The ‘fat activists’ who want us to believe losing weight is akin to eugenics


Apparently, our expanding waistlines must be explained away by some oppressive scourge

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If rapper Lizzo, who was lampooned over her weight on South Park last week, ever fits into a size-six gown, discontented scholars may well accuse her of participating in modern-day eugenics.

What type of scholar would do such a thing? A fat scholar, working in one of the “fat studies” departments that are burgeoning at Western universities, often as offshoots of gender studies programs. They pen scholarly papers in academic journals with names like Fat Studies, which publishes heavy-hitters such as “Compassionately fat: an autotheoretical exploration of queer bodies” and “What if Black Studies studied fat for real for real?”.

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For real. Late last year, fat scholar Carla Pfeffer asked if popular weight-loss drugs like Ozempic — responsible for the slew of suddenly skinny celebrities on red carpets — “relate to eugenicist social practices.” Eugenics. Weight loss as eugenics. Think about that.

Pfeffer goes on: “How might we better understand the messy entanglements between bodily autonomy, informed consent, anti-fat discrimination, corporatized medicine, and intentional weight loss? How do the answers to each of these questions shift or transform when people of color, queer and trans people, superfats and infinifats, disabled people, and those who are poor are most directly impacted or taken under central consideration?”

For readers, “infinifat” is an activist-created term that can be used to refer to persons size 34 and up who suffer the harms of systemic racism’s obese cousin, systemic sizeism. “Infinifat” is not a parody term or a term of abuse. It is simply an astounding example of the institutional rot that is necrotizing Western academia. Because how decadent, hedonistic, and detached from struggle must academics be to catalogue morbid obesity as an oppressed class? We make a mockery of ourselves with such pseudo-scholarship — which is, like many other academic fields, now indistinguishable from extreme (and typically delusional) political activist movements.

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Back to Lizzo. She is unapologetically large and certainly has no intention of taking Ozempic or losing weight. On Instagram, where she goes by “Lizzo be eating,” the singer last week posted a now-viral video response to the South Park special, “The End of Obesity.”

In the episode, Lizzo is mocked as a lazy person who has given up on herself, inspiring others to do the same. “I controlled all my cravings to be thinner, with Lizzo!” shouts a cartoon woman describing a new anti-diet pharmaceutical product, called “Lizzo.” In Lizzo’s video response, we see the famous singer react in real time to the clip. There’s hurt in her eyes — it’s uncomfortable to watch — followed by shock, but she shrugs it off. “I’m really that b***h,” she proclaims. “I really showed the world how to love yourself and not give a f**k.” (Nevermind that a dancer formerly in her employ is suing over alleged harassment regarding weight gain.)

Lizzo preaching self-acceptance is noble. Fat activism formed in the context of legitimate concerns about discrimination and even cruelty towards people who are overweight, but the movement — like other outsized activist enterprises — has lost its way. Demanding dignity and non-discrimination from others is entirely reasonable; but accusing members of your own community, which happened to an acquaintance of mine, of “conversion therapy” for having undergone life-saving gastric bypass surgery — an outrageous appropriation of devastating harms inflicted on gay people — is deranged. Fat activists do indeed have the audacity to compare homosexuality to obesity: one such activist, writing for Salon, warned that “(t)he same medical establishment that pathologized same-sex sexual attraction and larger bodies also offered up cures for these newly discovered diseases.”

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The theme of the latest Fat Studies issue is social justice. Our expanding waistlines must be explained away by some oppressive scourge that is coming for the most intersectionally challenged among us. The Canadian Medical Association Journal has declared that “(f)at studies scholars and activists have pointed to how the conflation of obesity with racialized and colonized communities is part of a long tradition of marking marginalized populations as diseased,” which means that “the surveillance and regulation of fat bodies must be understood in the context of colonialism and state regulation.”

Must we really refer to overweight persons as “bodies considered marginal”? Is it true that “we can’t talk about fat without talking about intimate places of our being”? Is there really such a thing as “structural fatphobia”? Do we need to read an essay on “fatness and masculinity in superhero films”? Do you carry more weight in Middle Eastern politics if you announce that you’re with “fatties for a free Palestine?”

Look, it’s just not that complicated. More than that, it’s embarrassing and often disgraceful to superimpose the lexicon and struggles of legitimate civil rights movements on to every cockamamie cause we can think of or procure university grant or research funding for.

You’re fat. You’re not Malcolm X.

National Post

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