A Week Without Fat-Shame Is A Week Of Danger

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"Fat Talk Free Week": great idea, right? Oh, you poor, deluded, fat apologists: don't you know a full week without fat-shaming is downright life-threatening? Well, here's someone who can enlighten you.


Virginia over at Beauty Schooled was feeling pretty jazzed about the third annual Fat Talk Free Week, when she got this charming press release:

America is once again running from the obesity epidemic. Today marks the start of "Fat Talk Free Week." It's a five-day national public awareness effort, intended to draw attention to the damaging impact of fat talk and the "thin ideal" on today's women. Mental Toughness expert Steve Siebold, author of the book Die Fat or Get Tough; 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People, calls it ridiculous, and says this is just another chance for America to ignore the obesity problem.

Former "fat tub of lard" Siebold is also here to tell is us that "Not talking about the problem is only going to make it ten times worse. People need to hear that they're fat so they'll finally do something about it once and for all."

Good thing, because otherwise people might get to feeling too good about themselves — not like there's anything else in society that'll drive home messages of inadequacy! And Virginia makes another good point:

Ignore the fact that Fat Talk Free Week began in college sororities, a population with higher rates of crash diets and eating disorders than obesity. One in five college-age women diets "always" or "often" and 35 percent of those dieters will progress to pathological dieting or eating disorders. Ignore all the data on the role of weight bias in both eating disorders and obesity. Certainly, ignore public health researchers like Peter Muennig, Columbia University, whose research shows that the more dissatisfied you are with your weight, the more health problems you report.

Talking about Fat Talk Free Week, Time summarized,

The anti-fat-talk campaign is designed first to help people identify the "thin ideal" - essentially a pre-pubescent girl's body, plus boobs - that is perpetuated by the media and pop culture, and then learn how to reject it in favor of a healthier, more realistic attitude. But this is an uphill battle, coming at a time not only when more than one college is giving academic credit for weight-loss classes, but also when an alumna of Stephens College is offering to donate $1 million to the Missouri women's school if its faculty and staff drop a total of 250 lb. by Jan. 1. "Body image right now is down the flusher for so many young people," says Lynn Grefe, president of the National Eating Disorders Association, which estimates that nearly 10 million women in the U.S. suffer from anorexia or bulimia.


It's just a week — which is what makes Siebold's alarm so ludicrous — but if that's making people think, making them less self-critical and more kind, and making just one person consider why it is we blindly promote one ideal over that of "health," well, it will have done its job. Don't worry, sir, there are 51 more weeks in the year. For the rest of us, we'll take it as a challenge.

Do I Look Fat? Don't Ask. A Campaign To Ban 'Fat Talk' [Time]
Actually, Fat Talk Is Good For You [Beauty Schooled]



This is one of those instances where the "right" answer (if one exists) is in the middle - blithely eating one's way through thousands of calories of nachos a day is obviously not a recipe for a long and healthy life - and neither is verbally abusing someone who is obese.

I used to be fat, obese on the edge of morbid obese, before I lost 80 pounds about a year ago. I couldn't do it until I was ready, until I figured out what works for me, not Jenny Craig, or Steve Siebold or anyone else. I had to make peace with my body before I could stop hating it, and only when I stopped hating it, could I begin to have a healthy relationship with it, with food, and, for me, that all had to happen when I was ready.

So no, ignoring obesity (or any other health issues) is not a good idea - but neither is verbally abusing someone for it.