A while back here on Thought Catalog, Carolyn Hall wrote an article called “6 Things I Don’t Understand About the Fat Acceptance Movement” and a follow-up piece titled “8 Things I Learned From Writing An Article Critical Of Fat Acceptance” which together were viewed by over 800,000 people. She makes some fantastic points about childhood obesity, food addiction, obesity levels in America, and the business of obesity. But what she failed to mention was the one thing that really troubles me about the fat acceptance movement — namely that people will die.
Don’t get me wrong, I am completely fine with not photoshopping models, and models should not be starving themselves to the point of death, but that was an instance of something taken too far to one extreme. I feel the fat acceptance movement is the other end of the spectrum, one that has a far greater chance of death than anorexia nervosa. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, obesity in America has been a contributing factor in an estimated 100,000 to 400,000 deaths per year. Whereas, according to US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health anorexia nervosa is responsible for only about 145 deaths per year. If we do the math that means there are approximately 1,725 times more people dying from obesity related deaths every year in the United States than from anorexia.
The bottom line comes down to health. If you are a full-grown adult of normal height for you gender/sex/whatever and you have a BMI of 8 or 80 then you need to face the fact that you are not healthy. Now there are plenty of sites dedicated to promoting self-esteem, and feeling comfortable in your body, and that it is no one’s right to dictate what you can and cannot wear in public. That is not what I care about. You can wear whatever you want, you can be happy about being underweight or overweight, I do not care. And in the words of my spirit animal, Ron Swanson, “The whole point of this country is if you want to eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds and die of a heart attack at 43, you can! You are free to do so. To me, that’s beautiful,” if you are happy and not hurting anyone that’s great, good on you.
But understand this. If you are obese, you are hurting someone. You are hurting yourself. You are hurting your family and friends who are watching you slowly kill yourself. You are hurting your significant other who is forced to watch you turn to food instead of them or a therapist when you have problems. And to me, that is not ok. Don’t believe me? Here are some problems associated with food addiction and obesity –
Heart Failure, Stroke, Diabetes, Metabolic Syndromes, Cancer (including cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovaries, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate), Osteoarthritis, Sleep Apnea, Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome, Reproductive Problems, Gallstones, Liver and Gallbladder disease, Gynecological problems, Hypertension, Dyslipidemia, Coronary heart disease, Breathing disorders, Erectile dysfunction, Skin Conditions, Gout, Asthma, Depression, and Disability (I capitalized each one on purpose for emphasis).
Are you truly happy knowing you have a much greater risk of suffering from, and potentially dying from, any number of these than your healthy weight counterparts? If so, that’s great, wonderful, good on you. Now what about your parents? Your friends? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? Husband or wife? Sister or brother? Do they all share in your revelry?
Now to anyone about to jump down my throat for fat shaming, or attacking, or antagonizing, or berating, or any myriad of synonyms you can concoct you greatly missed the entire point of my article. If you are content with your body and even after knowing all the risks and dangers are fine with who you are and choose to be true to yourself and you can look yourself in the eye every morning and reaffirm everything you believe to yourself then you have won! You have achieved happiness. Congratulations.
I hope you enjoy your life and have fun, and travel, and eat, drink, sleep, and be merry, and have lots of children, and grandchildren, or go see every movie, read every book, write a million stories, sing a thousand songs, whatever makes you happy – I hope you live and do that and enjoy your life. Because if you are morbidly obese, you may not have as much time left as you think.