Here’s my unpopular opinion: It’s not your fault that you’re fat

Let’s talk about fat-shaming for a minute.

Fat-shaming can be as well-intentioned as crap like this:

Click the image for context.

But it really gets under my skin when it looks and sounds like this:

Yes there is an obesity epidemic in America. It’s arguably the biggest health crisis Americans face. From a public-health standpoint, and a general human compassion and decency standpoint, I’m very interested in this topic, and I read a lot about its potential causes and solutions.

The obesity epidemic is complex. Theories to its causes are still mostly that — theories. There’s a growing body of evidence that it’s not as simple as “we all eat too much and move too little.” Environment can have a huge impact.

What set me off on this rant is that I was at the doctor yesterday and twice at this office two different people — medical professionals! — made the comment to me that I look great for where I am in my pregnancy, and too often they see women who eat too much crap and lack the willpower to maintain the best nutrition for their children.

What I should have said was, “Dude, I ate, like, half a Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza last night.” Do I have good nutrition most of the time? I try. I know how I should eat. Do I have perfect willpower? Hell no!

I’m sick of hearing assumptions about someone’s moral fortitude because of how they look. In my value system, food is not a moral issue.

Telling people starting their fitness journey — or thinking about starting it — that they are bad people, that they lack willpower, that they are personally deficient in some way because they weigh more than some random index says they should is bass-ackwards wrong and I challenge you to pay attention the next time you catch yourself judging someone.

My decision to start running and eating healthy was a choice. I built habits that made it take less mental energy to make those choices.

But being fat isn’t a choice. Who would ever choose that? Who wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I really don’t care about looking great or feeling well. I’m going to make choices that make myself fat and unhealthy today!”

Me before my wedding in 2009. Fat and happy.

Me before my wedding in 2009: “Fat”, and the happiest day of my life. – photo by Studio219Photography

 

From a public health standpoint, clearly there is something going on in the way Americans live or the way we eat that has caused the obesity epidemic. From an individual standpoint, everyone’s fitness journey needs to come from a place of self-awareness, and, more importantly, self-worth.

For me, and for so many people I’ve connected with in this blog, it’s about the realization, “I’m worth taking the time to exercise and cook good food, and I need to prioritize those needs over all the other people and things that are vying for my time.” Because taking care of yourself makes you better able to take care of everything else.

So stop making it sound like fat people are willful or lazy. Because you haven’t walked in their shoes.

Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

By day, I'm the User Experience and Audience Manager for the Bangor Daily News. By night, I'm a soon-to-be first-time mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.