So, I will put a disclaimer in here: I fit into what society deems conventionally "attractive" for women. I've got big breasts, big butt, a small waist, and long hair. This fact has left me feeling really awkward about the issue of fattisim. Or rather, my right to speak about it. I haven't had to work for my figure, and have never BEEN fat, so it's, well, harder for me to relate. So, I guess I'll start with the obvious.
Yes, fattism is a thing. I won't try to get into the thick of the issue it's self when it has already been done, and much better, elsewhere, but I will try to sum it up. North America is a very... Visual, society, that tends to make all sorts of fun judgements based on looks. It used to be race, but now that's Not Okay, so people have moved onto weight, I guess? I know people who have actually uttered the phrase "I hate fat people. They're disgusting" I'm disappointed in myself for just staring in shock, or laughing nervously rather then flipping the table and screaming at them "ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME?!" and I imagine most of you are on board with me for that one. It's easy to crap your pants over someone being that overtly awful, but there is a much more innocuous line that people use to spread their hate. One that I am guilty of uttering myself.
"But what about the health risks?" I mean, EVERYONE knows that fat people are unhealthy and going to get diabetes, have high blood pressure, and smell bad! They should just loose the weight! It's not hard! Just some self control and exercise, right? Actually, no. Loosing weight, or maintaining a "healthy" weight (I won't even GET into the BS that BMI is) isn't as easy as skinny people who have fast metabolisms seem to think it is. There is also the assumption that being fat means you have no self control, and are unhealthy. Or if you're fat and unhealthy, that you're unhealthy BECAUSE you're fat, and on THAT, I would like to call bull shit.
Now, imaginary reader, you're may be thinking "But there IS a weight issue!" and that all that icky fat is going to HURT OUR HEALTH SYSTEM. Now, I'm Canadian, and well aware of how strained our health system already is, and would like to see it NOT be strained further, but telling people that they're gross, that their an epidemic, and treating them as less then human isn't going to help anything. It only hurts and shames people, and nothing productive ever got done from shaming.
So, what should we do? Is it okay to start saying it's OK to be fat? "WHAT IF MORE PEOPLE START GETTING FAT BECAUSE OF IT!??!?!" And to that person I say "It's okay to be what ever the fuck you are" but there is the ugly little issue that increased weight causes increased health issues (which people who are heavier are well aware of and don't need you telling them), and it is THAT we should work on, not by going around shaming people for not fitting into an impossible ideal that movies and tv and magazines push. So, how do we work on health rather then body image? Isn't working on body image going to encourage them to GET healthy? No, it really isn't. Make it easier to be healthy. That will get people to be healthy. We need a food and fitness revolution, and badly. We need there to be easy, healthy, cheap food readily available. We need clear food labeling, less artificial ingredients, and we need fitness to leave the gyms and become something that is social and fun.
We also need to widen our definition of "healthy". What good is being skinny and fitting into what society deems "attractive" when you've been conditioned to hate your body no matter what you look like? There's more to health then weight, and when people scream "FAT IS UGLY AND YOU ARE UNHEALTHY" they forget that so is depression. So is bulimia, and anorexia, and the self loathing that can come from body issues that are fueled by things like people telling you you're fat, and the obscene portrayals of the human body in media. Obesity isn't the epidemic, it's narrow minded thinking that treats whole sects of the population like they're not people that is.