"How Not To Be A Dick To Your Fat Friends"

Marianne, at XOJane: "Because you are not an asshole, I feel like I can say these things to you, in the hopes that you will think about them the next time you hang out with a friend who might be fat—or even the next time you interact with a fat person that you don't know."


  1. How Not To Be A Dick To Your Poorly-Dressed Friends*

    1. Don’t tell me I dress well
    2. Please don’t assume I hate my clothes.
    3. Please don’t make it a discussion about how hard it is to be a well-dressed person
    4. Please don’t concern troll me (do you *really* need that fedora?)
    5. Please don’t tell me how bad your clothes are

    How Not To Be A Dick To Your Black Friends*

    1. Don’t tell me I’m not that black
    2. Please don’t assume I hate being black
    3. Please don’t make it a discussion about how hard it is to be white
    4. Please don’t concern troll me (do you *really* need that hoodie?)
    5. Please don’t tell me how black you are

    I have no idea what this illustrates, but I have successfully illustrated it I am certain.

    *This really ought to be “how to not be a dick,” otherwise it seems like it’s explaining the worst way to be a dick instead of how to avoid it.

  2. Seems like such basic stuff that applies to any number of situations. Sad that it has to be said. Some people just have no tact and can’t seem to help being cloddish though..

  3. Okay, but here’s some addendums for people into fat acceptance:

    1. Please don’t assume that because I am into working out and stuff that I “hate my body.”

    2. Please  don’t try to sabotage me or my goals by telling me that “it’s okay for you to be fat.”  

    3. Please tell your groupies to stop harassing workout blogs :D 

    1. My partner runs an FA website (http://glorifybasecamp.com/ if you care) and, I have to say, if you think the harassment goes from the FA people to the workout blogs, you should take a look at her inbox. The level of hate she gets every day–up to and including, literally, death threats–simply for saying that she’s fat and that’s okay never ceases to amaze me. And often times, we can determine from inbound links and IP addresses where the comment flood is coming from. Guess what? It’s usually a fitness blog. Not being a reader of said workout blogs, I have no idea what level of harassment goes the other way, but I have a hard time imagining it’s anywhere near proportional.

      1. I’m certainly not saying that the cross behavior is acceptable either.   Please do not get me wrong.  It is proportional, though.  It oftentimes gets taken down, or fitness blogs tend to have more moderation (because there’s usually some “system” being sold by the blogger :D) , so they don’t stay up.

        By no means am I condoning ANY of this activity, either way.   But I remember the cases on reddit /fatacceptance where the moderator there TOLD PEOPLE to go ahead and troll fitness blogs.  (I think her blog was called / is called “dances with fat”.  )  

        I think people should be happy with themselves, and should accept other people for being happy with themselves.   However, suggesting that people who work out are “haters” or “body shamers” doesn’t help anyone.   I’m certainly not accusing you or your partner or that blog for doing it, and if they’re keeping that type of blather off, that’s AWESOME and good to hear.

        1. People reacting to oppression in a less-than-commendable way (in this case, a fat blogger telling people to attack someone else in writing) is not the same as BEING OPPRESSED. Your tone argument and subjective anecdotes are weak.

          1. I could post actual logs and what not :)  But I don’t want to give ANYONE noteriety for their misbehavior.

          2. What you seem unable to grasp is that from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep every single day, I’m told by the media, friends, family, strangers, the internet… everything, that I’m unacceptable. 

            A few hours or a few logs of someone telling that to you must be a true hardship. Truly, I feel for you.

        2. True harassment is unacceptable, regardless of source or context (exception: civil disobedience or something like that, perhaps). I read Dances With Fat, and I’d be interested to know specifically what post of hers you’re referring to, so that I can see for myself if  she’s advocating harassment.

    2. I don’t know, it seems kind of silly that you’re telling people to not tell you what to do. It becomes this “YOU don’t tell me what to do!” “No, YOU don’t tell me!” People can be ignored, yeah?

  4. I’d like to take this occasion to mention that a columnist at Boston University’s student paper is writing this semester about his perspective as a fat guy: http://dailyfreepress.com/?s=%22sandor+mark%22. It’s good frank stuff so far. 

      1.  Yeah, I totally get that, cuz like who’d want to be some little bauble on chain, right?


        1. Wrong…”a person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules or displaying academic learning.”

  5. @dbg7: I think part of the humor of the statement “How Not To Be A Dick” is that the grammar is somewhat creative, or at least irregular.

  6. As someone who’s said some insensitive things to friends I was deeply grateful to them for starting their reply with their version of “Because you are not an asshole…” even though I realized I was unquestionably acting like an asshole.

    Hopefully I’ve learned from my mistakes and won’t repeat them, but I’m still grateful for the occasional “How not to be a dick” reminder.

    1. I always appreciate people who appreciate the distinction between assholish acts and the actual chronic condition of assholery.  More of us perform the former than fall into the latter category, and it’s lovely and generous to acknowledge that there remains hope for positive change.

      Perhaps I unduly flatter myself, but I devoutly hope, at least, that I’m not actually a hopeless asshole.

      1. I believe that the only people who are truly hopeless assholes are the ones who never worry about it. It seems to me that to be a hopeless asshole requires a serious lack of empathy and an unwillingness to ask oneself, “Am I an asshole?”

        I could be wrong, although for my own sake I hope I’m not, but the fact that you care enough to hope certainly suggests that at the very least you’re not hopeless, and provides good evidence that you’re not an asshole at all.

        1. Thank you.  Now I’m embarrassed to think that I may have been fishing for that very conclusion!  But it’s kind of you to say so, nevertheless.

      2.  One of my absolute favorite pieces of fiction is a bit in Spider Robinson’s “Life House” where one character explains his realization that EVERYONE is an asshole (with examples for Einstein, Heinlein, and Jesus) and that what makes a true capital ‘A’ asshole is spending one’s life trying to be mistaken for Not An Asshole.

        Everyone is an asshole. It takes a special kind of person to actually be an Asshole.

        1.  Maxim Magazine used to run a periodic piece on that.  I think it was titled “3 reasons to hate…”  or somesuch.  Mother Theresa, Gandhi, MLK and a few others were in there.

  7. How to be a dick to your fat friends: when they talk about the dickishness that is directed at them because of their fatness, argue that it is just generalized dickishness, and imply that they are just trying to “be special” by calling it out.

  8. I’ve spent the past 5 years working with adults who have mental disabilities.  The (usually well-meaning) assumptions and projects on them by the people around them make every negative public experience I have had pale by comparison.

    The sheer number of people who think that the way to be a ‘good person’ is to shoulder someone aside and do everything for them (and get aggressive with anyone who suggests otherwise) is astonishing.  The people who talk to and treat grown men as if they are toddlers.

    I can see a parallel with ‘don’t be a dick to fat/short/skinny/brown/white/poor/etc. people as well.  Don’t assume you have the answer to their problems based on a gratuitous set of assumptions that exist in your head. 

    Rest assured they have definitely spent some time thinking about.their problems and challenges already, and might not actually be helped by or made to feel good by your unasked for munificence.

    1. Great post, members of my family have worked in mental health and with people with disabilities for now a 3rd generation.  My father before he died mentioned his greatest achievement was Teaching a 35 year old man how to bathe himself.

  9. What about: “how not to be a Dick?”

    Hold doors for people.
    Yes Please and Thank you.
    Keep your religious views ,(or lack of), to yourself.
    Keep you Political  views   “… … … … ”
    Say hello, say goodbye.

    Do this for everyone, all the time and for God’s sake Smile!!!

    1. “and for God’s sake Smile!!!”

      I refer to your previous rule – “Keep your religious views ,(or lack of), to yourself.” ;)

        1. I know, it’s just that the proximity of the two sentences made me laugh – had to say something.

  10. I like to take pictures of my food. Why do so many people love to point it out, and call me a hipster as though it means “one who supports kicking babies”? Just be nice and STFU. Works for me.

    1.  But I was into taking pictures of my food “years” before everyone else.  Oh, I’ll shut up now.

    2. I love the local hole-in-the-wall restaurants.  I use food blogs and yelp to find more. Photos help there.  Maybe posting to help other people find good food is different than the implied hipster motivation.

  11. I’m so glad to see the FA movement gaining steam.  I’ve been fat and I’ve been thin, and the difference in how family, friends, and strangers have treated me at either end of that 80lb spectrum is simply disgusting.    

  12. Addendum to her 2nd point: if you are a person who is not fat and is dealing with substantial body-negativity/body-hate, the place for you to work on that problem is probably not fat acceptance space.  Likewise, if you are a person whose body issues are *not* related to gender identity, eating disorders, disability, or illness, you probably should not try to resolve those issues in support spaces for those people.  Solidarity is great, getting in the way is not so great.

    I am also really curious about how much the online communities for ED support, FA/HAES, social-model-of-disability/disability-rights, and trans* support are cross-pollinating, so to speak.

  13. “Don’t tell me how fat you are?”

    Hey, I’m allowed to feel fat even if I’m not as fat as you. Don’t tell me how to feel. It’s not my fault if my stating that I think I’m fat makes you think about yourself. My comment is about me not you.

    1. You are allowed to feel any way you want.

      Say you were broke one month and as a result missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime event (or anything really great), you’d be totally warranted to feel sad and frustrated about it. No problem. However, crying about it on the shoulder of your buddy who has trouble feeding his kids because he’s lost his job a few months back would be pretty insensitive.

      All she’s saying is; if you can avoid being that jerk, why not?

      1. I don’t happen to define “being a jerk” as talking to my friends about my feelings. Rather, if I can’t talk to my friends about my feelings well then I guess they aren’t really my friends are they.

        Saying I’m fat or need to lose weight is a arguably a fact. I’m overweight according to various medical charts for my height. That I’m not obese does not mean I therefore give up my right to say I’m fat, even in front of someone who’s obese.

        Being a jerk is insisting that people conform to your personal random standards for your own fragile ego.

        1. If a friend of yours loved you and supported you but was bothered by some things you said at times expressed that to you, you would assume they’re not ‘real friends’ and would get angry at them?

          That’s all this woman is suggesting: It’s cool to take your friends’ feelings and issues into consideration when talking to them. If this doesn’t apply to you because you are certain that you and your friends are totally comfortable about this, that’s fine. But I fail to see how this is a bad piece of advice in any context.

  14. Am I right in thinking that if you identify yourself as being fat in the 21st century, you are therefore fat by choice?

    The hostility to fat people might therefore be justified if fat people are also unhealthy. Here in the UK where we have a taxpayer-funded healthcare system, those who choose to be fat are not very socially acceptable in the same way as smokers or heavy drinkers are not – because they are being unfair to the rest of us by ending up in state-funded hospitals.

    I’m not sure that I fully subscribe to that view. I’m just trying to understand the perspectives involved here. Disclaimer: I am of average body weight.

    1. Aaaaaaand here come the concern trolls.

      Fat isn’t always a choice. It could be an underlying medical condition, a side effect to a drug, a genetic family history of larger than average girth, or a result of living in a poor area that doesn’t have healthy foods available for reasonable prices. Even if it is a result of factors within one’s control, the way to help them isn’t to call them a drain on society. They’re still human beings, and have as much of a right to health care as skinny people do. And it’s not like skinny people can’t be drains on the health care system, as you seem to believe fat people are. Thin people can have chronic, illness causing conditions that you can argue they bring upon themselves, such as substance abuse, poor diet, chronic stress, etc. Should we deny them health care, too?

      1. Well written retort. Also just like to add that there are genetic factors which also effect addiction.  Shame and hostility have usually been tried as interventions, it is unlikely that an increased does of shame and hostility around concerns of taxpayers will be efficacious.  

    2. I am of average body weight.

      So by the standards of 20 years ago you are fat?

      So am I.

      One of the issues we’ve shirked in this discussion is that being fat is – ceteris paribus – actually factually bad for you. Unlike being queer/black/ginger/geeky/…/whatever else people get picked on.  And, in most cases, again unlike all the other things people get picked on – I do hate to be contentious about this – it is something people could actually change. 

      The hostility to fat people might therefore be justified if fat people are also unhealthy.

      The majority of overweight people almost certainly are.

      Here in the UK where we have a taxpayer-funded healthcare system, those who choose to be fat are not very socially acceptable in the same way as smokers or heavy drinkers are not – because they are being unfair to the rest of us by ending up in state-funded hospitals.

      Sorry, that’s balloney. The big problem, from a cost perspective in the NHS boils down to
      a) people living longer – and it’s hard to put that down as a negative
      b) doctors and nurses wages having gone up – that’s a more nuanced argument. Nurses arguably don’t earn enough; doctors on occasion too much
      c) egregious waste.

      And there’s ample c). 

      Smokers and heavy drinkers, on the other hand, are usually reckoned to pay more in tax for their vices than they cost the NHS for their early death, so a modest proposal might be to encourage smoking and drinking!  Not sure what the stats are on obesity, but if there are sin taxes on petrol, alcohol, tobacco, insurance, saving and making a living, surely taxing sugar is next.  I might not actually object to the latter.

      1. If you really are so offended by “unhealthiness,” the only body you can really control is yours. Too often, conversations about fat people devolve into people projecting their own insecurities about weight onto the bodies of others. We are talking about other people here, with feelings that can be hurt. Often times, telling them that they are disgusting and unhealthy isn’t going to make them magically want to exercise to gain your approval. In some people it can start a cycle of depression and self-loathing that convinces them that nothing will ever change, so why bother trying to exercise if people will always be critical? Others enter into some truly unhealthy behaviors, such as starving themselves or doing quack diets in order to lose weight, without caring about long-term effects. In fact, the Western world’s concept of weight has become so warped that we see people of all sizes (particularly women and young girls) sacrificing their health at the altar of weight loss, regardless of whether they actually fit the category of “obese” or not.

        If we really want our collective health to get better, we should move away from the rhetoric of weight loss, and on policing other people’s bodies to make you feel better about yourself. We should instead focus on cultivating healthy habits, such as eating a balanced diet or exercising even a little bit each day. The goal should not be “the perfect body,” but coming to love and take care of the body you have been given. If you start to lose weight, then good for you. If you don’t lose weight, then that’s not a sign of failure (and all too often the reason why people stop dieting or turn to more drastic methods) – the fact that you are maintaining the glorious machine that is your body with proper nutrients and strengthening your muscles is success enough.

      2. I’m not sure that the amount of money the NHS is spending is relevant, because as you say, this could be due to a lot of things. However, it’s not contentious that obesity is rising and that the NHS is having to devote increasingly more expenditure to it.

        “… if there are sin taxes on petrol, alcohol, tobacco, insurance, saving and making a living, surely taxing sugar is next.  I might not actually object to the latter.”

        If everyone is living longer, then there’s not much we can do about that, but if one or more groups of people are doing things that adversely and increasingly affect the rest of us, then that’s actionable, as you point out. Whether we should support those groups is the question.

        And I know that obesity isn’t as straightforward as making a choice to be fat, and that it is a complex issue. However, there is a very clear social and ethical issue in “fat acceptance” that doesn’t seem to be being addressed.

        1. However, there is a very clear social and ethical issue in “fat acceptance” that doesn’t seem to be being addressed.

          I think that the idea that people will use any excuse to feel superior to their neighbors is being addressed quite directly.

      3.  You forgot d: Systematic destruction of the NHS through short-sighted cuts and ‘austerity’ measures.

    3. When we start describing skiers, footballers and horseback riders as drains on the health care system, I’ll take that seriously.

      1. To be fair, skiers, for instance, record around 40 deaths a year, with a 3% injury rate. I don’t think the same could be said for obesity in America.
        Professional footballers seem to have a 100% brain damage rate, but there are only a few hundred of them.

    4. Am I right in thinking that if you identify yourself as being fat in the 21st century, you are therefore fat by choice?

      No more so than someone who has lung cancer from bad decisions they made 40 years ago is cancerous by choice. Or worse, someone who has lung cancer from growing up in a smoking household 40 years ago is cancerous by choice – and a lot of fat people today grew up fat. It’s hard to blame coming out of childhood with a wrecked metabolism on the child.

      1. It’s hard to blame coming out of childhood with a wrecked metabolism on the child.

        I completely agree with that, and it’s consistent with my view that given what we know about the connection between food and health, that the adult parents who MAY (depending on whether they are aware of their obesity) have chosen to be fat have affected others in society by their actions.

        (A minor point, but lung cancer 40 years ago was not strongly connected with smoking I don’t think, and in any case the effects of heavy smoking last well after you give up.)

    5. I live in the UK. I am also morbidly obese. I call myself fat because it’s a factual description of my state and at my size I can not get away with calling it something more appealing and playful. I go to the doctor every 2 to 3 months, but it’s not directly to do with my weight. I have to go to the doctor every few months to review my medication for depression and social anxiety issues, which are largely brought on by 30 years of having people telling me I’m worthless and being dicks to me because I’m not what society deems the idealised perfect form.

      I’m not sure how I am being “unfair” to the rest of society through my continued existence, though I could certainly tell you how unfair it feels when random strangers hurl abuse and harassment at me from passing vehicles when all I’m doing is walking with a friend, or when a doctor wont take my mental health problems seriously because I “just need to exercise a bit more”. Let’s not even start on mundane issues like finding nice work/ interview clothes to fit me without paying three times the price and being covered in this seasons latest ruffle fetish.

    6. I agree with you.  I work in the Health Science field and can say from the article writer’s photos of herself, she is not fat, she is obese and obesity is a medical condition which is inherently unhealthy.  

      And although I do not believe that one should direct hostility towards obese individuals, obese individuals (and the general Fat Acceptance movement) walk a very fine line when it comes to what is and what is not socially acceptable.  How much sympathy/empathy should one direct towards a heroin addict who keeps relapsing?  How much sympathy should one direct towards a person who ONLY smokes 5 cigarettes a day?  And then, from the perspective of the article writer, how much sympathy/empathy should we direct to all three if they even subtly suggest that they are NOT abusing their bodies, that there is nothing wrong with behavior that is directly or indirectly harmful to themselves?

      Not having sympathy or empathy does not directly translate into being hostile, even if it feels that way-especially if it feels that way to a person who is in denial as to what they are doing to themselves.

      1. Did you seriously just compare fat people to heroin addicts? Please note that while one can live quite happily and healthily without heroin or cigarettes, one cannot do this without food. 

        Also, obesity is not a behavior.

        1. Yes, obesity is no more a behavior than hepatitis C is a behavior.  But ANY unhealthy lifestyle is a lifestyle dependent on the choices a person makes, whether they be overeating (potentially leading to obesity) or intravenous drug-using (potentially leading to things like Hepatitis C).

          So yes, I did just compare obese (not fat-nomenclature is important in signifying the difference) people to heroin addicts.  And yes, I agree that one can live happily and healthily without cigarettes and heroin but not food.  I do believe though (not being a neurologist, psychiatrist, or psychologist) that the brain mechanism that controls the messages (conscious or unconscious) that say, “This feels good but STOP!” are similarly disrupted in the mind of anyone taking any behavior to a dangerous or unhealthy extreme.  Some call this addiction.

          BTW, have you heard that obesity is edging out smoking as the top health burden in the U.S.?  “one cannot do this without food” is spot on, it seems…

    7. Let’s hear what you think of my situation. I’m six feet tall, and I weigh about 240 pounds, which makes me obese. My diet is mostly fruit and veggies, no soda, limited simple carbs, low saturated fat.  I commute by bicycle every day, about 45 miles a week with a solid dose of hill climbing.  I’m pretty fit, in that I can compete on par with most of the skinny folks at the sports I play occasionally.  I can do handstands. I’m obese because my metabolism was not designed for a desk job.  But by working my particular desk job, I’m able to raise millions of dollars in aid for disadvantaged people.
      I supposed I could choose to lose the fat.  I could quit my job, which is to help people the best way I know how, and take a job where I get more money for shorter hours, so I can spend more time exercising.  I could stop reading and educating myself, and exercise instead, choosing to be ignorant instead of fat.
      I have to hear, all the time, about how selfish and lazy I must be and what a drain on society I am, because I’m obese.  The people I hear these things from are ignorant.  I’m not selfish, or lazy, or a drain on society.  I’m fitter than half of them.  As far as society is concerned, I’m pulling my own, perhaps considerable, weight, and much more.  If you want to find a group of lazy, selfish, people who are a drain on society, have a look all the people who drive cars excessively.  My taxes subsidize their oil habit.  Their exhaust damages my health.

      1. I can sympathize, I’m a bit overweight and run anywhere from 35 to 100k per week. I think one thing that gets overlooked is when you’re active, and work hard to maintain your fitness, it’s sometimes hard to appreciate that other people might not share your priorities. Similarly it’s sometimes hard to really respect someone who’s lacking in a trait you really care about, a highly educated person might have trouble fundamentally respecting someone less educated, a musician won’t have the same level of respect for someone with no ability. It’s superficial but I think it’s a real effect.

        I had one quick thought reading your post
         “My diet is mostly fruit and veggies, no soda, limited simple carbs, low saturated fat.”

        Have you tried adding some lean protein? There’s a lot of different nutrition advice, but lean protein seems to be a pretty consistent recommendation.

        1. The problem here is the idea that he needs to conduct some ongoing dietary experiment to satisfy other people’s expectations of how he should look. I support him just getting on with life and not worrying about it.

          1. I think it’s more complicated than that. Firstly he (and I) would prefer to be thinner, and even being fit we’d be healthier if we were. However, eating healthy and exercising is insufficient for some people, and if additional effort isn’t worth the results than acceptance might be a better strategy. It’s fine if he’s comfortable being at his current weight, but maybe doing something like adding lean protein would leave him 5-10 lbs lighter for very little effort. Maybe he’s already tried it and he’s at some sort of dietary optima, but maybe it’s a tip that can slightly increase his life satisfaction. I don’t want to make him feel fat or in someway inadequate, but at the same time if I can offer something that makes him objectively happier isn’t that a good thing?

          2. I understand that you mean well, so, thanks for that.  On the other hand, if it was my choice, I’d rather that you put your effort toward something more important than how much I weigh.  To me, it’s a minor annoyance, and that’s all.  The worst thing about being fat is having to hear other people’s opinions on the subject, delivered with contempt and smug self-satisfaction or self-loathing, just about every day.  My own fatness barely matters to me.  There’s no shortage of actual problems in the world.  Fatness should be pretty low on everyone’s list of worries.  I’d love to see all that time people spend thinking about fatness, whether their own or that of others, spent tacking climate change, economic policy, education policy, campaign finance reform, energy policy, art, food policy, science, religion or the lack thereof, or any of the other things we might, as members of society, have decided to value higher than a narrow waist. 

            On edit, for clarification, I’m not saying, that you, aluchko, were being contemptuous or smug. I appreciate that you mean well.

        2. I eat fish, eggs, nuts, and beans for protein.  Not that I should have to justify my diet to anyone in order to avoid being called lazy, selfish, or worthless by people who know nothing about me except how I look, or avoid being told that my weight is an unacceptable burden on society.  I help a lot of people. I contribute meaningfully to society and to the lives of people around me in many different ways.  If a society judges me by my weight rather than my actions, that society is pathologically dysfunctional.

          1. I wasn’t trying to call you any of those things. To me it sounded like you were comfortable with your weight, expended some effort to maintain it, and in an ideal world would like to lose more but didn’t feel it was worth the extra effort to do so (doesn’t mean lazy, just means not obsessive). You also described your diet, from your description it sounded like you worked to eat healthy but might have been missing an important component or two (which I suspect is common with the zillion nutrition fads out there). I thought I’d just try to point that out, but it’s really hard to offer advice without seeming judgmental or condescending.

          2. No worries, I do appreciate what you’re saying, and I don’t mean to paint you with the same brush as those who make my weight out to be an immoral choice.  

    8. “The hostility to fat people might therefore be justified if fat people are also unhealthy.”POST HOC JUSTIFICATION IS POST HOC

  15. Well, that’s the third really interesting article I’ve read this week, and two were posted here by Xeni.  Good finds, Xeni.  (The third was titled ‘The Debt’ and can be found on Slate Magazine.)

    I think it’s the one of the hallmarks of friendships – if they’re friendships where we’re into the relationship for ‘the longhaul’ – to give each other some slack when one or the other says something, er, tackless.  (Poor ‘dick’ – so maligned, yet desired everywhere).  I’m so frequently undiplomatic in my remarks, no friendship with me would last if my beloveds were excessively thin-skinned. I’ve also killed a few relationships by putting on my tiara and goin’ all drama queen on someone’s ass, and that was that.

    I bought a plate over the holidays with a quote on it from ‘Mr. Big’, that says:  ‘After a while, you just want to be with the one that makes you laugh.’  I don’t much care what my friends look like anymore, if we love each other and make each other laugh, we can get survive anything, even each other.

  16. I was fat as a child, in an era when it was quite unusual.  So I totally get the issue.  I have no problem with fat.  I’m as likely to be attracted to a fat guy as to a skinny guy.

    What drives me nuts, even though I completely understand where it’s coming from, is having to hear about someone’s incessant efforts to not be fat.  I don’t care that they’re fat.  They don’t have to justify themselves to me.

    I don’t inject my concerns about my wrinkles or bowel problems or sagging moobs into Every Single Conversation.  So please return the courtesy.

    1. With respect, I don’t think that’s quite the issue here. While of course it’s not polite to talk about subjects that bore people, that doesn’t change the social and moral issue: whether in being aware that you are fat means you are fat by choice, and in being fat you are choosing to put the burden of dealing with consequent health issues on others. That’s something that fat acceptance doesn’t seem to be addressing.

      Of course, if you don’t identify yourself as fat, and are unaware of the health issues related to being fat, then that’s a completely separate matter.

      1. People have different metabolic scenarios.  I eat well and exercise regularly.  I’m fat.  To change that I’d have to make incredibly dramatic changes, including a career change.  My current career allows me to help a lot of people and do a lot of good in the world.  Sure, I could make that choice, but the world would be worse off.  I know plenty of people who eat far worse than I do, don’t exercise at all, and don’t get fat.  Their metabolism works one way, mine works another.  I didn’t get to choose that.  Your “moral issue” with my fatness is offensive.

  17. I’d simplify it to this:  Unless a fat person broaches the subject of their fatness — asks your opinion or advice or something — it is not an appropriate topic of conversation.

    The only exceptions I can think of are for, like, safety — if you’re in charge of strapping people into ski lifts or bungee jumps or something. Or if you are the person’s doctor. However, you are almost certainly not in any of those positions, and if you were you’d hopefully be trained.

    1. Oh, that’s pretty wrong to say that from any look at health incident hotspots or public health (and sure enough primary care doctors logging weight rather than mojo or facebook or whatever.) Unless your city has no stairs, or contrawise has systemic anorexia, it’s spot-on for your safety exception. It’s not trained attendants, it’s ice and foot-faults (tripping, not a tennis line judge call) and moldy foyers and imbalance.
           Likewise, I suppose it’s having at least one person with emotional maturity if things set off not ‘you look winded, what’s going on this morning’ but ‘what did you just wrestle down your throat; you’re gonna stroke!’

  18. As someone who used to be really fat, I have a lot of trouble with the Fat Acceptance movement.

    For me, it was really, really easy to not be fat. I simply stopped eating all sugar, all refined carbohydrate foods, all low quality meat/fast food, and all soda. And started walking to get around. Fat I had carried for my entire life simply melted off in six months, I went from almost 300 to almost 200. I didn’t really ‘do’ anything, and have pretty much kept that diet for ten years, staying around a healthy weight. I still have a few extra pounds, and still eat a lot..but when I gorge, I gorge on lentils, or steamed pumpkin, or things like that.

    People talk about slow metabolism, thyroids, etc. etc. But I’m sorry, this has been my personal experience: the vast majority of the time I’m around an overweight person, either a friend or at the grocery store, I notice that they eat a lot of highly processed carbohydrates. Literally every time I have ever glanced in the grocery cart of an overweight person at the store, they have a high quantity of pastries and whatnot. It’s amazed me how consistent this is. Every overweight friend I have had I know enjoys cakes, pastries, candy, fast food, soda, etc. So…I don’t know. Frankly, I consider it to be a substance abuse issue. Millions of people are raised with a predisposition to addiction to sugary foods. Because they are addicted from a young age, and have huge cultural conditioning that it’s OK and normal, it’s a very tough addiction to break. But this is how we should treat it.And, of course, shaming, embarrassing, guilt tripping an addict is entirely the wrong approach, it’s hugely destructive. And there IS a big difference between having a large frame and being obese to the point where it endangers your health and restricts your life choices.

    For anyone who who who really does base their diet on proteins, fats, and fruits and veg, who really avoids processed carbohydrates, and is still fat: I’m sorry, I shouldn’t judge you and let me know to prove me wrong. I know you exist out there. I just haven’t met you in my day to day life…

    1. I really do eat a healthy, well-balanced vegetarian diet, which includes proteins, fats, fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed complex carbohydrates (and plenty of fiber). Other than about two cups of coffee a day, I drink water exclusively. I’ve noticed that I feel physically awful if my blood sugar levels spike and then drop, so I focus on eating low glycemic index foods. I allow myself sweets in moderation only on the weekends.

      I am not fat because of what I eat, I am fat because I eat too much of it. Too much of a good thing is still too much, and regardless of whether they are coming from soda or lentils, taking in more calories than you use leads to weight gain.

    2. “Literally every time I have ever glanced in the grocery cart of an overweight person at the store, they have a high quantity of pastries and whatnot.”

      Question: What percentage of normal weight people at the grocery store also have a cart full of high-sugar, high-fat, processed garbage?

      9 times out of ten, the normal-weight person ahead of me in line at the grocery store has a cart full of that stuff. And this is in L.A, not just in my hometown of Lardbarn, Oklahoma.

      I’m obese, and while I go through phases of not eating well, in general I eat mostly healthy, whole, unprocessed foods, with limited meat and dairy. I just eat too much of everything.

    3. The issue here isn’t exactly whether or not fat is unhealthy. The thing the author was remarking on is the whole shaming mentality that surrounds fat, that causes others to dehumanize fat people or to see fat as a moral failing. Even if some fat people do bring it on themselves, it doesn’t make them any less human and deserving of respect and dignity.

    4.  My diet is mostly fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, fish, eggs, for protein.  Olive oil is the major fat in my diet.  I don’t eat HFCS or hydrogenated oils.  My commute is always by bicycle, and my daily ride home includes hill climbing equivalent to taking the stairs up a 40 story building.  I’m 6 feet tall and 240 lbs, which makes me technically obese, if you go by BMI.  I’m fitter than a lot of skinny people, but I don’t look it.  You’re right.  You shouldn’t judge me.

    5. Your experience is the only one that matters, and if everybody else can’t duplicate it, it must be their fault.

  19. I believe that there is a prevalent atmosphere of fat hatred in the world. I think the US (and perhaps other western) have a rather real push back that has been happening over the past 30 years from a genuine, open hatred of fitness through media tropes such as “the football jock” or “the dumb bodybuilder.”

    While I think it is okay to accept yourself for being fat, I don’t think it is acceptable to ruin your body prematurely due to inactivity, preventable illness, or excessive mass. In the US, there needs to be a real effort to spread the message that hatred of fitness is as bad for society as hatred of knowledge. 

    It is no more reasonable to become educated passively than it is to become healthy passively.

    Examining her key points:

    1. Please Don’t Tell Me I’m Not Fat.

    Between the 80s and today there has been a greater push toward not throwing insults at overweight women.  If you watch some older TV shows and movies you will see a passive acceptance toward calling people fat whether it is Alice Kramden, Wilma Flintstone, or Archie Bunker. The woman who played Ethel Mertz on “I Love Lucy” was actually contractually obliged to be overweight for the benefit of the fat jokes made at her characters expense.

    Gradually, the media tropes have shifted toward only running down the fat guy and self-depreciating by the fat person against the fat person. Fat hatred directed toward women seems to be the domain of the internet, gossip columnists, and the odd high school drama. On the rare case where you see a legitimate fat joke directed at a female on TV, it is done for shock value.

    Your friends have been trained to ignore your fatness. If they know you, they will not bring it up, but I think they are playing the social role that they have been raised to play.

    2. Please Don’t Assume I Hate My Body.

    She hits the key points of passive compliments by self-denigration. It reminds me of this Family Guy gag http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypWaLxo32mE . At the end of her hitting this point, she has a photograph of herself with colored hair.  What is the fine line between basic hygiene and correcting nature?  I would argue that hair coloring is an attempt, on some level, to improve on nature. Perhaps the author doesn’t hate her body, but she shows that she isn’t perfectly happy with how she was born.
    3. Please Don’t Make Fat Discussion About How Hard It Is For Thin People.

    I have been as heavy as 26% body fat and as slim as 9%.  I can honestly tell you that no matter how much or how little effort you put in your appearance you will find issues with yourself. On top of that people are generally more comfortable describing things they are uncomfortable with. Look at Yelp or Amazon reviews, for example. But, if the opposite thing were to occur, like a woman talking about how much she loves her body parts, she would be seen as a self-absorbed lunatic.

    This argument reads like, “rich people have no right to complain about their problems to poor people.”  Everyone has problems. Forgive your friends for sharing.  Don’t be a dick.
    4. Please Don’t Concern Troll Me.

    Fair enough. Is genuine concern acceptable?
    5. Please Don’t Tell Me How Fat You Are.Why not?  If you are unemployed and $10,000 in debt and I am unemployed and $3,000 in debt, we are both in a world of financial trouble.  If your friend is only 25% body fat and you are a dangerous 37%, you are both carrying an unhealthy amount of body harming weight.  The author is presenting the premise that, I have an unimaginable problem so you don’t have a problem.  If I am at the gym feeling good about my abs beginning to show, another member giving me the “Crocodile Dundee,” “Those aren’t abs, these are abs” comment is just dickish. Due to point 5, I believe that the author is lying about point 2.  She shouldn’t make her weight a central theme of her writing and then criticize people who bring up weight in conversation.  It would be like if Charles Barkley were to call me a dick for asking him basketball-related questions.

  20. Not every fat person can decide to be skinny, but essentially every skinny person can decide to be fat.  This asymmetry cannot be eliminated.  It is the root of the conflict.  The skinny  person will always see their own fat potential as the (pardon) elephant in  the room.

  21. I think this says more about your friends than your fatness.

    I’m fat, and I have several fat friends, and several skinny friends.  But these friends are closer than just “friends.” These are people who I’ve gone through school with, played in bands with, shared apartments with, etc.  These are people whom I consider closer than family because my real family sucks. 

    In short, these are the people who have the right to tell me the objective, painful, ridiculous truth.  These people tell me when my fly is down, when I’ve said something stupid to somebody important.  They provide a mirror, but more than that because mirrors lie when we’re the ones looking at them. 

    If you don’t have people who will tell you your breath stinks, how will you know?

    Now, I have other friends who aren’t on that same level.  Co-workers, people I know through other people, more casual acquaintances. These people I feel, more accurately resemble the class of friend that the author is talking about. 

  22. I’ve never seen the shaming, prejudice, hatred, etc. directed towards fat people aimed at any other people with health risks that are right out there in the open (Ironic, as some fat people are perfectly healthy.) Chain smokers, obvious alcoholics, people who work 100-hour weeks and never sleep, people with the most dangerous jobs possible, people beating themselves soundly about the head… seriously. Nothing even slightly the same.

  23. How about how to not be a dick for someone who’s lost a lot of weight? People ask me how I did it and part of it is pretty personal. 

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