To My Non-Fat Friends – This Is My Cry For Help

 

This week Project Runway winner and unapologetic fatty Ashley Nell Tipton went public with her choice to undergo weight loss surgery. In the past I have talked about fat people’s participation in diet culture and the negative impacts it can have. I was wrong, I was calling out the wrong people.

Over the last several months I’ve come to realize that there is nothing fat people can do to change our culture’s view of fat bodies.

I was 17 the first time weight loss surgery was presented to me. It’s hard for me to remember a doctor’s appointment where weight loss was not mentioned – even when I was struggling with an eating disorder that had led me to lose over 80 pounds in 3 months. I have never found a doctor who honors my request to not discuss weight loss, even with my known history of eating disorders.

I have friend’s that were talked into weight loss surgery at a young age who are suffering life long consequences. In my community of plus size bodies, it’s not abnormal for people to have friends who have died from the complications of surgery. Their stories are not unique, but they are painful reminders that we are not allowed to exist without mutilating and conforming our bodies to a standard that literally kills.

And we see our friends, the people we look up to, celebrities, all succumb to weight loss surgery. We watch as these people go from happy fatties who promote self love and acceptance, to a person who was “never really happy”, who felt trapped in their fat body. And we ask ourselves how this can happen. How can a person’s values change? Is every fat person lying about loving themselves? Is this all just a facade that people are putting on? Does anyone ever actually love themselves when they are fat?

I’m here to tell you that fat people absolutely can and do love their bodies. The problem is not within each individual. The problem is with our culture.

The volume at which our society tells fat people that they are not worthy is deafening. We are discriminated against in the workplace. We receive poor medical care. We cannot find clothes that fit our bodies. We are celebrated for shrinking. Our mental illnesses are blamed on the size of our bodies. The knowledge that our lives would be vastly improved if we shrank is not inherent – it is learned.

And this is my cry for help.

I don’t know how else to say it. It’s time for those who have the privilege of not having their bodies seen as an outward expression of their unworthiness to step up. We are being encouraged to amputate a healthy organ from our body, so that we can be more visually pleasing. We are being asked to live with a lifetime of complications and increased risk for medical issues so that we can be smaller. We are told that instead of demanding equality for our differences we should conform.

I don’t know where you start. Maybe you start sharing articles about fat positivity on facebook. Or you call out fatphobic language your friends use. Maybe you examine why you’re so obsessed with other people’s health, or why you think the only good bodies are the ones who’s healthy ideal is the same as yours. I don’t know.

I am tired. I am tired of seeing people congratulated for not looking like me anymore. I’m tired of our culture acting like people who look like me are less than, as if we’re some sad reminder of what happens when you don’t love yourself.

I love myself – now I just need you to help create a world that will allow that.

edit* I am not a news outlet. I do not have an ethical obligation to allow people to engage in discourse that I find counter-productive or harmful to the audience I serve. If you leave a comment that promotes weight loss, diet culture, or weight loss surgery in any way, it will not be posted. For those of you who are preparing to have this surgery, I strongly encourage you to read Dr Linda Bacon’s book Health At Every Size. Here is an excerpt from the book about the dangers of weight loss surgery. 

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  • Nora Qudus
    May 19, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    yes absolutely. I have been fat all my life and made to feel bad for not being thin….I am 65 now. And I dress to please myself. The only health issues I have are injuries from falling on a porch and smashing my knees first before I hit my head…OY but.. No one should be made to feel bad about themselves for something that just happened and every fatty knows they have done every freaking diet and still nothing short of societal failure and months of obsession with one thing. I rather watch birds, listen to the wind watch the tide come in and then immediately go out…read books, play games. I am done with diets I eat when I am hungry and eat what I like. I have not gone up in weight since I stopped dieting and when I stopped I lost 1/2 of me and stayed at this level . I will share what I can where I can since if there were the cute clothes when I was your age I would have been a knock out! I am still beautiful to my husband! The only person I know who had the surgery is dead at age 32!

  • Samantha
    May 19, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I was left speechless in the wake of that article when I saw yesterday. You summed up the feelings and frustrations I’m sure many of us in the community are feeling right now.

  • Melissa
    May 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Bravo! So beautifully and eloquently written! Hear our cry!

  • Jill
    May 19, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Weight loss surgery scares the everliving fuck out me. I remember when I was a teen, in the early 90’s and my mom’s friend underwent gastric bypass. She lost the weight but her “new” digestive system was so ‘awesome’ it didn’t even absorb nutrients, so her hair fell out and she had to get a wig. Twenty years later, she’s fat again.

    A gal I work with just had a gastric sleeve done. She’s lost like 35 lbs in a month. Awesome. But all she does is swig protein shakes all day long. We went out to lunch as a group and she had a about a quarter of the chicken and a tiny bit of salad. I wish her the best and hopes she achieves her goals, but what kind of life is that? I personally have been on a quest to get healthier, not lose weight per se, although that comes with it, but just feel better. My body is at its max and it doesn’t feel great. I’m down 20lbs and I feel amazing. Am I ever going to be down to the eating disordered exercise bulimic size 6 I was 10 years ago? Nope. But I’m on my own terms now and listening to my body. The commonality of weightless surgery is frightening. It fails just like dieting does and what happens when you stretch out that tiny pocket made out of already stretched out stomach? I’d rather be fat and trying to eat well most of the time than surgically modify my body to eat less until I can override that and start eating more again.

  • Emily
    May 19, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    I needed this article thank you

  • Dawniepants
    May 19, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    I needed to read this today. I read that article this morning and was just like… right like it’s cool if you want weight loss surgery for you but does that mean your body positive attitude was just a lie, does this do anything apart from confirm to society that all fat people are really unhappy and we need surgery. I don’t know id lie if I said I wasn’t disappointed especially by the bit where it was like ‘oh I might start designing for smaller models I don’t know’ sort of felt like oh well ok then. I don’t know it was like so was the fashion for plus size girls not really the point?
    I know it’s genuinely none of my business and more power to her but i so relate. I feel like we’re constantly being told we’re not enough and we have to fight so hard to just exist in society without being shouted at or trying to find clothes that fit, being ignored and ridiculed by the fashion and beauty industry. So fed up with it!

  • Claudia
    May 19, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you for this! ❤️

  • Mikki
    May 20, 2017 at 1:16 am

    Thank you! I personally have been plus size all of my life, and guess what? I feel cute, stylish, and mostly happy. When do I feel unhappy? When I hear the people arpund me talk about fat like it’s the worst thing ypu can be. I am currently trying to lose weight, but not because I hate myself but because I struggle with infertility and my fertility doctor will not do IVF treatment unless I lose 60lbs. I want to be a mom so much I am willing to do whatever it takes, but it makes me furious that basically they are saying I am “too fat” to be a mom, when plenty of larger women have healthy babies everyday. They didn’t test blood pressure, blood sugar, take blood to run tests or even listen to my heart. They just looked at that number on the scale and said “lose weight or you are not healthy enough to be a candidate.” It sucks.

  • Debby van der Himst
    May 20, 2017 at 8:15 am

    I needed this. I have been sooooo disappointed by the few fat celebrity’s we have who have undergone weight loss surgery recently. I saw the instagram post yesterday ny Ashley and I wish her all the luck in the world, but I’m soo disappointed. Not by her personal choice, she should do what ever she wants. But I just know That her working in the main stream fashion industry has influenced her choice. She saw first hand the delicious privilege ‘Thinness’ gives. And It changed morphed her few of her body, her happiness. First Gabby and now her. I’m heartbroken. I remember years ago when Jennifer Hudson lost al her weight. I was soo disappointed. I wanted a beautiful fat woman to look up to. This is also one of the reasons I don’t watch This Is us. Love that a fat woman has a major role, love the actress. But come on, we (fat people) have more stories to tell then struggling with losing weight. How about my struggle with buying cute swimwear in Europe. Or the fact that people find it randomly okay to say something about my weight. How about the struggle of fitting in thin society, without being self-loathing. The clothing industry already polices us by having thin people design our clothes, there for putting there prejudice of fat people in the design. Making design choices on the bases what they find a fat person can and cannot do. And now one of our bright stars is giving in and getting surgery, argh! I’m so frustrates. I was always fat. Always active and never hated her body. Even as a child/teen. The past few years I been less active and I started to feel more pains and aches. I’ve been jobless so the government jobcentre has been talking I my ear (how much easier it would be if I lost weight), trying to label me as having a eating disorder just for being fat (lawyer were involved, I won). But I’m tired ( also dealing with mental illness and finally getting help) and I honestly had this thought Tha maybe I should have the surgery so that everybody else is happy. And that is dangerous and ridiculous. So reading in the past month that first Gabby and then Ashley getting (or got) weightless surgery just depresses me. I need my role models. Thank god the are some kickass women on Instagram. Thank you for your work and voice. Love ❤ -Debby

  • Christy Harrison
    May 20, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Beautifully said. I’m here with you trying to spread the word about fat acceptance! Just wanted to let you know that weight-loss ads were showing up in this article 🙁 I reported them to Google (Weight Watchers and a couple others), but just wanted to let you know–maybe you can block this category in Google AdSense? Thanks for all that you do, your blog rocks!!

  • Dawn
    May 20, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    An old aquaintence of mine had weight loss surgery when she was in her early 20s. She showed me photos of how she used to look and she had been thinner than I am right now at 260. I was horrified for her. She has a number of health problems now (hair loss being one of them, as someone above mentioned), has extra skin hanging on her stomach and neck, and is easily the most insecure person I’ve ever met. She can’t date because she doesn’t feel comfortable about how her body looks. She can’t afford the skin removal surgery and even then is afraid the scars would look ugly. All this because a doctor talked an insecure & desperate 21 year old into having a major surgery she didn’t need. I will happily take my fatness over that nonsense any day of the week, AND I can still eat as many nachos as I want.

  • Dani
    May 20, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you. I can still remember the first time and aunt called attention to my body. I was nine. My body was beginning it’s shifting routine. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. I cried too many tears over her hurtful comments.

    Thank you for this. I really needed it today.

  • Barbra
    May 20, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Sorry, but I disagree. I had weight loss surgery so that I can get my knees replaced after repeated injuries. Do I regret it? not once. It is not for everyone. Being fat is very similar (and often goes hand-in-hand with) to having depression. There is a stigma to having depression and there is a stigma to alleviating said depression with medications. There is nothing wrong with choosing your own path for the best of your own health. However, to deny that right to anyone else is highly suspect and self-serving. You don’t have to agree with anyone’s decision to have weight loss surgery. If you don’t fee it’s right for you, that’s your right. It’s other people’s right to explore it if they feel it it beneficial for them. I did it because I want new knees. I could care less if anyone thinks it’s acceptable.

    • fatgirlflow
      May 22, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      This post isn’t about your personal decision to have wls, it’s about the culture that effects and shapes those decisions.

  • Jenna
    May 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    First off, I must say that your blog and your beautiful pictures are a true inspiration to me. My journey towards self love has been long and arduous. It took me too long to realize that true happiness was not contingent upon my weight. My mother always made a point to tell my sister and myself that we were beautiful no matter what, but we watched her hate herself for her own size and this had a greater impact on us. How could I love what I saw in the mirror if the similar image that my mother reflected caused her so much sadness and disgust? My mom had the weight loss surgery (the lap band) she had a lot of complications, has trouble and pain every time she eats, and guess what? She is still unhappy and hates her body. This really changed my own perception of my body because I now know that Hating my body and punishing myself for eating is the most horrible thing I could do. I’ve spent 25 years admonishing my curves and despising my need to eat, and nothing has improved. But now, I am deciding to celebrate my body and love it. This has been the best decision I’ve ever made. I think that the body positive movement is important for ALL women because we are live in a society that demands that women self criticize, self censor, and self debase as a way to keep us from realizing are full potential. So, I too plea with all women support this self love message and stop feeding into the diet culture quick sand. Much love to you all.

  • Else
    May 22, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    @ppl who love their wls outcomes, this is not about you. This is about every last damn fat person being brow beaten into getting wls despite it being a dangerous surgery, and as they say but clearly don’t mean, NOT for everyone. I have never once had a doc respect that I’d evaluated wls and decided against it. I’ve never once had a doc respect my evaluation that the wls comorbs would make my life overall worse than it is, or real fears about being unable to afford proper followup care. And I’ve never gone to a doc that hasn’t brought up wls, usually extremely forcefully.

    I don’t care if individuals choose it or any other optional surgery, but wls success is used as a weapon against people like me who just CHOOSE NOT TO GET WLS. That choice to not get wls is not respected, it is used to punish me with withheld healthcare just for starters. Until the choice to not wls it is respected as much as getting wls, wls is going to be politicized decision unfortunately !

    Ps thanks for addressing this Corissa, it’s been a bad year for wls glamorization

  • Jenn
    May 26, 2017 at 6:39 am

    There’s an add for weight watchers in this article– lame. I understand the need for advertising but seems inappropriate for this particular article. But love the article!

    • fatgirlflow
      May 26, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      That ad should NOT be appearing on my site. If you see it again please report it by clicking the button on the top right of the ad. Companies like weight watchers are able to not correctly identify themselves to marketers as a “diet” and instead claim they are a “lifestyle” – there by sneaking into ad spots where they are banned. PLEASE report these ads if you ever see them on my site. This ad specifically has been a problem. Thank you <3

  • Morganne
    May 29, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    The other day someone posted a link where this selficentered bitch tried to blame body positivity for people being overweight…. I was furious… people had already weighed in (so to speak) about the article and how they agreed… I blasted it… full on about how eat right and exercise and you will lose weight is bullshit… I said how science has proven that the keys to health are healthy diet and exercise… and there is no correlation between weight and health…. and I pointed out how difficult healthy eating and exercise can be for some people (factors such as economy, disability, class, etc)….. I pointed out that skinny unhealthy people are not judged…. it fell on deaf ears and one dude treated me like I was stupid… I blasted back again and Facebook lost that comment before i could post it… and I didn’t have it in me to recreate it…. then today I came across another thing blasting food workers for judging people for dietary restrictions…. like someone giving someone regular coke instead of diet or cow milk instead of soy… and the post kind of showed with various stories of people damn near being killed how people think that thin white women with dietary restrictions are just fad followers… and all I can think is their health is assumed (and their shallowness- whole different problem)… thin people must be healthy and therefore posers is the other side of the fat people must be unhealthy coin….. a potentially deadly assumption set in different ways….

  • Katie
    May 31, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    Thanks for this article. Likes others, I definitely needed this in my life today. My doctor gave me a printout of my Age Lifetime Cardiovascular (CV) Risk at my appointment this morning – the one *she’s* supposed to use. There under BMI for treatment considerations reads this: Based on BMI and/or other comorbid conditions, consider discussing bariatric surgery. Un-freaking-real. Thank GOD my doctor is amazing and never mentions weight loss or WLS to me because she knows I’m recovering from an eating disorder. It saddens me that doctors are actively encouraged to push WLS 🙁

  • Maria
    June 1, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I too have seriously considered weight loss surgery and looked into the pros and the cons. To me the cons (risk of death and potential side effects) outweighed the pros. And only to confirm my worst fears, last year a member of my extended family suddenly died from complications after a gastric bypass. He was in his 20s, he was doing amazingly well in his career and just got engaged. That only confirmed what I had already decided: I would rather be fat and enjoy life in this world, as imperfect as that life my be, rather than go and have major surgery that can cause me to loose my life just to be thin. Don’t get me wrong, I wish I had your positive outlook and self acceptance. I do struggle with accepting my body the way that it is, and there are times when I wish I was thin. But to me the surgery and all that comes with it is just not worth it.

  • Bill Fabrey
    June 8, 2017 at 1:13 am

    A wonderful and powerful essay. I have had several acquaintances die of WLS, but as you say, the real issue is a society that makes so many people feel that they “have to do something, anything” about their weight. We must never give up working for change, and it is easy to get discouraged–but you, and people like you, are the best hope for change. Thank you!

    • fatgirlflow
      June 8, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      <3 thank YOU for reading and for the kind words Bill.

  • Kelly
    June 9, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Yes! Thank you! Very well put.

  • Amanda
    June 17, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I needed to see this today. I was just envying a friend who had wls and wishing I had the guts (and insurance coverage) for such a thing. It brings the horrifying risks back to the forefront. I’d rather be healthy and hate my body than thin and too unhealthy to function

  • Cassandra
    June 29, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you for your article, I considered the surgery during a season in my life where I was struggling with everyone else’s perception of who I was because at one time in my life I was skinny and people who don’t know my story constantly felt as if they had a right to either look at me with pity or speak to my weight. I used to be miserable until I realized that their issues with my weight were just that…theirs. Self love and appreciation is sooo very important. This surgery is marketed as the solution to the ills of fat people who have no control and overeat.
    I have a friend who had the surgery, and she is just as unhappy now as she was before she had it. She s insecure and starved for constant validation. I feel for her because she thought weigh tloss surgery would be her miracle cure. It wasn’t!!!! I know she MARVELS at my joy, peace, and inner contentment because I am still a confident sized 22. Self-love is not birthed by the cut of a knife. It begins by looking in the mirror and loving what God made.
    Thanks for posting your article. You are amazing!

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