Quarantine has opened up a new avenue for body shame. My inboxes and social media feeds are suddenly full of articles about how to avoid gaining weight during this period of isolation. Apparently, some people think staying home might make me fatter. Even though I haven’t said one damn word about the topic, they are just sure that I am interested in reading about how to avoid weighing any more than I already do.
This isn’t new. Fat bodies are subject to criticism every minute of every day. Even when nobody is saying something mean to me or about me, I can’t turn around without seeing someone disparage fatness and fat people in general.
It’s just a little extra exhausting right now.
I can’t see my parents, throw a birthday party for my kid, celebrate holidays the way I usually do, send my kids to school, go shopping or really leave my home at all unless I have an emergency. Every single thing is topsy-turvy.
Obviously, what I really need in my life right now are diet tips. Why not throw in a few “inspirational” fitness posts, and memes about how fat everyone is going to get (because using fat bodies as a punchline is so original)?
Yippee. All of my favorite things. Awesome. Thanks.
People somehow think it’s different right now because they could argue that they’re not shaming fat people specifically; they’re reminding all of us to watch out for the “quarantine fifteen.”
Well, you can save your handy list of weight management ideas because I don’t need anyone to use this quarantine as an excuse to body shame me.
No thanks. All set.
You can mean well and still do the wrong thing. Sending a fat person unsolicited tips about food and weight management isn’t cool under normal circumstances. Quarantine doesn’t make it okay. It makes it more annoying.
It’s ridiculous that this cultural obsession with other people’s weight has carried over even while we are all stuck in our own homes trying to avoid the same deadly illness. COVID-19 is ravaging the planet, but ya know. Don’t get fat(ter)! That would be the worst thing.
Even in crisis mode, we don’t get a break from the constant reminders that fat people are “supposed to” be perpetually dieting–and we should actually be kicking it up a notch because what else do we have to do, right?
It’s not like we are working from home and trying to homeschool our kids and make our lives work with absolutely none of our usual support system in place or anything.
I’m not saying that changing your eating or movement habits is a bad idea. It’s not. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on food and exercise if it’s giving you a much-needed sense of control and not negatively affecting your mental health. A lot of people rely on intentional movement because the endorphin rush helps keep their head above water. I want everyone to do whatever gets them through. Don’t hurt yourself physically or mentally, but do what makes you happy and healthy.
Just don’t take it upon yourself to assume that every fat person you know is just dying to know about your beet juice cleanse or your seven zillion squats per day challenge simply because we are fat.
Unless someone asks for your help, fat bodies aren’t your business, and we don’t need to be rescued. We are the experts on our own bodies, and you have no idea how we are eating or moving or what the scale is telling us.
You don’t know because we can’t hang out and chat about it– because we are in SELF-ISOLATION to try to stop the spread of a FATAL VIRUS.
Do you think that for the duration of this crisis you could possibly just not take every opportunity to remind us that you don’t think our bodies are acceptable and we “should be” actively working to change them?
For most people, food is tied to every celebration and holiday. Food holds memories and connects us to people who we’ve lost. Sure, food is fuel, but it’s more than that, and everyone knows it. There’s nothing immoral about eating once in a while simply because it tastes good and it makes you happy. Right now, we are all clinging to any shred of enjoyment and comfort we can muster. It’s okay if food is part of that right now.
This is true for people of every size. Even fat ones.
The world is upended in a way it’s never been before in our lifetime. Being so vigilant about social distancing and self-isolation is hard. I’d usually consider myself a homebody, but I am beginning to feel a serious void. I desperately miss the people I love. Celebrating birthdays and holidays without our usual crew of family and friends is sad. The economy is fragile. People are suffering and dying. Our leadership is…not great.
This is A LOT.
So, you’ll have to find a way to understand if making myself less fat is not making the list of things I can remotely pretend to think about right now. Don’t come at me with weight control ideas right now. If I come out of quarantine a few pounds heavier, so be it. I can worry about that — or not — when the world makes sense again.
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