Are You Fat? I Won’t Judge!

Are you fat? It’s okay with me.

I agree with Fred Rogers! "I like you just the way you are!"

I agree with Fred Rogers! “I like you just the way you are!”

I don’t care what you weigh, nor should nobody else care. There is nothing about being fat that makes a person any less valuable or wonderful than a thinner person! Some thin people are not wonderful at all!

I know what it’s like to be fat and treated unkindly and it stinks. It happened to me a lot. It’s wrong to form opinions of others with only superficial information. I don’t think fat people are inferior or lazy or disgusting. I don’t judge them, but I do judge those who judge fat people and I think they’re subhumans!

It’s not my mission to make people of any weight uncomfortable. It’s not my mission to become a warrior in the war on obesity. The truth is I hate the whole idea of a war on obesity. I loathe the idea that some think fat people should be shamed publicly much the way smokers are made to feel shamed for their nicotine using habits!

Recently I was accused of some hateful things that can’t be further from the truth. The person who thought he knows all about me has never met me. I doubt he’s ever read any of my bogs. I don’t even think he bothered to read what I wrote beyond the sentence when I disagreed with his outrageous statement explaining (to his educated mind) why every person who is overweight got that way.

It all started when I read this great blog by Pattie Reaves. I agreed that fat shaming is wrong and food choices (both volume and specific foods) are not moral issues. The idea that we should get halos for eating oatmeal and devil horns for eating doughnuts infuriates me! I commented on her blog to agree that we shouldn’t be judged by the food we eat or how much we weigh. Neither gives any information about our characters or value as humans.

“Dr. PhD” also opined.

He wrote:It is very telling that before dieting, healthy eating, aerobics, gym memberships became popular, BMI defined obesity was at 13 percent. Only after the cult of calorie restriction began did BMI obesity levels rise to 34. percent. Lean people were convinced that they must eat only health foods and restrict calories to become healthier. This is when the problem began, but mainstream culture refuses to look into this.

I agree with his opinion but I think he’s oversimplified and understated why obesity levels have increased. It’s true that restricting calories, never assuaging hunger completely at any meal, giving up favorite “fattening foods” and eating untasty, low-cal foods made with a lot of chemicals to take the place of higher-calorie real food ingredients can, often does, cause rebound weight gain. Is that the sole reason that obesity have risen to current levels? Heck no!

First, it’s important to understand obesity levels took a big jump in the 90s simply because there was a new lower definition of obesity.

Our species hasn’t evolved much. Hundreds of years ago the genes that prevented the species from becoming extinct, in a harsh environment where food was scarce and humans had to work hard to get it, are still with us. They were survival genes then and they’re obesity genes today. Scientists have discovered more than 300 of them!

When we lived in a world that wasn’t full of food and we had to burn a lot of calories to get through the day, a natural balance of energy took place. Our bodies burn a lot of calories just to circulate blood, maintain body temperature and breathe. We needed to have a strong urge to eat food when food was available because it took a lot of calories to thrive in early environments.

Humans kept getting better at finding, creating and storing food. Today we barely burn any calories to get food. It’s all around us! Then came the industrial revolution and humans started to invent all kinds of machines to perform all kinds of tasks for them. The result was fewer calories were required to get through a day. It’s estimated that we burn 800% fewer calories today than we did before the industrial revolution – 800%!

I added my opinion to the developing conversation to say that not all of us got fat because we restricted calories. In my case I loved food, I had no problem eating way past the point of full and I would be ready to eat again in a matter of minutes if appealing food was offered to me. I also enjoy sedentary forms of entertainment and my job is sedentary. That all combined to make me fat and there are more fat people who got fat the same way I did. We didn’t restrict our calories and then suffer weight gain rebound.

That’s when Dr PhD noticed what I do for work and went off on me. I tried to explain myself but I don’t think he bothered to read what I’d written before he responded with another slam at me and my company. I think he thinks I work for a company of people who hate fat people and who gleefully take their money knowing we can’t help and knowing we only make the problem worse. If that were true, I would still be working for Estée Lauder!

I can’t speak for every Weight Watchers employee. I can only speak for me and the people who work for me in my Maine franchise. We don’t hate fat people. We’re not on a mission to “Slim Maine” against their will. We don’t want people to feel uncomfortable, shamed or judged as inferior in our presence. It’s not our opinion that anybody needs to lose weight. The need to lose weight is a personal decision. Your doctor may give you some compelling reasons why your health would improve with weight loss, but aside from your doctor, it’s nobody’s business but your own.

We don’t judge members by their progress, or food choices, or strict or loose adherence to the food plan. We support them! We don’t force members to choose a weight goal within the Weight Watchers weight goal range. We encourage members to pick a realistic goal and it may very well be above the range of a BMI of 20-25. 

People have personal reasons for wanting to lose weight. I don’t want to ever think the Weight Watchers puts pressure on people to lose weight. I want to believe that Weight Watchers is a solution. It’s a place to go when somebody wants supportive help to lose weight with a program that’s sane and flexible enough to become an enjoyable way of life.

When I was fat I looked at my habits and recognized my weight was the result of unhealthy habits. I had four daughters for whom I wanted to be a good role model. I wanted to be around for a long, long time to enjoy them and eventually their children and I hope their children’s children!

I ate a lot of calories but didn’t get high quality nutrition. I was sedentary and I needed to move more. I needed a plan and support to help me change those things. I wasn’t looking to get thin to make me more lovable and acceptable to others. I didn’t appreciate the way I was treated by strangers (and sometimes friends – really? friends??!! and acquaintances) when I was fat, but I wasn’t interested in losing weight to make me more acceptable to them. I wanted to take better care of myself and I knew that taking better care of myself would result in weight loss.

Back to you. Don’t feel judged by me for your weight. I embrace the philosophy of the great, late Fred Rogers! “Every body’s fancy, every body’s fine. Your body’s fancy and so is mine!” and most importantly, “I like you just the way you are!”

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.