Stop Assuming That You Can’t Be Overweight And Have A Healthy Lifestyle

You know what I find funny? How everyone and their grandma is suddenly a nutritionist. I’m referring to the fact that people love to assume that every chubby person they see is incredibly unhealthy and knocking on death’s door.

We’re very used to the image of overweight people being sad, sedentary gluttons who gobble down soda, cookies, burgers, pizzas and ice cream in front of a television. With every other television show on the air focusing on weight loss, it can be a little hard not to assume that that is the case. But believe it or not, not every single overweight person has an unhealthy lifestyle.

Wow, shocking.

Even more “shocking” is the fact that you can’t look at somebody and automatically determine their health status. In fact, studies have shown that being overweight is not an automatic death wish! So why is it that someone can look at a chubby person walking down the street and assume they’re unhealthy, but not think twice about someone skinny walking along as well? For all we know, the overweight individual eats loads of fruits and veggies and exercises regularly, while the skinny person chain smokes and only eats Cheetos dust and Redbull.

Fat acceptance, a movement that hopes to deter anti-fat bias and societal norms, is growing in popularity, especially among young women and teen girls online. Fat acceptance isn’t about promoting unhealthy lifestyles or encouraging people to become fat; it is about fighting against prejudice and shame. And yet, among the people who begrudgingly accept the positive elements of fat acceptance, they still feel the need to say, “As long as you’re healthy…” To me, this translates to, “Well, okay, as long as you don’t look too fat. Well, okay, as long as you don’t feel too confident about those love handles.”

What is it with this society’s constant paternalistic monitoring of overweight people? Do we think that without our gentle reminders to eat plenty of apples, that they’ll immediately start to inhale taco after taco?  How condescending can we be? Those who feel the need to remind an overweight person interested in fat acceptance to be healthy are likely the same people who can’t quite process the fact that there are fat people out there who aren’t spending their free time sobbing on a scale.

Some people are overweight because of genetic factors, others because they eat a lot of food. But no matter why someone is overweight, it isn’t the business of a judgmental stranger who, frankly, doesn’t know anything about a fat person’s health beyond “they’re fat.”

Of course health shouldn’t be taken for granted. And of course there are diseases that are triggered by the side effects of being incredibly overweight. But there are thin and “normal sized” people with high cholesterol, and no stranger is making a blind judgement on their health status; that’s because they don’t look a certain way. If people are truly as invested in health as they claim to be, why are superficial assumptions always used to discuss it? If we want to have a serious discussion about health and eating we need to dig deeper, like discussing access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods. If we want to be have a serious discussion about poor eating habits, then we need to talk about the poor eating habits of every sized person, not just fat people.

Seriously, overweight people have to deal with enough problems in our society without having strangers give them a visual physical exam.

Do you think health is always determined by weight? What do you think about fat acceptance? Tell us in the comments!

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Posted in: Body Image
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  • Anonymous

    I’m not just saying this because I’ve been told to eat better, but because it’s just stupid.
    I’ve got curves, simple as that.
    I’m as healthy as I can be! I dance regularly, I’m a teacher in fact!
    I eat incredibly healthy, it’s almost scary to me as well, considering my love for food.
    Yet I’m constantly being told by strangers in the malls to ‘lay off the McDonald’s’.
    I don’t even like McDonald’s.
    And I’m not the only above-society’s-perfect-body type girl out there that feels this way.

  • Chloe

    I completly agree with this article. I am 5’4 and weigh 150 pounds. This may seem kind of heavy, but I eat really healthily, and do year-round competitive swimming six times a week. I used to be almost obese in 5th grade, but swimming has brought my weight WAYYYY down, and I am really proud of myself for that. 🙂

  • Dee Dee

    Doctors forget that not everyone has the same bone structure. And yes there is a such thing as being big boned my brother and I have a large structure so we carry more weight then other people my doctor say that if i lose 100 pounds ill be fine and i weigh 300lbs at 5’8″.

  • emma

    this is really true. There are skinny people out there who are bulimic and anorexic, that’s not healthy.

  • JustDMarie

    I have a friend who is only 13 and her mom put her on a diet for being “fat”. Everyday she only comes to school with an apple, so I usually give her my granola bar. Ever since she started this diet she has seemed a little slower and it makes me sick how her mother would do that. I’ve told my mom about what her mom has done to her and she doesn’t believe me since the info is coming from my friend, and not her mother. You can say she is a little bigger than me and my other friend, but I would never call her fat… I’m going to show her this ^_^

    • vivianne

      thats really serious,hon.I would totally look more closely into that.

  • Natasha

    I’m overweight, and I’m actually pretty healthy. I’m in cross country and I run pretty much everyday. In fact, I’m in more shape running-wise, than some skinnier girls who aren’t that active. I even run longer and faster than some of the guy hockey players, lol. And, I don’t really worry about getting any health problems, that overweight people can get.

  • candy

    Ok, no. Saying “As long as you’re healthy…” literally just means that. As long as you are living a healthy lifestyle, then you are fine. There is nothing wrong with your body. It doesn’t mean that they have a huge issue with the way that someone looks, usually it just genuinely means that they are concerned for their health. There is nothing wrong with fat acceptance, obviously, it’s a pretty good thing, but at the same time we can’t use fat acceptance as an excuse to put on a load of weight.

  • Popcorn

    I can see where you’re coming from, but honestly, you can’t be healthy if you’re 14 years old, 5’6 and weigh 300 lbs. It’s not even fat shaming, its just the reality of the situation. However, we don’t need to comment on the eating habits of every single person, but we can’t tell ourselves that fat=health.

    • no

      That IS fat shaming. A height, a age and a weight DOES NOT determine health. You are doing exactly what this article is saying NOT to do. Gets some of those person’s dr. records, THEN say whether they are healthy.

  • Corrine

    oh my gosh i was just talking about this with my sister the other day.:D