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By Brian Nichols
It’s Time We’ve Had a Chat
As I begin this article, please note that I do this out of love. Truly.
See, Buzzfeed has spent years delving into the social justice warrior approach of fat acceptance and body positivity, as is their right.
Buzzfeed, along with several other publications, have gone into great depths into detailing horror stories of people being “fat shamed”, while conversely promoting articles of fat people being “body positive” in the face of social norms.
And to all this, I say: Stop it.
Yup, I know you have your right to promote narratives that fit the social justice warrior playbook, but as a former morbidly obese individual, I am telling you, flat out, that what you are doing does more harm than good.
See, back about 8 years ago, I found myself tipping the scales at 382lbs.
I remember that weight distinctly because that was what I weighed the day that my doctor informed me that if I did not lose weight, I was on track to die before the age of 30.
Having a family that was predominantly overweight made the idea of being fat normal to me growing up. What wasn’t normal was watching as I lost my maternal grandfather, a man who weighed well over 400lbs, die just over the age of 60 from a massive heart attack. When my doctor told me that I was on track to die myself prior to the age of 30, thoughts of my Papa rushed through my mind.
“Papa was only 40lbs or so heavier than I am right now. Wow. This is scary.”
And let me tell you, it was scary. Suddenly, the idea of my own mortality became a reality. I was a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode.
And I understand the idea behind what Buzzfeed and others are doing in their articles, with their goal of ending stigmas and promoting acceptance and the likes. I get that. And I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that throughout my life, I wasn’t picked on for being fat. Quite the opposite, actually. But here’s the thing: There’s a profound difference between attacking someone because of their weight with personal insults versus not embracing someone’s unhealthy, obesity ridden lifestyle as “normal”.
Here’s the thing: to all those at Buzzfeed and the likes who publish articles about “fat shaming”; you’re being incredibly dishonest. It is one thing to stand up against those individuals who go out of their way to be trolls who want to attack others. But for you to embrace and promote obesity as some form of normality is entirely dishonest and, quite frankly, dangerous.
Because here’s the truth you need to hear, both those at Buzzfeed and elsewhere: There are millions of Americans who are suffering from obesity, and of those individuals, nearly 600,000 of them will die each and every year from obesity related illness.
Ben Shapiro has a fun little quote that says, “facts don’t care about your feelings”. And guess what, neither does morbid obesity.
You want to promote a fantasy that you can promote “body positive” and that everything will be all fine and dandy? Sure, go for it. But the nasty truth is that the people you’re convincing to accept their bodies and their fatness are likely in scenarios much similar to the one I found myself in 8 years ago: change or die.
And here’s the truth bomb for you, folks: Your promoting of “body positivity” and “anti-fat shaming”, while done with good intentions, is causing far much more harm than good. You are literally promoting a narrative to obese individuals that their fatness should not be corrected, but rather embraced and celebrated.
To put that in perspective, please consider the following:
Each year, nearly 480,000 thousand people die from the results of smoking. Terrible, right? And with that, think of all the commercials we see that show some tragic person suffering from the effects of smoking. The lady with the hole in the throat… the mom who is bedridden and needs her son to bathe her… the list goes on and on.
But Buzzfeed, where are your articles condemning “smoker shaming”? Where are your articles embracing “smoking positivity”? After all, nearly 100,000 people less die as a result of smoking each year, so why not do some articles?
And I can already hear the “yeah, but!” responses…
“Yeah, but that’s different!” “Yeah, but smoking is a choice!”
Well guess what. No, they aren’t different. And also, being obese in 2017 is a choice as well.
In 2017, you can go get a gym membership for $10/month. You can get healthy alternative food options at Wal-Mart at reasonable prices. You can use free apps to help you track the steps you take and the food you eat.
There are obviously extreme examples where people physically cannot lose weight on their own, but those examples are such a small number of instances that they are hardly representative of the obesity epidemic as a whole.
I refuse to accept the narrative that those who are obese and overweight should accept their bodies and be proud of their bodies. No. You should not be accepting of your ticking time bomb, much like the time bomb I carried for years. You should not be proud of the fact that your body, your temple, is a heart attack away from crumbling into oblivion.
To those fat folks, I simple say this: stop feeling sorry for yourself, feeding (no pun intended) into the false narratives that being fat is not only normal, but should be celebrated, and get up off your ass and take your life into your own hands. Make a positive change in your life. Cut the wire on the time bomb. Live longer. Feel better. Be happier.
It’s going to take time, but it’s so very worth it, because you are worth it. Those who seek to promote the narratives that being fat is normal and should be promoted don’t care about you. They care about the narrative they are trying to push. But those of us who know the struggles of obesity and have beaten it do care about you. We want you to succeed. We want you to lose weight, get healthy, and be truly happy with how you feel and how you look.
Because the ugly reality is that even if you follow the way of the Buzzfeeds of the world, you and I (and every former and current fat person out there) know that when you look in the mirror when you wake up in morning and go to bed at night, you aren’t happy with what you see, despite the persona you put on during the day. And don’t forget, your body isn’t happy with how it feels and how it’s working either.
So… Dear Fat People,
I know this was a hard chat to have, but I think we both feel better now that we’ve had it. I know this road looks daunting, and believe me, it is. But if me, this fat, obese, supposed-to-die-before-he’s-30 kid was able to do it, so can you.