For the love of all that’s holy: the only person whose health is your business is YOU.

I think one of the more difficult situations to handle (for me, personally) when I come across someone willing to believe that humans come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, INCLUDING Fat, is when the conversation inevitably comes to this phrase, nearly always verbatim: “People DO come in all shapes and sizes. It only gets to be a problem if you’re not healthy.”

*sigh*

No.  Here’s how that phrase should go. “People DO come in all shapes and sizes.”

The end.

As the post title says: the only person whose health is your business is YOU.  NO ONE ELSE’S HEALTH IS YOUR BUSINESS.  That includes fatties, thin-nies, tall, short, greasy-forehead, dry-skin, whatever visual cues you use to judge a person; the health of all those people is NOT your responsibility.  No.  It isn’t.  Yes, most of us pay into health care too for EVERYONE’S health.  That still doesn’t make the health of any one person (or size/shape of person) your Cause Celeb. Is it a family member?  A loved one?  Fine.  Tell them you CARE about them.  Don’t for a minute think you have a right or, worse, a responsibility, to berate them or judge them or proselytize to them about your assumptions about their health.

If I could just find simple ways to move people PAST this point of health being the one caveat to human size diversity acceptance I would be a rather happy April D.  So here’s where I ask you all to pipe in:

When someone you actually like and respect (not a stranger who is attacking you verbally but someone you are good friends with) gets HALF on-board the Fat Acceptance train, how do you push past that “as long as you’re healthy” portion of the discussion?

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6 thoughts on “For the love of all that’s holy: the only person whose health is your business is YOU.

  1. Great point, April, & one of my pet peeves, to some extent even within the fat acceptance movement. Someone will make a good post about fat acceptance & assert that our bodies belong to us, then go on to say “but we need to encourage healthy eating & movement”, or some variation on this theme. My belief is that fat acceptance is a human rights issue…we are all human beings, we ALL deserve full access, full rights, respect, the right not to be bullied, abused, discriminated against, denied education, employment, competent medical care…period. I do not think we need to PROVE what ‘good fatties’ we are, how perfect our health is, or that we live a certain way. Fat is NOT a lifestyle, & we do not live any differently from thin people, but HOW we live & what our health is is no one else’s business.

    Hunger is a big issue in our culture, getting ENOUGH to get is a big problem for many people, &, yes, some of those people are fat. It is a genuine public health issue & it is important that everyone gets ENOUGH to eat. It is not important to try to control exactly what or how much they get to eat, as long as it is adequate for their needs, or to criticize how the many people with very limited resources use those resources for food. It is also, however, not the business of anyone to criticize how or how much anyone who is able to afford enough food spends his/her resources on food, how much or how he or she exercises, or if he/she exercises at all.

    It is also no one’s place to assume that all fat people get sick or all fat people over a certain arbitrary size (I went through this part on my own FA journey, believing that fat was okay UP TO A POINT, then became a health issue) is or soon will be sick. It is definitely not the place of our culture, the medical profession, the pharmaceutical industry, or the media to assume that all thin people are healthy OR that there is one way thin people should be treated, fat people should be treated another way. There are no diseases fat people get that thin people do not also get; both fat & thin people die. Generally, on average, fat people live as long as thin people, longer in many instances. They do not prescribe weight loss for sick thin people, they should not prescribe weight loss for sick fat people either. They do not assume that thin people brought illness on themselves, they should also not assume that for fat people. Many of us, including fat activists, are guilty of totally buying & believing the trope that eating a certain way or exercising a certain amount will promote good health, even though there is no definite proof of that & people with all lifestyles & all eating habits die young or live to be very old. However, even if we had definite proof that eating a certain way or exercising a certain amount guaranteed long life & good health, it is still not our business to tell others how to live, to assume anything about another person, or to assume that the individual owes ‘perfect’ behavior to society. One thing we have far too much of in modern society is the nanny/busybody element. You cannot get away from it if you ever see/read any media. Just this morning, on a news program my husband was watching, the hosts of that program did a PSA basically telling parents that they should not allow a child to eat more cheese than covers 4 dice, a serving of fruit bigger than a tennis ball, or cereal which covers more area than a baseball. We are all apparently robotic clones, & we all want/need exactly the same things in the same amounts. My son & D-i-l had better look out; my granddaughter was very hungry Monday morning & had two bowls of cereal for breakfast.

    You are so right, April, our bodies are no one else’s business, our health is no one else’s business, & there is not a size limit on that fact. I want everyone to have access to all foods in the amounts they need & want & I want all of us to have the right to move our bodies as much as we wish however we wish without being hassled or ridiculed (which in my life has happened much more for my cerebral palsy & the WAY my body moves than my body size.) However, I want us to learn & remember that it is not our business, once we have provided the means for everyone to have enough to eat, to dictate whether they eat whole wheat or white bread, eggs or bran, bacon or tofu, etc. It is especially not our damn business to take it as a personal affront if another person ever gets sick, which seems to happen if the people getting sick are poor & especially if they are fat. We will all die eventually & most of us will have some health problems at one time or another. It is not a moral issue & it is not a matter for public debate. We have a serious need in modern culture to learn real respect for the rights of all & to learn to mind our own business.

  2. Patsy I loved this: It is especially not our damn business to take it as a personal affront if another person ever gets sick, which seems to happen if the people getting sick are poor & especially if they are fat. We will all die eventually & most of us will have some health problems at one time or another. It is not a moral issue & it is not a matter for public debate. ”

    A thousand times: YES! Being healthy is not a moral concern. Being unhealthy (again by whatever metrics being used to determine health) is not a moral concern. A body’s level of health or illness is not a reflection upon one’s ability to hold up a particular ideal or set of behaviors. It is an amalgamation of genetics, environment, cultural ideas of what constitutes “health”, access to foods and safe areas to move and sheer luck. Illnesses need not be “blamed” upon a particular attribute of a person’s body. That does NO ONE any good. So saying that a body’s shape or size is acceptable TO A POINT, is really evidence that someone just doesn’t GET the point: that there is NO arbitrary limit over or under which a person is auto-magically going to be 100% certain of getting all manner of diseases or conditions.

    I think I’m ranting. *climbs off box formerly filled with soaps*

    Anyway, totally agree Patsy that no one owes society a set of behaviors, no matter WHAT they look like!

  3. Thanks very much, April. I was fortunate enough years ago to encounter some of the wonderful ladies from the old Fat Underground, founded over 40 years ago, who educated me on healthism & disabused me of the idea that there was some limit on ‘acceptable fatness.’ I am very grateful to them. I was born with cerebral palsy, I am aging, developing arthritis, & having more issues with balance & deteriorating motor skills (I can no longer put it my french hook earrings & get the little rubber tips on the back, for instance), so I am one of our culture’s least valued members…old, fat, disabled, female. Too bad for our culture. I have no intention of going anywhere for a long time or of allowing anyone else to determine my worth.

    • Oh man those little rubber earring tips suck!

      It is a shame for our culture when amazing people are lumped into categories of people given a white-washed call for Change of some kind or are otherwise swept under the carpet.

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