I had a very painful experience yesterday that I’d like to share. I thought about doing this privately, but I decided that it was worth talking about in public because my readers mostly come for a mix of queer issues, feminist, and human rights law, and you may not be aware of the insidious harms of body shaming and talk about the “obesity epidemic.” There is a slim chance that the person I’m telling this story about could read this article. I hope that if she does, she’ll understand that it’s not about her, and I’m not saying that I hate her as a person or that she’s a bad person. I don’t want to shame an individual here. I want to point out the context of her words, that we live in a society where vitriol like this is acceptable. For that reason I’m not saying who she is or how we met, just that she’s someone I know in a professional capacity.
So here’s what happened:
We got into a discussion about the “obesity epidemic,” where I was arguing that a lot of the public health messages about obesity harm more than they help, and that children shouldn’t be shamed into diet and exercise. Her position was very different, so I decided to disclose my personal history of eating disorders (probably EDNOS, I don’t really know how to categorize it yet) in hopes that my perspective might be one she hadn’t considered. It didn’t really do much good in the abstract, but eventually we got around to talking about the calorie signs that many big cities now require to be displayed in restaurants.
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