[Image: A green/blue and white duotone design with large typography overlapping a silhouetted fat body. The text is bold, overlayed and overlapping. It simply states: “GLORIFY OBESITY - Redefining Body Image”]
This is part three of a poster series I’m working on that focuses on using blunt and unapologetic messaging to incite thought and reaction (hopefully of a positive or inquisitive nature) regarding fat discrimination, health, obesity hysteria, etc.
[Part Two: Fat ≠ Death]
[Part One - “There is no obesity epidemic.”]
MY DESIGN WAS FEATURED IN AN ARTICLE BY LESLEY KINZEL ON XOJANE!!!!!
“I GUESS I’M GLORIFYING OBESITY JUST BY EXISTING — IS THIS A PROBLEM?”
I AM TOO GODDAMN EXCITED TO NOT USE CAPS RIGHT NOW.
HERE IS A BEAUTIFUL EXCERPT:
“…glorifying obesity is depicted as a dangerous virus, implying that if fatness is allowed to spread unchecked, our culture and civilization are at risk of cataclysmic destruction. Possibly in a hail of donuts.
The thing is, this is actually kind of true.
If obesity continues to be “glorified” in the manner described — by allowing fat people to be on television, to share pictures of themselves feeling good about their bodies, to wear bikinis, to enjoy food, and so forth — the social fabric of our current body culture in the United States would be severely threatened.
Some of the dangers of glorifying obesity may include:
- Young girls might not fear getting fat more than they fear nuclear war, losing their parents, or cancer.
- Fat people might no longer be at an increased risk of having their illnesses (including cancers) misdiagnosed or diagnosed late, by doctors working in a medical community in which disdain for fat bodies is rampant, or given the wrong dosages of medicine — both of which can cost millions in unnecessary tests and prolonged treatment.
- Eating disorders — which admittedly are not exclusively about weight but which are cultivated by a culture that identifies fatness as a failure of control — might no longer be a central feature in the lives of 10 million Americans.
- We might not have a weight loss industry that generated $60 billion in revenue in the United States last year, mostly by making women feel like crap about themselves.
- Fat people might not have to worry about whether seats on airplanes or in restaurants or basically anywhere they go can physically accommodate them.
- Dudes might not yell at me in parking lots.
- Fat people everywhere might develop a powerful self-respect, and demand respect from others, and might be less likely to suffer bullying and shaming in silence.
- Fat people might not be so handy for scapegoating, schadenfreude and cheap laughs, or as a means by which others can feel superior.
- People of all sizes might feel better about themselves, because no one would be wasting energy and focus worrying about what would happen to them, how their life would be ruined, if they became fat.
Many of us are willing to back up Stella Boonshoft and Jennifer Livingston because we recognize them as individuals — they’re not an epidemic, they’re not a threat to our national security, they’re not selfish gluttons using up all the healthcare: they’re PEOPLE.
What shame-centered obesity epidemic rhetoric accomplishes better than anything else, better even than its purported intention to improve public health, is to erase the humanity of fat people. Because all those obese folks clogging the overstated statistics are, in fact, still people. They’re friends and coworkers, moms and dads, children and grandparents. You know some of them. You probably like them. You probably don’t think of them as an epidemic, or as posing a clear and present danger to the future of humanity.
If reminding folks that fat people are people first — that they are individuals and not some monolithic amoeba of disease rolling itself over the planet, and that their bodies are not shameful, not ugly, not embarrassing, not immoral, but as worthy of acceptance as every other body is — if THIS is the same as glorifying obesity, then bring on the glory. I will carry the banner. I won’t be sorry, not for my part in changing our culture around bodies in general and not for my own body that I live in, right now — I won’t be sorry, and I won’t apologize. Neither should you.”
OKAY SO I ENDED UP COPY/PASTING MOST OF THE ARTICLE, I COULDN’T JUST PICK ONE LITTLE BIT, SORRYIMNOTSORRY.
This is so wrong I can’t even begin to explain why but I will try anyways. “Turning things around” so that the media glorifies obesity instead of thiness WILL NOT SOLVE ANYTHING. Glorifying one type of body as if it’s the only type of body WILL NOT SOLVE ANYTHING. People, especially on tumblr, are so fucking US centric that they never stop to think that there ARE countries who do glorify obesity. Look at Mauritania. They glorify obesity. Obese is considered the only way a woman can be beautiful. Female children are sent to farms where they’re force fed until they vomit, get sick and get so fat that they can’t walk up stairs. Do you honestly fucking think that that’s any better than people trying too hard to be thin? Women are PUNISHED by authority figures for not being fat enough. Don’t believe me? Think I’m spreading lies and propaganda about obesity because I don’t want people to be “naturally fat”?
What if we glorified health, being yourself, confidence, and self esteem instead of trying to force people to do things that aren’t realistic or that they might not like/want to do?
It’s always interesting, the things people project onto this or decide to take away from it.
None of the above content implies anything at all about thinness. It does not say “Glorify obesity, NOT thinness” or anything of that nature, in fact no other body types are being shamed at all. It says, quite simply: “Glorify Obesity” - but you saw the words provided and filled in the blank areas, reacting impulsively to it in a negative way.
I’m quite taken aback that you also imply that this way of thinking is trying to “force people” into doing anything at all. It is a celebration of fat bodies - full stop. Fat bodies that are subjected to the hate and shame that comes with existing in cultures that pursue obesity like a plague, treating and speaking about fat bodies (MY body) as an epidemic that needs to be stopped.
This has nothing to do with health extremes - as in the case you outline regarding the fattening culture of Mauritania. It has to do with treating fat bodies like any other bodies, celebrating them like all other bodies, and not tying them to a public health crisis.
To quote Lesley Kinzel from the discussion thread connected to her article above:
I honestly think that obesity paranoia might be a barrier to constructive public health strategies, because it focuses exclusively on one aspect (obesity) while ignoring the effects of said high-calorie low-nutrition foods on EVERYONE. Basically the message is that it’s fine to ignore nutrition and healthful activity if you’re not fat, and while I don’t think anyone has an obligation to be healthy, that’s not a helpful ideology.
Ideally, I’d like to see us talking about how poverty affects access to nutritional options, how corn subsidies are screwing everything, and how stigma itself can negatively affect health. But obviously these are ideas way less sexy to an easily-distracted public than straight-up fat panic.
The intent behind the notion of “glorifying obesity” is to promote wellness and self-acceptance and break down the stigma about fat health - that all fat bodies are fat for the same “unhealthy” reasons. There are many reasons why people are fat and not fat, so let’s stop associating fatness with poor health and start celebrating ALL bodies, including fat ones, and the people who own them.