Fat Acceptance and Queer Acceptance Have Nothing To Do With Each Other

This morning, my girlfriend threw a fit.  I looked up from my keyboard and noted that she was harnessing her Super Power Gay Rage.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“This is bullshit.” She was referring to a couple of articles, Sized up: why fat is a queer and feminist issue, and Fat Liberation is Totally Queer.  “I get really irritated when the fat acceptance movement nudges itself into queer issues.  I understand that a lot of gay women do struggle with fat phobia, but I don’t think it’s my responsibility as a gay woman to get behind fat acceptance due to the sheer prevalence of fat lesbians.  Fatness and gayness are mutually exclusive.  They have nothing to do with each other.”

Several months ago, I’d written a piece on Jennifer Livingston, Fat Acceptance, Kelly Brownell (one of the leading spokespeople for Fat Acceptance) and bullying.

I began to open the articles to which she was referring as she continued her rant:

“I understand how many queer women are overweight, and they shouldn’t suffer discrimination because they are overweight.  They are shamed because it is their fault that they are fat, and they are being pressured to be a different way.  But unlike my degree of fatness, I truly cannot change my gayness.

“I actually have control over whether I am fat.  One day I finally woke up and faced reality.  I lost nearly 70 pounds and I’m barely 5’8″.  I’m not saying its easy; but what you put into your body and what you do to you body is in your control.  Your sexual orientation is not.

“Instead of putting their focus and energy into changing their problem, they put their energy into making it easier to live in a world with their problem.  They try to label fat as not a problem!”

Oh, but it is.  I already wrote about it, flippantly.

Unacceptable!  Here is a neat little write-up of the economic costs of obesity.Obesity accounts for 21 percent of health care costs.  Obesity, as far as the military is concerned is a national security threat.  Obesity contributes significantly to rising health care costs, how insurance policies are structured, time loss at work, sick days, ridiculous infrastructure modifications like larger seats in airplanes and restaurants, emergency medical responses, fertility complications, and more.

And we should just sit back and accept it because now everyone these days is fat?

Unlike being a minority, being young, old, gay, or handicapped, being fat is controllable.

I found myself annoyed by the author of the articles, Anna Mollow.  She appears to have read a few books and referenced a few articles.  Sometimes I found myself in agreement with what she says, but then I’d get thrown off the horse .  For example,

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

She is correct.  Level of fatness is a risk factor for other diseases.  If you’re fat, for example, is it statistically more likely that you have nutrition-related illnesses, like heart disease or diabetes.  But then she says that overweight people live longer than normal weight people.  I ask her to point to one obese centenarian, or to explain why restricted calorie diets promote longevity.

“Obesity is not a problem, and it certainly should not be labeled as a disease,” goes the rhetoric.

“We need to explicitly and unequivocally reject the notion that body size is a ‘lifestyle choice’ that can or should be changed,” writes Ms. Mollow.

Hold on a second!  How dare you mislead your readers into thinking that body size is interchangeable with body fatness?

Recently, the American Medical Association decided to label obesity as a disease.  Donald Bucklin writes,

My initial thought was — what took so long? This decision seems a little curious because we are 10-plus years into the well-established epidemic.

A well-established epidemic.  Look around, people!  Most of you can’t even see the fatness because we are all fat!  Leave the country.  Travel somewhere else.  Remark at the people who are tiny compared to your own countrymen, who eat smaller portions, walk more, and frequently seek out fresher food.  Go to Europe and see the continuum of fatness over northern latitudes, where the habits, wealth, and food variety of the peoples are more like that of the United States.  After some time acclimating there, you will be shocked when you see a morbidly obese person, just as Europeans are shocked when they step off an airplane at an American airport and see a sea of massive people.

Your perspective has changed.  Do you remember the stages of acceptance?  Denial is first.

We are fat.  Get over it.  It is a problem.  And obesity, perhaps, should be considered a disease.  After all, obesity is a degree of fatness, as heart disease is a degree of artery plaque.  The line must be drawn somewhere, and there will be a few casualties of the label–people like myself who have a BMI of 26 (overweight), but the body fat percentage of a healthy athlete, with perfect cholesterol, a low and steady heart rate, a resilient liver, and more.  I am a statistic, and I’m not pissed about it–because I’m not fat.  Or, more appropriately, because I know that lines must be drawn somewhere.

You think fat doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy because you find a few books and articles to support your position? Because you have combed the “literature” of the last ten years which sold to a market of fat people?  Go ahead, read Gary Taubes.  You’ll feel great.

Have you considered fatness as not only correlated with longevity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and everything else, but as also a hazard?

“You have a social responsibility NOT to be fat.  If there’s a fire in my office building and the elevators aren’t working, your fat body is probably what’s getting between me and the fire escape.” –Anonymous

Ever think about your posture?  What your fat does to your spine? Your lack of control and balance over your own body, as well as your eating, drinking, and movement habits?  Do you spend 5+ hours a day moving?  Probably not.  Do you drink your calories?  I bet you do.  Do you starve yourself on a crash diet and wreck your metabolism and blame the set point theory later?  Did you damage your hypothalamus?  Hmmm… (Let the record state that I am 100% sensitive to weight issues when they are the result of medical problems.  Steroids, psych drugs, and many other things have a profound impact on a person’s ability to regulate his or her weight.  But this is not the epidemic we’re talking about.)

I get how fat is a feminist issue; I’ve read some Susie Orbach.  But do us all a favor and don’t taint the queer acceptance movement with the fat acceptance movement.

“I don’t think it’s okay to discriminate against someone or hate people or shame people.  But don’t pretend this isn’t a problem and go and say you are just a part of ‘diversity,'” your girlfriend adds.

“The war against fat, like efforts to “cure,” “convert,” or “repair” queer sexualities, will fail,” Ms. Mollow write.

God, I hope not.

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12 Comments

  1. Interesting again! Saying that being fat is fine and not a problem is different from saying that fat people shouldn’t be treated like crap for their weight. And I get your point that equating fat acceptance with gay acceptance is almost a subversive way of saying that gays have simply chosen to be gay, like fat people have made choices that made them fat. We should treat obese people fairly and kindly, but its wrong to tell them note being fat is just fine. Even if it didn’t cost the rest of us money, it’s still not good for you to be fat.

    Reply
    • Yes… if you read the comment threads of the two articles, you will see that this is the main point people are making, which is why I decided to quote my partner instead of stating it again. Because this is a fitness blog, I want to focus on Fat Acceptance more than the Queer Things. I wanted to focus on why I think fat IS a problem, objectively. I’m sure I could spend more time on this, include a reference list, and drive the point home more academically… but I’m I’m traveling again. Suffice it to say that a member of my family is the most obese person I know who can still walk WITHOUT assistance. And while she only reports high blood pressure (though she is usually too afraid to get a physical), I watch her body weight hinder every single activity she chooses to undertake, and I can only wonder what underlying psychology drove her to that point.

      Reply
  2. Thanks! I never would have come across this gay/fat being lumped together phenomena anywhere else. Very interesting.

    Reply
  3. I agree, with the exception of an extremely small minority of fat people, most have control over their weight and food choices. A number of fat people have given up dieting because of their poor results. How many fat people do you know that consistently practice good nutrition and fitness? Zero? Of course some people don’t practice good nutrition nor fitness and yet don’t get fat. Some people are more genetically disposed toward obesity than other people, but it is of no use to blame one’s body or genetics. It’s just a matter of making appropriate adjustments. I think the major difference is the “inner voice” that gays have. Gays don’t feel “right” when they try to be straight. On the other hand, fat people usually do feel right when they take positive measures to control their weights. Fat people often eat to quiet their inner voice.

    ________________________________

    Reply
    • “Lifestyle change” is too broad for most people to adopt. I just say, “Your body is a product of its environment.”

      Reply
  4. I don’t actually disagree with anything you’ve written here, but there’s more to the problem than meets the eye and all of what Taubes has written cannot be dismissed. I know this from personal experience.

    I had been putting on a little under a pound a year since my 20’s and, despite all my best efforts and intentions, the march of pounds seemed inexorable. Then, by chance, I tried a (moderately) low carb diet, and viola!, the pounds melted off effortlessly. I’ve been back to my high school weight for the last 2 or 3 years.

    It’s not the simplistic picture Taubes paints, and I do believe one’s genes have influence in how easy it is to maintain weight. The ancestral genes would be very thrifty with conserving calories; more recent polymorphisms allow for greater food indulgence. What is definitely true is that we did not evolve in an environment where endless fats and sugars were infinitely available. And, different people will find it differently difficult to maintain weight.

    Reply
    • Of course! Well stated. Writing about these topics requires me to walk the line between arguing against “blanket diets” while simultaneously generalizing. As I said in my Denise Minger article… “I can show you a fat person who doesn’t lose weight from increases in energy expenditure, but that doesn’t mean cardio should be chucked out of the approach.” Lately, I’ve been slimming down from 1-2 hour runs, followed by 22 hours of complete lack of movement, and 3-4 pints of beer. Not going to explain why its working, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

      Reply
  5. min

     /  July 22, 2013

    Thank you! I was hoping someone would debunk the awful myths of that article.

    Reply
  6. Dr. Marius Bashank

     /  December 26, 2013

    WRONG. Science shows body weight is largely INVOLUNTARILY regulated by complex neural circuitry and feedback loops. You are LAUGHABLY misinformed. How does it feel to have such low inteliigence, Maria?

    Plus, you have a stinky a s s h o l e too. Get lost, loser. You’re a disgusting person of the highest caliber to take pictures of your mom and post them and insult her. I hope she does not give a single penny and kicks you out of her house permamnently.

    Reply
  7. Dr. Marius Bashank

     /  December 26, 2013

    Severe obesity IS, in fact, a DISEASE. SCIENCE has shown this. You have a broken mind, Maria. You reason frfom dogma and what you WANT to belief- NOT evidence. You are of extraordinarily LOW intelligence- like most “fitness professionals” …. whatever that term neans……

    You are a laughbale and genuinely dumb stinky a s s h o l e d bimbo……

    Reply
  8. Dr. Marius Bashank

     /  December 26, 2013

    The chemical behavior of fat cells’ receptors is not at all understood by science. When a person loses even 10 % of body mass, total energy expenditure GOES DOWN BY 25% INVOLUNTARY RESPONSE. NO CONTROL OVER THAT . There are numerous other involuntary responses. These effects do NOT go away. They persist the rest of your life. This has been studied about 10 years out- and the effect STILL were going strong.

    Energy PARTITIONING is a factor. There are MANY pathways energy can be led to .Humans dissipate HEAT- LOST energy. Gut microflora eats energy. Humans POOP out energy. GENES matter A LOT. They are by far the biggest factor.

    Get off obese people’s asses, you stinky butt loser. The FAILURE of gastric bypass surgery should let you know how complex obesity is. These people a, while less in MASS they STILL ARE VERY FAT body fat percentage wise. OVERALL MASS 9 organ mass bone mass msucle mass and a litle fat mass) THEY STILL are FATTY piece of human meat.

    ALL this on 800 calories a day= 1/3 of what normal people eat…..
    The Caloric hypothesis is a FAILURE.

    There is far more to obesity than YOU are capable of understanding, you DIMWITTED bimbo. Your pathetic piddly mind….

    Reply
  9. You are completely right; Fatness is NOT comparable with homosexuality. This idea was spawned by people that simply want to have their burdens normalized, instead of wanting to overcome them. Lazy. Lazy and demanding of the society that they be accepted for their inability to care for themselves.

    Reply

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