Why you need to stop telling fat people they're unhealthy
This week I had a big debate with a friend about weight and health. It's one I've had many, many times before because one of the main arguments I hear about against fat acceptance or body positivity is about health. 'It's not healthy!', people say.
'Being fat isn't healthy, just lose some weight.'
Gargh, makes me angry.
Think about what healthy actually means to you. Are you thinking about a feeling, the ability to run 100m, test results? Or are you focusing simply on physical appearance? To look at someone and make the judgement they're unhealthy based on how they look to you - is shortsighted, unfair and based on diet culture (the patriarchy), beauty standards and outdated medical approaches that put weight loss above everything else.
Here's 10 reasons why I call out your comments as 'concern trolling':
- Health is holistic. Not simply about aesthetics i.e a thin body.
- Health is about our habits, mentality and upbringing.
- Health is greatly impacted by income. What food we access we have access to and can afford is a big deal.
- Health is impacted by our mental health, often neglected because everyone wants to automatically judge a person by how they look physically. Self-esteem is a big player in how healthy we are. (Shock news, but telling someone you think they're unhealthy isn't great for someone else's self - esteem).
- Health is affected by the care we have access to, the treatments we can afford and the amount of bias dished out by medical professionals. (Truth, don't believe me, check out the resources section below.)
- Health is impacted by our genetics - something we have no control over.
- Health is multifaceted and it exists in the complexity of our lives and identities. It's more than an imposed idea of looking a certain way. Put simply, health is not about weight because science now says you CAN BE HEALTHY AT EVERY SIZE Healthful behaviours can be part of someone's life at any size, you do not need a thin body to have a healthy lifestyle. Check out the medical papers below.
A person's weight doesn’t tell you what they eat, how much they exercise, how strong they are. It doesn’t tell you their T-cell count, blood work results or bone density. In short: doesn't tell you how healthy they feel.
- Weight doesn’t tell you if they were once thinner or fatter than they are now. Weight doesn't tell you if this person has been having a really tough time and has needed to protect themselves emotionally by gaining weight. Weight doesn't tell you if they've battled some big illness and this is the best they've looked in years.
- To be frank - someone else's weight and their health is none of your god damn business! There is no way in hell that person isn't aware of their size, they do not need your input or your concern.
- And honestly, even if someone IS unhealthy that person still deserves respect and inclusivity in society. Yo, health is not a moral obligation! And, what about all those with chronic disease, addiction, mental health issues and disability? These people deserve to love themselves just as much as anyone.
Judging someone by the size of their body is strictly visual, and it flattens that person into a meaningless number.
Next time you hear this argument, tell that person to take their concern troll vibes and educate themselves. I've put together some great resources.
Here's a good place to start:
Great podcasts backed by science that champion health at every size
This one about the paradigm shift needed in weight science.
This one on moving beyond weight loss to physical activity, health at every size.
This one on having a weight inclusive approach
Weight is a bullshit determiner for health. Some of the most unhealthy people I've met have been thin, so move along with this argument already. When you label a fat person unhealthy you really have no idea what is going on. You're simply shaming that person into feeling bad about themselves. Please stop.
Love Harri Rose x