I came across the following statement on a variety of fat acceptance blogs.
[Y]ou do not have anything interesting to say to someone who is struggling with obesity. You do not have better willpower than they do. You do not “care about myself” more. You are not more “serious about a healthy lifestyle” because you took off the eight pounds you gained at Christmas. You are no more qualified to lecture the obese on how to lose weight than I am qualified to lecture my short friends on how to become tall. You just have a different environmental and genetic legacy than they do. You’re not superior. You’re just somewhat thinner.
What do you think?
I fully agree that overweight people are treated unfairly. However, I also think that statements like this simply damage the fat acceptance movement and accomplish nothing good.
First, there’s the livid tone of the message. Instead of offering a reasonably dispassionate plea for fat acceptance or tolerance, it amounts to nothing more than an angry rant. There are times when expressing anger is appropriate, but in this case, it simply makes the author sound indignant. An author can sometimes get away with this when the rant is accompanied by some hard facts or well-reasoned logic. Because this particular posting lacks any solid facts or compelling logic though, I think that most readers would dismiss it as mere defensiveness and rationalization.
This leads to my second concern. The rant is filled with claims that are either grossly oversimplified or just plain wrong. Consider the following:
[li]“[Y]ou do not have anything interesting to say to someone who is struggling with obesity.” Really? In other words, no matter what somebody says, it cannot possibly be of interest to someone who struggles with one’s weight? Those don’t sound like the words of someone who is genuinely concerned about his or her own well-being.[/li][li]“You do not have better willpower than they do.” If the writer were to say that thinner people don’t necessarily have more will power, then I would wholeheartedly agree. After all, a great many factors can affect one’s obesity level. However, when somebody insist that thinner folks do NOT have more will power – PERIOD – then that’s an oversimplification, to put it mildly.[/li][li]“. You do not ‘care about myself’ more. You are not more ‘serious about a healthy lifestyle’ because you took off the eight pounds you gained at Christmas.” Same as above. A more dispassionate writer might claim that thinner people do not necessarily care about themselves more or take their health more seriously. To insist that they do NOT care more about themselves or their health, however, is an over the top claim that’s completely devoid of any nuance.[/li][li]Finally, “You just have a different environmental and genetic legacy than they do. You’re not superior. You’re just somewhat thinner.” One could chalk all the previous statements up to wild exaggerations or overly impassioned rhetoric. This last claim, however, is just plain wrong. It’s true that thinner people are not inherently superior, insofar as one’s waistline is not the measure of human worth. However, when somebody insists that others are only thinner due to their environment or genetics, then that’s just plain wrong. It’s difficult to take someone seriously when he or she flatly denies that physical activity and dietary habits do play a role in one’s girth?[/li][/ul]
I know that obesity is a touchy subject, and it has certainly sparked some heated discussions here on the SDMB. However, I daresay that when people post rants like these, they don’t accomplish any good. Instead of calling attention to their plight, they simply damage their credibility. They come across as petulant children who refuse to accept personal responsibility, claiming instead to be helpless victims who have no control over their conditions. That can only hurt them rather than help.