In my last couple of posts I've been looking at the backlash Fat Acceptance often faces. A common "stray fattie" charge is that fat activists are in denial about health concerns. Basically, they are so certain in their righteous that we don't merely disagree but are in denial. The fairly broad "nuance" of what Fat Activists actually are saying is irrelevant to them. We disagree with their assertions so they declare we are claiming the exact opposite of what they are. That fat is the paradigm of good health just as they claim thinness is.
They aren't interested in discourse, but rather enforcing the rules the powerful have set for our social conversation about health. We will never win playing within their rules, because their rules already dictate the outcome. That's why they want us to play by their conventions and dictates. Their conversation about fatness only allows one outcome and this enables them to distort our claims as they try to force them into their guidelines.
What Fat Acceptance must do is forge a new conversation. I think we see a relation to this in fretting about "good fatties" and "bad fatties". That moral dichotomy is informed entirely by the rules of fat hatred. They've decided we are bad. We will never be able to prove our "goodness" within their rules, but likewise we will never be able to excuse our "badness" either. I honestly haven't seen a fat activist suggest the former, that being "good" fat people was a solution but I have seen the later where activists bristle at discussions about so-called "good fatties" preferring to argue that health is not a moral imperative. Neither, though, would be effective although both speak to a truth that I think could be our key. We need to tear down the conventions which confine us in order to start a new conversation about fat health. We can't play by their rules, but we can't deny them, either. We need to confront them to dismiss them so we can move forward.
In the comments of this article, Silentbeep made a very astute observation about why we talk about so-called "good fatties". The point is not to exault them but to demonstrate "health variance when it comes to fatness". The current rules to discuss fat and health deny this. There is one outcome. One option. We need to show that this is a sham, that how they are defining health is functionally flawed. "Good fatties" aren't playing by the rules, they are invalidating them.
But this isn't an end. We need to move past this lest we be offered defensive indulgences where we are "allowed" to be fat so long as do all the "right" things. Its not about winning acceptance on their terms but completely revolutionizing what we understand to be right. And that means refusing to promote health as a moral imperative.
Fat activists don't deny that fat can impact health. We deny the conclusions drawn about that. Both about individual health and about personal morality or responsibility. Fat people have unique health concerns that need to be addressed. The issue is that our current system doesn't do that. It fails the health needs of fat people by insisting on stigmatizing fat and promoting failed treatments that do nothing to address one's health. They say that fat activists don't care about the health of fat people, but I say that's 100% false. We DO care about the health of fat people and that's why we demand better than futile weight loss dieting. They've had decades to enforce their views and its done nothing. We need to stop this and start finding ways to serve fat people's health needs with respect for their body. Not with an insistence that the body change before you start caring. That's not the conversation they want to happen, but its what must happen.
It isn't wrong to be fat and have diabetes. It isn't wrong to be fat and have high blood pressure. It isn't wrong. It just is. And we need to demand treatments that address what is an issue instead of trying to change our body into something else. Not only does this ignore what's actually going on, it doesn't work. We need to say that and demand better. We need to demand a new conversation.
Shame isn't a very useful tool in improving health to begin with and its utterly perverse that we shame people into treatments that will fail them. A dieter who regains the weight lost is not a failure. Those results ARE typical and is our cultural dictates on fat and health that are failing them. It needs to be okay to talk about how we are "good fatties" as well as how we are "bad fatties". Because this isn't about good vs. bad. This is about something different, something new. That is the conversation we need to have.