Try to imagine someone who is obese AND healthy. It doesn’t make sense because how can someone be healthy if they are overweight, right? The terms obese, obesity, and overweight, already implies medical pathology which begets a lot of stigma and discrimination against people who are heavy.
In Dr. Abigail C. Saguy’s new book, What’s Wrong With Fat?, she discusses the difficulty of talking about fat because it is usually framed as being a medical problem or public health crisis. Obesity under the medical and public health frame influences the government and public to find solutions on how to make fat people thin, instead of how to make thin people healthy and less prejudiced. On the other hand, if fatness is more commonly framed as a civil rights issue, in which the problem is not that societies or individuals are too fat and unhealthy, but societies or individuals discriminate on body size, people would learn to be more tolerant and celebrate body size and diversity. It is important to note that language and words matter, and therefore, the goal of Dr. Saguy’s book is to reclaim the terms fat and fatness as a neutral or even a positive word.
To learn more about Dr. Abigail Saguy’s new book, listen to her podcast on Office Hours, where she discusses the three problematic frames of obesity and the potential outcomes of eliminating the stigma against fat.