‘You Don’t Look Anorexic’: The Ugly Underbelly of Weight-Loss Surgery
In the past year, I read dozens of books on body image and fat acceptance, some of them were very heavy-handed, but all of them were a welcome reminder that we are all human. I had no idea what to do as a fat person trying to lose and maintain weight. I kept looking at people with “skinny” jeans, and thought, I don’t want to look like them. Fat bodies are beautiful in their own ways. So much of the popular culture around weight loss is so far removed from reality that it’s not surprising that some people refuse to accept the reality of fatness, and that is an obstacle that we will have to fight as a fat community to reclaim.
My sister, however, didn’t know that about me. As anorexic, I felt that my fat sister wasn’t real. I remember the first time I heard the phrase “You don’t look anorexic.” It was by a fat activist, who went on to tell me, that she was a self-identified fat woman, trying to stop her anorexia by starting her diet. My sister had a lot of support of her fat sisterhood in her circle of friends, and it was hard to hear this about her. She went so far as to go on to tell me that she was going to try to self-sabotage her disease. Why would someone say something like that? I didn’t have an answer for her, or myself, as a fat person trying to lose weight. I had to figure out the best way to make my sister not feel judged, and to allow her to be her own person.
I’ve talked to several fat people after being referred to their community for help. They were very open about how they feel about their bodies. Most of them did not look anorexic. They all experienced the feeling of shame and self-loathing that I did. To me, that was the biggest obstacle in my weight-loss journey.
Fat people are considered “at risk for developing obesity,” and at this risk of developing obesity, we are not just fat, we are