The Tragedy of Fat-Shaming
[Note: This is long and personal, so ignore below the cut if you can’t stand it]
This post is definitely worth reading below the cut. It details how the prejudices doctors hold (such as fat phobia) affect medical practice. This post really reinforces my belief that people who hold positions of great responsibility and trust, such as doctors and lawyers, should definitely receive more thorough, systematic education in issues of ethics and social justice in order to understand how personal biases may be impacting their ability to do their jobs properly.
lovelywinkers said: In what other areas of life do you define the standard as “the minimum needed to survive”, you have a tumblr, meaning you have access to at least several things you don’t need for survival, is that morally wrong? or is food special somehow?
wavesandmoon said: One should not make that assumption because one is not that person or that person’s doctor. Perhaps there are other things at play that contribute to the person’s weight. And even if there aren’t, it’s not actually my business how much that person consumes. I don’t like the…
Okay I’d like to address these both questions simultaneously because they’re both in response to the same post: http://madamedechevre.tumblr.com/post/24207985109/wavesandmoon-answered-your-question-questions
First off, I am using third person because ~I personally~ am not about to go out and start hassling people about their consumption of food or anything else. Really I’m not. Because, as lovelywinkers points out, I’m hardly getting by on “just what I need” so it would be silly of me to make that a standard by which I judge others. I’m asking most of these questions hypothetically, on the internet, because I have no intention of actually playing out any of these scenarios in real life. This blog is a space for me to think through problems so I can inflict my ignorance on people in the face-time world as little as possible.
So, to answer lovelywinkers: yes, I was posing the problem originally as “Is it okay to question and judge people’s food consumption in the same way one might question their consumption of other material goods, such as gasoline?” I wanted to know whether there is a fundamental difference in the way one might interrogate different kinds of consumption, or whether some types of consumption should be exempt from questioning and why. Or perhaps personal choices should never be interrogated and any issue of over-consumption (relating, for instance, to environmental concerns) should only be addressed structurally and socially, not individually. I don’t have an answer to the question.
To answer wavesandmoon: I apologize for the unclear wording. I was assuming that one might make a judgment about consumption not based on weight, but about actual knowledge of the person’s consumption. (Since, of course, weight does not tell the whole story). But perhaps you’re right and it is impossible to know enough about any person to ever make such a judgment.
I guess what I’ve been thinking about as I think of these questions is the relationship between consumption, environmentalism, and privilege. It seems like a complicated threesome.
2. Probably. You don’t know what a person’s caloric needs are & do not get to define “over-consumption” for them.
I kind of hate myself before I even write this post, but, for a moment, I’m going to suspend my tolerant and open-minded side and play the unrelenting skeptic. My questions are:
-If someone is very overweight, and is eating enough to sustain that weight, why should one not assume that they are getting more calories than their body “needs”? (As in, could survive just as well on far less).
-Does this mean it’s not acceptable to tell anyone they are consuming too much of any resource? Is it not acceptable to say that someone driving a Hummer, for instance, is using more than they need and to suggest that this is wasteful?
*Ceasing questions and going back to not sounding like such a douchebag now*
inappropriate questions at 2:33 am
If it is fat phobic to not be sexually attracted to people who are “fat”, and it is racist to not be sexually attracted to people because of the colour of their skin, then isn’t it also a kind of prejudice to not be attracted to people because of their sex or their gender? Is it, for example, bigoted to say “but I just don’t like women” or “but penises are not stimulating” or “I prefer femmes”? Barring, for example, the seemingly reasonable claim “I have been victimized by such and such person and so am triggered by similar people”- when is it and when is it not prejudices that determine sexual attraction?
Questions about thin privilege and fat phobia
As I endeavour to become more conscious of how thin privilege and fat phobia operate, I pose the following questions, for which my research has not yet provided specific answers:
1. If a child has a health problem that could be partially or wholly alleviated by weight loss, should the parent try to encourage and help the child to lose weight in a healthy way? If so, how?*
2. It is fat phobic to condemn a person who is “fat” for their eating habits when one knows nothing of their habits or lifestyle. Would it, however, be fat phobic to disapprove of a person’s over-consumption of food (whether they were fat or not), in the same way one might disapprove of a person’s over-consumption of other material goods?**
3. If someone knows that fat people are not “objectively” less attractive, and knows that many people do in fact find fat people equally or more attractive, and is themselves open to relationships of any kind with “fat” people, but has, in general, found that they are more attracted to thinner people- is this fat phobic?
4. Is it inherently fat phobic to assume correlations between health and obesity? (If one keeps in mind the fact that these correlations are statistical and so speak to the general rules and that there are exceptions, and that being thin is also not equivalent to being healthy).
*Note: This question is intersectional because it deals with both ageism and thin privilege. It is not only the child’s weight that is in contention, but also the autonomy of the child and their right to make decisions about their health and body. Also note, by lose weight in a healthy way I mean that the parent encourages smaller portions, more nutritious and well-rounded meals, and reasonable exercise, such that the child’s happiness and well-being are not jeopardized by insufficient nutrition or overwork.
**Putting “fat” in quotation marks because different people define it differently.
I invite commentary. Anyone want to venture a reply?
Confession Time: Confronting my own ignorance about thin privilege
I do not claim to be very enlightened about social justice. (Yes I am doing an M.A. in Social Justice; no it has not taught me half of what I need to know because institutionalized education never can). So I am on an enduring quest to learn more about prejudice, oppression, power, privilege, and isms. Tumblr is very helpful in this respect- firstly because I follow some wonderful people and secondly because the ‘search tags’ feature is very convenient.
In particular, I need to improve my understanding of the related phenomena known as thin privilege and fat phobia. So you may notice that I am posting interesting articles and reblogging illuminating posts that I find that discuss thin privilege, fat shaming, body policing, fat phobia, and the like. It is important to point out here that I have and have always had thin privilege. Doctors are more likely to say I am kind of underweight and ask if I eat enough, but are completely satisfied when I tell them I do and ask me nothing further (a situation that itself would be interesting to analyze, but now is not the time). Consequently, I realize that my understanding of thin privilege will be affected and perhaps impeded by the fact that I have this privilege. As such, I welcome comments, suggestions, criticism, and anything else you think may be helpful for me to know.