Back when I was excruciatingly skinny, no one gave a good goddamn about my health. As my collarbone jutted further and further out of my skin, it was always assumed that I was in peak physical condition. The harsh reality was that during this time, I was secretly in the throes of a nasty eating disorder. As the chemical-laden diet pills ran loose inside my teenage body, I’d receive compliment after compliment for appearing to have it all together. Not a single person had a fucking clue, or dared to confirm, that I was killing myself to be thin.
Since that time, I have successfully healed my eating disorder and am in some of the best overall health of my life. I also happen to currently have 75 pounds of added weight on me. Now that I’m in a body that doctors have deemed “medically obese,” everyone has decided to finally chime in about my health.
Not only are y’all too fucking late, but my health is none of your goddamn business.
Unless you are a doctor holding my medical records in your hands, you are not allowed to make generalized assumptions about the state or condition of my body. And even those in the medical profession need to take a big step back before you assume anything about me because of my size. The bullshit BMI system has been totally dismantled, health at every size is a legitimate movement, and being labeled as “medically obese” has had no fucking bearing on my energy, vitality, stamina, flexibility, or strength.
And yet, I continue to live in a society that condones, promotes, and even celebrates the shaming of fat people.
On January 8th, Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels thought it would be fun to go on record and shit all over the perceived health of one of our world’s most celebrated singers. Michaels thought she could mask all of her bullying by focusing on her love of Lizzo’s music, but we heard the fitness trainer loud and clear. While the Grammy-nominated artist was overseas in Australia helping brush-fire victims, Michaels was harnessing some incredibly poor timing and spewing out her ass that it “isn’t going to be awesome” if Lizzo “gets diabetes.”
Michaels went even further and questioned why anyone should ever praise a fat person for living their life fully and embracing their size. Because apparently every damn one of us is going straight to medical hell, so there’s no point in loving ourselves to begin with.
But, come on. Are we even shocked that one of TV’s biggest and most outspoken personalities is health-trolling fat people? Michaels has built a multi-million dollar business out of forcing weight loss onto people by any means necessary. She’s been sued multiple times for selling toxic and ineffective diet pills. And she’s helped turn shedding pounds into a warped version of The Hunger Games.
Since everyone seems to be making some wild assumptions these days, I’m going to assume that part of Michaels’ involvement in the show has something to do with the years she spent being fat-shamed as a child. While I’m not going to comment on her choice to live in a thin body now or her experience of living in a larger body during her youth, I am going to question the validity of her efforts to endorse a television program that transforms fat-bodied folks into skeletal versions of themselves.
Studies have been done on previous “Biggest Loser” participants, proving that their metabolic systems are now shot to shit. Former contestants have threatened to sue the show, stating that producers promoted an environment of starvation, pressured them to take drugs like Adderall and FDA-banned Ephedra, withheld water from them, and forced them to obsessively exercise. And let’s not forget that during season two, five contestants apparently had to be rushed to the hospital and some participants straight up passed out at the finale weigh-in.
“People would take amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom,” former contestant Suzanne Mendonca said in a 2016 TV Guide interview. “They would take their spin bikes into the steam room to work up a sweat. I vomited every single day. Bob Harper tells people to throw up. ‘Good,’ he says. ‘You’ll lose more calories.’”
Speaking of Bob Harper, remember when he had a near-fatal heart attack? Here we all were praising his thinness based on the assumption that it afforded him immunity from most health challenges, while one of his most prominent organs ended up proving to us otherwise.
To anyone out there who thinks that living freely and wholly in a fat body automatically translates to “glorifying obesity,” I have a humbling newsflash for you. The only reason that phrase even exists is because the term “obesity” has become incorrectly synonymous with poor health across the board. Since there are a shit ton of people out there who have plenty of fat on their bodies and are medically healthy, those who accuse others of unjustifiably praising larger bodies are starting to sound ignorant as fuck.
If any number of thin people are struggling with their physical health, none of us have any business questioning whether a fat person has the potential to be healthy or not. In fact, we have no business commenting on a fat person’s body at all. So cut the shit. Stop health-trolling. Go tend to your own personal health and stop yammering on about something you know little to nothing about. If you aren’t living in the body of the person you are health-shaming, you have no right to be shaming them in the first place.
When Jillian Michaels tears down someone with as much extraordinary vigor, endurance, and talent as Lizzo, she is also choosing to tear down every other fabulous, fat-bodied human being out there – including me. And I will not accept that quietly. Don’t pretend you care about my health, JM. You don’t. You care about a bottom line. And that bottom line is profiting off of people’s insecurities under the guise of fitness.
And to the rest of the population out there who thinks it’s totally cool to come at me with unfounded health claims just because of the fat on my bod, you can kiss my big ass while it’s shaking to Lizzo’s “Good As Hell.”