If anything, fat healthy people should be furious at the great oleaginous masses of fat unhealthy people, because it’s the latter group that turned obesity into a moral issue. Before, being fat was more likely to be predominantly genetic. Now it’s a choice born of processed diet and utter disinclination to hit the fucking treadmill. And the more choice enters the equation, the more morality comes into play.
Take, for instance, the civil rights wars America has grappled with in the last half century. The most culturally predominant are probably black rights and gay rights.
Look at how choice has factored in to collective moral disdain with each movement. Blacks have no choice whatsoever in their skin color.
Well, for the most part.
Not only did the moral backlash to allowing blacks civil rights die off within a generation, the ensuing legal standard involved in adjudicating a claim of discrimination based on race is one of strict scrutiny – a compelling governmental interest, narrowly tailored, and the least restrictive means possible to achieve that interest. In essence, we view it as immoral now to determine a man’s legal status based on an immutable characteristic – and have codified that belief into our highest levels of jurisprudence.1
Whether gays have the choice to be gay, on the other hand, is a divisive issue that splits the camps. One side believes homosexuality is not a morally tinged act, and supports full integration of gay rights. The other believes it is, casts moral opprobrium on gays, and would like to see them disappear. This schizophrenic approach to the morality of the underlying issue has been reflected in Constitutional cases, with gay issues moving from rational basis review during the 1980s and 90s cases like Bowers and Romer to an odd unstated ethereal ground with hints of strict and intermediate scrutiny underpinnings in latter-day landmarks like Lawrence and the recent DOMA/Prop 8 decisions.
Coming back full circle to fats – the more militant of whom are actively trying to elevate fat acceptance to a civil rights issue – the underlying mutability of weight and body composition gains them no foothold in the moral battleground of the American consciousness. If anything, we should predict “obesity discrimination” to be looked at with a jaundiced, rational basis eye, reflecting obesity’s continued place as a moral failing. This effect should increase as America gets fatter – the more fat citizens are out there, the more must be Poor Lifestyle Fats rather than Genetic Fats. The problem the latter faces is the impossibility of the casual observer to tell them apart from the former. In short, a generation ago, healthy but genetically fat people were just considered physically unattractive; now they’re both physically unattractive and personally bereft on a moral level, which is why it’s called fat shaming: the shame aspect to it indicates the deep affront to the basic sense of personhood.
But how now, you shameful HAESsies? Your shame wasn’t born of thin privilege, but from the empty carbohydrate and video-screened pores of the modern Lax Americana. Want to kill it from the public discourse? Go, West, to the gym.
1. OK, so I didn’t really logically link moral acceptance, or the lack thereof, with judicial review standards. Let’s take it on assumption for now that the standards – or, really, Constitutional law as a whole – reflect an anecdotal moral conscience of the nation.
Back to the butcher’s block. Here’s another gem from the comments section of an HAES/fat debate.
02:31 PM on 06/13/2013
People need to understand that weight is not necessaril a predictor of anything. I am obese, but my numbers for cholesterol, hdls, lds, blood pressure, triglycerides triglycerides and blood sugar are all OPTIMAL. And they have been for quite some time. They are even better than many off my thin counterparts. Yes, being overweight wears on your body, but it is no predictor of behavior. I hace been iverweight since grade scool and I made straight As in college and completed an Honors Thesis. I know thin people who eat just like “fat people,” supposedly do, out of control and full of fat and yet they are thin. Why? Genetics. Everyone us different. Everyone’s body processes food differentky.For some, even a sliver of cake will put weight on, others a whole cake does nothing. Another factor is STRESS and DEPRESSION, which causes people to over eat. And by BULLYING overweight peopke, you are contributing factors. Are you PERFECT in every way? NO. Sostop assuming everyone else has to be.
Fallacy One: I Am America, And So Can You
The general trend that fat is unhealthy doesn’t mean that every fat person is unhealthy. Moreover, this argument perpetually fails to see the forest for the trees: some people have always been genetically fat, have bodies designed to be that fat, and can maintain that fat even in the absence of poor health. There were still fatties decades ago, before the Great American Panniculus Explosion. Those fatties then are the same people who would be fatties now, even with exercise and good diet. It’s the other two bloated thirds of America that bucks the trend. This is an ironic oversight, because she brings up genetic makeup as an excuse for being skinny, but misses the corollary that her position on the other end of the bell curve is similarly unrepresentative of the population as a whole. In short, the fallacy is:
P: I am fat and healthy.
[A: The one data point of my experience is the rule, not the exception.]
SC: Fat must not be correlated with health. (stated in her conclusion, above, as “weight is not necessaril [sic] a predictor of anything.”)
The final step in the leap from her own experience to a global takeaway is insinuated, but not explicit:
C: These other fat people are healthy as well.
Fallacy Two: Implied Helplessness
“Everyone’s body processes food differentky.For some, even a sliver of cake will put weight on, others a whole cake does nothing.”
Even taking as a given that some people are genetically fat, the abdication of responsibility for body condition is misguided. She’s attempting to minimize her own involvement in her weight by sloughing the blame on genes and food; it isn’t her choice to be fat, it’s that she can only eat a little sliver of cake. Really, just a little sliver.
P: When I eat just a little sliver of cake, I put weight on.
[A: My body responds to all food like this.]
C: I am genetically fat, and nothing I do can ever make me skinny.
Look, if eating only a little sliver of cake makes you fat, then maybe the solution is to not eat any cake at all. Oh, it’s delicious? So it goes. I have nasty food allergies that arose suddenly in my late 20s. What I learned from that is that some foods have deleterious effects on my health in any quantity.
I stopped eating them. It’s more expensive, and it cuts down on a lot of what I used to enjoy. But I’m healthier.
Fallacy Three: Shifting The Goalpoasts
“I hace been iverweight since grade scool and I made straight As in college and completed an Honors Thesis.”
We’re talking about physical health. Your college performance, which clearly wasn’t in a writing-heavy discipline, is entirely irrelevant to everything except your own narcissistic compensation.
P: I am getting negative attention for a trait of mine.
P: I have an entirely unrelated positive trait.
[A: These two are interchangeable, subject to offset against each other, and can be used as currency in my scheme of individual worth.]
C: I am worthy of, and shall receive, positive attention.
So the latest American Victimhood™ perversion du jour is the demand that the assorted beached whales of modern convenience be taken seriously as an intersectional Othered Out group, whatever the fuck that could possibly mean when the Plus Size Brigade makes up 2/3 of the unwashed masses.
Oh, right. They mean I’m not allowed to say negative things about them, because Fatties are now a protected class. Anyway, haven’t you heard that – contrary to what doctors have been telling us for generations – fat isn’t really unhealthy?
The true bottom line is that if fat was healthy, my penis would engorge itself to match the elephants stampeding around my local watering hole, because social standards of beauty reflect biological realities rather than the other way around. Let’s conveniently ignore that for a minute and simply take a vigorous, heart-rate increasing walk through the carbohydrate-drenched dogshit arguments that HAES proponents love to serve:
5 hours ago
Why do most of you assume that overweight is unhealthy? That is an ignorant attitude. I’ve been overweight most of my life, but I’ve been healthier than a lot of my skinny friends.
Two big issues with this one.
First, our corpulent commenter is committing a major categorical fallacy here by confusing the issue of her own health with the issue of health across people:
P: I’m fatter than my friends.
P: I’m healthier than my friends.
[A: I can directly compare my health to my friends’ health.]
C: Fat must be healthy.
See the problem?
Correctly identifying obesity as unhealthy (you know, like your doctor keeps telling you) is stating that an individual would be healthier at a lower weight (but not too low, you strawman!) than that individual is as a fatty fat fat.
In other words, Jude Lee, if you lost weight you would be healthier, regardless of your friends’ scale readings or health conditions. Also, for what it’s worth, your skinny friends would be even unhealthier if they were fatter. The correlation is between an individual’s weight and health, not between separate people of varying sizes.
Second, this greasy screed dishes up a composition fallacy in using her bloated anecdote to try to disprove data. Here’s her argument, rendered:
P: My skinny friends are unhealthy
[A: Skinny people I know means skinny people as a whole]
C: Skinny people are less healthy.
Hit the gym, Adipussy. You’ll see some data points refuting your assumption.