I have a Facebook friend who has exactly the opposite political and social viewpoints of me. Although I nearly always disagree with everything she says and/or shares, I enjoy reading her thoughts because I think it’s helpful to surround yourself with people who disagree with you—otherwise, one can easily fall prey to groupthink.
However, every now and then she posts something that is absolutely bonkers. This article on Salon made me want to punch the internet.
The headline, “I Choose to be Fat,” makes it sound like we are about to read the story of a person who understands the health risks of being obese, but loves food too much to quit. I can’t say that I would have agreed with such an article, but I could have accepted that premise.
Then I read the subtitle, which is “Doctors have bullied me about my weight for years, but obesity has given me the armor I needed to survive.” Oh, Criminy. Here we go. Health professionals are apparently bullies now, just like the enemies of the sissy children the nation is currently raising.
The author, Laura Bogart, goes on to talk about how her weight has been a problem her whole life, but it’s become “tombed in callus” as she’s grown accustomed to the pain it has caused her. She makes excuses for how her obesity is really all her father’s fault, claiming that fistfuls of Cheez-Its shielded her from him somehow (BTW, I love Cheez-Its, but they’ve never made me obese).
Her bold, angry statement about her decision to be fat is worded like so:
“If I’d stayed with my “treatment team,” I’d be as exuberant and fit as one of those “after” models in a Jenny Craig ad, crowing about all the energy I have now and all the cute clothes I can wear. I defiantly remain a “before.” I am 250 pounds. I wear a size 24. ”
Are we supposed to be applauding her decision to live an unhealthy lifestyle? Why is it that society has no problem shaming smokers (which, although horrific, is actually not as catastrophic for your health as being a size 24) yet we stand up to applaud people who post their “fatkinis” to Instagram as role models?
It gets worse.
“Losing weight may be as simple as joining a walking after work Meetup or forgoing the homemade cupcakes a co-worker brings in on Monday, but I’m not interested in sacrifices. Not anymore.”
How interested are you in sacrificing twenty years of your life? Because that’s what you’re doing by having a BMI over 35. Bogart makes it sounds as though people who exercise and eat a healthy diet are making themselves miserable on the daily.
Guess what? Most people like exercising. It releases endorphins and hormones that give you a natural high. I enjoy my egg white omelets and strawberry-banana smoothies just as much as any donut I’ve ever had—probably more, because I know they aren’t ACTIVELY KILLNG ME.
She then makes this brilliant observation:
“When you’re obese, you are your body.” Guess what? You are ALWAYS your body. Whether you’re thin, obese, or somewhere inbetween, everybody everywhere is judging your appearance. Accept that. You’re not a special snowflake just because you’re choosing to be fat.
“I remember meeting with my thesis advisor in my final week of college. I was the thinnest I’d ever been, a size 12. Starvation shrank my stomach into a fist. I felt dizzy, but I felt light, and that was all that mattered.” Oh, come ON. Nobody needs to starve to be a size 12. You can comfortably eat 2400 calories a day and maintain that weight. In other words, you could eat steak tacos at Chipotle three times a day and STILL have 300 calories or so left over.
She talks about how confident she is in herself now. “In this moment, I know that no matter what happens to me, no matter what I’ll endure, I am powerful.”
Fine. Good for her. I’m glad she’s happy. But she’s also a liar.
Ms. Bogart commented on the link that my friend shared, saying that she felt honored that people felt she was a role model. So I clicked on her Facebook profile.
Miraculously, there are exactly no photos of her on her profile. She’s so proud of herself and her choice to be fat that she’s decided to not put any pictures of herself on the internet. I call nonsense.
We need to stop glorifying obesity. We need to stop accepting it as a lifestyle choice. By making obesity an acceptable choice, we ARE being role models—role models for unhealthy living, for diabetes, for heart disease. We are dooming children to a life of depression and poor self-esteem.
Because, despite what the anti-body shamers say, we will never be able to convince society that obesity that is beautiful. It’s just bad evolutionary biology. Humans like healthy, symmetrical bodies. There’s nothing wrong with being a healthy size 8 or size 34-36 waist. But a 250 pound size 24 woman won’t ever be considered physically beautiful. Do you want to doom your children to a life of that?
So, yes, I encourage exercise and healthy eating with my children. I allow them to have candy and cookies, but only as a treat, and only in moderation. As a result, my six-year-old son would rather eat salad than pizza. He will never choose to be fat.
Because choosing to be fat isn’t just choosing to be fat. It’s choosing to have a life full of health issues, self-esteem problems, and loneliness.
It’s a bad choice, and Ms. Bogart shouldn’t be celebrated for making it.