Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dear Abby misses it again - as usual when it comes to fat

I just had to take Dear Abby to task today over advice she gave to a woman who wrote asking what to tell a patient who asked if she was "happy with the way I have let myself go." Letter-writer had been dealing with her mother's cancer over the period of 2 years and her mother had recently died. LW works in a medical office, and sees patients as often as every 3 months or as seldom as once a year.
Naturally, dealing with the stress of her mother's illness and death, her weight has fluctuated in that time. She asked Abby how to deal with the comments about her weight.
Abby's advice?
I see no reason why, if someone is so insensitive as to mention your weight, you shouldn't let the person have the truth with both barrels. If that doesn't shame him or her into an apology, nothing will. However, because you prefer to conceal it, try this response: "You know, I gained this weight the old-fashioned way -- one bite at a time, and that's the way it'll have to come off."

No, no, and hell, no!!! My response to Abby follows (yeah, I wrote her a letter):
Dear Abby,
This is about Impatient with My Patients In Rhode Island from July 10, 2010, who gained weight when her mother was sick and dying/died of cancer. Your answer - that she should tell people who commented on her weight gain that the weight would come off just like it came on - one bite at a time - is less than stellar. Since when is it anyone's business whether Impatient is happy with her weight or not? Your answer perpetuates the myth that others have the right to comment on anyone's body, which is definitely not so (her body, her business).
How she gained the weight is no one's business, and whether she intends to lose it or not is no one's business. A much better reply would have been for her to say "Why do you want to know?" accompanied by a cold stare. That puts the onus back on the asker, and usually makes them feel like a fool for asking a question that is none of their business (which they rightly should feel).
You're also assuming that Impatient gained the weight by overeating, which may not necessarily be so. If she was under a great deal of stress dealing with her mother's illness and death, that can wreak havoc with one's metabolism, which can cause fluctuations in weight without a change in eating habits (so you perpetuated a stereotype, thanks a lot....NOT).
You really need to educate yourself about Health At Every Size and Fat/Size Acceptance if you're going to give advice to fat people. Perpetuating stereotypes and body-shaming is not the way to help fat people deal with a fat-phobic world (and even those who are not-so-fat but have put on few pounds for whatever reason).
Fat and Proud in MN

1 comment:

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