ASK Musings

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January 2023



You Just Need to Lose Weight by Aubrey Gordon

Written by , Posted in Politics, Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Fat people looking for solidarity and words they can use when faced with anti-fat bias. Thinner people who need to learn some truths.

In a nutshell:
Writer and podcaster Gordon shared 20 well-researched essays tackling myths related to fatness and anti-fat bias.

Worth quoting:
“The cultural mandate for fat people to lose weight isn’t about health — it’s about power and privilege.”

“Doctors’ prejudices mean they provide fat patients with lesser care, in turn, leading fat patients to less accurate diagnoses and less effective treatments.”

“The fear of being fat is the fear of joining an underclass that you have so readily dismissed, looked down on, looked past, or found yourself grateful not to be a part of.”

Why I chose it:
I subscribe to her podcast ‘Maintenance Phase’ and read her previous book ‘What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat’ and enjoyed it.

What it left me feeling:

I am someone who can usually find clothes that fit me in standard high street shops (the only restrictions usually being my height, as I’m quite tall), and I don’t identify as fat. I note this up front because I think my review and perspectives should be taken with a grain of salt, as I’ve generally only witnessed, not directly experienced, the impact of anti-fat bias and hatred.

Gordon came to prominence under the writing handle of ‘Your Fat Friend,’ and is a dedicated fat activist. She is a fat queer woman and an activist who spends some of her time debunking wellness and health myths on her podcast Maintenance Phase (which she co-hosts with Michael Hobbes). I’d describe her project as dedication to speaking truth to a world that doesn’t seem to care about truth when it comes to thinks like body size, weight, or health.

The book is a collection of 20 essays broken down into four sections: Being Fat is a Choice, But What About Your Health, Fat Acceptance Glorifies Obesity, and Fat People Should … Each section has 4-6 essays that are only 5-10 pages long, but includes not just Gordon’s opinions on these myths, but research to back up what she is saying.

Some essays cover areas that I think many people who care about this topic will be familiar with, such as the absurdity of using the BMI for anything related to personal health, or the myriad ways society mistreats and abuses fat people. Other areas may not be as familiar, or might strike a note of discomfort with thin people, such as the myth ‘skinny shaming is just as bad as fat shaming.’ In many of the essays, Gordon speaks directly to thinner people, calling out the ways in which we can be unintentionally complicit, and the ways in which thinner people might think they are being supportive but are really being harmful.

I love how so much of what Gordon shares upends ideas that so much of our society have accepted as true. That whole ‘as long as you’re healthy’ trope – nope. She rightly points out that no one owns us their health. It’s okay to be fat and healthy, and it’s okay to be fat and unhealthy, just as it’s okay to be thin and healthy, and thin and unhealthy. People deserve access to health care and appropriate support for health ailments, but people are not more worthy of love or proper care and treatment in society if they are healthy.

I also found her last chapter to be an interesting choice to include: “Anti-fatness is the last socially acceptable form of discrimination.” That falls into the myth category for her not because anti-fatness is somehow no longer socially acceptable (it is) or that it isn’t discrimination (it is), but because it is not the LAST form of discrimination. She discusses racism, anti-trans hatred, anti-gay hatred, and points out that thinking that anti-fatness is the last discrimination that society deems acceptable shows a wild ignorance about the state of the world today.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep and Recommend

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