My Feelings About Weight Loss Surgery and Anti-Fat Bias

Before I write this post, I need to stress, in case someone sees this as a personal attack, that this is about me, my feelings, my values and my decisions. It has nothing to do with the decisions anyone else makes or wants to make. Right, now that we have got this disclaimer out of the way, here goes.

I just found out that one of my best friends is seriously looking at having weight loss surgery next year. I found this out at the beginning of a long stretch of quality time I was about to have with her and another friend who had said surgery in 2017. My first reaction was total devastation. I also needed to show her support and solidarity as a best friend.

Imagine, I was looking forward to a fun time with friends with yummy food and drink and lots of party music. What I ended up having was the both of them talking about weight, weight loss, hospitals, “bad” food, limitations, what is forbidden and what isn’t, etc. All of the classic anti-fat propaganda that exists, all of what the diet industry stands for, it came out of their mouths. I felt so sad, deflated, that she was buying into this huge pile of bias and fat hate, even towards herself, and I am watching it and there is not a thing I can do about it. Her mother is all for it and even my mother, who had the operation, is all for it, even hinting that if I had the surgery, she would support me. I am not one to overdramatise but it felt to me like I was seeing something bad about to happen and my hands were tied and I am going to have to watch it happen and I can’t stop it and people would be very upset if I tried.

I have experienced less pain and hatred about my size than a lot of people but I have dealt with it and seen that it is not just antipathy, it is downright hate. Yes, that is a strong word, but some situations call for strong words. I don’t see as much of a depth of feeling towards addicts or criminals as I see towards fat people and it isn’t just the media. It’s doctors, family, yes, it’s media and the industry as well but mostly it’s the person on the street. Fat is seen as hateful, weak, undisciplined, unsexy. This has got to stop right the hell now!!

Yes there are fat people with heart disease and high blood pressure and diabetes, all of that. There are also thin people with these illnesses. If a person puts on weight, it is seen as bad by default. If they lose weight, they are congratulated whether or not they wanted to lose that weight.

People off the street will lecture fat people about their food choices because they feel it is their right. None of this is acceptable!! Dehumanising fat people is not the right thing to do. There is no logic in this, no rhyme or reason. People are being told that the way they are is not healthy despite having test results saying otherwise. This happened to me. I had a cousin who insisted that the doctor check me out for all the things and when the only thing where there was anything out of the ordinary was my weight, she insisted that he sit and lecture me because of it. He flat out said to her that with everything else being OK, my weight wasn’t as much of an issue as she made it out to be and I could have hugged him but not every doctor will be that way.

I am relatively resilient. I will come out with a joke or I will be as kind to people as possible. I’ve learnt the art of self-deprecation. I have a healthy sense of what is good and evil and my self-esteem is managable. Many fat people are not as lucky. One comment will send them into a downward spiral. There is so much hate from the outside and that’s nothing compared to what’s on the inside. To me, this is the strong taking advantage of the weak and it is one of the few things that will make me get very angry.

I am insensed by the idea that if someone is upset by this treatment, if there are tears or shutdowns or silences, that people feel those they are treating this way deserve to be punished and to feel this way. No, this isn’t stubbornness. It’s a reaction to abuse from those they love and who they have been told love them.

I will not subscribe to people being mutilated in the name of thinness. I will not subscribe to people being abused and told it is for their own good in the name of society’s beauty standards. I will not subscribe to gaslighting on the part of people who have signed the hypocratic oath which means they are duty-bound to do no harm.

This is why I will not have this surgery. It’s why I am sad when others do, because it is buying into a culture that is telling us that the way we are is hateful and those who are not like us have the right to dehumanise us. No, I am opting out!!!

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