fat-is-bad” statements applied to her communities: “I am reminded that I belong to the ‘target populations’ of fat black or lesbian people…. Their talk about my impending early death due to my body size is juxtaposed with my experiences and work in black gay communities, which demonstrate that there are far greater enemies to the health and well-being of black lesbian and bisexual women than the fat on our bodies, such as violence, poverty, and psychological oppression.” 

Anti-obesity programs directed at people of color and queer women will only exacerbate the problems that Wilson names—by reinforcing anti-fat prejudice, they ensure that these groups will face more violence, economic discrimination, and hostility from mainstream culture. As fat queer Latina activist Margarita Rossi observes in an interview with Julia Horel of Shameless magazine, “Fat hatred is often used to uphold racism, and vice versa.”

Anti-racist, feminist, and queer activists must make fat liberation central to our work; we need to explicitly and unequivocally reject the notion that body size is a “lifestyle choice” that can or should be changed. And make no mistake: It is in the interest of people of every size to become fat people’s allies. I am a thin woman, and yet my life gives me many reasons to want to fight fat oppression. Like most women, I have spent years in terror of being, or becoming, “too fat” (the same years, not coincidentally, during which I was most afraid of being, or becoming, a lesbian). My partner (and wife-to-be) is a fat woman. My experiences with a chronic illness that is often dismissed as “psychosomatic” have taught me what it is like to be blamed for a physical condition over which I have no control. One day I may be fat myself. And I am tired of oppression of all kinds: I refuse to participate in the mistreatment of an entire group of people simply because the way they look does not conform to hegemonic ideals of “normality.”

The war against fat, like efforts to “cure,” “convert,” or “repair” queer sexualities, will fail. And so—we must make certain—will the war against fat people. If you want to say you were on the right side of this fight when fat liberation becomes mainstream (as it no doubt will), there is much you can do. First, stop dieting. (And if you say you are not dieting but are merely subscribing to a “healthy way to eat,” then ask yourself: Would I continue to adhere to my dietary restrictions if I knew they would make me both healthier and 50 pounds fatter?) Desist from all dieting talk: Recognize that remarks like “I’ll have to work off these calories at the gym tomorrow” or “Do these pants make me look fat?” are as phobic as fears that the wrong clothing or accessories might make you look queer. Rather than complimenting people for being “petite,” “slender,” or “svelte,” find something else to praise them for instead. Eliminate the words “obese” and “overweight” from your lexicon, and substitute the simple word “fat.”

Start looking at large people in a new way; notice that fat folks are as beautiful and sexy as anyone else. If previously you have ruled out fat people as potential sexual partners, rule them back in, and rule out fatphobes instead. Discover the fat blogosphere (or the “Fat-O-Sphere,” as Kate Harding and Bitch contributor Marianne Kirby call it, in their sexy, scintillating anti-dieting guide). Enjoy blogger Tasha Fierce’s reflections on race, sex, and “fatshion,” and learn about the unearned advantages of thinness at the This Is Thin Privilege blog. Join a group that fights racism, fatphobia, and queer oppression together (check out NOLOSE or It Gets Fatter). Support the “I stand against weight bullying” campaign, which protests government-sponsored shaming of fat children. Eat a cookie. Or some pie. Skip the “guilt.” And spread the word—many people dont’t know about fatphobia or fat liberation, but once they do, they, like you, will know to do the right thing. 

This article was published in Micro/Macro Issue #59 | Summer 2013
by Anna Mollow
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Anna Mollow has published essays about feminism, queerness, disability, and chronic illness in the Disability Studies ReaderWomen’s Studies Quarterly, Social Text Online, and other journals. She is the coeditor of Sex and Disability.

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215 Comments Have Been Posted

Fantastic article!

Fantastic article!

Terrific article! Aside from

Terrific article! Aside from being beautifully written, Anna has succinctly summarized major points and clarified important questions. I particularly appreciate her questioning the collective need for a scapegoat...if we could identify THAT as a social disease we'd be well on the way to the world-wide peace and well-being we desire. Also, pointing out that the bmi does not distinguish between weight due to muscle and weight due to fat is a technical point, but important in that it reveals how shallow present thinking on body weight and size actually is.


This article is exactly what's wrong with the queer movement. We're now comparing the assault on queers to the assault on the overweight and you wonder why people scream that gay is a choice.

The assertion that the overweight are merely a product of their genes, in the way that gays are is ridiculous. There is a far more logical argument for mass consumption, poor quality foods, stress and poverty as causes for obesity as opposed to genes. I truly believe it's articles like this that set the queer movement back. Comparing to being born Black even makes more sense.


All the cool kids know that all forms of oppression are linked and cannot be dismantled individually, only together. People won't stop policing your queerness until they stop policing your body, full stop, be it brown, disabled, trans, female, or, yes, fat. The faster your recognize how these (our) oppressions are intertwined, the faster we can stop them.

YES! Thank you!

YES! Thank you!

False equivalence

Intersectionality does not require us to treat all experiences as equal. That different experiences are VALID does not mean that fat shaming is equivalent to homophobia. I agree all forms of oppression are linked and we should accept and address different experiences, but it's irrational to treat them as equally oppressive. Fat phobia/shaming is unfair and problematic (for everyone, even the size-privileged) but the tangible consequences of other types of oppression are considerably more severe.

I hate oppression Olympics, but...

Fatphobia kills people. One of the biggest areas of concern in fat activism is in the medical sphere. Fat people get considerably poorer treatment than their non-fat counterparts and are less likely to pursue medical treatment because of said discrimination. Fat people are also less likely to be hired and promoted. Fat children are frequently bullied and this bullying is determined to be harmless or "for their own good" because it might motivate them to lose weight. Instead of promoting healthy behaviors, however, this bullying often causes depression, suicide, and disordered eating. Many people in the activism community don't treat fatphobia as a serious problem. Please stop promoting that idea.

And, as with any form of oppression, while non-fat people are affected by fatphobia (as, say, men are affected by sexism) fatphobia is clearly MOST problematic for fat people.

Obesity kills people, too

Obesity kills people, too. Please stop promoting that idea.

OK, so say that obesity does kill people...

Does that make it acceptable for fat people to have sub-par medical care? That seems particularly heartless if you think that they're more likely to need it in the first place. Is it acceptable for fat people to be discriminated against in non-health related areas, such as employment?

Why would you give someone

Why would you give someone more likely to be sick/injured because of their weight more health care, than someone who is more healthy and more likely to live and be a productive member of society? Maybe you could stop using excuses and just lose the Weight, because it is nobody's fault but your own.

Because they need it? And health care should be a right?

Would you give an athlete medical care? I've needed far more medical treatment for my sport's injuries than I have for any fat-related illnesses (read: none there). There's more than one way to trash a body.

Also, people who live longer use more medical resources. Truefax.

what's my glaucoma have to do with the size of my butt?

No really, please tell me. Because I had an opthamologist in 2005 tell me I *had* to have diabetic retinopathy because I was morbidly obese. In reality, he just hadn't looked at my chart. I have congenital glaucoma and one of my eyes is fake. The other was starting to loose functional vision because the inter-ocular pressure was going up. As a result of his awesomeness I had to pay out of pocket for a diabetes fasting test (cause I had no healthcare at the time, the state voc rehab folk paid for the eye appointment) as a broke college student to prove I didn't have DR so that he would take me seriously. By then the damage to my optic nerve had already started, and I wasn't really confident in his treatment plan(s).

When we say fat = decreased level of healthcare, we are talking about dentists, optometrists, opthamologists, dermatologists, ENT specialists (my deviated septum, so bad the camera couldn't go up my nasal passage, couldn't possibly be why I snore. It's because I'm fat!), physiatrists (the discs in my spine that are literally dehydrated ash couldn't possibly be causing pain, it's because I'm fat!), physical therapists (of course I don't exercise, I'm fat!) and on and on. We are dying because our healthcare records are inaccurate, resulting in inaccurate treatment plans and diagnosis, because nurses and doctors aren't listening to our statements but rather write down their' opinion or preconceived notions. Sometimes they even add poundage to my chart!

It .is. killing us.

Side note: IOP has nothing to do with weight. If you don't know what IOP is, you probably shouldn't be commenting on an article about healthcare and weight discrimination. Or you could, y'know, google it.

Super side note: this one time I am feeding the trolls. Because I am one of many multiply disabled fat queers who is just tired of having to ask people to listen to my words, not the trollage of my BMI. < insert profanity directed at all trolls in the medical industrial complex and this thread here >.

Super Super side note: if I only live to 55 and do so as a fat queer disabled blob who eats glitter and poops rainbows, I will do so as a fat queer disabled person who gets a quality life worth living. Or isn't that the frigg point of the queer movement?

Super Duper side note: probably life worth living isn't part of the queer/gay agenda. It's actually something born out of the disability rights movement. 'Cause queers and gay folk really aren't happy about the disabled amongst them. Except them = us. Hahahahahaha.

Much Love to the Disabled Queer Above

I, sir, do not have your problems, being an only marginally overweight lesbian whose health problems have never been accused of being associated with her weight. However, I get what you're saying, and I've seen it in practice. If you're fat, all your health problems must be related to that. It doesn't matter if you test normal for blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and everything else, the tests MUST be wrong because you're fat. You also MUST spend all your time sitting on the couch and eating cheeseburgers. We won't believe you when you say you ate a salad for lunch, that you eat healthy 90% of the time (and really, the occasional cookie never killed anyone, fat or thin), and that you exercise. Exercise? You're fat. Clearly you don't even know what exercise is. I have an autoimmune disease. It requires me to eat healthy. Therefore, I do. It does mean I'm not still chunky, though. I'm a size 16/18 chunky girl who eats healthy and exercises. And you know what? My wife likes me chunky. She thinks I'm cute. And my daughter likes to use my belly and squishy boobs as a pillow, so more power to her.

In any case, my point is that you're right. There IS a problem with fat phobia, and a LOT of it has to do with medical care. Doctors throw out entire tests in regard to fat people because they assume that the medical problem has to do with weight, whether the evidence backs them up or not. So when that problem is NOT weight related (and it very, very often isn't), it gets missed, and their health suffers. And many of them get discouraged and stop going to the doctor because they will just be slammed for their weight and again, their real problems will be overlooked and undiagnosed. I know a woman who took years to get a proper diagnosis of PCOS because doctors kept blaming her symptoms on her weight, and do you know what? PCOS is an illness THAT CAUSES YOU TO BE OVERWEIGHT. That's right. The illness causes the weight gain; the weight gain does NOT cause the illness. But she STILL didn't get diagnosed and treated because she was being ignored and marginalized.

People and doctors tend to forget that so-called "weight related" illnesses affect at least as many skinny people as fat people. My mother and brother, for instance, are both skinny people, and they both have type 2 diabetes, an illness often associated purely with fat people. Well, neither of them has been fat a day in their lives. They're skinny, and they eat healthy; they exercise, and they have the same autoimmune disease that I have. No one blamed their diabetes on their "unhealthy lifestyle". It's just something that happened, because, you know, it does. I work with plenty of people who are NOT overweight but who suffer from and are medicated for high blood pressure. Why? Because we have a stressful job, and it also requires sitting in a chair for 12 hours straight. So they are skinny; they have high blood pressure, and no one blames it on their "unhealthy lifestyle". They get the healthcare they need WITHOUT the stigma and the lectures.

People who say that of course fat people don't deserve medical care either are completely blind to what we're talking about, or they are so eaten up with discrimination that they remain willfully ignorant to it, or they truly believe all fat people should die, despite the fact that it isn't usually their fatness that kills them, but misdiagnosis because of that fatness. Athletes tear the bodies to pieces. They need hip replacements, knee replacements and multiple surgeries before they even get out of their twenties. They end up with head injuries that need lifelong treatments, or, like my football playing cousins, an errant tackle tears their carotid artery and they live the rest of their lives paralyzed. Why? Because they were athletes. No one denies them medical care...except maybe the fat athletes (and YES, there ARE fat your book, do THEY deserve proper diagnosis and treatment?).

I have nothing but love for you and all the other disabled queers out there, and I am perfectly happy to embrace you in our ranks. You get to belong to multiple clubs--the fat, the gay AND the disabled. So even if you don't find perfect acceptance from everybody in every category, may you at least find acceptance and support from enough people so that you don't feel alone and alienated.


opinions are like assholes and mothers, everybody's got one. And your opinion makes you sound like a huge asshole. I hope your mother is proud.

This just an insult that

This just an insult that doesn't engage with the argument at all. Delete please.

So what if "said fat person"

So what if this person is "so called fat" because they are actually sick. Yes I do have family members and friends who are obese, oh and what's this, they actually try to lose weight but because of this sickness it's actually just hard. So they deserve to have to pay higher bills because of an illness in there genes that they can't control. Besides what is the "overweight" limit? I know quite the amount of thin people who go to the doctor and get called overweight. So yeah I think it's just another excuse for people to discriminate since it's not right to discriminate gays, or women, or people of other races. Honestly why can't life just be equal like it should be?

The problem is - there are

The problem is - there are way too many fat people to correlate with the percentage that would actually be sick. Out of 100% of the fat people (myself included), about 5% actually, LEGITIMATELY have problems.

Being fat is a choice.

People who are fat due to sickness are extremely rare. What condition do your family members have? Do they count calories and maintain a caloric deficit? Do they exercise on a regular basis?

And it is unbelievably stupid to compare being fat to being gay, or a woman, or Black. You do not have a choice in these regards. You most certainly have a choice to be fat. It's a poor choice.

no, no it's really not.

I have tried unsuccessfully to get down to something my doctor wouldn't describe as obese.

When I first started going to this doctor, he didn't bother to do any tests, he just said I probably had high cholesterol and possibly diabetes, and told me I should start exercising at least half an hour a day. I told him sure, I could do that, but that would mean doing about half of what I was already. And I wanted testing on those diagnoses.

My cholesterol is fine. My blood sugar is fine. But my bmi? Apparently awful. It doesn't matter what exercise regime, what kind of diet, what sort of willpower I have, I'm big, and I always was, and I always will be. I can tone, I can lose water weight, I can even shed a few actual pounds, but my body is the way it is. I come from hardy stock. We have broad shoulders and hips, my family and I, and we store fat like our bodies think we're preparing for a new ice age.

Beyond trouble finding cute clothes, my weight and size has never caused me any problems that weren't social, and those were usually because of people like you, who refuse to even consider the possibility that some things are beyond my control.

You know what kills people?

You know what kills people? Getting so fat that your internal organs are squished beneath hundreds of lbs of fat, so doctors cannot find your spine to operate on after a car crash. Getting so fat that your heart is unable to pump blood through the slime and grease canals that used to be arteries. Getting so fat that your lungs collapse under the massive weight of your chest fat.

You know what doesn't fucking kill people? Informing them that this shit can and does happen and there's nothing any doctor can do for you. You have to do it for yourself.

i doubt you are interested in the experiences of others, however

I survived a major car crash that would have killed someone half my size. I borke all my ribs and was in a coma for 9 days but every single doctor who treated me said that my adipose tissue saved my life. This was weird for me because I always hated my fat body, because hey, that is what I am supposed to do.

I am sad to see less support for my fat sisters here at Bitch. I think you'd all rush to the side of someone being denied an abortion or discriminated agaisnt because of her HIV status, but asking for basic dignity and self worth, which are the inherent rights of everyone, of any size body, and you will not uphold your sisters in feminist struggle, and that is jsut bullshit.

You are happy that you're

[THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN REMOVED BECAUSE OF DISRESPECTFUL AND OFF-TOPIC NAME-CALLING. Please <a href="">read Bitch's comments policy here!</a> — eds.]



You are not my "fat sister"

You are not my "fat sister" and I'm not a part of your "feminist struggle" and I am not surprised or sad that people don't take this shit seriously. I am however an adult and I will continue to avoid the hell out of fat feminist psychos like you in the real world. In fact, the last time a fat bitch harassed me, I called the cops on her fat, black ass and she got to spend the day talking to the police, who don't see the world in terms of "feminist intersectionality" and didn't offer to pat her ass because she is an "doubly oppressed class". If you are being an obnoxious bitch, it doesn't matter how many "oppressions" you have. In the real world nobody gives a shit about your whiny fat girl problems. Truth.

Hey sailor,

What I don't understand, is what a person of your sentiments is doing on a site like (unless finding inspiration for your abusive language is the goal); you might try Bill O'Reilly, there's likely a little more room for hate speech there-

It's called a case study

Do you know what that's called? It's called a case study, and it's just about as useful as saying that smoking isn't bad for you because your uncle smoked 6 packs a day and lived to 98. Smoking is bad for you, your one uncle doesn't change that. Your car crash doesn't change the fact that being obese is unhealthy.

Gee I thought we were all mortal...

So, you are basically saying that if I lose weight, I won't die? Really? Wow that is amazing. Cause I was under the impression that EVERYBODY dies someday, no matter how many sit-ups you do, no matter how many vitamins you inhale, no matter how many celery sticks you eat.

The point being that while I

The point being that while I am every bit as certain to die as I would be had I not decided to improve my diet and get fit, the odds are good that I will die much later, after having lived a more satisfying and healthy life, full of wonderful memories like competing in Spartan Races (and other, barbed-wire-free races), and enjoying the view from mountaintops, and hearing the haunting cry of the loon (and the whine of millions of mosquitoes) as I paddle up a northern lake, and the pride in having my Sensei comment on a well-thrown kick, and seen a deer by the roadside as I cycle in to work... All experiences that I never would have had had I chosen the path the author has and decided to remain obese.

Regardless of quantity, quality of life is important, and having been fat and now being much fitter, let me tell you that nothing improves the quality of your life like being fit. And this, interestingly, is a point that the author is silent on; how much fitness (as opposed to just being skinny) improves the quality (not to mention quantity) of your life; ignorance, perhaps?

I'm not sure that the

I'm not sure that the author's weight has anything to do with my point that she completely sidesteps the health benefits and quality-of-life benefits of fitness. Leave aside terms like "fat", "obesity", "shaming", and "weight loss" aside for a moment; is advising people to give up the pride, sense of accomplishment, improved self-confidence, and general sense of well-being that comes with an active, outdoorsy, exercise-intensive lifestyle really doing them any favors?

Sure, fat-shaming is basically bullying, and wrong. But as a formerly obese person, I'm really glad that I've managed to get fit(ter). And so people advising others to accept a diminished, lower-quality life really raises my hackles.

Re: I'm not sure that the

Clearly you are on here to validate your change in lifestyle, are you any happier now that you are fitter (a.k.a skinny)? Being healthy and being fat are two completely different concepts. I do not know why the authors weight is even touched upon because she is a person first and an author second.

Re: Quality of life

I think we need to be careful how we define quality of life, not only in this context but in others. I was a kickboxing black-belt before a severe injury that left me unable to even walk normal for a few years. I am still unable to do most of the things I did before, and my life no long can fit into what you call a high quality lifestyle. This article seems to imply that, because of my differently-abled condition, I cannot enjoy a quality of life that you can. Just please, be careful when discussing quality of life standards, as exclusion is rather possible.

That's dumb.

Well, I guess I'm gonna go drink 151 rum until I start blacking out, shoot myself full of crack, and go have unprotected sex with a prostitute, because we all gotta die sometime, right?

Exercising and eating right dramatically improves the quality of your life.

Short people got no reason to live

"Fat people are also less likely to be hired and promoted. Fat children are frequently bullied and this bullying is determined to be harmless or "for their own good" because it might motivate them to lose weight. Instead of promoting healthy behaviors, however, this bullying often causes depression, suicide, and disordered eating. "

The same thing has been studied re: how society favors tall men and women. They are viewed as smarter, stronger, and more attractive. So as a height disadvantaged person, I am going to my fellow queer activists and demand that our agenda include the vertically challenged. Oppression is oppression, right?

I would say the lack of access to medical care (wether due to quality of care or shame) is better compared to those with substance abuse/mental illness. All 3 have a genetic component in most cases, but that doesn't mean that there are not steps that can be taken to improve one's health through much hard work. Not fair? You're right, but few things are.

Additionally, there is a huge difference between honoring the many different shapes and sizes our bodies come in and enabling anyone to continue living with unhealthy habits. To do the latter is reckless and irresponsible.

BS it is

I guess your feminism is bullshit, then.

Your feminism is bullshit precisely because it is intersectional

What a bunch of balderdash.

Not only is weight not a woman's issue, nor an issue of any one particular race, but it is also a choice.

It is a perfect analogue to suggest that discrimination against people who play pokemon cards is a woman's issue.

What utter nonsense. You damage real, important causes with this idiotic association.

Of course, we all choose our weight. How easy!

Wow. Weight is a choice?

I am an elite level athlete. I'm getting flown across the country-- and to Europe this year-- to compete in athletic events. I spend sometimes between 10 and 20 hours a week doing aerobic exercise. I'm a vegetarian. My diet is fucking beautiful.

And you know what? I will NEVER be as thin as my cake-eating, candy-loving nonathletic best friend. I'd KILL to be lighter because it'd make my athletic performance better. I've tried to the point where I've gotten sick to be that thin. I've trained my ass off.

Did she choose to be thinner than me? No. Did I choose to be fatter than she is? No. And quite frankly, the chances are that if I lived her lifestyle, I'd be humongous.

You don't decide on a certain weight and make a choice to be that weight. This calorie-in-calorie-out b.s. that our fatphobic culture has fed us is grossly oversimplified at best.


"elite athlete"

Confirmed basement dweller at parents house.

ass and umption

areyouserioustoots, confirmed maker of assumptions... Aaand you know what that makes you! : )

"I am an elite level athlete.

"I am an elite level athlete. I'm getting flown across the country-- and to Europe this year-- to compete in athletic events. I spend sometimes between 10 and 20 hours a week doing aerobic exercise. I'm a vegetarian. My diet is fucking beautiful."

Can you provide any proof of that? Like, at all? Forgive me for not believing you, but that is far too convenient as well as far to vague. What are you an athlete in? What athletic events are you competing in? What is your diet like?

Your comment was like you took every single thing you thought would help your case (amazing athlete with amazing diet vs a non-athlete with a terrible diet) and piled it into one place.

I'd also like to point out that your second to last paragraph is kind of counter-intuitive to your, and this articles, entire argument. "And quite frankly, the chances are that if I lived her lifestyle, I'd be humongous." In that, you've just proved the point of every dietician, health guru, and personal trainer. You can do something to change your weight. Yes, people do have different metabolisms. Some people have to work super hard to gain weight, some people have to work super hard to lose weight, and some people are right in the middle. But nobody, NOBODY, is forcing anyone to be fat, or skinny. You can change it. A lot of people take a slow metabolism, or hyperthyroidism, as a sign that they are meant to be fat, but (if your status as an elite athlete is true) you proved that you don't have to be that way. You proved that it is something that you can change. You, through your own efforts, have proven that you don't need to be fat.

Really, elite athlete, you

Really, elite athlete, you just outlined how easy it is for us to choose our weight. Want to weigh as much as your friend, but can't stay thin on the same diet? Just spend 10-20 hours a week of your free time exercising and invest time and money in creating a whole new diet for yourself! Easy as pie! Really, why don't we all do it?


Besides - the argument I always hear is "being overweight is unhealthy". Regardless of the veracity of this claim (which is dubious, there are such ranges in what it means to be "fat" - and a number of studies show being a certain amount "overweight" is actually associated with living longer,, that's straight from JAMA folks.)... when did it suddenly become ok for someone's (inferred) health to be agreeable grounds for discrimination? Choice or not choice, it doesn't matter.

Interestingly, this "choice" piece is exactly the issue I have with a number of the arguments for gay rights - that being gay is not a "choice" therefore should not be considered bad. What, would same-sex attraction be the wrong choice if it were a choice we could make? Because I certainly don't think so. Because there IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING GAY. Same as your weight - to argue about whether it is a choice misses the main point that even if we could walk up to a magic scale and say the weight we wanted for the rest of our lives, NO ONE would have the right to discriminate against me for choosing 300 lbs.

(For the record, I am slightly "overweight" (160 lbs), however being a musclely athlete-type BMIs mean different things. I eat better than my 130 lbs girlfriend, am physically stronger and have more aerobic endurance, work out more often, and love to hear this "but health" bs).

That study was flawed

I know i'm a bit late to the conversation, but I had to respond to your post since the study of which you are speaking is misunderstood by the general public. Also, "numerous studies" have not shown being overweight to be associated with living longer, it was only the JAMA study that did and that study was flawed. The study is known in the academic community to be flawed/far too simplistic because it did not exclude people who were already ill/had chronic conditions. For example, many people that get cancer end up dropping a lot of weight due to side effects during treatment. This study also failed to exclude people that had chronic diseases. People who's BMI is lower due to illness/disease have a higher chance of dying because of the illness already. Same with smoking, smokers tend to be thinner but their chances of dying are higher. The results are not accurate because the study was poorly done. This study by the NEw England Journal of medicine is considered in the academic/medical community to be much more accurate/it was not flawed in the ways the JAMA study was, but it did not make big news because it found (like many other studies do/like we already know) that mortality is lower when BMI is within a what is considered a normal range.

Here's a link that discuss the flaws in the JAMA study:

I don't support making anyone feel ashamed because of their weight or height or whatever. How someone else chooses to live their life is none of my business. I just don't like poorly conducted studies, and I don't like how the media sensationalized the findings of a poorly conducted study.

Quit comparing yourself to

Quit comparing yourself to others. It seems your main problem is YOU putting "skinny" women on a pedestal and then crying fowl. "fatphobic culture" -uh, since when does NOT wanting to have unhealthy rolls of fat (if you have more than a few rolls, you are probably too fat to be healthy) a bad thing? You just don't want to take responsibility for yourself and instead want to be treated like a gay person and given pats and hugs and have everyone tell you, "you are great just as you are!"

Your mommy might have told you that, but in the adult world strangers aren't required to boost you up because you have self-esteem issues. You being fat, and you being jealous that thin women are preferred in our society is your problem, not societies and not other womens. Truth.

Calorie in - Calorie out BS, aka. The laws of physics is a lie?

Calorie in - Calorie out is BS eh? Sorry, but I think your problem lies with the laws of physics rather than the media, and society. I've said it time and time again here. Fat isn't magical, fat isn't self replicating, fat is matter which cannot be created or destroyed. To gain weight you must intake more than you burn. That's a fact, and whether you agree with it or not has as much effect on it as whether I deny gravity or not. You're focusing more on the intake than the outtake. Did you ever stop to think that maybe she has a high, or inefficient metabolism?

a) High metabolism, the one that we all hear about. She works out the same as you, eats more than you, and is skinnier than you. Because her body burns more calories than you do, and as such has a greater outtake than you.

b) Inefficient metabolism, the one people don't talk about. She eats whole birthday cakes, and family sized meals to herself and doesn't gain a pound? Maybe it's because her body doesn't actually efficiently absorb nutrients. Many people's bodies simply don't absorb everything that's put into them. The fats, sugars, ect. ect. just go in one end and out the other. This is a question of intake. She's eating it, but her body isn't using it.

So again, calorie in calorie out is correct. It's not a lie pushed by the media it's just a fact. It's why 17 year old Mellisa can eat midnight cheeseburgers while her mom cannot without gaining weight. So don't make excuses.

So the "excuse" is right

So the "excuse" is right there in your next to last sentence. Why should one person have to eat less and exercise more than another just to be treated the same way? What did you eat today, BTW? When is the last time you cheated on your diet? Up thread they are arguing that people like me shouldn't be allowed healthcare, because we are trashing our bodies - or, as you helpfully explained, eating like other people do but without the metabolism processing it in the same way.

Um weight is not a choice. I

Um weight is not a choice.

I didn't choose to get thyroid cancer, have it stop working, gain weight, have it removed, and gain more weight because I have to be on artificial thyroid hormones.

But, that doesn't give me an excuse to not exercise or eat healthy.

Why do you need an excuse?

Why do you need an excuse? Who are you reporting to? Who gets to assess whether your "excuse" is good enough or not?

You rock!

You rock!


All forms of oppression are linked? What are you smoking?

Noting that you are obese, and thus likely to cost your fellow citizens tens of thousands of dollars in healthcare costs is in no way linked to discriminating against someone because they are homosexual. And the notion that obesity is primarily the result of genetics is ludicrous. It is the product of high caloric intake and little physical exercise. Full stop.


Ah, the intersectionality argument. Did you learn that in your freshie women's studies class, dear? You sound like a petulant child who parrots academic arguments without bothering with CONTEXT. By the way, Marx (where you get this language of oppression from) was a white British man who wasn't exactly defending lesbians and fat activists when he came up with these arguments.

I really wish whoever is teaching this crap would quit throwing out CONTEXT, since anyone that I have come across that spouts "intersectionality" and "privilege" seems not to have any clue about history or where the grounding of their arguments come from. Identity Studies suffers from a severe case of historical blinders in favor of poorly supported arguments like "intersectionality" and "white/male privilege" and empty slogans, like "If you are pro-women's rights, you are a feminist" which makes about as much logical sense as "if you are pro-natalist, you are a nazi" or "If you practice compassion, you are a fundamentalist christian".

Also, as a educated westerner, I'm sure your " intwined oppressions" are few and far between. Grow the fuck up.

I have bad news: your

I have bad news: your feminism may be intersectional, but it's ALSO bullshit.

Queer movement, hijacked

Agreed; queer movement has been brought down by these ridiculous fat activists. Instead of working on one's own issues, this sort of attitude literally kills our own people.

And, blaming being fat on "economic discrimination" is an insult to starving people all over the world.

Fat is, was, and has always been, a choice.

Yes! Yes! I completely agree.

What pisses me off the most is how the article talks about 'being fat isn't a choice.' It cites genetics, primarily, as a cause (though I have heard 'muh thyroid' as an excuse all too often.)


The term 'genetically fat' pisses me off, as a scientist, as a logician, and as a person. Yes, you may be predisposed towards weight gain- for example, people of Inuit decent tend to be shorter and stockier, as thousands of years ago, more fat meant survival during the winters. But while a person of Inuit decent may be stockier than, say, a Kenyan, they would not be overweight, or even 'fat,' without today's HIGH FAT DIET AND SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE.

You're fat, huh? And you blame genetics cause your parents were fat? Well, what about their parents? And how about their parents, huh? Somewhere, down the line, one of your ancestors made the decision to live an unhealthy lifestyle. And it hasn't modified your GENETICS, oh no, it's simply modified their children, and eventually your, lifestyle and eating habits.

We are weak, flabby specimens of human beings, compared to even 200 years ago. And the worse part? We can CHANGE, but ideas like the one in this article forgive and excuse what is ultimately in our control.

Commenters don't know how to Science

Except that you're wrong. Fatness is strongly hereditary, almost as much as height. That's Actual Science. There are tons of resources on this -- Google "fat is 77% hereditary." You and other commenters on this article who are so eager to ride the Fat Rights Marginalization Train to the Oppression Olympics might consider basing your opinions on actual facts. Considering that myths and propaganda are, yanno, the main tools of ALL KINDS of oppression.

The just-plain-wrong statement that "fat is a choice" is the #1 pillar of institutionalized fat hatred, followed by the much more general "it's okay to hate people for their choices" myth. Which it's not, unless you agree that something like religious discrimination is okay, since I'm pretty sure believing in a certain religion isn't written into anyone's genetic code.

tl:dr -- Your argument is wrong: #1, because fatness isn't a choice for the vast majority of fat people, and #2, because even if fatness is a choice that doesn't mean fat people can't be oppressed.

Fatties are like smokers

Being fat is a choice and can and should be shamed just like smokers. Oh your parents smoked, your friends smoked, you are around cigarettes all the time? Being a smoker is still your expensive, health damaging choice. Quitting is hard? Too bad, you need to work hard and make the effort to quit. Same thing with putting down the sweets and parking as far from the store entrance as possible. Just because it takes effort, just because it calls for lifestyle changes, doesn't mean it's not your choice. If you have 30 mins to watch tv, you have enough time in your day to take a walk and improve yoyr weight. If you can afford McDs for lunch, you can afford to pack a salad and hummus instead.

Here's a wacky concept: How

Here's a wacky concept: How about you shame <i>neither</i> fat people <i>nor</i> smokers?

Get angry about second-hand smoke all you like -- I get that smoking isn't entirely an individual choice for, say, kids exposed to second-hand smoke at home. So we can talk about the social implications of second-hand smoke. But even taking that into consideration, what needs to be shamed isn't the act of smoking itself, but yanno, inadvertently hurting children and other innocent people.

And of course, there is no such thing as 'second hand fatness' (despite the pervasive myth that fat parents overfeed and underexercise their children, and the article out a couple years ago that fat people are 'contagious' that was immediately and widely debunked).

So, since fat isn't a choice for the vast majority of fat people (and here's a link for the lazy people who persist in not reading posts to which they respond:, and you can't get second-hand fatness, <b>being fat is, in fact, nothing like being a smoker</b>.

No matter how many anecdotal solutions you prescribe fat people with the assumption that holier-than-fat thin people are thin because they engage in the 'healthy' behaviors you cite (just walk instead of watch TV, etc), you're still going to hit that wall:
<li>fatness is not a choice for the vast majority of fat people; </li>
<li>fatness and smoking are not nearly the same thing, and </li>
<li> shame doesn't work any more than diets do, in the long-term, to make fat people thin, and in fact can be incredibly damaging -- see: eating disorders, depression/anxiety and bullying, for instance.</li>

Otherwise everyone would be thin, considering the pervasive hatred of fat people in places like the US (easy proof: this and other comments sections on any article that dares covertly mention fat issues, especially fat rights) and the $60 billion diet industry.

You think fat people aren't shamed <em>already</em>? Your thin privilege is showing. Badly.

fatness is a choice for 100%

fatness is a choice for 100% of fat people. Stop making excuses for people. Everything is not somebody else's fault; sometimes your lousy lot is your fault.
Obesity has almost one exclusive cause: high caloric intake and low physical exercise.

And if you are fat, or you smoke, you will cost your fellow citizens tens of thousands of dollars in increased healthcare costs.

I live in a place where

I live in a place where people exercise just by going about their daily lives because we live in mountainous terrain that requires a lot of up-hill walking. There are almost no fat people here. I'm not kidding - I have seen MAYBE four even slightly overweight people since I moved to this mid-sized city over a year ago. However, you can spot tourists from a mile away because most of them are over-weight or obese. If you were correct, there would be about the same number of overweight people as in any other city, but there isn't because the truth is if you burn more calories than you consume on a daily basis you won't store as much fat. Period, the end.

3mi. of walking a day will keep you thin.

I live in Germany. There are no fat people here. Every time I travel abroad I see nothing but relatively thin, healthy people. I get back to the states, particularly suburbia, and everyone, I mean EVERYONE is overweight. There is certainly a problem going on but this article is a complete joke. Coming up with excuses and renaming problems doesn't make them go away.

Correlation =/= Causation

Everyone is born under certain constraints, genetic or otherwise. Take for example. Two different people with the desire to go to Harvard. One born into a wealthy family whose parents went to Harvard. One born into a poorer family with neither parent having attended a university. It's clear that both children need to work very hard in order to put forth a competitive application. However, one person clearly needs to work harder than the other.

This journal article is published in the Oxford Journal and distributed by OUP. It is widely cited. You've actually probably read it and it does, to a degree, support the idea that a) being obese is not always unhealthy and b) obesity is not very well understood


Journal Article:

From the article:

Heritability estimates for obesity are high (typically 0.70), comparing well with other complex, polygenic diseases such as schizophrenia (0.81) (14) and autism (0.90) (15), and are significantly higher than for other complex traits such as hypertension (0.29) (16) and depression (0.50) (17). In addition, the use of quantitative obesity sub-phenotypes that can be accurately measured has resulted in significant measures of heritability
for skinfold thickness (18–20), waist circumference (21) and total and regional fat distribution.

You're not wrong. Obesity is highly heritable. However, correlation does not equal causation. Just because it's heritable doesn't mean a) everyone has these genes and is passing these genes along, b) everyone inherits these traits, and most importantly c) if you inherit these traits, you can't act to reduce their impact.

Obesity is not fully understood. What is understood, however, is losing weight. Unlike being gay, where you can't "lose being gay". It's a terrible idea to equate the two.

It is analogous to say, though, that not all obese people have inherited obese genes, in the same way that not all obese people are unhealthy.

I'm not pushing any idea here. I'm just trying to show where both sides are (more) right and (more) wrong.

I also wonder how much

I also wonder how much nurture has to do with obesity as well as nature. Parents who eat unhealthy foods, and unhealthy amounts of food will surely pass down their eating habits to their children (at least until the child is old enough to make food choices for themselves).

It's entirely nurture. It's

It's entirely nurture. It's textbook phenotypic plasticity. Have you ever seen The Biggest Loser. They somehow manage to turn a shit-ton of morbidly obese people into healthy adults every year by forcing them to eat normal human diets and moving more. It's all nurture.

Actually, The Biggest Loser

Actually, The Biggest Loser puts people through starvation diets and extreme amounts of exercise. But way to buy into the stereotypes and bullshit the mainstream media feeds you on the way to encourage you to police other people's bodies.

And most contestants gain

And most contestants gain some of the weight back due to it being a totally unlivable lifestyle.

You're wrong on two points in

You're wrong on two points in particular:

1. Losing weight isn't understood at all. If you don't know this, you shouldn't be talking about fat issues. Simple proof: the $60 billion diet industry. If diets worked, the diet industry wouldn't be raking in so much cash. Longer proof, since fatphobics pretend the reason diets don't work is because either by accident or ignorance people are 'dieting wrong' -- search for articles on the long-term (post five years) efficacy of losing weight. Since I'm not going to pretend the commenters here actually follow and read links, you can dig these up yourself. They show quite conclusively that more than 90% of people fail to keep any weight off long-term, and most people who lose weight long term lose a relatively insignificant amount like 10 kg (i.e., not enough to make a fat person thin).

2. Obesity isn't a disease. It's a height to weight ratio, no more. Argue about risk factors all you want, and that gets into fat health mythbusting done very well by folks like Linda Bacon, but no, you're not allowed to simply deem a BMI category 'diseased' because you feel like it.

Also, it's funny you insist on comparing the heritability of fatness with disorders, when it's more closely relatable in both heritability and presentation to height.

Um you're very wrong on your first point

Losing weight is VERY well understood. It's basic math: you eat fewer calories than you burn = you lose weight. YES, it is that simple. A net loss of calories = weight loss whereas a net gain in calories = weight gain.

Also, the reason that diets "don't work" is because in order for a diet to succeed a total lifestyle change must be made. Most people do not accept this. They lose a few pounds and then go back to eating the same crap that made them fat in the first place. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to completely change your eating habits. If you eat healthy and lose 20 pounds, but then you start eating baconators at wendys again OF COURSE YOU'RE GOING TO GAIN THAT WEIGHT BACK.

Now, where you're kind of right is the "diet industry" rakes in cash by selling you snake oils and magic elixirs that they market as magic cure-alls. This is an industry that is designed to do one thing: make money. However, eating healthy food in small portions and exercising will always work. This is by definition "dieting." Do not confuse dieting with the "diet industry."

Yes, because your

Yes, because your pretend-knowledge of how metabolisms work (they aren't bunsen burners or lawnmowers -- ) rigorously contradicts hundreds of studies saying that diets don't work. That's all diets, including "eat less move more" "lifestyle changes."

Here are a couple links for you, even though I know you and your anti-fat anon brethren won't read them. (with critical analysis of several studies, including some behind paywalls)

A sample from the last link (click the link to view citations):

<blockquote>Assumption: Anyone who is determined can lose weight and keep it off through appropriate diet and exercise
Evidence: Long-term follow-up studies document that the majority of individuals regain virtually all of the weight that was lost during treatment, regardless of whether they maintain their diet or exercise program [5,27]. Consider the Women's Health Initiative, the largest and longest randomized, controlled dietary intervention clinical trial, designed to test the current recommendations. More than 20,000 women maintained a low-fat diet, reportedly reducing their calorie intake by an average of 360 calories per day [102] and significantly increasing their activity [103]. After almost eight years on this diet, there was almost no change in weight from starting point (a loss of 0.1 kg), and average waist circumference, which is a measure of abdominal fat, had increased (0.3 cm) [102].

A panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health determined that "one third to two thirds of the weight is regained within one year [after weight loss], and almost all is regained within five years." [28] More recent review finds one-third to two-thirds of dieters regain more weight than was lost on their diets; "In sum," the authors report, "there is little support for the notion that diets lead to lasting weight loss or health benefits [5]." Other reviews demonstrate the unreliability of conventional claims of sustained weight loss [104,105]. There is a paucity of long term data regarding surgical studies, but emerging data indicates gradual post-surgery weight regain as well [106,107]. Weight loss peaks about one year postoperative, after which gradual weight regain is the norm.</blockquote>

Welcome to that part in the story where you either realize you've been lied to about the physiology of fatness, or you cling to your ignorance and hatred because your false sense of superiority over fat people is one of the primary pillars of your self esteem.

The biggest problem with

The biggest problem with helping anyone who has an eating problem is the fact that they generally have no damn clue what their caloric intake is every day and also people lie like crazy. Follow-up studies can't account for the fact that people usually under-report their calorie intake, either consciously or subconsciously. We've all known people who thought that their salad was healthy, despite the fact that they also dumped ranch, cheese and bacon all over it. That's not a salad. That's a big bowl of fat with lettuce in it. "I'm eating an apple! It's healthy!" Yeah, no. That's a caramel apple. "Oh, did I have a donut this morning? I totally forgot. I thought it was a muffin. Oh wait, I had a muffin too. Well, the muffin was healthy so it cancels it out." No, no it does not.

It's really no surprise that fat people attempting to count calories fail in that department, since it's a total lack of vigilance that leads them to be so fat in the first place.

Dear Insane,

No, dear. I don't forget the donut I ate this morning because I tried one a decade ago and spit it out because gross. I know exactly what I eat and how much because I grow much of it and prepare all of it and I would bet every cent I have that my diet blows yours out of the water. But I'm almost 250. So this is my body, this is the way it is and probably will be.

Doctor can't find a single thing wrong with it, but you sure can.

There are a lot of fat people who eat less than thin people because they've wrecked their metabolisms dieting. There are a lot of fat people who exercise herculean willpower and get nowhere. There are a lot of fat people who eat diets virtually identical to their thin spouses' and there are many, many physically active fat people who eat well and are still fat.

Fat is complex. Food and nutrition are complex. I'm a nutritionist's wet dream, but still have to live in this body knowing that a bunch of assholes assume I hunker down in my La-Z-Boy with a gallon of dip every night. And some of those people won't hire me because of it. Grow the fuck up, y'all, you make me tired.

Fucking thank you.

I gained a lot of weight trying (and not yet succeeding) to recover from bulimia. Calories in vs. Calories out is bullshit. My My nutritional therapist/licensed dietitian calls it bullshit. You can't judge health based on size and appearance. I'm fat. I also have low cholesterol, text book blood pressure and a host of GI issues caused by puking up perfectly good food when I was thin...and now that I'm not. So, yeah. There you go. When I was troubling thin, no one said a goddamn thing. Now that I'm not, it's all "Gurrrrl, are you aware of diabetes." Yes. Yes I am, and it's not a problem for me. I'm a fat fyke, and both my fatness and queerness are problems in the workplace, so don't you even start the oppression olympucs with me, fat hating commentariat. I'm out.

I feel bad for your employer,

I feel bad for your employer, your militant views on fatness and queerness have no business in a workplace. If you worked at my office I would report you for "pushing radical political beliefs at work". Work is not "activist time", and when you are on the clock you should park your radical political beliefs at the door. People these days are so entitled, they don't even understand basic social divisions anymore. Your boss and your co-workers are not there to support your activism, and pushing activist topics at work is co-worker harassment.

You feel sorry for her

You feel sorry for her employer because she dares to say she is discriminated against at work for being fat? Are you serious? You assume she is doing fat activism while on the clock? If being fat at work is fat activism I guess. Are you a troll or did a fat person sit on your Twinkies?

Fatness is hereditary in that

Fatness is hereditary in that fat parents tend to have fat children. Poor eating habits are passed down from generation to generation, and the cycle continues. Bottom line is that it's amazing to see how many fat people who's genes make them fat also consume 6000+ calories a day of garbage. Find me one person who continues to gain weight while eating a clean 2000-2200 calorie diet and exercising and I might believe it's their thyroid.

It's easy to make ignorant

It's easy to make ignorant arguments when you don't care about learning what actual scientific terms mean, isn't it?

Hereditary in this sense specifically means <i>not a learned behavior</i>.

<blockquote>Design: We carried out <b>twin analyses</b> of BMI and waist circumference (WC) in a UK sample of 5092 twin pairs aged 8–11 y. Quantitative genetic model-fitting was used for the univariate analyses, and bivariate quantitative genetic model-fitting was used for the analysis of covariance between BMI and WC.</blockquote>

<blockquote>Results: Quantitative genetic model-fitting confirmed substantial heritability for BMI and WC [waist circumference] (<b>77%</b> for both).</blockquote>

<blockquote>If genetic influence is important, monozygotic twins must be more similar than dizygotic twins. Twin studies can also estimate the extent to which the family environment makes family members more similar than would be expected from their genetic relatedness (the shared-environment effect). This is important in the field of childhood obesity because there is considerable interest in the role of the family. Finally, <b>twin studies can go beyond pitting nature against nurture to consider interactions between genes and environment.</b> A novel type of gene-environment interaction is a change in the relative influences of genes and environment after major changes in the environment.</blockquote>

(bold mine)


My friend is fat her calorie intake is about 500 a day.

This is Literally Not Possible

"My friend is fat. Her calorie intake is about 500 a day."

500 what? Because if you meant 500 calories, that is literally not possible. That's about three 12oz cans of soda, and nothing else.

500 calories can be made up

500 calories can be made up with foods other than soda. (and incidentally, it's more like 5 cans of soda)

When I met my husband he was eating roughly 500 calories a day. A boiled egg for breakfast, an undressed salad (or vegetable sticks) for lunch and rice and beans for dinner gets you there.



Alcoholism also runs in a family

So, alcoholism is also shown to run in a family, does that mean it isn't a choice, and should be considered perfectly normal?

Here's science for you. Whatever your genetic makeup, nobody can get fat without overeating. That's physics for you.

Hey there!

Fatty here.

Soon-to-be ex-fatty.

I had myself convinced it was genetics too. Then my mom got the beetus and her mother had it too, so I knew that I'd have to learn to enjoy vegetables a little more if I didn't want my retirement years cut short. I started eating low-cal food and walking daily for my shopping. Guess what? I'm beating my "fat genes." It is literally as simple as eating a little less and working out a little more. Genetics be damned. I've lost 50 lbs. so far despite the long line of fat ancestors in my family tree. The biggest triumph here, though, is that I silenced that little fat-logic voice in my head that's been telling me that I can't do it.

THIS is the biggest tragedy here. People like you are fighting so hard to hide the simple truth. Calories in < calories out = weight goes down. I could've died an early death and people like you wouldn't care as long as the world learned to love and accept you a little more. Well fuck that and fuck the fat acceptance movement. You're all murderers in waiting.

If you want to be fat, be my guest. I will bake you the most delicious cake to celebrate your choice. But know that it is a choice. Eating less and/or working out might be a choice that's a bit harder for you to make (what with your fat-logic fouling things up) but it is a choice, nonetheless. And I'll even argue that we should all be a little kinder to our fellow humans, regardless of their shape/size/color. But don't expect society to adjust to accommodate your choice. We don't get special fat-sized roller coaster seats for the fat asses we decided to grow.

Wow. I have been where you

Wow. I have been where you are now. So many times. You must be very young. Is this your first diet? Maybe you will be lucky and be one of the 3% of people who can lose the weight and keep it off for 3 years. If you are I hope you will gain some compassion for the other 97% of us. Maybe you are just smarter or have more willpower than the rest of us. Maybe you want it more than those of us who developed eating disorders or became suicidal because of the stigma of being fat. I'll tell you right now it wasn't the fat acceptance movement that kept me fat, since I never heard of it until about 5 years ago. If I ever do figure out the magic formula that will make this body thin long term I will still support fat acceptance till I die, because nobody should be required to work harder than everybody else just to have the same civil rights.

I see lots of thin people eating cookies after church, donuts for breakfast, pizza on weekends - all things I never do. My babysitter is a size zero. She hates vegetables. She loves sugar. Every time we go through a checkout line she buys candy. I never do that. The horror! After so many years of dieting - it's just unthinkable. I eat carbs though. Brown rice is one of my faces.

I managed to lose a few pounds recently by cutting out all starches but I found it impossible to maintain. At this point it takes something drastic like that for me to lose weight. I thought it was going to happen this time. I had to go off a med and the doctor told me to add the carbs back in until I got through the transition. Gained it all back just from adding in the whole grains to my fish and vegetable diet. I'll probably try again in a few months. I am always thinking I'll figure out the missing piece of the puzzle that will make weight loss possible for me. But I won't be an asshole to other fat people if I succeed, because there is no reason why anyone should have to work as hard as I do to look the way my babysitter looks without trying. But you know, good luck to you. I was mad when I read the hate in your post and I felt like arguing with you. Now I'm just tired. I won't convince any of the haters on this page that my experience is true. Being fat of course means that I am ignorant of all the facts. So many diets I haven't tried in my 45 years. Pritikin, the Zone, Weight Watchers, calorie counting works, no it doesn't, yes it does. If only I'd just eat less and exercise more. It's not how much you eat, it's what you eat! You should eat more of the right foods! Portion size matters! All that stuff. Line forms to the left if the rest of you have any tips you think I haven't tried. Write down everything you eat. It has to be a lifestyle change. Uh-huh, I know. Like I said, maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones. I know exactly one person who managed to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. She runs several miles everyday. Like 8. Do all the thin people you know do that? Of course they don't. So why should I have to just to be able to fit my fat ass in a ride at an amusement park that costs $100 a day to visit? I should be happy to wait in line watching thin people eat ice cream while I feel guilty for cheating on my paleo diet because you can't eat that way at Disneyworld. Oh yeah, I did fit on the rides. But I was hurt by your comment anyway. I was fit enough to walk all over the park for 12 hours 3 days in a row too. Probably lots of people on this page would be surprised by that. Somebody else explain it to them. I'm done.

I agree. There are many

I agree. There are many variables and social determinants that go into a person being overweight.
Being gay is not something that can be changed with socioeconomic policies.
Being overweight, even people with, and this is a small percentage of overweight people- a genetic predisposition, can address weight with diet and exercise.
Weight is a matter of health. Increased weight results in diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and on and on- all the major reasons for chronic disease and death in America today. You cannot diet the gay away. Not comparable!

Why. Why. Why.

Do you keep repeating yourselves? It's like a fat-hate hive-mind, impervious to reason. Or science. Lots of science.

It's not your genes; it's the environment, stupid!

Just a comment on overweight / obesity and its comparison to homosexuality:

Scientific research backs Sonya's comment that the state of our health is very rarely due to genetic programming; genes do not determine life - genes RESPOND to life / our environment (foods, chemicals, metabolic functions, stress, etc.).

Thus, we are not the victims of our genes but, instead, we hold our individual experience as human beings in our hands.

This has been established by the scientific branch of 'epigentics.'

The same applies to homosexuality (find the article at the link below: Science and Social Control: Political Paralysis and the Genetics Agenda and read how he tobacco industry pioneered ‘behavioral genetics'). Yea, right.

As far as I'm concerned, it's ok to be gay or whatever along the sexuality continuum; we should just let everyone be what they define themselves as being and love whomever they wish.

This whole gender and sexual orientation thing (ah, the oxymoron of 'orientation' being a fixed, predetermined thing) is contrived, a construct behind which gays hide as much as non-gays using it as a divisive weapon.

Sorry - typo! I meant

Sorry - typo! I meant epigenetics (not epigentics)

I definitely hear you..

Thank you, that's all I thought the whole time I was reading this. I'm gladI'm not the only person who saw that.

whoa whoa whoa

<i>"Risks associated with being “morbidly obese” are no greater than that of being male, and “overweight” people live longer than people of “normal” weight." </i>

This is dangerous misinformation (most likely gleaned from the single bunk study mentioned in a NYT article a few months ago) that I agree misrepresents informed queer and body positive movements.

Obesity causes Cancer, Diabetes and heart disease. Fat positivity should NOT = obesity risk denial.

Obesity does NOT cause

Obesity does NOT cause cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. THAT is the misinformation. The enormous body of research does not support your assertion, from reputable and abundant studies (go check out the entire index of "Health at Every Size" by Dr. Linda Bacon, among others).

Please stop encouraging

Please stop encouraging fat-acceptance. You'll cost people their lives.

Please stop.

Please stop encouraging fat-acceptance. You'll cost people their lives.

Obesity increases all-cause mortality, you buffoon

Being OVERWEIGHT reduces all cause mortality. That's BMIs of 25 to 30. You know what these people look like? They look nothing like the silhouette at the top of this article.

Being grade 2 or 3 OBESE categorically and irrefutably causes higher all-cause mortality.

The end. Full stop. No discussion to be had unless you relinquish this buffoonish fallacy.

Health at Every Size

If obesity is healthy, why is it considered a disability under the ADA?


Obviously because they want to discriminate fat as much as possible. And yes there is a degree when fat is bad. Like when you eat at McDs everyday then sit on your ass all day. But there are fat people who excersise like crazy but just don't lose enough to be thin enough to be acceptable. End of story.

Whoa to you

Fat does not cause cancer and there is a lot of evidence to support that fitness level and health is NOT dependent on body size even if that size is classified as obese. Such as...

"Normal MPS was associated with low risk of CD in patients of all weight categories. In patients with known CAD undergoing MPS, obese and overweight patients were at lower risk of CD over three years than normal weight patients."

Here is a study which looked at 4 different healthy habits and found that when doing none of the habits thinner people were at an advantage over obese people health-wise, but when the healthy habits were adapted the health factors of the obese subjects were on par with the thinner ones even though their weight stayed the same: "When stratified into normal weight, overweight, and obese groups, all groups benefited from the adoption of healthy habits, with the greatest benefit seen within the obese group."

And here is a study which shows how BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio are NOT adequate indicators of health "BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio, whether assessed singly or in combination, do not importantly improve cardiovascular disease risk prediction in people in developed countries when additional information is available for systolic blood pressure, history of diabetes, and lipids"

“no measure of body weight or body fat was related to the degree of coronary vessel disease. The obesity-heart disease link is just not well supported by the scientific and medical literature…Body weight, and even body fat for that matter, do not tell us nearly as much about our health as lifestyle factors, such as exercise and the foods we eat…total cholesterol levels returned to their original levels–despite absolutely no change in body weight–requiring the researchers to conclude that the fat content of the diet, not weight change, was responsible for the changes in cholesterol levels.

“With or without consideration of …extremes or gains in body weight…alumni mortality rates were significantly lower among the physically active.”

And on a side note, a person's health should not be the deciding factor on whether or not someone is accepted as they are.

BMI and "health issues"

I really liked this article, but I feel the need to play devil's advocate and stir the pot on a couple of things:

1) The study done saying that "overweight" people live longer was ALSO based on BMI... which you've correctly pointed out is a terrible thing to base ANY study on. Probably why we live so long has more to do with the leaps and bounds of modern medicine rather than gaining weight.

2) While I agree that people shouldn't "diet" in dangerous and extreme ways we hear about all over the mainstream media, telling people that they should just ignore what happens to their bodies based on what they eat is recklessly hedonistic. Gaining weight is one of the VISIBLE and more immediate side effects of a lousy diet, but the health problems caused by a poor diet go FAR beyond weight gain. In fact, people with high metabolisms are more likely to suffer from these other types of problems because there is NO physical reminder that the processed junk, sugar and refined fats are clogging their arteries and destroying their liver.

3) Sometimes fat people want to lose weight for more reasons than fitting in with society. Sometimes (and that's a key word here) being overweight IS a health issue, people may have back or joint problems that can be alleviated through weight loss. Telling people they're on "the wrong side of the issue" because they have a desire to lose weight is tunnel vision and excludes people who want to lose weight for their own reasons that have nothing to do with fat shaming.

Thanks for this. I hope my critique doesn't make it seem like I'm not a huge supporter of what you're trying to say, I just think it's important to offer critical feedback... especially on issues that need addressing in today's society.

I love how you approached

I love how you approached this critic. So thoughtful.


I by no means want to troll your comment, but rather point out some misinformation. The concept that weight loss actually results in lessened back/joint issues is hit or miss, at best. I don't discuss dieting, but I can say this-- I am fat. I have lost nearly 100lbs in the last two years. My back hurts and my nerve pain bothers me more than ever. I am not alone in this. I tortured myself down to this weight. Others do the same, and it gets them as far as it got me.

I think the magic chat about how not being fat will save your body/mind/soul, the clouds will open, and everyone will love you needs to cease. It is, in essence, some seriously painful bullshit.

Anecdotes are the best type

Anecdotes are the best type of evidence!

Kind of shocking...

I have to say as a gay man who has struggled with being overweight, put in the effort to exercise and eat right, gained back more weight and then excepted that body, i find this article extremely far reaching for an excuse to gobble up num-nums, live a leisurely life, and still retain some kind of intellectual edge in the debate over being called out on your shit. I think what really got me, and I'll admit triggered me to not read the rest of the article, was the statement, "Yet like queer people living with hiv or aids, fat people are stigmatized for a condition that is imagined to be their fault." If I were you I would be extremely embarrassed and maybe go do some more comfort eating while you sit in front of your computer screen and think about the effect you are having on society. You cant just take a struggle out of context and use it for your own means. I dont compare my first world problems to being raped in a 3rd world country. you are a monster.

You are ignorant. You SHOULD

You are ignorant. You SHOULD have read the whole article and maybe learned something. Internalized hatred about our bodies is intrinsically tied up with our sexuality, race, health choices etc. Your fat shaming comments and reactionary comment only display your own fat prejudice.

This article is disgusting.

This article is disgusting. Ypu are disgusting. Being fat is a choice. Being gay is not. LGBT people have real struggles that they simply cannot sidestep or avoid. All you have to do to avoid fat discrimination is change your diet and exercise.

When you compare me to you and say "Oh, me too" you demean my struggle and the struggle of LGBT people everywhere.


Great analogies there Cody. I mistakenly thought that gay men, who were stigmatized for years for a "condition that was imagined to be their fault" for many years would have more empathy, but I truly hope that you are not representative of the gay community's view on this blog.

I'm also in awe of the fact that even a gay male can engage in mansplaining. I'm a heterosexual male, yet i "get it", and while I can't feel their pain personally (I'm not fat), I certainly can understand what obese people go through on a daily basis, ESPECIALLY women, who seem to be body judged far more than men do. I'm sorry that your perspective doesn't allow you to see how cruel & insulting your comments are, but be advised that here's a guy who is calling YOU a monster.

High Fat Content

Enjoyed reading this intelligent, well-thought-out article. Hopefully, there will come a time when we'll shake our heads in wonder over the narrow minded way we view body size. I am always surprised by how much mental energy and sermonising is wasted on soft, warm fleshiness. Thanks for the excellent read.

And each of us will be

And each of us will be sitting around on our mobility scooters congratulating each other and patting ourselves on the back about how we were pioneers of a bold, healthier future... after we're done checking our blood sugar meters to see how much the type 2 diabetes has ravaged our bodies today.

Seriously, this comment section is like watching a group of cigarette smokers croak through their electrolarynx devices about how awesome and proud they are to be smokers.

I'm glad I read this article,

I'm glad I read this article, because it really gave me some things to think about. I do have some issues with it, though, like the comparison of fatphobia to homophobia, the writer's insistence on calling overweight people "fat" and the fact that she dismisses entirely the effect of lifestyle on a person's health.

There is absolutely a rise in the amount of fast food people are eating, and a decline in physical activity. These things are not good for people. Perhaps we can call it a war on inactivity? Or a war on artery clogging? Either way, those two things most definitely require a bit of attention in this article.

That being said, I think every person deserves to be happy with who they are. As long as you are healthy and can smile at yourself in the mirror, then other people shouldn't tell you you are wrong. If people feel unhealthy and want to change, we should be supporting them, not telling them to "stop dieting and embrace yourself."

I would never tell a person who is transgender, "stop taking hormones and embrace yourself"... Unless that was what they wanted.

As for the comparison of fatphobia and homophobia... I can see the similarities. However, like I wouldn't encourage a gay man to take up a life style that will likely end with HIV, I wouldn't encourage a person to live a lifestyle that would lead to clogged arteries. I don't believe it's fatphobic to teach people not to eat as much McDonald's and to go for a run every once in a while, just like I don't believe it's homophobic to teach people about safe sex.

Finally, how dare she insist that people do away with terms like "overweight" and "obese" and just say "fat." She does not know every "fat" person out there, and some do not feel comfortable being called so.

Every person deserves to be treated respectfully, the way they wish to be treated. This article presents that to the reader in a unique and thoughtful way. However, the writer is a little flat in her comparisons and two dimensional in her thinking. An issue like fatphobia, just like homophobia, racism or sexism, is too complex to ever say "this is, unquestionably, the answer."

LIKE <- This is my like

LIKE <- This is my like button. Sometimes like buttons say just enough.


^ Like, seconded.

I'm a person who does call herself fat, and I am comfortable with being fat; however, I am not comfortable with the current degree of my fatness, my weight right now. And as I've put on this weight I've noticed my feet hurting more and running out of breath quicker. I know my body pretty well, and I know how fat is too fat for me. It is a huge problem for me that I am not tackling very well for a number of reasons, some excuses and some less within my control. I should not be shamed or stigmatized, but I shouldn't be discouraged from taking care of myself either. My body is mine, and the amount of excess fat in it is somewhat variable-- I haven't always been this weight, I don't have to always stay this weight. People, especially women, are always being told how to be when it comes to appearance and self-maintenance. At the end, when I'm told not to even try to eat healthy, because fat is just how I *should* be, it just looks to me like more of the same old thing.

Well, there is one upside

If we continue to spout this HAES bullshit we will make the pharmaceutical industry even larger and wealthier and put some cardiologists' kids through college in the meantime. So there's that.

what is this bullshit you speak of?

The concept of HAES is pretty simple. Nourish your body with wholesome food, move your body in ways you enjoy. I fail to see how loving self care is bullshit. People seem to have this idea that HAES promotes giving up when it encourages exactly the opposite. Do a little research before passing judgment.

HAES and Fat Acceptance are

HAES and Fat Acceptance are not synonymous. But HAES has a better track record of actually improving people's health than a focus on weight. The more you know!

Contemplation: Food for Thought

What a lovely article. It really made me think. I do wonder how this idea may also weave into others like our culture of consumption, food quality, stress, poverty, etc. This list is even funny (in an ironic way). Populations in poverty are often cited as unproportionally affected by the “obesity epidemic” (I apologize for the horrible puns that seem to be escaping), ironic since another idea cites our culture of consumption as a “cause”. People with little funds for food over consume more than people of wealth? I have always leaned towards the food quality argument. But this article questions a very fundamental part of discussion on the subject of “obesity”: Is it even an actual problem? I still need a little more convincing on dismissing the correlation of extreme body weight and health problems, but no one ever speaks about the possible correlation of stigmatization with health problems currently associated with “obesity”. Fat = Bad. Fat= Undesirable. Fat=Ugly. Fat=Worthless. Fat= Problem. If we had a culture that did not deem bodies with fat as problematic then would we seek out those bodies for study as a group for various problems? This article raised such good questions and made me relook at the body type I currently occupy (one that is new to me). I started a full assault on my diet because I felt my health was slipping away, but I am mystified. I enjoy very healthy foods and the occasional questionable ones and live an active lifestyle. Yet I have gained more weight than ever (though like most I fluctuate) and came to the conclusion that something is wrong with me. After reading this I think my self-diagnosis and assault-for-change on my body is sad. Time to rethink.
Like Sonya W, I have concerns with the use of genetics in the argument, though not necessarily for the same reasons. The article does a great job at questioning other scientific studies and measurement tools, but leaning on a genetic argument for authenticity is just as shaky as arguments of choice. Leaning on choice means something is changeable and potentially ought to be and leaning on genes opens the doors to some scary versions of Social Darwinism (“don’t mate with the fat person you’ll be contributing to the downfall of humanity” type of stuff). In my own work I often wonder if such claims to authenticity are necessary.
Thank you for such a lovely article!

Can't have it both ways

If you want fat to be considered acceptable and not unhealthy, then lobby to have it not be counted as a disability under the ADA.

It's also extremely ignorant and offensive to act as if sexual orientation and weight are similar things. You can't control your sexual orientation, but you are always in complete control of your weight (and neither hypothyroidism nor diabetes removes that control from you).

"you are always in complete

"you are always in complete control of your weight"

Wow, I'm so glad there's someone out here who realizes that every soul alive has complete, unmitigated control over their weight at every single point in their lives. Little kid who grows up in a big southern family with a big southern diet? I'm sure you have complete control over your weight. Just buy your own groceries and learn to cook at 6! Woman on her menstrual cycle? Or pregnant? COMPLETE CONTROL. Medications like birth control, anti-depressants, etc? COMPLETE. CONTROL. There is never any reason whatsoever to be any weight you want to be.

J in TO, you are truly an inspiration to millions.

I was unaware of 6 year old

I was unaware of 6 year old "fat activists".

I was also unaware that menstrual cycles and drugs can change the laws of thermodynamics.

I'm also unaware that being a victim of child abuse, menstrual cycles, and drugs is the same as sexual orientation.

Today I learned...

do you really want to hang your hat on correlation v. causation?

>>What’s more, the claim that fatness is a health risk ignores a basic principle of statistical analysis: Correlation is not causation. The small differences in life expectancies between average-size and very large people are most likely not caused by being fat but are instead the result of factors correlated with fatness: social stigma, economic discrimination, and the harmful effects of weight-loss dieting and diet drugs

I have to admit that I'm having a hard time reconciling these two statements. Are there double-blind, randomized, controlled experiments showing a causative link between decreased life expectancy and any of the factors you're citing?

LOL. YOU design that


YOU design that experiment. An army of researchers awaits your brilliance.

In the meantime, do some research on the substantial body of work linking those factors with short and long-term health impacts.

When kids get beat up in

When kids get beat up in school for being fat then get told by all the adults around them that they wouldn't get beat up if they were fat, it's a problem. When fat advocates get death threats for saying something as simple as "it's okay to be fat." It's a problem. If you are gay or queer and fat you are getting policed in mutiple ways, most of which are simply untenable. How a person gets fat doesn't really matter. That a person is fat doesn't matter either. Regardless of what a body looks like it should be treated with dignity and respect and you shouldn't have to worry when you get up in the morning if you're going to get beat up for being fat or gay or both.

Leaving aside the obnoxious

Leaving aside the obnoxious false equivalency between sexual orientation and obesity, this article fails to cite any publicly available sources to support some very bold factual claims. I find it peculiar that the author cites only two books about dieting, and not any peer-reviewed medical literature concerning the health effects of obesity itself. After a bit of looking around on the internet, it seems that these two books do not represent the current scientific consensus on the prevalence and health effects of obesity.

<b>From the World Health Organization (source: ):</b>

"Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Once considered a problem only in high income countries, overweight and obesity are now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings."

<b>From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (source: ):</b>

"In 2009, all states continued to have high prevalences of obesity among adults, although the prevalences varied geographically. No state met the Healthy People 2010 target of 15%, and the number of states with obesity prevalence of ≥30% increased from none in 2000 to nine in 2009."

<b>From the American Heart Association (source: ):</b>

"About 12 million (16.9%) of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 are obese.
Nearly one in three (31.7%) U.S. children (23,500,000) ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese.
Over one-third (33.7%) of U.S. adults are obese (nearly 75 million adults).


Obesity is defined simply as too much body fat. Your body is made up of water, fat, protein, carbohydrate and various vitamins and minerals. If you have too much fat — especially around your waist — you're at higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.


Even when there are no adverse effects on the known risk factors, obesity by itself increases risk of heart disease. It also harms more than just the heart and blood vessel system. It's a major cause of gallstones and can worsen degenerative joint disease."

<b>From the Harvard Institute of Public Health (source: ):</b>

"Entire books have been written detailing the effects of obesity on various measures of health. This article briefly summarizes associations between obesity and adult health.

"The condition most strongly influenced by body weight is type 2 diabetes. In the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 114,000 middle-age women for 14 years, the risk of developing diabetes was 93 times higher among women who had a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher at the start of the study, compared with women with BMIs lower than 22. (2) Weight gain during adulthood also increased diabetes risk, even among women with BMIs in the healthy range. The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study found a similar association in men. (3)

"More recently, investigators conducted a systematic review of 89 studies on weight-related diseases and then did a statistical summary, or meta-analysis, of the data. Of the 18 weight-related diseases they studied, diabetes was at the top of the risk list: Compared with men and women in the normal weight range (BMI lower than 25), men with BMIs of 30 or higher had a sevenfold higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and women with BMIs of 30 or higher had a 12-fold higher risk. (4)

"Fat cells—especially those stored around the waist—secrete hormones and other substances that fire inflammation. Although inflammation is an essential component of the immune system and part of the healing process, inappropriate inflammation causes a variety of health problems. Inflammation can make the body less responsive to insulin and change the way the body metabolizes fats and carbohydrates, leading to higher blood sugar levels and, eventually, to diabetes and its many complications. (5) Several large trials have shown that moderate weight loss can prevent or delay the start of diabetes in people who are at high risk. (6-8)"

Perhaps most absurd of all, the study that the author cites which asserts that fat people live longer not only used BMI (which the author herself criticizes as a method for determining how fat someone is), it didn't even really show that fat people live longer. (Source: )

In short: this article is poorly researched and--insofar as it can be taken as a carte blanche to get however obese you like--actually dangerous to public health. The author should be embarrassed to have her name attached to this.

Don't you know capt Obvious,

Don't you know capt Obvious, science not real, only feels real.

Thank you. Finally someone is

Thank you. Finally someone is calling the author out on that poor writing/sourcing.

Agree - this article was not worth publishing

Poor sourcing, bad writing, ridiculous conclusions. Not Bitch Mag's best when compared with the excellence of someone like Tamara Harris... come on, where was the editor on this one?

It's fair to criticize BMI...

It's fair to criticize BMI as an absolute measure, especially for health. Recent guidelines recognize this and have pushed for updated measures in terms of determining risk levels related to adiposity. It's fair to point out that many healthy people skirt "high" BMIs, and it's even fair to say that carrying a certain amount of fatty tissue is overall highly correlated with longevity, especially after an individual turns 50.

It's fair to point out that we stigmatize relatively healthy weights and even healthy distributions of adipose tissue as "fat" and that it's ridiculous and prejudicial.

What is really questionable, however, are all of the red herrings and other logical errors used to try to make morbid obesity and similar issues which are actually health concerns "ok" in this article. A number of statements are made as facts, but there seems to be nothing to back them up. Even *only* using BMI, the correlation between being highly obese (BMI > 35) and especially morbidly obese (>40 or >35 with complications) and mortality is significant. This is easily backed up across pretty much any medical study on the subject you want to pick.

You can point out that correlation is not causation, but the simple case is that for the correlation to exist, even based on confounding variables, there has to be a reason. Even if you assume that the lifestyle of those who tend to end up morbidly obese is what's causing the increased mortality rates... simply put, it's a call to change those "lifestyle" elements. And, really, have you delved into the data and methodologies to check to what degrees confounding variables are accounted for? A number of studies of this nature go to fairly great length to normalize for other variables, like income. It's easy to simply say "oh it could be this instead" but really that's less effort than even the most basic statistical work done on even the most rudimentary study. If you want to claim that obesity isn't a health risk, and particularly not morbid obesity... prove it. Where's the data?

A 15 pound weight gain, as you cited, would not be unhealthy for most people. But the problem is that a 15 pound <i>average</i> weight gain does not mean that each individual gained 15 pounds. Without knowing the shape of the distribution (probably not a pure bell curve, needless to say) and the standard deviation it's a fairly useless number, but we can presume that a significant number of people across the population gained more than 15 pounds.

It's all well and good to say that society's issues with "fat" people within healthy weight ranges are all about image. But I think blowing off the real health concerns and dangers that go along with morbid obesity is incredibly insensitive. A number of people in this country suffer a wide range of health and mobility issues due to morbid obesity, and when you combine that with predominately lower income and a lack of adequate healthcare either to treat resulting issues or to help with preventative care, it really is a terrible burden to suffer, when it leads to suffering.

It just feels like in the midst of saying "hi don't be mean to people who are overweight" you've bent overbackwards in dismissing real, physical, demonstrable health issues and concerns with morbid obesity just to bring <b>all</b> over weight people under your umbrella message of "weight shouldn't matter." To me, this would be as insensitive as dismissing the health concerns of HIV from unprotected sex amongst multiple untested partners... just because of the association with gay men. HIV isn't just a "queer" issue; it's a real disease. Morbid obesity is too. It doesn't make it ok to hate on people who are morbidly obese, by any stretch (just like it's not ok to hate on people with HIV/AIDS). But not treating morbid obesity just because of its associations with "being fat" and the negative connotations attached there would be the same as saying we shouldn't treat HIV because it's associated with being gay, and treating HIV somehow sends the message that being gay needs to be treated.

You can complain about the above analogy if you like, but personally I think it's in kind to the one you made about "being fat" as inclusive to all ranges of obesity being equitable to "being queer" in terms of needing to be considered ok and not being anything anyone needs to change, or necessarily even can change (and there are a number of factors in adiposity that go beyond simply diet changes for those affected).

I applaud your message against oppression. I applaud your message that there are a number of healthy weights above what the media likes to show us or our current culture wants to admit to. And, certainly, weight issues have long been most pejorative to women in general, straight or gay. At the same time, I detest your dismissal of real health concerns (for example, you say to eat a cookie--what about diabetics). Why couldn't we have something more balanced between the two? Why isn't it possible to promote sensitivity without white washing everything? Being obese for some is in no way a choice, but that also doesn't mean it isn't unhealthy. My family is predisposed to high (LDL) cholesterol. Guess what. That's unhealthy too if left unmanaged.

The better message, in relation to obesity, is that people with health conditions that are difficult to manage should not be stigmatized simply because of those issues, or because their struggles with them are not always what meets the popular criteria for being successful. The same goes for any number of problems (mental health, etc, even simply not having an outstanding income) in this country where we routinely practice blame the victim mentality and heavy stigmatization. You can't "beat" everything, and sometimes doing what you <i>can</i> manage, when you choose to, looks like "too little" from someone else's perspective who doesn't realize just what burdens you are laboring under.

Sometimes you accept that there are costs and benefits, trade offs and risks, and you make your choice of how to deal with those: which may be continuing as you have been.

And you know what? <b>That</b> is what needs to be recognized as ok, when it occurs in an informed, aware setting. Morbid obesity, in and of itself, is a chronic health <i>risk</i>. And that's ok to recognize, so long as we also recognize that people living with morbid obesity have their own lives and their own choices to make, and none of those are "right" or "wrong." Because it's not a moral issue, despite our obsession with framing everything as one. Really, when you get right down to it, that seems to be the problem. We keep trying to turn complex personal and social issues into black and white moral frameworks, which makes those on the "black" side of things feel forced to paint their side as entirely "white," to frame everything to do with what has been associated with their "side" as acceptable... when really that never should have been the paradigm to begin with, and trying to answer back along those lines is falling into the trap that was set when one side was painted as a uniform "black" (in other words, classic dehumanization and portrayal of uniform alien-ness of the "out" group) to begin with.

We don't need to defend people being fat, whether it's simply "overweight" or even morbidly obese.

We need to defend people being people, and deserving respect and compassion as such regardless of how their bodies look or what health issues they have, or even how they choose to approach living their lives as it relates to themselves (e.g. actually harming others is another story). Where there are lines being drawn they need to be crossed in terms of creating a relateable experience and narrative, not further reinforcing those lines. We need human stories of different people with different issues and approaches and lives, not to simply try to more tightly umbrella everyone who has been slapped with one label or another and then defend that umbrella as unequivocally "good." Instead, it needs to be a message that we're <i>all</i> unequivocally "human," and we all have our issues and struggles and choices.

Well done

^ Thank you for the above, Kaitlyn.



This is an affront to homosexuals everywhere.

This article is a colossal insult to people struggling with discrimination on the basis of their sexuality.

Yes, food addiction is real. Yes, fast food companies market aggressively towards children. Yes, weight loss is difficult. Yes, some people are genetically bigger than others. But the degree to which this "fatphobia" noise has been overblown is positively infuriating.

I cannot choose to be heterosexual. If I could avoid the tremendous amount of abuse i receive by restricting my diet and exercising, I would have done it decades ago. To equate my struggles with the struggles of people who drink two sodas a day instead of their usual three and then complain when they don't lose weight is the height of foolishness, and I can scarcely imagine a more grievous insult. It is like a white Christian person commiserating with black person and citing the "oppression" from the scientific community.

In virtually 100% of cases, fat people are fat because of their choices. In 0% of cases can you find a gay person who decided that a lifetime of discrimination and abuse at the hands of ignorant people was the way to go.

Really? Tumors don't exist?

Really? Tumors don't exist? Undiagnosed hypothyroidism doesn't exist? People who eat healthily but who happen to be larger than what society deems appropriate don't exist? What you're suggesting is that a fat person does whatever they have to do, even if that means starving themselves, just so they aren't subject to discrimination. In which case, if you don't want to endure "a lifetime of discrimination and abuse at the hands of ignorant people" you should just have heterosexual sex, since it's no big deal to change your lifestyle. You expect fat people to do it so they don't have to deal with ignorant people such as yourself, so you must not think it's really that difficult. Good luck with your new lifestyle!

No. People who truly eat

No. People who truly eat healthy meals with appropriate proportion size and exercise regularly will lose weight and become not fat.

Being fat is not like being gay. As a formerly fat, now fit, lesbian, I am disgusted with your false equivalency and the false parallels drawn between the real systemic oppression of LGBT people and POC and not being able to fit your fat ass into an airplane seat.

Gross and shady and offensive as fuck. Fat het women need to step the fuck away rn.


... tell this to my 300+ lb. friend who walks ten miles to work every day and has been a whole foods vegetarian with a kale addiction for twenty years. I would love to be there when you do.

XXL vegan pizza is still calories

Oh please, being vegetarian doesn't mean eating healthy or low calories. 30 cans of coke or 5lbs of whole wheat pasta is still a fattening diet.
If you really don't take more calories than you burn and still gain weight, you are a miracle in physics.

sure but if your body isn't

sure but if your body isn't burning those calories efficiently, you're going to be heavier. Should someone with a healthy lifestyle have to walk 20 miles to work, instead, or walk around with an empty stomach most of the time to "compensate" for your sensibilities? Even their their diet and cardiovascular health are good?

Fatness alone does not cause cardiovascular issues, what the body does with that fat is what causes them, which is why even skinny people have heart attacks.

See here I was thinking that

See here I was thinking that feminism was about fighting for the rights of ALL women. But no, it seems by the comments on this article that it's only about protecting the special snowflakes. But no, EW FATTIES, GROSS!!

Last time I looked, women were still women regardless of the size or shape of their bodies, AND regardless of their level of health or personal choices.

If you're dismissing some women from feminism, for ANY reason... then you need to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and take off your feminist t-shirt.

Acceptance does not mean making false equivalencies

I truly do not wish to disparage or dismiss fat feminists. I see some people doing that here, which is despicable and unfair. That still does not mean fat phobia is the same as homophobia. Not every impediment is oppression and not all oppression is equal. Talk to some men's rights activists and you may see why calling everything unfair "oppression" can actually detract from fighting true oppression.

Nutrition science is very poorly understood, as demonstrated by the "calories in calories out" theory (which has been debunked by studies of indigenous groups who don't eat our poisonous Western diet) , but nutrition unequivocally plays a role. While many of us never will be "thin," that's not license to eat in excess as many of us do. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm saying it's nothing like being gay.

We should all accept ourselves as we are, provided we are striving to take care of ourselves as best we can. That duty does not prescribe a size or a goal weight, but it absolutely puts the onus on the individual to respect her/his body.

We Should All Be Considered Special Snowflakes

Thank you for putting into words what I was struggling to vocalize as I read through the comments. I think many people forget that just because they are oppressed in one area of their lives does not mean they are not privileged in another.

The real issue here is not whether or not being fat is a choice. The issue is do fat people deserve not to be berated and harassed for their bodies? The answer is yes.

Anyone who disagrees is approaching the question from their own position of elitism, varying as that may be.

So many of these comments show what is wrong with the feminist movement. We are still oppressing each other! This has GOT to stop for widespread lasting change to be made.

Equality for all!

Fine.....Then I guess I give up

So, based on your assertion, My fatness is genetic, rather than laziness, then I guess I'll give up going to the gym, and eating balanced and nutritious meals, and go back to what I was doing before. I am 265lbs now, I work out daily and do an enormous amount of cardio to lower my weight from 310 lbs, but I would rather be eating Pizza and Ice cream and chocolate, oh do I crave chocolate. You basically are telling me the it's not my fault and I can go back to eating all the crap I was.
Since I am in Canada, my health care is provided by the Province and I am not out of any pocket expense, this is great news so can resume being a fat pig and eat what I want, be lazy and let my fellow citizens care for me when I am no longer able to function as a productive member of society, you have told me my fatness is genetic, therefore I am not responsible for it in the least.
I also have Critical Illness insurance that will payout upon my first heart attack, based on your thoughtfulness I can eat as much as I want and plan for that big payout once I tax my heart and my cardiovascular system to the limit, I get free money (not really free I pay a pittance for it) around $80,000, :) thanks again, I look forward to being a drain on society because its not my fault, it's my Genetics.
Thank you :) I really hate the gym.


I'd like to say I read the whole article, and I really wanted to offer some points of discourse, but I had to stop when you claimed that fat stigma is what shortens lifespans of fat people, not being fat. Frankly that is the most ridiculous claim I have read in a very long time.

I'm not going to dignify this article with a long-winded response. Being obese is objectively, and <i>scientifically proven</i> to be bad for your bodily health. Fat acceptance is a noble cause, and one I fully support, but please - stick to the facts.

This article offers a really

This article offers a really good analysis of the difference between conclusions reached in scientific studies and claims made (by both sides) in the weight-health debate. It points to several studies that reached the conclusion that healthy eating and exercise make a significant difference to overall health and reduced mortality irrespective of weight loss, which often wasn't particularly correlated with either.

Oh hell no, I am not living

Oh hell no, I am not living my life in the closet so your fat ass can eat more doritos and whine about oppression. When you risk losing your job, your family, and everything for being fat, we can talk. When your friends get beat up or sexually assaulted for being fat, we can talk. When it's illegal for you to marry fat people, we can talk. When your religion publicly and proudly encourages its followers to ostracize you for being fat, we can talk. When you have to prove to everyone around you that you are truly fat and not just going through a phase, we can talk. When your local and national politicians circlejerk publicly around how they will discriminate against fat people, we can talk. When fat people have unusually high rates of drug abuse or STD transmission that no one talks about because they want to pretend they don't exist, we can talk. When fat people have been tortured and murdered for thousands of years throughout history across cultural and religious divides, we can talk.

Until then, get this bullshit out of here. Put down the goddamn McDonalds and read a fucking book or something.

Clearly you've never

Clearly you've never researched a history of fatness. Or how fat people have been tortured and murdered for being fat. Or how religions do in fact use doctrines of faith to damn fat people. Or how at one time marrying someone fat was a sign of wealth or fertility but is now considered a death sentence. It's easy to get all defensive and point the finger, but at least make sure you won't be made to look a fool. Educate your ignorant self first, then yeah we'll talk.

You refuted one of his

You refuted one of his points, and without adding a citation I might add. What about the rest of his arguments. Fat logic at its peak right here.

Really? Show me one goddamn

Really? Show me one goddamn religion that explicitly states that fat people should be murdered for being fat. What the hell is a "history of fatness" anyways? Marrying someone fat is a death sentence? Are you serious? Do you even know what a homosexual is?

I was unemployed until I went back in the closet for being gay. I had my mom tell me, at 15, that I couldn't like women because I wasn't raped as a child. I've been going to church twice a week now in case some invisible sky fairy will make me straight. I've had lesbian friends who were raped to make them straight. I know gay people who were beaten for being gay. I had a transgender friend who "went back" after he was disowned, sexually assaulted, and ostracized.

And oh, yes, marrying someone of the same gender can LITERALLY be a death sentence in some countries and areas, right, you can get KILLED just for being gay- forget even marrying someone of the same gender. Or maybe you won't get murdered, you'll just be abandoned by everyone around you and left with nothing.

And oh yeah, I forgot that "fat history" is equally important as "gay history." Maybe you guys need a month? Or will that be enough space, do you need a few?

But oh yeah, I forgot eating McBeetus twice a day is comparable to actual real life homophobia. Let me go "educate" myself, I forgot how fucking hard it is being fat. Let me check my Thin Gay Privilege® and stop oppressing the poor fat people of this world. Let's go give up on helping gay marriage or ensure that trans procedures are covered by insurance, we need to make sure the fatties are given equal ground.

I don't eat McDonald's, ever.

I don't eat McDonald's, ever. Or anything like it.

I don't get hired because of my body. I see the faces fall when the committee that had been thrilled by the resume and phone interview and work samples meets my body. I have friends who have been attacked because of their bodies, and many who were abused growing up because the monster in charge was ashamed of their bodies. Bullying fat kids is still, apparently, funny, because who gives a fuck about a fat fuck.

Gluttony is a deadly sin, and almost everyone assumes all fat people are gluttonous. Deadly sin means you're going to hell. A lot of folks take that as permission to treat folks poorly.

No, it's not exactly the same. But the point of the article is that in its underlying drive it's not all that different. I mean as a bi woman and a lifelong LGBT ally I am fucking thrilled to death that there have been some meaningful if still inadequate shifts wrt homophobia in this country. But make no mistake, the hate didn't leave. It came to me, to my lovely, healthy, beloved round body, and it is fucking vicious.

Reality Check Please!

First of all, Everyone should look up the definition of the term "queer." anything that deviates from the norm is queer. In first world ,heteronormative societies invested in whiteness, thin bodies are the norm and fat bodies are the other. however, these norm/other categories are social constructs enacted through very real ideologies and actions that discriminate against fat bodies. It can be argued that fat bodies are queer bodies. This article is problematic in many aspects, but instead of getting offended that your queer identity based on sexuality is compared to queer identity based on body size, you could see it as an opportunity to envision the potential that coalition building has with anyone who is othered. I would think gender/sexuality queer folks could apply a critical lens on the "choice/genetics"dichotomy to see that the imposition of normalized expectations hurts those who are othered and hinders a greater movement to effect change that respects all differences . Second, and specific to U.S. experience, people of color ARE disproportionately affected by multiple factors contributing to the prevalence of obesity in POC communities. POC, especially poor POC and women of color are expendable bodies. Food deserts are real, environmental racism is real, access to information that educates POC is limited, acculturation impacts choices POC make. Before you call something bullshit, do some research and explore your communities. Third, fat people have the right to not have their bodies policed by anyone. If you get caught up with believing that fat people are a drain on society, that your tax dollars are being gluttonously devoured by fat mouths, that you just don't should have to deal with fat people, then think again, think long and hard about the struggles that POC go through, that women go through, that LGBTQ communities go through-they are for the right to self-affirmation and autonomy. Stop perpetuating the policing of bodies.


You said this wonderfully: examining the the idea of queer, putting a check on the "choice/genetics dichotomy", your inclusion of factors that may/do disproportionately affect people of color, etc.

"Stop perpetuating the policing of bodies." - This is really the over all exigence of the piece. I always assumed that readers of Bitch and Bitch Media would not disagree about this.

Music Video sums up these conversations

My attention was just brought to a music video named "Stamina" by a group called Vitalic. It reminds me a lot of the dialog that is occurring on this article.
At first I was thinking that the producers were creating the message that excessive exercise and diet pills kill. Then I was disturbed to see that the diet pills have the band's logo on them. The message I got was "fat" bodies are grotesque and deserve to die unless they can overcome their assumed obsession with junk food. There is a comment floating in this feed that basically says this to (somewhere in the insurance debate). This video illustrates the harmful attitude that the article is trying to address.

*Warning some parts are graphic and all of it is offensive.

think you're projecting your

think you're projecting your own insecurities onto that video, i liked it & didn't find it offensive.

There are always different

There are always different readings on things and I would like to hear more about yours because I go back and forth on my own. I started off liking the video as well and then started to wonder about it. What is the necessity of having the heavy people be constructed as so grotesque (like the vomiting woman in the begging)? I think the video needs questioning and this article raises the types of questions that need to be addressed. As for projecting insecurities- I'm not convinced if you know I have any.

A woman of color on feminism, racism and alternate spiritualiti

<p>Interesting that this article has triggered such furious responses, positve and negative, from queer folk and others. Personally, I've had to fight to see my own fat as empowering. <strong> Always too large for a world that fetishizes and markets thinness, I've at long last begun to see that fat women, particularly, threaten global consumerist cultures that sell being thin.</strong> In India earlier, fat was valued as a class marker, now fat signals greediness or a lack of self-control. As you point out, such binaries are misleading and too easy. <strong> Thank you, thin Anna Mollow, for rejoicing in and respecting your fat woman partner!</strong> In my blog I write against these assumptions of 'fat = gross" You may find my this post relevant: <em> and this image by a friend:<em> I'm citing your article in my blog. </p>

Wow. The sheer display of

Wow. The sheer display of ignorance is almost unbelievable. The author makes claims that being obese has few to no long term negative side effects... Which is totally false. No sources for these "facts" are given, no peer reviewed scientific papers cited. Being obese is not a good thing. Its not something to be proud of. Being obese leads to a whole library full of complications, such as cardio-vascular disease, the biggest cause of death in the western world.
This author is full of crap. This article is full of lies. Being obese is not like being gay. Being obese is down to your diet, its dependant entirely on what you eat. To draw parallels is dangerous and stupid. An ideal example of "fat logic" at work here.

Fantastic stuff!

This is such a great article that I would love to have read it in one of the major magazines and/or newspapers. Correlation is not causation! Repeat before and after reading any statistics shoved to your throat by governments and their proxies.
Many thanks from UK.

Maybe it's me, but isn't the

Maybe it's me, but isn't the link between obese and queer people just a little bit far fetched?

Maybe it's just me, but isn't

Maybe it's just me, but isn't the link between obese and fat people just a little bit far fetched?

Fatness is caused by

Fatness is caused by genetics, not by the amount or type of food we eat. That's why you see all those fat Ethiopian villagers on 1500cal/day diets.

Oh, the poor helpless victims...

[THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN DELETED BECAUSE OF DISRESPECTFUL AND OFF-TOPIC NAME CALLING. Please <a href="">read Bitch's comments policy here!</a> -eds.]

That's malnutrition not fat

That's not fat, their bellies are distended from malnutrition.

Look up kwashiorkor for more info.

1. You do realize that

1. You do realize that starvation conditions are dangerous and much less healthy than even the overblown stats make fatness out to be?

2. So apparently all thin people are starving, and there are no thin people who never exercise and eat copious amounts of food, because apparently the human metabolism is exactly the same for everyone and if thin people ate/behaved like you think fat people do, they'd be fat?

3. People can be permanently stunted if they experience famine conditions in childhood (read about the Dutch "Hunger Winter"), which means that height can be altered downwards. Are you suggesting that's a good thing if it has the side effect of making people permanently thinner, as well? Do you know that people who experience long-term famine like the "Hunger Winter" tend to have larger babies?

Metabolisms and genetics is <i>hard</i> guise. Who wants to understand science when I can casually reference countries I've never been to, over-simply terrible conditions, and in the same breath suggest that mass starvation is preferable to being fat?

Check Your Privilege

I have to say I think it's ironic that in an article about fatness, queerness, and disability, so many people are being ableist in the argument that fatness is a choice. To the people making this argument: you're coming from the assumption that all bodies are the same and are thus capable of making the same choices and seeing the same results.

Check your privilege, folks. Not everyone has access to a healthy diet or the tools to help them lose weight/maintain a "healthy" weight. So before folks want to start arguing that fatness is a choice, do a little rhetorical listening and start thinking about why you think it's appropriate to wield your privilege and power over bodies you don't think deserve the same respect as your own.

Seeing some dangerous misconceptions

I see a whole lot of people assuming that obesity is either nature or nurture. The reality is that it is likely to be a combination of genetics, our environment, and our own bad habits in varying ratios from person to person. The solution isn't to attack fat people and accuse them of being "lazy", nor is it to simply accept that being fat is who you will always be.

The solution is to understand our bodies and adopt practices that will be beneficial for our unique health needs and wellbeing.

Eugenics and the Obesity War

The concept that everyone's body should look exactly the same, work the same, be the same size, essentially be homogenized into the Uber-Human is simply a modern translation of 19th and 20th century eugenics movements. The 21st century model of fitness and the Nazi ideal of the perfect man and women look exactly alike. However, re-packaging the perfect human--as a message about healthiness and moral rectitude--is certainly a lot more palatable to post WWII generations.

Why do so many people on this thread believe they can simply look at a body and know the persons personal habits, character, and even go so far as to use body size as an indicator of moral depravity? As a member of Western culture, each individual is already acclimated to pre-judging on so many external factors (skin color, facial features, hair texture) that extending such a practice to body size is a simple feat. Caring for someones "health" can be used as a veil to cover over many vile sentiments that would normally be condemned in other circumstances.

The point of the article isn't to equate homophobia with any other oppressive social norm, but to point out how the obsession with having a perfect (thin) body connects back to the a general system of white supremacy (which includes many isms) and advocating one way in which to approach the issue of fat (body) hatred.


Just lovely

If obesity is genetic, how do

If obesity is genetic, how do you explain the enormous rise in obesity over just one or two generations?

There has been a relatively

There has been a relatively paltry rise of on average 15 lbs per person since 1990, according to Gallup (ignore the "ideal weight" business, they also reference average actual weights, which is the salient number).

In that same time we've experienced an aging population (people tend to gain weight from age 30 to 65, then waste), a population who has quit smoking in droves (also correlated with weight gain), a population that's being dieting more furiously than ever before (also correlated with long term ratcheting weight gain), children born to parents who are dieting more than ever (a state which is correlated with having bigger children), and an overall two inches height gain since 1970 (which, naturally, means a heavier population).

I'm surprised we haven't gained more given the above factors, frankly. But none of those things contradict the hereditary nature of weight, which is pegged at 70 - 80% (close to the hereditary nature of height). Weight isn't absolutely hereditary like hair color, it's more like a set point around which we fluctuate, and that can be locally affected by famine, pregnancy, aging, smoking, etc.

Most of what you've heard about the 'obesity epidemic' has been propaganda, which itself has in turn made billions of dollars for diet companies and justified billions of outlays for new governmental agencies and taskforces.


You say that it hasn't been "proven" that fat people eat more calories, but honestly, denying this is denying the basic scientific principles of conservation of mass and energy. This is simple physics. A calorie is not a magical or mysterious thing. What we call a calorie is actually a kilocalorie, or the amount of energy required to raise one kilogram of water by one degree Celcius. Ingest more calories and you will gain more weight. It is very straight forward. Yes, there are different metabolic factors. But these are minimal at best.

I'm not denying that folks shouldn't be stigmatized or looked down upon for their weight. There are many social factors involved. But calories are simple physics.

No, my dear, it's not that

No, my dear, it's not that simple. Please do a little, just a little, just a *tiny* bit of research before thinsplaining.

thinsplaining? really?

Well, instead of insulting me and shutting me down, why don't you point out a credible scientific source which counters what I've said?

Why don't you just look

Why don't you just look around? That's plenty of skinny kids eating pizza, then candy bars, then chips, then fries, then going to McDs in one day. And they sit on their on ass all day and dont gain a single pound. While there is "fat" kids eating a salad and that's it.. all day. Then they run outside, do sit ups, crunches, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc. And they stay bigish. I'm not going to say they stay big big but they still remain pretty big. Just take a look around next time you're out to eat or just around.

Sorry, but "looking around"

Sorry, but "looking around" proves nothing. It's not a credible scientific source. Calories in/ calories out. I haven't found anything to disprove it yet. If there is a scientific source that does disprove it, then let it be known.

Sure, but some people's

Sure, but some people's bodies burn 2,000 calories a day just operating their organs and walking to the bathroom, others burn far fewer on the basics of life. Other people's bodies don't process the calories that come efficiently, meaning more calories don't even NEED to be burned. This is why calories "in" calories "out" isn't that simple. Yes, simply, calories "in" calories "out" but what constitutes in and out in different bodies are vastly different things.

For example: My sister's father was a tall, skinny man. Like, unhealthily skinny according to doctors. He was prescribed weight gain shakes that were 800 calories apiece. He went through a large can every couple days. Every day for lunch he ate 4 big macs, a large fries and a coke or a similar equivalent. I shit you not, dude had like NO body fat. Obviously, that's an extreme, but thinking that these extremes exist, and nothing on a scale in between doesn't is absurd.


Beautiful article. Well done. It's quite disheartening that these issues are still issues. Thank you for being a rational voice.

Fantastic article! And it

Fantastic article! And it voices something I've been noticing for a while but never voiced. Thank you!

Fabulous article!

Fabulous article!

Wow, great article! Let's choose to eat, not diet!

I think what Anna Mollow is trying to challenge here is that very notion that body size is a choice, which really ends up blaming fat people for being fat. There are so many factors of health, one of which being stress. I think the article is pointing to the fact that being fat in a fatphobic world is perhaps the cause of worse health/life outcomes, just like being queer in a homophobic world (insert here a diagram on systemic oppression). Taking a stand against fat oppression means first making a choice which we can make everyday, which is to not diet and just eat. How many of us feel okay about skipping meals? What does that do to our stress levels and health? Unlearning all that we have been taught about fat is difficult and should only be done on a full belly! So byebye for now, I've got to go eat dinner! :)

Does This Article Make Me Look Fat?

I am genetically thin, but I can easily see that fat is a feminist issue that affects me. As my body has changed over the years to become slightly less thin--partly from aging (I'm 40) and partly from spending certain periods of time on medication that led me to gain weight (anti-depressants in my late 20s, fertility drugs in my very late 30s)--I have been painfully aware of every minor fluctuation in my weight and body shape. What a relief it was to decide to stop monitoring those changes so closely about a year and a half ago. Thinking to myself, This does not have to matter *so much* to me, not only brought feminist relief (i.e., I don't have to be what the patriarchy wants) but also brought queer relief (i.e., I don't have to be attractive in a conventional heteronormative way). The negative (and frequently vicious) responses to Anna Mollow's article completely overlook the way her queer feminist treatment of fatphobia relates to the lives of thin women who live in fear of that stigma and police our bodies from every angle, dreading each new (or imagined) jiggle. The idea that fatphobia is a problem of interest only to fat people is like suggesting that racism is a problem of interest only to people of color, or that sexism is a problem that only affects women, or that heterosexism only constrains the lives of LGBTQ people. Anti-fat bias restricts the well being of all people (it hurts us at every size).

I am so appalled at the level

I am so appalled at the level of ignorance expressed in the comments to this really thoughtful article by Anna Mollow. It appears to me that fat phobia should be our focus rather than fat people. Whether its queer bodies, fat bodies, disabled bodies, black bodies, trans bodies, cis bodies........... The issue is not whether we are born this way or become this way or stay this way that gives us some precedence in terms of rights, respect, and love. The issue is why we have this appalling impulse to hate and shame those who are different from us. As several posts have pointed out... Poverty enables obesity not lessens it. In low income neighborhoods in the US access to cheap and heathy prepared food is almost impossible to get. Physical and Emotional stress also have a detrimental role in shaping our well being, . Instead of shaming - why can we not collectively struggle for each one's self realization of their own well being- what makes you have a Happy productive life keeps me happy too! Thank you Anna Mollow for brilliantly drawing important connections across our differences !

Thank you

I keep trying to say this. You said it well. Self-acceptance of one's self is most important and nearly impossible to do if the whole world seems to reject you.

So you want peer-reviewed studies?

People on this thread keep complaining about the author's supposed failure to site peer-reviewed scientific studies to support her arguments. Folks this is Bitch magazine, not JAMA! The author did in fact provide two very important sources. Gina Kolata's Rethinking Thin and Paul Campos's The Diet Myth are filled with analyses of hundreds of major peer-reviewed scientific studies concerning the relationship between body size and health. Each of these studies is footnoted, so you can look up all of these studies and read them for yourself if you want. If you read these books,you will learn that: many highly respected "obesity" researchers do not believe that being fat is a serious health risk; almost all researchers agree that permanent, substantial weight loss is virtually impossible; and the "obesity epidemic" is propaganda spread by "researchers" with a direct financial investment in supporting 'fat is bad' theories. Kolata is a science reporter for the New York Times. Both of these writers have spent over a decade reading every study there is about "obesity." Read their books, and then we can talk


"Risks associated with being “morbidly obese” are no greater than that of being male, and “overweight” people live longer than people of “normal” weight."

This sentence, among with many other claims in this post, is terribly unfounded. Risks associated with obesity are severe and all but proven in the scientific community. In fact, being "morbidly" obese by definition indicates that there is a potentially fatal health concern. Set aside the author's position that being fat should equate to homosexuality in the 60s, which is overtly offensive and attempts to compare two very different facets of life, there are many claims made in this article that simply aren't true. Do some research if you don't believe me. I rarely choose to post comments anywhere on the internet, but the level of shameless indifference (or ignorance, haven't decided) presented in this article was fairly appalling to me.

Actually, you're the one

Actually you're the one who is ignorant. If you read the books that the author references, you will learn something new!
And you know, Bitch magazine does have fact checkers. They do not print made up information!

So sad to see so much hate here

I'm a fat, queer woman. If I look back and assess which attribute has garnered the most vitriolic hatred and discrimination aimed my way, it is fatness, hands down. No contest. Followed by sexism, with sex-partner choice a distant 3rd.

As far as choice goes, it's a heck of a lot easier for me to "choose" to have sex with men than to "choose" to drop a size. Sleeping with men doesn't make me heterosexual, though. Any more than eating less than 1,000 calories a day will make me thin. No matter how long or pervasively I engage in either activity.

It's not ok for people who aren't queer to say it's not a choice. Why is it ok for so many of my queer brothers and sisters to say fatness is? And with such open, flagrant, outright hostility?

If fatness were a choice, there wouldn't be any fat people. Truly. Read through the comments and think what it must be like to be the object of all that horrible vitriol. Who would *choose* to be openly, publicly, reviled and hated at this level?

I am ashamed of queers whom, having achieved enormous gains over the last 20-30 years, feel free to spew self-righteous hate about "choice" toward other disenfranchised groups now that they "have theirs". Your memories are short. Shame on you.

Thanks for your comment

You said it better than I did.

Some good points, but some irresponsible ones as well...

For the great majority of individuals, being overweight is the simple result of consuming more calories than the body requires and/or not consuming the appropriate foods—that’s biology, that’s science, that’s indisputable fact. Some people have incredibly fast metabolisms and while others do not, and everyone’s metabolism decreases slightly with age. To suggest that we are not experiencing an obesity epidemic or problem is disingenuous and blatantly ignorant of the data that indicate otherwise. (If you don’t believe me look at old pictures of people at public gatherings in the 60s and 70s and you do not see as many overweight people as you do today… better yet, LOOK AT THE DATA!) And I agree with the point that overweight individuals—any group of individuals for that matter, regardless of color, orientation, etc.—often are, although should not be, the target of much criticism. Nevertheless, the argument is tenuous, at times, and, at others, grossly inaccurate. For example, the author suggests that “Risks associated with being ‘morbidly obese’ are no greater than that of being male, and ‘overweight’ people live longer than people of ‘normal’ weight.” This is not entirely true and reflects an inaccurate interpretation of the data. The data show that people on the “heavier” end of the NORMAL range for BMI (according to the WHO’s definition of “normal”) are those that have the lowest risk of death. The notion that the “morbidly obese” are of no greater risk of dying from complications brought about as a result of being “morbidly obese” is not only poppycock, but it discounts the other findings of the meta-analysis done by the American Medical Association, the one that too many people are citing these days without having read or understood the conclusions it purports. In short, the study shows that, as England’s NHS state’s it, “the increase in life expectancy in people who were overweight or ‘mildly’ obese was modest – they were only 6% less likely to have died by the end of the study period than those of a healthy weight.” Arguably the study shows there are problems with the current BMI definitions. Furthermore, again citing the NHS, “The researchers concluded that, relative to normal weight: ‘both obesity (all grades) and grades 2 and 3 obesity were associated with SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER ALL-CAUSE MORTALITY. Grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality’” (emphasis added). So, only a small fraction of people—ONLY 6% of those who are mildly overweight—might live longer. Of course, and the study does not cover this, what of the quality of life for those individuals? I’d much rather be thin and die a few years earlier AND be able to reach down and tie my shoes from standing when I’m old than be less mobile. There is also a further problem with the data: very healthy individuals who are muscular frequently have a BMI that places them in the overweight category (muscle weighs more than fat). The study did not account for this, so in the meta-analysis of the 97 studies that tracked stats on about 3 million people, how many of those mildly overweight people were actually gym rats? No one knows, so you have to be careful with that 6% statistic. (And remember, all together all grades of obesity are “associated with significantly higher all-cause mortality.” This is the statistic that should be cited by the media… BMI is only a calculation of a person’s weight to height ratio. It tells nothing about a person’s diet, exercise, fat versus muscle mass, etc.)

The author writes, “Conservatives blame the media-hyped ‘epidemic of obesity’ on failures of individual will, while liberals point to McDonald’s, high-calorie school lunches, and sedentary jobs. But it’s unlikely that any of these factors is making us fat. After all, thin people watch television and eat fast food, too, and fat people have never been proven to consume more calories, or more ‘junk food,’ than others.” Really? REALLY?? Call me a fatphobe, but this sounds to me like a justification for eating high-calorie, low-quality foods and not exercising. I am in shape precisely because I exercise and I eat good foods (legumes, fruits, veggies, and very little junk food). In my opinion, if someone is going on a diet or an exercise program to lose weight, they are going about it in a way that will not lead to success. One’s diet is what one eats every day of the year. The reason 95%, the number cited in the article, of people fail at weight loss is because they treat diet as something temporary. It’s not. If you want to be healthy you need to eat and exercise healthily over the course of your entire lifetime. Now, if one happens to have an extremely slow metabolism, well, that poses the additional issue that that person just can’t eat as much as the rest of us, unless of course those consumed calories are offset with exercise.

“Americans are living longer than ever before.” Yes, but we don’t live as long as those in other cultures who, coincidentally, don’t have the health problems and obesity problems that we have…

Finally, on the similarities between fatphobia and homophobia. Like many other us/them dichotomies in society, I concede that that fatphobia intersects with many other phobias (race, gender, orientation, etc.), and I applaud the author’s concern regarding the demographics that are most affected by obesity—more attention must be placed on the inequalities and injustices of our society. However, much of the argument promotes irresponsible (“Would I continue to adhere to my dietary restrictions if I knew they would make me both healthier and 50 pounds fatter?”—seriously?!) interpretations of the conclusions of the AMA’s meta-analysis. I think we (minoritarian individuals) need to be smarter than this in our arguments.

Wonderful in-depth response

Wonderful in-depth response which cites both the positive intersectional approach and the misinterpretation of medical research. I wish more people would read this comment.

Evidence of health risks

To address some of the comments asserting that scientific evidence doesn't support a connection between obesity and health problems: While there are certain studies or books which say otherwise, the body of scientific work surrounding the issue as a whole suggests pretty unequivocally that for most people a BMI above 30 (and certainly above 40) increases your risk for a number of health outcomes.
(anorexia is pretty terrible for you too)

This obviously isn't to say that stigma or discrimination against obese individuals is in any way justified, and has no bearing on the argument about whether obese people are to blame for being overweight. But to suggest that being obese is a healthy condition for the vast majority of people, based on our current knowledge, is incorrect.

Stop judging

What I get out of this comments thread is that people should just stop judging other people and shaming people for imagined wrong-doing. It's obvious from the most vehement detractors to this article that they need to work on their empathy skills. You cannot assume specifics about a person's life based on what they look like, whether they be thin or fat. You would most likely be wrong because you don't live their life. The anger in these comments and the lack of empathy toward another sidelined group of people in this country is appalling. It doesn't matter how or why people are fat. What matters is how the rest of this country treats them and discriminates against them. The reason homophobia and fatphobia are linked is in the way portions of our society respond to them, not how or why they are the way they are. Yes, being kind, accepting, and non-judgmental will go much farther than hating, shaming, and discriminating. Don't we all know this already. Please, haters, grow up already!

Love this, I have been a fat

Love this, I have been a fat girl all of my adult life and it has only been recently that I have discovered the HAES movement and fat acceptance. It has been life changing, thankyou to our thin friends like the author for their support.

Haters prove the point

<p>For anyone who doubts whether feminist community contains well-defended pockets of fat hate, this comments section makes it obvious the answer is YES!</p><p>Anyone who cares about an intersectional analysis of oppressions needs to develop consciousness of weight-based oppression, at the very least because fat hate provides a ton of cover for racism, classism, homophobia, ableism, sexism, healthism, and more.</p><p>Feminism is fundamental for me, but I only seek out feminist spaces that are also explicitly fat political. The editorial content at Bitch has always been a delightful contrast to so much fat-negative feminist content.</p><p>I hope people of all sizes who seek to celebrate weight diversity will explore fat pride community, fat studies scholarship, and the Health At Every Size® approach.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Hate messages, not health messages

It just is not possible to hate a group of people for our own good. Weight prejudice is involved in the vast majority of research published on weight and health. The information sources are deeply biased, and Health At Every Size® experts who seek to offer a data-based critique face biased gatekeepers. Fearmongering about fat is more stereotype than science. Public health officials have learned they can get funding by fingerpointing at fat people. Americans will waste $65 billion this year on weight-loss products. With that money we could feed the hungry and food-insecure people, send nearly everyone through a year of college at a state school (including room, board, tuition, travel, and expenses), or build Habitat for Humanity houses for all the homeless people. Our society is paying an overwhelming price for fat hate and the thin-only fantasy world. When the Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014, its provision for wellness programs will institutionalize weight-based penalties for fat people. People who claim to care about the health of fat people...go lobby against the intense and pervasive weight bias in medical care! Show some skepticism about the prejudices inherent in your beliefs about health.

A Logical Question

Some criticize the fat-acceptance movement because they think it will cause people to become fatter. At the same time, all the fat-shaming that's gone on with ever-increasing intensity for the last fifty or sixty years has not made the population any more slender. In the light of the failure of fat-shaming to make people thin, why assume that fat acceptance will make them fat?

Just about the only thing I

Just about the only thing I agree with here is that fat-shaming is cruel. And that I wish that somebody had fat-shamed me during my thirties, when I ballooned into obesity due to a number of factors that were entirely within my control. Having had a heart attack, suffered from depressions and a weight-related back problem, and contracted Type II diabetes as a result of my own misplaced priorities, and having clawed my weight back into a much healthier range through diet and exercise, all I can say to the author is that she's welcome to rationalize, self-justify, and cherry pick all the dodgy studies she wants for herself, but trying to spread that deadly mess onto others is irresponsible at best.

Having been there and then recovered, I know what it's like to be fat. And I know what it's like to run ten kilometers in a hour. I know what it's like to be able to do chin-ups. I know what it's like to commute by bicycle. I know how nice it is to be fit. I'm not going back; my health and quality of life has improved immensely since I decided to fix my weight problem that seeing people try to normalize my previous condition that I really have to mind my choice of words.

Fat-shaming? Not something I'll ever do. But fat acceptance activist shaming? Hm...

Fat is a pain, dieting stupid, but healthy is great

Found this. Haven't read a feminist assessment of body size for

Okay I am straight and was assaulted as being too fat when young I wasn't, but thought I was, since I was full grown adult size at 11-13 among figure-less peers), so I know how others' attitudes can ravage self confidence and joy in life. I would like to be slimmer - because - at 66 - being lighter makes it easier to move, makes clothing feel less constricting, makes heat less aggravating. I haven't dieted for - maybe about 15 - 20 years, and as a result, stayed about the same weight ( lost a little). I threw out the scale - I do not need it to tell how I feel. I could not stand the monitoring of food intake and weight fluctuations - time consuming and BORING and self involved. And I learned that dieting itself led to weight increase... I eliminated the habit of making moral judgments about food - mostly

All that said this is tricky. I do not think being obese is good. Overweight - it depends on you. I reject all the old crap about psychological reasons for overeating - hell, no one would choose to create an image that draws bullets! - but i do think that we - make that I - do eat to soothe myself when I feel bad. And I do think that the carbs that work so well for that are addictive, in a way. Studies on the brain indicate that some foods stimulate more cravings. At least two technically obese friends eat healthy food, not in excess, and have done so for years. But I am sure they put their bodies through repeated starvation diets early on that created wacked out metabolisms.

They also both have some issues that are not caused by obesity but definitely made more difficult. Arthritis and balance problems and more. Once I worked with a woman who was somewhere over 400 lbs. she was a lovely intelligent person.... who was exhausted by a short stair climb, the short walk to a car. Her job was not a desk job. Her weight was an albatross. Her teenage daughter was fat - her description. She was distressed that she knew no way to save her daughter from following literally in her footsteps.

You gave an average American weight gain of 15 lbs since 1990. I don't think that an average tells anything useful.
You really need medians and some slicing up of the population by ages, just to start with, in order to ferret out changes. I have seen a lot of younger people who are way too heavy for their ages and this tends to restrict their involvement in activities - because they feel slow or awkward, and because they fear being laughed at.

As we age, being somewhat "overweight" is correlated with living longer. i also know from spending time in the last few years visiting in nursing homes that being grossly overweight and dependent on assistance is not something you want for yourself in your last years.

There ARE health problems connected to being overweight/obese. There are health problems a connected to being stick thin as well. Nutrition is a serious concern for people of all weights, so - score one for Michelle for emphasizing good eating as a core part of improved health. This is not part of a scheme to make people feel 'less than --'

I think for all women, my wish would be that we find ways to eat well, enjoy what we eat, and move freely because we are doing what makes us feel better. The hardest part is in tuning out cruel and demeaning observations - you cannot control other people's thoughts and judgments, you can only work on yourself- learning to trust and honor yourself . [ This doesn't mean I wouldn't address this sort of bullying in schools]

Remember the concept of the "male -identified woman?" It had to do with accepting a patriarchal society's concepts of identity and role. Well this - being fat, being queer - is about how you define yourself as well. It can't be done solely as a rebellion against outside prejudices - that's hollow. Just because someone calls you "fat" as a pejorative doesn't turn being "fat" into being good for you. In someways, seeing "fat" as a category is giving power to others to define you. You can reject this as a criteria for measuring your value, period. Weight is a health and fitness issue, it is not a moral one.

You don't know me

You don't know me, you don't know my heath history you don't know my family. You don't know my partner(s). You don't know what my diet is. You don't know what my job is, or what my activity level is. You don't know who I hang out with, or if I went to school. So you don't know my work ethic. You don't know my history. You don't even know how much money I get in food stamps. You don't know if I suffer from disabilities, or if I am being ostracized in other ways.

But because I'm 250 lbs, ya'll think you do.

You guys make me sick.

I do know

You're right, we don't know you. But we do know that fat isn't a magical substance that self replicates. Fat is matter, matter cannot be created or destroyed. This is a fact. If you gain weight, it's because you take in more than you can burn. If you are fat, you take in more than you burn. Ie) You eat too much for the activity level you're at. Genetic factors; disabilities; work environments, none of these change the laws of physics. If you're overweight, than we KNOW that you eat more than you burn. If you're a special case, and you would like to reveal your findings and magical body which defies the physical laws of the universe, please contact your nearest accredited university and inform them, because clearly you must be a wizard.

Shame on all of you

Why don't you guys grown up and stop name calling. You should have learned not to make fun of the fat kid in elementary school. Shame of all of you.

If body size is a genetic thing

I am an old man, and when I was young I never saw any obese people except in the travelling circus, when they came to town once a year. There were NO obese children in my schools right through college in the 60s. Look at images of people at Woodstock in 1969, and you won't see any obese people in those photos. Is that no obesity back then because of "genetics?"

large women aren't allowed to have their sexuality

Thanks for the article. I read the comments here from the fatphobic and health concern trolls. While it is true that heavy over weight is a health problem for some, there is an intersection between queer rights and large women. If you are a large woman, and that is officially anything above size 10 in some quarters (remember the fat freakout that fat Lena Dunham would rate sex with a doctor? Fictional sex, mind you).
It is practically illegal for large women to be allowed to have their sexuality in public and what is called fat ranges as low as a size 10 or 12. We have a problem, folks. Not to mention that thing were places that claim how hard it is to hire people will not hire large women..I'm looking at you google, where if you are a woman with a masters in cs never the less are a size 16...forget it.

My partner gained a LOT of

My partner gained a LOT of weight from the age of 9 onwards because her adopted dad (grandfather) molested her hundreds of times until the age of 16 or 17. Why would she be so fat? How dare she be so lazy! Well, for your information, she gained so much weight because her father said that fat women were unattractive (as most men tend to claim, thanks to media making fat women look like slobs and psychos). So she would gain a ton of weight over time. Her mother (grandmother) would get on her case about being fat, she would purge herself (yes she became bulimic over this shit), and then her dad would molest her some more because she lost weight, so she would gain it back.

The comments on this thread are some of the most absolutely disgusting things I've had the misfortune of reading in a long time. Most of the fatphobic remarks are coming from men. Hey, men, thanks for confirming why I'm a lesbian. I'd hate to be judged every time I ate something in front of you.

That said, on the topic of my girlfriend (whose weight stems from years of traumatic abuse) had actually developed thyroid problems as a result of her weight. Not to mention PCOS (which blew out a Fallopian tube), Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, and she lost her gallbladder too. The gallbladder. You know, that thing that filters fat? So over the course of about 10-15 years, her body has made it so that its VERY difficult for her to lose the weight even though losing the weight would help her issues.

And I say, I'd love to see some of the heartless commenters here look my wife-to-be in the face and tell her she deserves her fate because she's a lazy pig. I'd love to see any of you horrible people passing judgements live with her and have empathy, compassion, and patience. Solving her weight problem isn't just as simple as "go on a diet and exercise, you pig." It goes MUCH deeper than that because the minute she starts losing weight, she feels like a target again even though her dad is long since out of the picture.

Maybe before you judge somebody, you open up your narrow mind and figure out WHY they might do something like get so big in the first place.

Oh, but since rape and body image issues are overwhelmingly women's issues, nobody needs to give a damn, right?

Oh, the r-card! The feminist

Oh, the r-card! The feminist knee-jerk topic of choice! I have a theory that any self-identified feminist will compare just about anything to r*pe (I prefer the term sa or sexual assault, but it doesn't have the knee-jerk triggering quality of the word r*pe which is why feminists use it all the time). As a survivor, fuck you for being a typical feminist asshole by dragging r*pe into an argument about fat.

Sexual assault is NOT a "women's issue" but happens to men women and children and yes even republicans, conservatives and bigots. But for most feminists it's just a word they use to support any number of feminist talking points, and they are happy to boost their arguments about in their petty shit throwing matches with their "enemies" by crying that they are doing it for the r*ape victims. Bullshit. Quit exploiting rape survivors to argue about fat acceptance - those two topics aren't even in the same ballpark.

Also, your partners health

Also, your partners health and molestation issues are irrelevant to the topic and simply a bunch of fussy lesbian drama.

Sorry to hear about your

Sorry to hear about your girlfriend and all, but at the end of the day. Like I said in my other comments, fat is matter, matter is not magical, matter is gained by adding matter. Hormone problems, genetics, ect. ect. ect. aside, matter doesn't self replicate. If you gain weight, it's because you've taken in more calories than you can burn. Loosing your gallbladder does not change that, especially since the gallbladder does not "filter fat". It filters nothing, it stores bile which it then secrets into the small intestine. Theoretically the loss of her gallbladder would actually make her loose weight being that bile breaks down lipids (fats) allowing them to be used. Without bile, or high enough amounts of it, many of the lipids one eats would simply pass through the body unused. It's not psychologically healthy to use stuff like this as a crutch or excuse for weight gain because it only cripples and dis-empowers you in the end.

It sounds like her weight issues are almost only psychological. I understand that that presents it's own issues, however, it is something to be worked through, not leaned on. I understand it is more complicated in this case than "eat better, and work out". However, it's not like eating better and working out should be pushed aside just because of emotional scars, or that they wouldn't help. Without physical health, we can never expect to heal ourselves mentally as so many hormones are dictated by their dependence on a healthy body, and the mind is in turn dictated by those hormones. Understanding this instead of just labeling everything as "fatphobia" is step #1. Her case is terrible, however, most people don't have these mental scars to heal. Many people are just simply taking in more calories than they burn, then making excuses for it at the end of the day.


the ridiculousness of the article is only surpassed by the comments. seeing people who would otherwise be rabid sisters-in-arms turn on each other as they deal with the inner conflict of deciding whether they fall on the side of the inarguable benefits of avoiding obesity or extending their "tolerance at all cost" worldview to something as ridiculous as fat activism

Interesting Article

Hi, Anna!

Good article, well-expressed. I plowed through a large portion of the comments thread and was dismayed by the number of ignorant comments which seemed to indicate that people hadn't read or hadn't understood your whole article.

Some of the contentious discussion could perhaps have been avoided if you'd emphasized more strongly the fact that people's weight can indeed be influenced by lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. Of course, that's implied in your reference to the secondary correlations that cause people to confuse the negative effects of bad diet and lack of exercise with presumed negative effects of obesity. Anyhow, your readers' unclarity on this resulted in a polarized discussion wherein some seemed to be saying that fatness is ENTIRELY genetic while others seemed to be saying that it's ENTIRELY behavioral--both inaccurate, extremist positions (though either could be true in a specific case, I suppose).

But the part of your article that really pushed my buttons is near the end where you say "...notice that fat folks are as beautiful and sexy as anyone else. If previously you have ruled out fat people as potential sexual partners, rule them back in, and rule out fatphobes instead." This seems to presuppose that we can choose what body types appeal to us sexually. That may possibly be true for you, at least to some degree, but it's not true for me and many others. I'd LOVE to be able to offer physical affection to people based on their deservingness without regard for their looks (and I reckon my sex life would be better if others could too!), but unfortunately my hormones dictate otherwise. My best friend is an obese woman who used to have a crush on me, but I was (and am) simply unable to muster any sexual interest in her at all, though we're extremely compatible otherwise. Willy-nilly, through no choice of my own, I'm attracted to thin women, and not at all to fat ones. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING I HAVE ANY CHOICE ABOUT any more than I could choose my sexual orientation. I would never ask a woman to compromise her health for me, and in fact, when I had a girlfriend with anorexic tendencies I urged her to eat more. My sexual/aesthetic preference is NOT a negative judgment on fat people (of which I am one nowadays), any more than my inability to like the taste of asparagus is a negative judgment on it. For you or anyone to enjoin me (and those like me in this respect, which probably includes most people) to make ourselves, through force of will, start being attracted to this or that type of body is not a constructive approach. It seems to subtly pathologize us for our preferences, and will probably result in some people feeling guilty for their preferences, being in denial of them, and/or lying about them for the sake of political correctness.

So I don't support you in prescribing "correct" sexual preferences but, as always, I do support you in educating people about the health realities regarding fatness and in opposing discrimination and abuse against fat folks.


As a morbidly obese LGBTQ ally, I was fully expecting to adore this article, not be irritated by it. Yet irritated I was. Mollow does a tremendous disservice to both the queer community and fat people by conflating society's response to the two groups.

Suggestions that "fat people have never been proven to consume more calories...than others", or that "it's unlikely" that ingesting fast foods and working sedentary jobs are contributing to obesity are reflective of a denial that is at best laughable and at worst harmful to those who might believe them. If slim people also eat greasy McDonalds and have office jobs while staying slim, it is usually because they also consume fewer calories overall and hit the gym with greater frequency. I understand that some obese people have hormonal/genetic conditions that dictate their body size, but to suggest that it is almost a roll of the genetic dice for the majority of people whether they will be slim or obese is absurd.

As for comparing the "Let's Move" campaign to conversion therapy, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Getting children of all sizes and shapes to keep active and maintain both physical and mental health is an initiative about as philosophically far from shaming a specific segment of the population about its sexual orientation as promoting accessible education for all is from targeting First Nations people to abandon their cultures and ways of life to adapt to colonial society.

Mollow's argument would be much more compelling if she would admit that some lifestyle choices contribute to excess weight for some people in some cases, and that there actually are some concerns associated with being (especially tremendously) overweight.

Sources please?

Can we please get links to the sources from which the author worked? I'd love to see these studies so that I can judge for myself the validity of (the scientific basis) of this article.

Reality check

The ignorance in this article, and in the comments below is breathtaking. The idea that being overweight is somehow not a choice, and should be compared to homosexuality, or ethnicity in terms of not being able to challenge their validity as a life style is a joke. Furthermore, the idea that the health risks associated with being overweight are simply "beliefs and opinions" held by bribed health care systems is bull.

Fat =/= genes alone. Sorry, but if you've ever taken a university level genetics course you would know that this article is BS. Whether it hurts people's feeling or not does not change the fact that matter is matter. You cannot create matter out of nothing. Fat is there because people PUT it there. Illness or not, pounds won't accumulate without food there to provide that matter. You gain weight when you intake more calories than your body can burn. The body isn't magical. If you're fat, it's because you eat too much, your body can't burn it, and the excess gets stored, and that is a FACT. This is common sense, but reading these comment you'd think that half the people seem to think that fat is some magical self replicating substance, and as such should not be held accountable for it's presence on the body. Stop lying to yourselves, because you're killing yourselves and probably your children in the end.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you aren't born obese, you make yourself obese. Obese people should have to pay more premiums if their illness is linked to their weight in the same way that smokers should have to because it's self inflicted. Tattoo removal service isn't covered at all, and that was a choice. As a health care professional, I can tell you that obese people don't get sub par care, they get care and usually refuse to follow it. Your knees hurt? Well we looked at them, and yes, it's just because you're fat, loose weight. High BP? You're fat, loose weight. Sore back? You're fat, loose weight. Does this sound mean to you? Reality check, that's the cause of your problem. Your hand hurts? Stop slamming it in the car door. It's almost like people think that health care professionals aren't obligated to have to clear red flags before we move onto the simplest solutions, like a person just being fat. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have to clear through a bunch of lab work, and other tests to find out they're all clear, and yes, the person is just fat? It's a waste of time and money, ESPECIALLY when said person sits down and LIES to your face about their lifestyle, and eating habits. You have no idea why you can't loose weight? How about that family sized pack of M&M's sitting in your purse.

Why should people have to front the bill for people like this? There is a reason why heavy people loose weight in the hospital when they're sick. It's not because the food is bad, it's because the food isn't deep fried, and in family sized portions. Sick or not, your body cannot defy physics by creating matter out of nothing. Being ill still won't "make" you gain weight. Putting food in your mouth, and not burning it off does. The very idea that this is being compared to homophobia, or racism is ridiculous, and that fact that there are no real statistics linked here to prove any of the insane statements about how being obese is apparently healthy just furthers that. Have you ever had to sit through a patient being told that they're loosing their feet because of their diabetes? Being told that they are loosing their body parts because their blood is like maple syrup because they wouldn't stop drinking Pepsi even though they were told they developed diabetes? It's horrible. And while yes, correlation does not prove causation, that boils down to the fact that a good student of science will never say anything is 100% certain, even if it's the case where Jerry happened to break his nose after smashing it into a wall. Or Crystal got type 2 diabetes from eating family sized fast food every day, and sitting around doing nothing.

Obesity is a lifestyle CHOICE as much as getting a tattoo. It's something you have to ACTIVELY and CONSISTENTLY do to yourself. Therefore it is nothing like sexual preference, gender or ethnicity. Please, please don't let this person brainwash you into making excuses for yourself, and allowing yourself to slide down this slippery slope. Obesity kills, it robs you of your energy, happiness and life. It limits you in what you can do, and shortens our already short time on this world. Stop making excuses and trying to self justify by convincing yourself this is some sort of conspiracy against you. It's not. Think about it, obesity kills animals. Drug companies don't make money on fat dogs, yet any vet would tell you if your dog needs to loose weight. We're all animals, and being too thin, or too fat, or any extreme that takes away from the body's natural form is unhealthy.

When did feminist turn so hateful?

Reading these comments has made me lose a lot of faith in the feminist ability to ban together and demand equality for all people. I am saddened and sickened that it has turned into a "fat people choose to be fat" debate instead of an issue about recognizing the right that each person has to be treated with fairness and respect.

Close but not quite

Firstly, I have to say that as with much that has been written around "fat acceptance", I agree with a lot of what is in this article. It goes without saying that our society has an unhealthy obsession with body image, pressuring even those who have healthy bodies to get better abs and thicker arms. And it is true that much of this stems from vested interests in the media, health, and pharmaceutical industries. While I don't believe that there is a conscious conspiracy behind this, there is certainly an alignment of interests that comes together.

However (and this is where the backlash will begin...), I don't believe that being overweight can be compared to homosexuality or race. Or let me rephrase that: it can in terms of the discrimination, but not in terms of its roots. As the divergent and interesting cases posted here show, there is no "root cause" of being "overweight", and there is no necessary, pre-determined outcome to being "overweight". Of course, some people are naturally bigger than others, and can do nothing about it and shouldn't be expected to. Many of these people live long, healthy, active, and happy lives. Other people do make themselves overweight by eating poor foods and not exercising enough (to argue that this is never the case is absurd). Many people suffer terrible health problems because of this. And of course genes play a role as well - some people can eat McDonalds every day and sit on their asses all the time and still fit into an S. Looking at only statistics or only individual cases will never give a true overall picture. Indeed, the very goal of building an "overall picture" of weight and its causes and impacts is probably a false one. The reality is much too complex and fragmented.

My point is that this article falls into the same trap as most of the "anti-fat" articles going around: it assumes that there is a "one-size-fits-all" (if you will....) approach to weight and obesity. To argue that all overweight people are personally responsible for their weight and that their weight will inevitably lead to an early death (probably alone and poor) is insulting, but to argue that it is never in people's hands and will never constitute a health problem and that all health problems we associate with weight are made up by the mad scientists and evil corporations is dangerous and simplistic. This is why comparisons between weight and sexuality are absurd.

It is now accepted by anyone with a brain that homosexuality is not a choice, is not a disease, or a sin, and now it's time for us all to move on to more important things (and of course I applaud the LGBT community in their efforts to combat backward homophobia). The same is not true of weight, and to argue that it is, or that the two should even be in the same category, is simplistic and shows a lack of nuance. It's just not possible to generalize something that is so heavily dependent on individual cases.

Fantastic Article

Easily one of my favourite articles. Thank you for beautifully summarizing the importance of discussing and understanding fat shaming, especially in the context of feminism.


In general, I'm not a commenter, however after taking time to read through the comments below this article I felt absolutely compelled to say something.

Let me first say, that some of your reactions to this subject have been frankly, terrifying.

I was a chubby little girl brought up in a family where my mother and her sisters all had fluctuating weight issues. I knew all about diet plans and calorie counting from a young age. However, I reitterate, I was a chubby, round faced little eight year old who although perfectly healthy and active (my favourite past time was to climb trees - although admittedly once I'd climbed the tree I would sit up there for at least a couple of hours reading!) was not skinny like a lot of my peers at school. And I was bullied, and I watched my mother's yo-yo habits, and I began to feel insecure and unhappy and the fat stigma became ingrained in my young mind.

Growing up with this self loathing was difficult and scary. I felt unsure of myself, I felt unworthy of certain people or things. To be a young girl, only just becoming aware of her potential womanhood is hard enough, add in a constant battle against my body, to be thin, to be beautiful, to fit within societal norms and it wasn't pretty. I suffered abuse throughout my early to mid teenage years about my weight and it hurt. No one ever seemed to consider that maybe I was trying to do something about it.

I remember taking up power-walking when I was 16 (very cool, I know!) and one day during the summer holidays I was really going for it, stomping up this steep, country road, bright red in the face. A car of young guys, around 20 or so pulled about by me and starting shouting fat shaming abuse at me. I just started running and I burst into tears. I thought "They can see that I'm here excercising, they can see that I want to do something about this, yet they still abuse me?".

I'm sorry this is so long but I felt so strongly about this subject that I had to write my story. I do not believe in abuse of any group. I do not believe in the rejection of others based on their physicality. I absolutely will not marginalise anyone. I know what it feels like to be treated badly because of how I look and some of the responses to this article are so cold and judgemental.

Love for all.

So sorry to hear you went

So sorry to hear you went through that. I agree, a lot of these comments are seriously disturbing.

Fat-shamers are not feminists

Let's suspend reality for a moment and pretend that weight is a system of meritocracy in which all one needs to do is exercise and eat well in order to avoid obesity. Let's see what kind of resources are necessary to eat healthily and exercise regularly.

Eating a Nutritional Diet
-Money to buy fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy. Chips are less expensive and more filling that fruits and veggies. Pop is cheaper than milk. And neither chips nor pop will expire.
-Access to a grocery store that has decent produce. Many inner-city grocery stores have a small, inadequate, or perpetually out-of-date produce section. To be able to drive to a suburban grocery store is a privilege.
-Time and energy to cook/prepare a healthy meal. In single-parent households or households in which the parents work multiple jobs time is a limited resource.
-Knowledge about nutrition. This knowledge is typically passed from parent to child in middle and upper-class families. It is privileged information that is often taken for granted.

Exercising regularly
-Access to workout equipment. Gym memberships are expensive. Home-gym equipment is expensive. Apartments/Condos with communal gyms are expensive.
-Ability to run/play outside safely. Women in any neighborhood may feel unsafe running outside and alone because of the prevalence of sexual assault. However, this fear is likely heightened in areas of higher-crime.
-Knowledge of workout exercises. It is possible to work-out indoors without a gym, however this requires a knowledge of workout exercise sets and of how to avoid injury. Most middle and upper class people gain this knowledge through workout classes, personal training, or participation in sports.
-Time and energy. See above.

Clearly in the game of fitness the cards are stacked against lower-income people. It's unsurprising that words that fat-shamers use such as "lazy" and "free-loading" are often used by classists to describe the poor. Poverty and obesity are interconnected. This is an example of intersectionality, for those commentors who are confused/misinformed as to what intersectionality means.

Now, let's return to reality for a moment and look at other factors besides diet and exercise that affect a person's weight. Obesity is partially influenced by genetic predisposition. Some diseases cause obesity. Certain medications lead to weight-gain. Having a physical disability may make physical exercise impossible. Depression and low-self esteem is linked with obesity as eating can be a coping mechanism. All of these things and more contribute to obesity. So while diet and exercise is important, there are other key factors. Clearly, weight does not function as a true meritocracy but as a system that privileges some groups over others. Sound familiar?

Brilliant article!

This article is an amazing and thorough piece of work. Given how many gay guys are culpable of fat-shaming, misogyny, classism, and lesbophobia with fashion designers like Karl Lagerfeld, for example; the inclusion of the fat activism in the gay rights discourse will help many gay guys, lesbians, queer people and society in general.
At last, I see someone else, besides myself, establishing the analogy between the gay and the fat 'lifestyles' and the scapegoat of these groups of people.
Being a poor fat hispanic lesbian with mental health issues and dyslexia, I find exhausting being the target of hate by one or the combination of two or more characteristics of who I am. The constant rejection of me for being started with my parents and ends with friends, work colleagues not longer ago than last year.
I find very difficult relating to others after all this, but I'll always hope that I'll meet people that will love me for who I am especially that I'll love, accept and respect myself for who I am.
I will fight for women's rights, lesbians' rights, women of colour's rights, mentally ill people's rights, disabled people's rights, fat people's right's, working class people's rights tirelessly until I die.

Your article brought me hope. Thank you

Skinny is not always healthy

When I was 23 I lost a disturbing amount of weight due to Crohn's disease. I felt awful for several years before my disease got bad enough to almost kill me and I was finally diagnosed. Disgustingly to say, I was complemented on my weight loss and was considered attractive.

The meds I was put on gave me thyroid issues and now I am overweight because of that. I am not obese, but I am fat enough be ignored and snickered at. All the healthy eating and exercise is not helping me with this hypothyroid thing that I cannot seem to shake off. Honestly though, I am so much healthier than I was, and I would never want to be as thin as I was before my diagnosis. Ever. Again.

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