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We Must Stop Policing Fat Bodies: Fat People Are Not A Monolith

Michael Poley of Poley Creative for AllGo

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First, let me start this conversation by saying this may be triggering for lots of people. I will discuss weight loss a lot in this article. Please take care of yourself. 

When did our (Fat Liberation) movement turn into policing fat bodies – when they diet, get weight loss surgery, or do whatever the hell they want with their bodies?

I’ve been thinking about how the fat community engages or disengages with fat people who intentionally lose weight. I realize that I’m personally uncomfortable with the practice of disposing of people who are still invested in weight loss. I’m not supporting diets, but I’m saying, have grace for those who do go on a diet because we are not the British Monarchy. 

I Know How Violent Fatphobia Is, and I Want to Put My Energy Towards the System That Keeps it Together, Not Policing Fat Bodies. 

The health care system does not prioritize fat people. It punishes us. When you’re a double, triple, or quadruple minority, it totally makes sense for people to do something that makes their experience a tad bit better.  

In an interview with Shae Marie, she says, “It’s something about body image that brings out the worst in women. It’s like people want you to consider them when making decisions about your body”.

I understand collective struggle, but why are we policing fat bodies?

Fat people are justified in not wanting to hear about weight loss, but fat people are not a monolith!

Our personal triggers cannot be used to cancel folks. WE WILL NOT CANCEL US.

Our fight is with fatphobia, not with the people in our community trying to navigate being denied access to care, housing, jobs, travel, etc. 

I do not believe that fat people are unhealthy or have to lose weight to access health. Also, not everyone is going to be healthy. Period!

However, I believe that we have turned our fight against diet culture and a violent medical system into a fight against the people we want to be in the community with. 

Fat people are fighting to be seen as a whole person, but you’re taking that away from them when you chose to see their weight.

Shae Marie 

We know that weight discrimination is systematic and our limited access to thrive as fat people because of how violent fatphobia is.

We cannot dispose of other fats simply because they intentionally lose weight.

policing fat bodies
Shae Marie 

Is your love for me contiguous upon my weight, and if so, I thought we were more than our weight?

– Shae Marie 

We cannot make our fight be against individuals and instead focus on the violence we ALL experience from a fatphobic system. 

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Image via All Go

In a conversation with a fat friend, she discussed how many times fat people are denied services. If a fat person is being denied an exam due to their weight, how do we have empathy for them when their response is a diet? 

This is very real! 

I recognize that this conversation may be triggering for some and maybe a conversation that we are all not ready to have, but we have to have it at some point. 

We are not fighting for body prison. We are fighting for body liberation.

We must treat each other with care. Some fats are still being treated violently by the medical community and do not have the resources to fight for our access to quality health. We have to stop policing fat bodies.

While we know that health is not achievable for everyone, we must give grace to people who are doing what they think is best for their bodies and survival.

The fear of that fat person losing weight and turning fatphobic is real and has happened many times. Some would argue that they already had internalized fatphobia.

But I still struggle with the practice of canceling people who chose to initiate weight loss & alienating them from the community.

What is body autonomy in the fat community?

It appears that we are weaponizing our fight against systematic oppression and making it individualized. It’s not productive to gatekeep fat spaces from people who intentionally lose weight.

Attack the fatphobic system and not people!

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Written by Amapoundcake

What do you think?

4 Comments

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  1. I agree with the piece, on the grounds that people who are desperately seeking weight loss deserve to make decisions about their own bodies. We should respect their choices. That said, what too often happens is that the dieter (or bariatric surgery patient) starts trying to convince others that they should do the same. Dieters can be very unpleasant to be around, especially if you are fat and working to be at peace with it. If someone is working to become smaller, but wants to keep their fat friends, they should work hard at accepting the size of their friends without judging them, or giving unwanted advice.

  2. I gave up and left any of those Facebook pages. if I want to loose weight or not or whatever I choose I didn’t want to be told I was fat phobic or if I discussed something that was common to everyone like say, chub rub, did want to be told I was fat phobic for promoting stereotypes.

    That said I have doctors who now to judge my heath by other criteria besides weight and I have been a healthy large lady. and yes I like the phrase large lady. I can use whatever term I want to talk about myself. obese, fat, large, lovely, whenever I choose and no one will tell me otherwise.

    this is a conversation well over due and people are out of control PC fat ness. I’m not going to not talk about real stuff because you don’t want to. And people were telling me you can’t say this you can’t say that. hey if I want to know what works best to help the summer stinks during a heatwave in the curves don’t tell me I can’t ask that question because it perpetuates stereotypes because I’m not a stereotype I’m a reality.

    yeah guess you hit a nerve. lol

  3. Exactly! If I want to ask people if they have any good solutions for the summer sweat in the curves I don’t need to be told I’m promoting stereotypes. That’s my reality! And yes that is what I was told. I gave up on the fat pages. If I want to call my self, fat, obese, large and lovely or whatever that’s my prerogative and I’m so sick of being told what to do. If I want to drop a few pounds because I feel it’s good for me at that time then that’s fine too. I don’t go to places that shame me because I am fat or because I want to talk about being fat.

    These pages are out of control in the opposite direction of helpful.

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