To be sure, direct threats of violence are an insidious part of our cultural discourse for many groups. I know from personal experience that fat activists can be subjected to to this. This is different from the kinds of death threats that are so routine for fat people. Just, its not as different as we may like to think. Its not about a threat of immediate violence to enforce the threat, but its still telling people they will die if they do not do as the powerful wish them to. That is a part of life for many fat people. We are told we will die if we do not lose weight. We are blamed for our own prospective deaths for not doing as we had been told.
It is an empty threat. The science most deferential to the interests of fat hatred finds a difference of only a couple years in the mortality of fat people as opposed to thin people. Studies which "control" for any thin people who die early and which don't consider factors like fitness or dieting history, still only reduces life expectancy by 3 years for most fat people and only 10 years for the fattest. I'm in no way accepting the validity of these numbers, but this is the most generous reading one can make for the kind of death threats fat people are subjected to and it just doesn't add up. Fat people are not threatened with a death in their mid-60's to early 70's. Inevitably, its always a threat coinciding with the next milestone birthday. A fat child is told they will die before 21 if they don't do as they are told. A fat 20 year old is told they will die before they are 30. Then 40.
And who makes these threats matters as well. They are not just made the vitriolic bigots we may accept this from, but by doctors. By parents. Death threats are precisely a tool of those in authority and it is an abuse of that authority. An abuse of that trust. The point of death threats is the perception that they will be followed up on. Whether they are or not is immaterial to their value as a tool of oppression. It is about enforcing authority through fear and that is precisely what happens to fat men and women. To fat boys and girls. They believe they will die if they don't do as they are told. Those in authority have told them so. They have told them they won't live past a couple years unless they do as they are told. It is a threat which fuels a culture of mutilation of healthy bodies in the name of "healing". A threat which supports a multi-billion industry happy to sell self-loathing with a heavy price tag. That it is empty doesn't matter. Indeed, this is very much like many direct death threats when used in political discourse. Its not about the enforcement, its about creating the fear.
A terrible price is paid for this fear. The price is paid in the many who DO die while doing as they are told. In the loss of quality of life for countless others. It is paid by the feelings of hopelessness and despair when you tell someone they will die if they don't so something that is impossible for so many to do. They live their lives expecting death and often make decisions to fulfill that prophecy. Imagine the experience of these people who are desperate to lose weight, certain that they won't live to start their lives. Certain they won't live to see a child grow up. Certain they won't live if they don't do as they are told. Now think of those who have tried to do as they are told but like the vast majority finding these efforts to be in vain. What is done to these people is cruel and inhuman and it must end.
We must reject this violent rhetoric and the false pretense of good intentions which serves as a rampart for those who question it. That those who oppress fat people think they are in the right is immaterial. Oppressors always do. Their death threats are lies. Lies which have harmed the lives of far too many and we must say enough. We must stand the line. The rhetoric of fat stigmatization is about far more that making people feel a little less pretty, as those who demean the purpose of fat acceptance might suggest. This about a life of fear and hopelessness that is imposed upon millions and millions of fat people. Fat acceptance isn't just about reclaiming our beauty, it is about reclaiming our lives from the looming specter of destruction that is considered so ordinary that few even think to question it. Fat acceptance is about a lot of things. Fighting the death threats used to oppress fat people is absolutely one of them.