I sent this out to my colleagues today after yet another meeting where I felt that familiar rush of discomfort. You know the one.
When someone drops the “O Word”
I want to talk to you about the “O Word” – obesity.
This is a word of oppression and violence for me and many others.
It is a word that speaks to a medical/ pathological model of human experience – something that is no longer accepted when we speak about disability, sexuality and gender identity, or race.
It is a word that conjures up trauma for people who have been bullied, abused and denied access to healthcare, housing and employment because of their weight and the conflation of weight with competency.
It is enough that fat people have to live in world where we are constantly bombarded with diet talk, negative media portrayals and unsolicited opinions on what we should or shouldn’t do with our own bodies. It is enough that we are never believed when we experience sexual harassment and assault. It is enough that we have to navigate places that aren’t made to be welcoming, comfortable or accessible for us.
We don’t need to experience that exclusion at work too.
And yes, language does matter because it is a signal of what is valued and what isn’t. We can have a conversation about health that doesn’t use that word; considering that weight is only one of a number of indicators of health.
Let’s talk about health enabling factors instead like access to fresh fruit and vegetables, exercise, economic access and freedom from violence, discrimination and vilification. I’d like to talk about those things.
And finally, I don’t expect a response – just for you to reflect. But if you do want to have a conversation about body positivity, fat acceptance and how we can collaborate to send out a positive health enabling message – I would love to talk to you.
Also – if you need to talk about these issues with someone who has lived it and come to a place of body peace, I am absolutely here for you.
And that goes for all of you too.
And yes I felt sick when I pressed send as the heaviness of maintaining constant resilience made itself felt. But honestly, I am done with this bullshit.
Really, truly, done.
Go well fellow humans.