Friday, June 7, 2013

It Gets Better for Fat People Too

My favorite health advocate, Dr. Linda Bacon, shared this article yesterday.

It reminds me of this blog post I wrote.  To me, the fact that so few "obese" people have "good numbers"--blood glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other internal measurements of good health--tells us that too many fat people are discouraged from participating in healthy activities.

While visiting my mom last summer, we were discussing how exercise might help with blood circulation and improve the edema that gives her fits. I asked her why she doesn't like to go for walks around her neighborhood. What she said stunned me at first, and then I just felt sad.

"People will think, 'What's that fat old lady doing out there exercising?'"

To my mom, and I'm afraid to many others in the heavy-set crowd, health is an entitlement only thin people deserve.

But that way of thinking is unhealthy. Fat people, thin people, short people, tall people, all people deserve health. A fat person should not feel so embarrassed by her body that she's ashamed to move it in front of other people.

Fat people, like gay people before us, come out of the closet!

The fresh air and sunshine and fun things we can do with our bodies is amazing once we get over the fear of other people's judgment. And it's not just a health benefit for ourselves. We can change the world.  Sure, I can exercise inside my own home where no one else can see me. But when more fat people get out and say, "Hey, I'm fat AND I'm healthy" and feel confident enough to swim and dance and move our bodies in pleasurable ways for the whole world to see, it can create a cultural shift in attitudes toward fat and health.

It's scary though, to be brave in the face of adversity. Especially about something so personal as your own body. So I don't blame fat people, or anyone who has body shame issues, for not wanting to get out and flaunt it. It takes time and hard work to feel confident about your body in our dysfunctional society. I still struggle with it daily. But, as the gays say, it gets better.

June is Gay Pride Month.  What month should we designate as Fat Pride Month?  I can't wait til the day I see a bunch of radical fatties marching down the street, flabby-arm-in-flabby-arm, fighting for our right to live and love and be who we are, free from other people's judgment.