Since I watched and reported on part one, I figured I would go the rest of the way and check out what Katie Hopkins was up to in part two of this documentary as well. I’m sad (but unsurprised) to report that she remains an ignorant bigot when it comes to body weight.
When I first wrote about part one, an insightful friend of mine pointed out how completely meaningless her experiment is in the first place. It takes years for bodies to adjust to the size that they are, but once they are adjusted to that size they will fight tooth and nail to stay the same. So a body that has been slender for life (such as Katie’s) will tend to boomerang back to its original shape just as a body that’s been overweight for years will try very hard to remain (or return to) being fat. Most overweight people do not become overweight in two or three months, they do it over the course of years or even decades. Additionally, since new fat cells can be formed but not removed without surgical intervention, a body that has been fat will always be prepped and ready to become fat again. All the extra shrunken fat cells are just sitting around, waiting and ready for the slightest hint of excess fuel in the system they can latch onto and fill up with again. This is probably why most people (95% from most studies I have read) who have lost a significant amount of weight will return to their original size within a five year period. After that point, a body will start to acclimate to its new shape and size and supposedly it becomes easier to remain that way instead.
This is why once I've reached my goal weight my own journey will have just begun. I will then start a new (and possibly more difficult) challenge to maintain my new size through the five year danger zone and beat the odds. I’m planning to open a new blog at that point and call it, “The Five Year Mission”. Mostly because I am a Star Trek geek.
The documentarian didn't follow a restricted diet plan to lose weight, she simply ate per her average appetite and walked a few hours a day (because yeah, most of us have a few extra hours per day available to us to spend wandering our neighborhoods) as well as returning to regular running and other forms of exercise. Unsurprisingly, her body returned to its previous shape. She kept on an additional 11 pounds or so, which pleased her Doctor because she’d been slightly underweight to begin with.
Through it all, she continued to bash and demean fat people as well as holding them personally responsible for “making her” do this.
I find two things here primarily frustrating. The first is the repeated assumption on the part of people like this that fat people need to be told they are fat and unacceptable. Allow me to illuminate folks who may not be aware of this: we already know.
Having slurs screamed at us by strangers on the street, rocks, bottles, and other trash violently thrown at us from passing cars, not fitting into seats in public spaces, being unable to find clothing in our size (let alone anything flattering or pretty), being passed over for jobs and promotions based on appearance rather than skills – those things clue us in daily. They do not inspire us to change so as to be more acceptable to the eyes of our tormentors, they inspire us only to hide and to turn to things that comfort us, which in many cases is food. They make us feel helpless to change something that the rest of the world finds completely unacceptable and blames us for entirely. They encourage self-hatred, depression, and despair.
Accepting ourselves as human beings worthy of love and respect is a daunting daily struggle already. My husband deserves at least 50% of the credit for my successful changes. You know why? Because he loves and accepts me and finds me beautiful at any size. He encourages me to change because it’s what I want, and ferociously defends me against the entire world if need be. He wants me to be happy with me, and to heck with what anybody else (including himself) thinks of it.
He has loved me into success. Love helps. Love works.
Body shaming and fat hatred has inspired and assisted absolutely no one ever.
People who body shame and humiliate do so under the guise of being helpful, but in reality their motivation is the feeling of smug superiority they get because what is easy for them is extremely difficult for other people. Because (here’s another news flash) people are different. Weight bigots do not actually want fat people to be thin anyway, because if all fat people were thin they would have to find another group to demean and think themselves superior to.
The other thing that frustrates me is the tired old trope that fat people are a drain on the health care system and thin people shouldn't have to pay for their care – be it assistance to lose weight or a weight related health complication. By this logic, people who don’t suffer from cancer shouldn't have to pay for the cancer treatments of people who do. People who don’t have epilepsy (which Katie has) shouldn't have to pay for the health care of people who do.
If there’s evidence that moderately fat people get sick more than thin people I haven’t seen it. I have seen compelling evidence that repeated weight loss and gain (yo-yo dieting) is extremely hard on the body to the point of being deadly, but being a consistent body weight, even if the BMI insists you’re “overweight” is statistically the healthiest thing to be. Bodies. Hate. Change.
However let’s throw science out the window and assume that being overweight will make everyone who is overweight sick. The justification for this one is then that fat people are choosing to be fat, it’s their own fault, so denying them health care (clothing/seats on buses/human dignity/etc.) is perfectly justified.
Here’s another news flash: no, the overwhelming majority of fat people are not choosing it. They are not choosing to have an eating disorder, or to feel ravenously hungry all the damned time, or to have genetically inherited metabolisms that strive to protect them in the event of starvation conditions, or PCOS, or any of the hundreds of reasons why individual people become overweight.
Even in the event that yes, some people simply want to be fat (I will concede that a small minority of folk like that do exist), so what? Teenagers still start smoking these days knowing full well that putting that cigarette in their mouths may lead to painful addiction and an early death. And you know what? If they get sick they still deserve compassion and help. We are not a herd of antelope that leaves our slowest members behind to die when they go lame, we’re human beings. Our self-awareness and compassion for one another is what elevates us. But it can only elevate us if we are willing to open our eyes, let go of the base desire to feel superior because of mental and physical biology that none of us earned or chose, and rise to that occasion.
Katie Hopkins' choice was not to rise, but instead to smugly wallow like a pig in traits that she was arbitrarily born with.
What will you choose?