Saturday, December 21, 2019

Blow Your Stack Saturday: Feminism That Turns Against Our Fat Sisters is Not Feminist

I'm still discouraged by the use of the term "promoting obesity" regarding plus-size Instagram models by a feminist activist whose work I've long respected. Regardless of whether one feels these (generally young) women are exploiting themselves or seeking attention by posing in skimpy outfits, they are not, in fact, "promoting obesity.' 

I've heard the dismaying argument that feminism should not support size activism on numerous occasions. To believe this is to believe that a person's size is "a choice" and that everyone could "easily lose weight" if they'd just "eat less and exercise more." If this grossly oversimplified belief were true, there would be virtually no fat people because everyone who could do it would do it. If this oversimplified belief were true, I would have been a willowy twig during the years that I starved myself and engaged in orthorexia. I never was.

The woman above was Ellen Maud Bennett, a 64-year-old Canadian who died from ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is highly treatable if detected during the early stages. 

Ellen had complained to doctors of feeling poorly for years. Their response was to tell her that if she lost weight, she'd feel better. When one of them finally decided to take her seriously, it was discovered that she had stage 4 ovarian cancer. She died a short time later.

Ellen did not want her death to be in vain, so she had her family include a letter in her obituary. I hope that everyone will take the time to read it, especially those "feminists" who believe that there is a certain weight at which your sisters should be disowned.

For evidence-based arguments against current size-shaming medical treatment and societal prejudices against larger people, I recommend these three blogs.

Heavyweight Heart, in particular, has discussed the racism that was instrumental in forging our adherence to the hateful and unhealthy belief that a woman can never be too rich or too thin. All of these blogs are rich with scientific evidence against the currently held beliefs that fat is the very worst thing a person can possibly be. 

There are certain conditions that are correlated with a larger body type. Correlation is not causation. Generally speaking, telling a fat patient to lose weight in order to resolve underlying health conditions is like telling a man with male pattern baldness to regrow his thinning hair in order to lessen his chances of developing prostate cancer. There is a correlation between male pattern baldness and an increased likelihood of developing prostate cancer. Thinning hair does not cause prostate cancer. The underlying issue, increased testosterone levels, increases the likelihood of developing prostate cancer.

The Minnesota Starvation Experiment reveals what happens to the body and mind when a person engages in restrictive dieting behaviors. Diets do not work long-term in more than five percent of people who engage in dieting. Most people gain the weight they lost back and then some. After many years of weight loss attempts, the possibility of dieting bringing about significant weight loss sharply decreases.

I for one do not enjoy having every waking moment of my day focused on food because I am starving. I went through thirty-three years of yo-yo dieting, and all it brought me was "failure" and weight gain. Combining dieting behaviors with multiple endocrine conditions was a sure-fire recipe for a large body type. But neither I nor anyone else should be having to defend our right to exist and be treated with common decency in the bodies we have. 

If the majority of my sisters have decided to disown me and other women like me because we are fat, or to give lip service to supporting women of all sizes but then tearing down fat women as being lazy and "glorifying obesity" for not hiding our disgusting fat selves away from the view of decent people, then feminism has let me and my fat sisters down.

I will continue fighting for what's right, but I may no longer be able to identify as a feminist while doing so. I consider this a great loss. I first began identifying as a feminist in 1973 when I was eight years old and already tired as fuck of being told that I couldn't do anything interesting with my life because I was "just a girl."

Now I'm hearing "girls can do anything guys can do, but not if they're fat."

Fuck right off with that shit.

~Sly Has Spoken~

Image copyright juliahenze

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