An exchange I had on social media leads me again to discuss Health at Every Size, the very strong, very spirited movement that maintains that obesity isn’t the issue society should be concerned about. Or rather, that society should look to itself, rather than the obese person, to fix what is broken, which is people’s attitudes about fat.
[If you think I’ve defined it poorly, I’ll be happy to talk about that. Leave a comment, or e-mail me. Also: The exchange that prompted this post did not mention HAES; I’m making the connection between her position and the HAES outlook.]
The friend I was tweeting with said she wouldn’t be going to see “Fed Up” because “it’s built on the premise that fat bodies are wrong.” She said the film’s danger is that people will be swayed “to shame, bully, and hate fat.” And, she said “the movie’s premise is that fat is bad.”
Some of that is partly true: The movie does come from the perspective that being fat isn’t a desirable, healthful condition. I also come from that perspective, and remain flummoxed that there is a very strong, very spirited movement that maintains otherwise. Please remember, I was obese for large swaths of my first 30 years, and now I’ve had a normal-sized body for more than 20. I have tons of experience on both sides. (See one of my “assumptions” series: Being Fat Sucks.)
As I said during a spate of reaction posts (such as this one) after I saw “Fed Up,” the stars of the movie were, to me, the young people to whom producers gave Flip cameras so they could self-document their experience. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could see their contributions and not admire and feel for them, never mind want to bully or shame them. As I said in one of my replies, there are villains in “Fed Up,” but they’re not the kids.
I support the HAES-ish perspective that says fat-shaming is wrong, that no one deserves mockery or exclusion or worse based on body size. IMO, those tendencies are deeply ingrained in our society, and we’ll all be better off when they’re dialed down, then discarded. I still need a bunch of that excised from me, and I’ve been working on it for 20-30 years!
But also: A significant portion of obesity in the world exists because consumer-food corporations make more money when we eat too much. Also, when we eat the wrong types of food — usually more processed food.
Who could possibly defend that, or boycott those who point it out? Other than paid mouthpieces such as the "Center for Consumer Freedom?"
Being against fat-shaming doesn’t require being for fat-inducing, does it? One may be biologically disposed to being larger-bodied than smaller-, but no matter where one begins, this is one place where bigger is not better.