“Alas, poor Logic; I knew it well!”

Years ago there was a NZ-based website for large women called ‘Realwoman’. I hadn’t discovered FA back then (the idea that I could be OK as I am had not yet occurred to me) but I used to post a bit on Realwoman. The website attracted it’s share of trolls – as any site does – and one in particular used to argue with us about our lives and experiences. We couldn’t possibly be telling the truth, she would argue, because our outcomes weren’t ‘correct’. Those of us who ate our veges and exercised were still fat? Impossible! And those of us who had no trouble getting pregnant at over 100 kilos were lying through our (no doubt doughnut-covered) teeth.

I used to think she was just a troll but since then I’ve found a lot of people like her, who ignore logic and the evidence in front of their own eyes in favour of empty rhetoric. My life so far and my weight issues (I’ve decided to stop calling it a ‘struggle’) have taught me two things; one, that each body has it’s own unique shape which it will try to stick to and two, that the process of weight gain, weight loss, dieting, etc is much more complex that we first thought. In other words, the old ‘calories in = calories out’ theory is not as logical as it might first appear.

We all know someone who just cannot seem to gain weight no matter what they do. This person (sometimes they’re female, sometimes male) may lead a relatively healthy life in terms of diet and exercise but often they don’t. This is the person who can both eat and drink you under the table and yet they never gain more than a few kilos. We say they “have a fast metabolism” or “good genes” and we envy them their ability to stay thin without having to ‘try’.

On the other hand we refuse to believe that our fat friend can’t lose weight no matter what he or she does. Whenever we see them eat something we comment on it; if they eat less than us or exercise more than us we do not notice it (they must’ve had a big lunch; we have a sore ankle). This person may lose a few kilos if they push themselves but in order to do so they have to exercise to extremes and eat a severely restricted diet. We say they “have no willpower or self-control” and we wish they would just ‘try’ to change themselves and their body.

Sound familiar? And if you want another wrinkle to this dichotomy; I made this argument to someone just the other day and their response was “Oh, but the ‘naturally thin’ people of the first group are only ever teens, it changes when people hit their twenties, so you can’t use that as an example.”

I don’t know about you  but I know people of all ages in both categories.

The above is just one example of the way prejudice and stereotypes command our thinking about obesity and our bodies. We accept that some people are naturally tall and some are naturally short. We accept that some people are right handers and some are lefties (although until not long ago the latter was blamed on the devil – and still is, according to my nutty Aunt!) and we accept that some people are naturally thin and will have trouble gaining weight – but we firmly reject that people can be naturally fat and have trouble losing it. At the 11th hour our logic deserts us. Why?

That’s the question I want to ask – why? The answer I usually get is “Well, everyone knows…” which is another way of saying “I’m about to rely on my prejudice here…” Let’s be clear about this: I am not seeking a single excuse for all fatties to use. I agree that over consumption of junk and under exercising can result in extra adipose tissue. (I don’t think extra adipose tissue is a bad thing or wrong, however; but that’s too huge an issue to cover in this post.)What I am saying is that if we want to we could apply logic to our beliefs… and be more likely to come across possible answers.

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