A few weeks ago, Dr. Jacqui Gingras put on a seminar at Ryerson University called “Ample Reason: Re/Framing Approaches to Health and Weight”. The seminar aimed to “examine current approaches to body weight with a view towards identifying more equitable and evidence-based health promotion efforts”.
That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but I am here to tell you that this idea – that fatness and health are not mutually exclusive – is a BIG DEAL.
Fatness doesn’t get talked about very much; at least not in a safe, frank, or matter-of-fact way. It gets talked about all the time in the media and even in casual conversations, but certainly not as a thing that simple is. I don’t have to tell you that fatness equals laziness, gluttony, unhealthiness, and probably death. You already know that. That message is everywhere: on television, on magazine covers, in office memos, in government initiatives, in your doctor’s office.
It is exceedingly rare to hear anything contradicting this idea of fatness, but even more than that it is exceedingly radical. To put it bluntly: the idea that it is possible to be both fat and healthy is fucking revolutionary. As Dr. Gingras put it, “It is a radical thing to see a body as something other than a problem to be fixed”.
Which is why walking into a room full of people either already well-informed, or willing to learn, about fat health is one of the most empowering things I’ve ever experienced.
The lecture covered topics from the biochemical effects of weight stigma to the importance of moving discussions of health away from the topic of weight. The latter fits very much into the concept of “Health at Every Size,” which focuses on self-acceptance, joyful activity, and intuitive eating rather than diet and weight loss. The hardest part of that equation is undoubtedly self-acceptance, and we talked about how it’s often seen as “giving up” to start thinking of your health outside of weight loss. Dr. Gingras, because she’s awesome, called bullshit on that idea and countered with, “Self-acceptance isn’t about giving up, it’s about showing up.”
The bottom line is that weight loss is neither a realistic nor a necessarily healthy goal to strive for, and yet it is the weapon that continues to be wielded, with increasing ferocity, in the supposed “war on obesity”. We absolutely need to change the current conversation about fatness, armed with as much education as possible. It’s important that fat people start showing up for ourselves and it is incredibly important to continue to create spaces for dialogues like Ample Reason, where people of all sizes can discuss issues of fatness – safely, frankly, and matter-of-factly.
Due to the success and interest in the first seminar a second one is planed for Thursday January 16th starting at 6pm at Ryerson (Kerr Hall South Rm. 369 – RSVP to the Facebook event here)