Fat people can be healthy. It's a simple statement of fact that has almost become a war cry for those of us in the body positivity community. But as one woman recently pointed out on Twitter, fat people can be unhealthy, too — and that doesn't mean they are any less deserving of respect.
"I'm going to say something I didn't think I ever would," Twitter user @CallieThorpe wrote on Friday. "I am unhealthy. But that does not make me less human, less deserving of respect."
Thorpe is Marie Claire's Curve columnist, who writes about body positivity, fat-shaming, and life as a plus-size woman. In a Twitter thread that pointed to something often goes unsaid about fat-shaming, she tackled a common double-standard when it comes to talking about health.
"I'd like to take a bet that you too are unhealthy, perhaps you drink too much, smoke, sunbath with no sunscreen, get too little sleep," Thorpe continued in her tweet stream.
Yet, it's only plus-size people who are ridiculed for being unhealthy, even when people know nothing about our diets, exercise history, or any other pertinent health information.
"I am overweight, a Dr would class me as obese, and yes I have things I want to work on with my health that that will never involve me shaming other people," Thorpe wrote. "I don't appreciate the fact that I and my friends can only be accepted if we fit narrow guidelines of what health is."
Being healthy is such a vague and far-reaching goal, and as Thorpe says, everyone engages in "unhealthy" behaviours every now and then. But since we equate body size with health, often thinking that the larger a person is the more unhealthy they are, plus size people can feel pressure to make nothing but healthy decisions when we're in public — and feel shamed when we don't.
The paradox is, that shame can force us to avoid healthy behaviours. We work out at home instead of at the gym because fat people who go to the gym are often shamed while there (or shamed for even the possibility of buying workout clothes).
The real problem here, Thorpe wrote, is that we treat health as a way to divide people into categories. You're "good" if you eat well and exercise often (and are thin), and you're "bad" if you eat poorly and don't often exercise (or are fat).
"Health is not a moral obligation," Thorpe wrote. "It doesn't make you better or more worthy than someone else."
She finished her thread asking us all to stop treating each other as healthy or not healthy — which no one can tell just by looking at someone, anyway — and instead "see people as people."