This morning, a story on the Today Show about a woman who gained 50 pounds intentionally to make a point about being overweight absolutely blew my mind–and not in the way I want to have it blown, especially on a Friday.
“A woman who intentionally gained 50 pounds wants to demonstrate a point about overweight people: They have only themselves to blame for being heavy.
“People have always said to me, all of my life, ‘You’re lucky to be skinny,’ and what I wanted to prove was that there are no excuses for being overweight,” British reality star Katie Hopkins told TODAY.”
Because I’m so flustered by this, here is some word vomit on the topic.
- Every person’s experience of being fat, or thin–of their bodies–is unique to them. There is something in our society that makes people passionate about making fat wrong. What is it, in this woman, that drove her to make this point? Is it hate for fat people? Is it fear of her own body? Is it resentment of people who are fat and happy?
- Why do we feel comfortable commenting on other people’s bodies and on body size? What difference should it make to me if there are fat people in the world? What is so troubling about that to me that it matters enough that I would do something so terrible as gain weight (I say this with a bit of sarcasm, obviously)?
This kind of thing has implications and they aren’t good when it comes to body acceptance and body love. There have been other people who have gained weight as an experiment and talked about it in the media. I’m thinking of one trainer in the news who put on weight in order to learn about the experience his overweight clients have of losing it. But this woman is overtly trying to prove something that reiterates that being fat is a choice and that if you are overweight, there is something wrong with you.
This thin woman has not proven much to me, except that she thinks that she is high and mighty. Of course eating 6,500 calories of junk food a day will make her gain weight. I don’t think that the “obesity epidemic” or that people are overweight is this simplistic. I believe that our weight is something that we have some control over, but that is not the same as thinking that everyone should fit the “normal” BMI, that all fat people are fat for the same reasons or that those reasons have anything to do with their laziness or self control, or that shame is a good motivator for people when it comes to improving their health (I can only assume that there is some thread of “healthy” discourse in all of this).
Unfortunately what this does is contribute to that ever so persistent notion that if someone is fat they must be a pig–something that I don’t believe is such a black and white thing. I hope that other people are similarly frustrated and questioning this. There is something to be said for being able to love your body at any size, not to make other people’s body size wrong in order to make yours superior. I think there’s something going on here with self esteem and with needing to be better than other people, and I think it’s unfortunate. The world needs more people taking a stand for loving their bodies as they are or as they would like them to be, whether that’s skinny or not.
Did you see this story?
What did you think of the story?
How do you feel about people who (purposefully) change their weight in order to make a point?