I fear my title may have given away my stance on this issue too soon.
But please, if you have the merest interest in debate rather than “la-la-la-I’m-not-listening-you-bigot”, read on a little.
Social media discussions over the last few days were sparked after a popular daytime TV show ran this story:
Will you allow me to dispel some immediate arguments?
No, I don’t find these women disgusting.
No, I also don’t find them inspirational or brave in any way.
No, that’s not because I find confident women scary.
Yes, I immediately think of clients I’ve seen who have been deeply unhappy like this.
The host of the show was at pains to explain how incredible these women were, how brave they were, and how it was perfectly OK – even healthy – to be that weight. She continued on social media to claim that anyone who disagreed should be arrested – by making body-shaming (whatever the actual definition of that is, no-one knows) a criminal offence. Here’s the host in a photo-shoot herself:
I doubt, had she not been so vocal in her support of this “fat acceptance” movement, that she would have been treated quite so nicely by the usual militants on social media. She would, typically, be the target of the hatred that comes from this group towards women who don’t want to be overweight. I think we saw here the huge double-standard – “unless you agree with us, you’re the enemy. Your opinion is worthless”. This is often followed by horrendous accusations of misogyny if you happen to be male, and usually complete blanking if you’re female (because, you know, females that agree it’s daft MUST be overly influenced by their evil male partners!).
As for me personally? 10 years helping people of all shapes and sizes to feel happier with themselves. Read our testimonials page if you want to see how much we hate women and shame people (!). My whole career is based on listening to people, and doing my best to give them what they want – usually confidence and strength. Being told by random social justice warriors that I’m scum for pointing out health is important makes me, understandably, a bit miffed.
So let’s ignore the politics. We’ll never convince each other we’re right or wrong, ideologically.
Let’s focus on health instead. It’s often stated that “obese people aren’t necessarily unhealthy”. And you know what? That’s totally true. Often, obese people are just fine. No health issues at all. Honestly.
My grandad smoked 40 a day. He didn’t die of lung cancer, and lived to a decent old age.
What conclusions shall we draw? Smoking is safe, and we should encourage everyone to do it? Or is that…just…silly? Was he just lucky and dodged the cancer bullet? What of the 40 year olds in chemo wards – surely we agree THEY are more representative of the risks of smoking than the odd elderly chap with a hacking cough?
Another favourite is “you thin people aren’t always healthy either”. Correct – malnourishment on the lighter side of the argument is an issue too. But let’s not pretend it’s anywhere near as big an issue – sheer volume and scale – as obesity is.
Overwhelming stats don’t lie. You can pretend they don’t exist, you can pretend they won’t apply to you, but the fact is – they do. Stats are stats for a reason. Like the lottery, it could be you. As someone picked out in the lottery of life to have been diagnosed with testicular cancer at 29, I don’t treat stats with as much disdain as some.
Let’s look at some:
“The percentage of cases attributed to obesity varied widely for different cancer types but was as high as 40 percent for some cancers, particularly endometrial cancer and esophageal adenocarcinoma”
“obesity is believed to account for 80-85% of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes”
“recent research suggests that obese people are up to 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with a BMI of less than 22″
“you’re three times more likely to need a knee or hip replacement before 60 if you’re obese”
“compared to someone of normal weight, an obese person is 14 times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis”
“If your BMI is more than 30, you are obese and at serious risk of cardiovascular disease”
So. What do we think? Is this all made-up by men who want to control women? Are all these scientists just making up bad science so that people feel awful about themselves? Given that I train GPs, consultants and surgeons I’m afraid I have to say ‘no’. It’s a bullshit stance to take. There is no conspiracy to make “fat people” scared or ashamed of themselves. There’s simply risk factors for early death that are FAR, FAR in excess of what a normal weight range would present.
This is indisputable. That people dismiss this overwhelming evidence in favour of shouting at “mean people” on the Internet is frankly mind-boggling.
Let me re-iterate: No-one cares that you’re obese. No-one cares that maybe they don’t find fat attractive. No-one is telling you to slim down so that they might want to have sex with you (yes, that was an accusation yesterday!).
What people like myself care about are the lies spread by a movement that disregards health risks and shouts down anyone who dares to question the flat-out moronic arguments that obesity is healthy.
As I closed off the ‘debate’ (it wasn’t a debate, it was an insult-fest and then a block-a-thon) yesterday:
“So, shout at people all you like about image acceptance. No problem. But don’t you DARE equate obesity with good health. You’re just liars.”