Friday, 14 August 2009

Classism that undermines FA

It's not just the good/bad fattie that needs to be thought about by us in FA, it's the way we other fat people on low incomes too.

People repeatedly make allusions to the idea that being fat and poor is somehow intrinsically unhealthy in a way that it isn't for those who are fat and not so poor. Rather than recognising that being poor in and of itself can take years off your life. Ben Goldacre talks about two streets in a London borough, one rich one poor. In the rich one, the average life expectancy is just about 80 years, in the poor part it's 70 years.

Endlessly it is stated that the reason why poor people are fat is because they can't afford gyms, even though poor people are likely to work in occupations that require physical graft, even if that's not of the fat burning kind. Instead of using this to inform FA, that being physically active doesn't make you thin, fat people are made into a separate class of fattie.

Then there's this thing where if you are fat and poor, you are supposed to be a receptacle for greater pity, because you are both fat and poor, more than if you are thin, somehow. And not just because of the attitude of health care professionals but simply because you are fat.

Often this combination is used to elicit sympathy for FA, there's a lot of this within different advocacy movements, where integration of the poor is not on their terms but to serve the needs of the more well off people within those movements.

Whilst I recognise change takes time and there is at least some kind of attempt to address the fact that the poor exist, it is not really good enough and keeps unnecessary distance between us.

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