Why Your 'Promoting Obesity' Comments Are Totally Wrong

Why Your ‘Promoting Obesity’ Comments Are Totally Wrong

Lindsay Wolf/Instagram

I am so fucking tired of strangers on the internet telling me what to do with my body.

I was minding my own business on Instagram the other day, posing in my fat birthday suit and letting my plus-sized flag fly. Whenever I do my self-love thing, tons of women love-bomb me on the regular with words of gratitude and appreciation that make my heart all warm and gooey. They are the ones I’m sharing my story for, and they are the bright spots in my day as society continues to scream at me to lose weight.

But then there are the assholes who see a fat lady with a smile on her face and decide to stick their ridiculous “unsolicited advice” hats on. They publicly comment and make the bullshit claim that I’m “promoting obesity” since my posts don’t include my diet and exercise regimen. They try to school me on all of the supposed health ailments solely associated with weight gain and ask me why I don’t take better care of myself. Some have even seen the photos I post sharing my journey of overcoming an eating disorder and accuse me of just going from one bodily extreme to another.

One of my all-time favorite trolls was a woman who not so innocently stumbled upon my page and decided to write this.

“I’m honestly genuinely curious,” she starts. “What are your labs? Do you have any health issues that are weight related? Diabetes, hypertension, [your] arteries, [and] heart? Loving ourselves at any size is great, but you can’t love yourself if you aren’t around anymore due to health issues. Diet culture isn’t just people who want to be a size one. It’s people who care about longevity to be around for their children and grandchildren.”

Yes, Brenda, I do know what my fucking labs say. They are clean as a goddamn whistle. Not that I need to show them to you, since my health is (A) none of your fucking business, and (B) absolutely not connected to my inherent worth and value as a human being.

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You don’t owe anyone pretty. You don’t owe anyone perfect. You don’t owe anyone thinness. You don’t owe anyone complacency. You don’t owe anyone your energy. You don’t owe anyone your time. You don’t owe anyone conformity. You don’t owe anyone your spirit. You don’t owe anyone an answer. You don’t owe anyone a smile. You don’t owe anyone achievement. You don’t owe anyone acclaim. You don’t owe anyone limitation. You don’t owe anyone agreement. You don’t owe anyone comfort. You don’t owe anyone flat abs. You don’t owe anyone youth. You don’t owe anyone a small butt. You don’t owe anyone your love. You don’t owe anyone weight loss. You don’t owe anyone likability. You don’t owe anyone loyalty. You don’t owe anyone anything. You belong to yourself first – and your stamp of approval matters most. Before you give, give, give away everything, please remember to fill yourself up first. Women are the healers, the lovers, the mothers, and the compassionate activists of the world. Tend to you before you tend to others, and see how much more brightly your light can shine.🔥🌈 #selflove

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Let’s unpack this insidious comment, shall we? This diet culture fanatic claims there are health issues that are exclusively “weight related,” and yet thin people can easily get all of them. Yep, you read that right. Skinny people are equally as prone to health problems. Here are a few rad studies to back me up:

First, there’s the one where researchers discovered that people with high blood pressure in a “normal” BMI range have the exact same risk for heart attacks or strokes as obese people.

“The results in this case still showed normal weight people with hypertension have similar(ly) high absolute risk as obese people,” lead study author Laura A. Colangelo of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago tells Reuters Health.

Colangelo goes on to explain that in the past 30 years, certain research has even provided evidence to surmise that thin people have it surprisingly worse than fat folks when it comes to heart conditions.

“Some studies done in the past 30 years suggested that for the adverse outcomes associated with hypertension – such as heart attacks and stroke – lean or normal weight people with hypertension had worse outcomes than overweight or obese people with hypertension,” she says.

Well, how about that.

Then there’s the study that spans four decades and involves more than 100,000 adults in Denmark. Researchers in this one discovered that those with a slightly elevated BMI were more likely to live longer than thin people.

The research also found that people in the “medically obese” category ended up having the exact same risk for death as those in the “normal” BMI range, even when a varied number of lifestyle factors were considered.

I’m not stopping there, Brenda. Why would I?

Did you know about the study proving that thin unhealthy people are twice as likely to get diabetes as fit fat people? (And yes, fat folks can be fit.) Or the one with solid fucking evidence that concluded that up to 75% of the “medically obese” population is metabolically healthy?

I’ll bet you 50 sit-ups that you didn’t.

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My daughter is growing up in a home where she doesn’t have to smile if she doesn’t want to. She doesn’t have to hug someone when she’s feeling uncomfortable. She doesn’t need to let the boys chase her incessantly, and she certainly doesn’t need to conform to a single gender norm she doesn’t feel good about. My daughter is growing up around a mom who feels grateful every day that her little girl inspired her own self-love revolution. My daughter will know about the injustices of the world, her privilege, and her responsibility to herself & others. She will continue to teach me about life just as much – and often more – than I teach her. She will know why we have or don’t have a female president this year, why it’s important to be an ally, and that she can love whoever she wants to. My daughter is growing up in a home where inner worth is valued first and the rest is just icing on the vegan cake. She is learning how to say “no” and “yes” and understand the power & distinction of both. She is dancing alongside her happy, fat mama & shaking her phenomenal body to Lizzo alongside the grown woman around her. She is watching her mom enjoy food as both fuel and nourishment. She is seeing a mother who moves her body from a place of joy & celebration, not punishment or restriction. And she is learning everyday to take up as much space as she needs and wants. My daughter is growing each day to have a loving relationship with her emotions, she is embracing her feelings of being seen & heard as she works through tough stuff, and she is witnessing her mama do exactly the same thing for the first time in her entire life. My daughter is here to explore with me, here to evolve, and here to fly. And I am so damn excited to watch her soar. 🔥🎉

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Proving to the fatphobic jerks of the world that larger people aren’t just ticking health time-bombs exhausts the hell out of me. So why the fuck am I even doing it? Because I’m equally exhausted with the bigotry, prejudice, and oppression in this world, and I can’t stay quiet about it anymore.

Interestingly enough, how I feel is exactly why the social justice movement of body positivity was created.

I can imagine that Brenda’s panties are all in a twist now. Did this writer just dare to connect the ever popular phrase “body positivity” with something more than a cute social media movement where thin, white women share their love of all things cellulite and embrace their stretch marks? What the fuck does body positivity have to do with social justice?

Before I answer, I’d like to suggest that you stop chugging the diet-culture Kool Aid and get ready for a little history lesson.

With just a few simple Google search entries, one can easily find the true roots of body positivity. An extension of the 1960s fat acceptance revolution, this movement was originally a social justice crusade aiming to uplift, advocate for, and protect the inherent rights and dignity of marginalized fat people. After it began, body positivity activists started promoting a more inclusive message (that I personally believe is also a courtesy to rest of the world) and speaks volumes about their integrity. The movement allowed their definition to expand to people of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, genders, sexual identities, and abilities.

Of course, thin, white women saw this invitation and claimed it for themselves. Are we even shocked? This has undoubtedly led the vast majority of society to think that being “body positive” just means being cool with a little jiggle. And while it is great that body positivity has evolved to help us all love ourselves, it’s also super fucking important to remember who it was originally intended to empower.

Black queer writer and fat activist Ari Bines sums it up best in her 2018 article for Babe. “The essence of body positivity is quite similarly the sizeism equivalent to racism and the #BlackLivesMatter movement,” she explains. “So in the same way that Black people are struggling with living their lives in their melanin skin without getting shot down like animals is how fat people are trying to munch freely on salad without receiving dirty looks.”

Bines then boldly compares all of the conventionally thin Brendas out there who feel they’re being shamed by the fat advocates fighting for equality to the racist white people who made the hashtag #AllLivesMatter.

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If there is ever a moment when you see my image & think I’m beautiful, awesome, and lovable, but you can’t for the life of ya figure out how to feel that way about yourself, I have some thoughts. When you see beauty in ME, it’s because there is beauty in YOU. When you see awesomeness in ME, it’s because I am merely reflecting your awesomeness back to YOU. And when you see lovability in ME, it’s because you are LOVABLE AF. 💖 As complex as the process is to realizing all of this for yourself, it really can be that simple. YOU deserve love. You are supremely awesome as you are. And YOU are so fucking beautiful it’s not even funny how beautiful you are. I mean it. It’s truth. There’s no disputing it. And there’s never the ability to truly take this truth away from you – only to avoid it. Please take a moment to try not avoiding it. Please remember who you are. Who YOU are is BEAUTIFUL, AWESOME, and LOVABLE to ME. 💖🌸 #shameresilience #edrecovery #effyourbeautystandards

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“Straight size people who say bod pos activists are tearing them down are #AllLivesMatter-ing those marginalized bodies. You get me?” she writes. “They’re trying to shut us up and reinstate the idea that Gigi Hadid’s bod is more valuable that Rebel Wilson’s and that just ain’t it, boo.”

You still there, Brenda? Good. I’ll keep going.

To you and anyone else who keeps telling me that I’m “promoting obesity” and I will assuredly die young, I have something to say.

I get that you feel I’m harming myself and others when I tell women they are lovable at any size. I see how you’ve been emboldened to pause your Beach Body routine and warn me of everything that could go wrong in my larger body. I understand that you want to shout “think about your children!” from the rooftops and encourage me to model better behavior for my young daughter.

But honestly? Every single one of you can kiss my fat ass.

When the National Eating Disorder Association needs to remind us that the best-known environmental factor for developing an eating disorder is our societal obsession with thinness, it’s time to stop shaming fat people and start questioning the dangerous cultural conditioning that has you criticizing us in the first place. The sad truth is, diet culture bullshit has become so toxic that most people can’t even keep their mouths shut long enough to allow someone in a larger body the freedom of asserting their natural born right to love themselves.

I wonder where the fuck all the internet haters were when I was a young teen addicted to diet pills. I’m curious to know why all the naysayers remained silent when I was binging and purging my food, obsessively joining Weight Watchers in an already skinny body, and consuming nothing but water to look as tiny as I could in a bikini. And more importantly, what was my destructive, self-hating existence proving to you asshats about thinness back in those days?

While we’re on the subject of disordered eating, it needs to be said that when I publicly reject diet culture it does not automatically mean that I’m telling you to have a food free-for-all anarchy party. Every fucking time a judgmental critic sees me speaking out about the profit-driven weight loss industry, they suspect that I must be advocating for everyone to just eat donuts 24/7 and lay on a couch all day. First of all, I would never push any kind of behavior onto someone that could damage a person’s relationship with food or their body, and it offends me that just because of my size, it is assumed that I would. Second of all, even if a person is doing what these trolls falsely accuse me of encouraging, they are still fucking awesome and worthy of a good, happy life.

These days, I move my body to celebrate what it can do. I enjoy foods that nourish my body and spirit. I tend to my mental health more than I ever have before. I model self-love and healing for all of my children, and I certainly don’t abuse myself anymore to manipulate my body into eternal thinness. I am one of the fortunate women who kept showing up long enough to discover Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size, and I’m thrilled to say that I’ve broken up permanently with diet culture.

Last thing, Brenda.

No one is “promoting obesity” if obesity isn’t inherently a bad thing across the board. Sure, some fat, unhealthy people get sick and die. And so do thin, unhealthy people. To assume that someone like me isn’t taking care of myself simply because I’m fat is to assume that all larger folks are inherently unhealthy. I just showed you what a horrendous lie that is. Your misinformed, discriminating rhetoric is why social justice movements like body-positivity need to exist. It’s why accusing someone of “promoting obesity” is rife with hypocrisy and intolerance. And it’s most certainly one of the primary reasons I’ll continue jiggling my thunder thighs on Instagram.