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What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat

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Like men hearing about the pervasiveness of catcalling for the first time, thin people cannot quite reconcile the differences in our daily lives.”

Fat Friend Wants You to Start Having Conversations With Your Fat Friend Wants You to Start Having Conversations With

In a world where thinness reigns supreme and diet talk is as normal as talking about the weather, fat folks rarely have the opportunity to share their stories without fear of being bullied or berated. Gordon, also known as “Your Fat Friend,” (previously anonymously), has claimed her own space online where fat stories are welcome. She’s written essays about living as a fat person, as well as informative pieces about the harms of diet talk, how to examine your anti-fat bias, and the public health risks of fat-shaming. In her new book, What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Gordon seamlessly threads a personal narrative with data and history. It’s a much-needed and accessible addition to fat discourse. Photo by Tara Moore/Getty Images.The research on diet talk alone is real wild. People who even overhear a stranger talking about their diet will take a hit to their self-esteem. We have managed to normalize something that is by almost every measure harmful to pretty much every person. Fat people bear the brunt of it because we’re forced to be aware of our bodies in a different way and where we sit in the hierarchy of body shapes and sizes. But the effects are no less dire on thinner people as well. Everybody pays a price,” Gordon tells me. Photo by Tara Moore/Getty Images.

What We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about Fat - Harvard

Everyone, but especially straight-sized individuals, and people who still hold onto ideas about weight as a proxy for health. Gordon opens her book with a story about being put in a middle seat on a plane as a size 28, and the anger she received from the man sitting next to her. “Wherever I go, the message is clear: my body is too much for this world to bear. And it’s reinforced by the people around me. Like the man on the plane, strangers take it upon themselves to tell me what I already know: that I won’t fit and I’m not welcome,” she writes. A peek behind the curtain might just turn into a trip down the rabbit hole: Research indicates that weight stigma and fat bias are actually more damaging to one’s health than being overweight or “obese.” All the fuss and concern-trolling over fat people’s health? It’s actually incredibly harmful.

Author Gordon explores all of this and much more in her book. She is what she describes as ‘very fat’, and she has experienced a life of doctors, friends, and strangers making all sorts of assumptions about her, and judgments about her life and frankly about her worth. In the book she shares her own experiences, but this isn’t a memoir. It’s a well-researched, evidence-based look at many of the different ways fat people experience discrimination at the hands of thin people, corporations, the diet industry, and society as a whole. The marginalization and public abuse of very fat people is so commonplace that it has become accepted, but that doesn’t make it acceptable.” I find an immense sense of freedom and power in learning the histories behind this stuff and doing deep dives into the research. Because the further you get into it, the more I found that this stuff is not based on science. The ways that we treat fat people are not based on science. They are not based on outcome-driven ideas. The ways that we treat fat people are kind of terrible, and they don’t actually make fat people thinner, or healthier, or happier. None of the above. There’s something about peeking behind the curtain of all of this that feels immensely empowering,” Gordon says.

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