August 5th, 2018

How suggesting weight loss for health reasons feels to me

When meeting a health care professional, future employer, or you know, strangers on the street, I as a fat person, run the risk of being subjected to ‘The Speech’.
As most fat people are aware, ‘The Speech’ is a lecture about being fat, bad life choices, and please fix it as soon as possible, so we, the public, by all means, can ignore you like we do everyone else. My fat is a source of criticism, ridicule, and health trolling.

During ‘The Speech’ suggestions on how to fix it will be made. From stopping eating full stop to the newest rage, bariatric surgery. Everyone knows someone who’s had one and is over the moon about it. Good on them, but not my path.

Here’s how you sound to me:
“Did you know that people with red hair are more susceptible to getting a sunburn? This increases the risk of skin cancer. So what all people with red hair should do, to avoid this, is dye their hair.”
That’s why I look at you with that dissociated gaze. That’s what I hear.

Seriously, would you tell a redhead to dye their hair to avoid skin cancer? No?
Then don’t tell a fat person to lose weight for health reasons. We know the drill. We’ve heard ‘The Speech’ a thousand times.
And frankly, you’re making the matter worse sooner than helping. Your advice won’t mean that we will consider another diet/surgery, but is far more likely to cause that we will avoid you.
Which in the end means we can’t leave our house. Because you are not alone with your annoying, nagging, broken record of the ‘but your health’ message. Which by the way is not scientifically supported. (And no, ‘but everyone knows that’ is not scientific. It’s cognitive dissonance!)

We’ll avoid going to a doctor. Avoid going to a gym, or do other things that might be beneficial to our health and well being, just to not run into you.
I’m sure this will achieve your goal of not seeing fat people around, so you can safely go out and pretend you either helped us, or we don’t exist anymore.
But how is ‘The Speech’ helping me?