Right now I AM the fatty I dreamed so long of being. My quality of life is amazing and only seems to improve with each and every day that I do not think to reduce my size in the vain hope of growing my happiness.
In my life I have dreamed of the life I could have as a thinner, smaller woman. The life, in my mind, that my fat body was preventing me from having. I dreamed of all the many ways that drastically altering my own body would somehow also drastically improve every chance at glory that I ever possibly imagined I could have. I dreamed of being a wonderful dancer, of being a fabulous musician, of having so much confidence that my mere smile could bring people comfort. And yet it was not until I stopped fighting my poor body’s natural inclination to remain large that I ever managed to succeed at any of those. And yet, succeed I did in beginning to lead a life of immense quality; thanks to learning to treat myself with respect and caring, something which much of the rest of the world is all to eager to deny me.
I was really moved in the last few days by both a post over at Fat Heffalump and the post that spurred it by Bri at Fat Lot of Good. Both ponder the idea, studied by one Dr Haomiao Jia from Columbia University, New York who claims the obesity’s ‘burden’ on quality and quantity of life has more than doubled in just 15 years. This belief that somehow being fat means you are inherently less happy and therefore living a lower quality of life that you would be if you were, say, flying high and mighty in the “normal” BMI range is so fraught with assumptions and, as Bri points out, the science of “estimation”:
The dead give away as to the level of credibility that should be endowed upon Dr Jia’s research is this little gem…
Each year, the respondent sample size varied, from a low of about 100,000 to a high of more than 400,000, and included adults from across the country. Jia and Lubetkin estimated the effect of obesity on quality and quantity of life
Estimation is not science people. Estimation is not cold hard fact. Estimation is not causation. Sorry Dr Jia but estimation just isn’t good enough. So you can take your brilliant idea that my weight affects my quality of life and you can jam it. I have the best quality of life I have ever had in my 36 (almost 37) years and that is largely because I have come a long way on the path to self acceptance – no thanks to researchers like you.
Exactly! Estimation is not science, no matter how much it confirms your own bias regarding the research you’re doing!!
What I really felt summed up my thoughts well on the topic was Fat Heffalump’s bit on WHY someone fat might experience the sort of lower quality life that researchers seemed bent on assigning to all of us non-normal BMI havers:
Being fat doesn’t make your quality of life lower. The things that make your quality of life lower are being dismissed by doctors as needing to lose weight when you have allergies, or a sore throat, or anything else completely unrelated to the size and shape of your body. It’s when you’re ridiculed on the street by douchebags who think that your effect on their penis is the only value you hold. It’s when you cannot buy reasonably priced, fashionable, well-made clothing because the clothing industry believes you are not worth catering to. It’s when complete strangers start giving you unsolicited advice on how to change your body to suit their standards of acceptability. It’s when the media and marketing tell you that you are lazy, dirty, smelly, disgusting, gross, stupid, unhealthy and so on simply because of the size and shape of your body. It’s when you’re constantly made to feel like you are worthless because you do not conform to an arbitrary measure of what is normal or acceptable. (From this post, bolding is mine)
Indeed. The best way to make people stop experiencing a lower quality of life, is to stop TREATING them like lower creatures! If the world would stop acting like anyone over some arbitrary size is unworthy of basic human respect, perhaps then people over that size could more easily (without the sorts of battles that the few of us trying to find our paths of self acceptance here in the FA and other acceptance circles have to fight every moment) find it possible to get and feel respect and respected.
I think perhaps some of these journalism warning labels should be provided when such articles arise in the future. I especially like this one: “Medical claims in this article have not been confirmed by peer-reviewed research.” It would fit nicely onto any article of a nature which asserts a Normative Truth based up estimations, guesswork, and confirmation bias interpretations of results.
So to the media I would love to say: Stop making judgments on my life and its purported quality based upon my appearance! I am not a statistic. We are not the pathetic creatures you would like us to be so that your little model of the Sad Fatty could continue to bump up weight loss company profits.
You want the truth? I am happy. I am active. I love, I eat, I breathe, and move and dance and play and smile and laugh and learn and LIVE! I am more the person now that I dreamed of being than I ever was when dieting or even when AT a smaller size; and this is at the fattest size/shape I’ve ever had. And I am the rule, NOT the exception. There is no need to constantly defend your fat self (or your pets’ fat selves) with declarations like “yes, but I also eat right and exercise a lot!!” No! No one has to defend their size or shape or ANYTHING about their bodies to anyone else. BE that positive portrayal of a person that you already are!
I think Fat Heffalump put it wonderfully:
We are the positive portrayals of fat people that we wish to see more of. They’re not going to come from the mainstream media and marketing for some time yet, and when they do, it will have been damn hard work to get them there. So we have to fill that void as best we can ourselves. To promote ourselves and our Fat Acceptance peers as much as possible. (From this post, emphasis mine)
So you know what? To the media who continues to support and re-iterate without thought the work of folks like Dr. Jia and all their ilk: Suck it. That’s right: suck it! Just because you WANT to find results proving that my life’s quality and quantity is lacking and quickly likely to diminish does NOT make it so! You know that “Obesity Paradox” which keeps showing how living a life not in fear of food or loathing the idea of exercising just for the sake of shrinking; it ISN’T paradoxical, okay?
We are the rule, not the exception. And if my happiness and healthiness and manner of enjoying this life without feeling that I need to alter my body makes you uncomfortable, all the better! I WANT you to squirm with your unconfirmed beliefs as my life, that I live so well, flies in the face of all your worst fears. I am finally being the person that I dreamed I could be only as a thinner person. It just turns out that this person happens to be as fat as I am now. So, I’m Being Fat At You, okay? And I will CONTINUE being fat at you, doing my own small part to carve a niche in this world where Fat does not automatically equal Unloved, Unrespected, Undreamed of. And I’ll be loving every high-quality fatty minute of it.