General Question

YARNLADY's avatar

Why is it suddenly OK to be fat, with the known medical hazards?

Asked by YARNLADY (45617points) April 27th, 2017

All medical advice says that being overweight is hazardous to your health. Why are more and more people saying being FAT is OK.

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31 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s not. Being fat is bad for you but a few sensational garbage papers easily make a good news headline. Especially with all of the anti-fat shaming campaigns going on.

flutherother's avatar

Because more and more people are fat. They think they are a persecuted group.

Coloma's avatar

Because overweight people are not “less than” average weight people and everyone needs to accept themselves and not berate themselves for their shortcomings. Just like smoking or anything else, easier said than done to get a handle on for many. I think we all learned in or should have anyway, in Kindergarten, that people come in all shapes and sizes and colors and everyone deserves to treated with kindness and respect.
Some people are just more prone to putting on extra weight, whether that is due to poor habits, a desk job or genetics. They struggle and have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight.

Fat people wear their weaknesses on their bodies for the whole world to judge but closet alcoholics, drug abusers, shop-a-holics can conceal their weaknesses from public criticism but all of those personal issues are just as “bad” as being overweight. Humans have their challenges and weaknesses, what else is new? I have to work really hard at my weight, I love to eat, I love to cook and have gone up and down a few times in my life. Never morbidly obese but 30–40 lbs. or so.

To maintain a perfect weight means I am, literally, starving all the time and have to walk/run 3 miles day. Fuck that, not gonna happen anymore, did that for 35 years and if I’m a little chubby in my older middle age I don’t care, life is short eat the fucking cheesecake and drink the wine. Ya gotta die of something, I say leave people alone ad judge them on the size of their heart not the size of their ass.

chyna's avatar

Bravo, bravo @Coloma!

Zaku's avatar

I think it’s a long-overdue move away from the extreme fat-shaming and fat-ridiculing and fat-dehumanizing language and behavior that our society has indulged in for far too long. Fat is one of the remaining “allowed” dumping grounds for the stress and anxiety and fear that people in our society carry around from not owning our own feelings, and which we dump onto bashing the few targets we agree are ok to bash. But that’s pathological and messes with people and for every person shamed into exercise I expect there are even more people stressing out and/or overeating and/or getting depressed and/or not exercising due to all the shaming etc.

I’ve also been noticing a trend of people trying to counter-attack any non-fat-shaming media on the grounds that being fat is unhealthy, as if it were a binary issue where therefore shaming something unhealthy would therefore be positive, and not shaming would be bad. But the situation is nowhere near that simple.

cookieman's avatar

Medically, it’s not okay to be fat — but that’s between you and your doctor. What’s worse is treating people like shit simply because they’re fat. Is there a diet for hateful behavior?

jca's avatar

In upper class culture, it’s not ok to be even ten pounds overweight (at least for ladies). In some cultures it’s more accepted to be heavy while in others, it’s not.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Also, although I think @Coloma nailed it, may I point out that we aren’t actually sure if being overweight is a medical hazard in itself, or if the lifestyle and social stressors of being overweight are the trigger behind so many of the health issues that we connect to excess body weight. The latter has been proposed and some studies have even shown that a slightly increased body weight might be healthier than the current “healthy” weight range, suggesting that it may be possible that our guidelines for weight may be too rigid. I think, as @Zaku said, this may be something that people try to view in black and white terms and it isn’t as black as white as we want it to be. Weight, obesity and health are extremely complicated issues from a medical perspective, but our social views are even more complicated and somewhat unrelated. We have strong cultural prejudice against fatness that has little or nothing to really do with the impact on an individual’s health.

snowberry's avatar

If you’re overweight, but get a lot of exercise, it’s not the same as living a sedentary life and being just as fat. The active one is much healthier.

Mariah's avatar

Why should it be anyone else’s business whether someone is healthy or not?

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

Why is it suddenly OK to be a redhead, with the known medical hazards? ~

And what, exactly, do you mean by “OK”? Has it ever been the case that fat people were morally inferior? Are there basic human rights that they lose in virtue of weighing more than current medical science believes to be ideal? Do they deserve to be harassed for the size and shape of their bodies? Because if not, then it looks like it has always been “OK” to be fat.

Saying that something is “OK” is not the same as saying it is perfect, optimal, ideal, or whatever. I’d love to be smarter, faster, and stronger. Am I not okay because I don’t have a PhD, can’t run a four-minute mile, and will probably never bench press over 1000 pounds? Are these shortcomings reasons to think badly of myself? And if so, exactly what should my punishment be?

Patty_Melt's avatar

Medically, it is not okay.
Socially, it must not be shamed.
People who are overweight already have battles going on, without fighting to be accepted. Lots of people cannot do anything at all about being overweight.
Far more can, but not without a lot of help, control, time, and self confidence.
I was never overweight, not one pound, except pregnancy and a few weeks after.
When mobility became a major struggle for me, the difference in physical activity made the pounds plop all over me. I got the gaining to stop, finally, but I have yet to see any loss.
It is morale crushing, but add to that the expressions I see on people’s faces makes it more and more difficult to face going out of the house.
My daughter won’t be seen with me anywhere any more.
It isn’t that fat is okay, it’s that hurting people for what is already causing them agony is just tragic.

Darth_Algar's avatar

No one says it’s “OK” to be fat. What we’re saying is that it’s not OK to treat someone as inferior, or as somehow less deserving of dignity because they’re fat.

YARNLADY's avatar

These are wonderful answers. Thank you so much for the insight.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I am male and 6’2”. According to the medical charts my ideal weight is between 145 lbs and 194 lbs and my BMI should be between 18.5 and 24.9. Even as an RN I knew this was bullshit. If my weight drops below 212 lbs, I feel weak, cold and tired all the time. I’ve kept my BMI at around 26 by staying active and working out, maintaining a muscle mass that displaces fat, but weighs 10% more than fat. My ideal weight, for me, is 230 lbs, I have a flat belly, good energy and excellent strength.

Everyone has an individual, ideal body weight and BMI that makes them feel their best. Everyone has a different body type and different needs and this is lost in the charts.

Over the past thirty years, I’ve noticed a slow change in what is considered the desirable female body type among men. She is heavier, “thicker”, curvier and looks much healthier than she used to be. No longer is the angular “super model” stick girl the ideal female body type in popular culture. I attribute this to the influential emergence of black pop culture in the U.S. And thank god for it. The 1960’s are finally dead. Hurray for the the 1950’s comeback.

canidmajor's avatar

Some guy in 1832 developed a fancy height/weight chart (BMI) and now everybody cites that as some kind of gospel.
As @Espiritus_Corvus points out, “fat” is such a changeable concept.
If being fat negatively impacts your health (not always a given by any means) then being fat is not OK, for you. Otherwise, it seems to be an aesthetic issue (denied by most to be such) justified by comments of “concern”.

snowberry's avatar

BMI is just a measuring stick, and it’s not all that accurate. There are multiple stories of children being labeled as overweight when they’re not. This kid has no body fat, yet the school said she’s fat:

Is it irresponsible of a medical professional to label as fat when she’s not? I think so. It seems that the school nurse didn’t bother to actually look at the child before she/he sent home the note.

Or maybe school nurses aren’t allowed to actually use their brain. They just go by the rules, and reflexively fill out paperwork willy-nilly of the consequences.

johnpowell's avatar

There is a pretty distinct correlation between poverty and obesity. My sister and her husband only eat super healthy shit and it is really expensive (they are slim). My mom is always broke and has the menu at Arbys memorized (she is the opposite of slim).

So I kinda look at it as a economics thing, hello Gini coefficient.

snowberry's avatar

This contributes significantly to the idea that being “fat” is Okay. BMI is inaccurate. It doesn’t measure health, but instead measures weight against height.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I’m overweight according to the BMI chart. I don’t have much body fat though so it is obviously flawed. The goal posts for that have shifted though. Where I live there are like three body types: slim but a little overweight, obese and morbidly f’ing huge. My doc generally tells me he starts telling his otherwise healthy patients to loose weight once they start to cross over into the obese range.

Darth_Algar's avatar

For what it’s worth a lot of medical professionals these days acknowledge that the BMI is bullshit.

josie's avatar

It isn’t OK. and that is because of the medical hazards and because these days the cost of the fat folks medical treatment is gradually being taken up by those who are not fat, not to mention the space they take up on airplanes.

And I really do not think that most people think it is OK.

But just about everybody understands it is politically incorrect to say it is not OK.

So some folks, in order to be politically incorrect will say it’s OK. And keep their thoughts to themselves.

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@josie So is it not okay to be a redhead because of the medical hazards? Their medical costs will also be taken up by the rest of us over time. And it has nothing to do with “these days” because other people’s health impacts us (and society) no matter what sort of economic system or medical insurance program we live under. The simple fact about not being the only person in the world is that other people’s lives will impact your own whether you want them to or not. Same thing for airplanes. Being fat is not the only way of being large. There are bodybuilders who take up two seats despite having virtually no body fat. So is it also not okay to be big and strong?

josie's avatar


The question was about being fat. It didn’t say anything about redheads and body builders.

canidmajor's avatar

How about someone defines “fat”? And please don’t say “20 pounds overweight”, by what scale? By whose standards? Some guy’s 1832 computations? By virtue of my height, general body type (and quitting smoking 6 years ago) I am definitely “fat”. My doctor has signed off on my health, including blood sugar stuff, heart stuff, general organ function stuff, because I am active, eat high quality foods, and do healthy things. I don’t take up two seats worth of space, I am just not considered desirable. Which, at this point in my life, is exactly what I’m going for. By your probable standards, @josie, I would be considered obese.
But look on the bright side. When the zombies come, you can outrun us.

The problem is less about the actual adipose tissue, and more about what’s happening to our food supply.

Coloma's avatar

@canidmajor Yep, it’s nice to be in the “I don’t give a fuck” camp these days. haha
I spent decades killing myself to maintain the “perfect” body and now, while I still want to look nice I am perfectly fine with not killing myself to remain the unrealistic size of my youth and younger years. I have weighed, at 5’4, anywhere from 117 to 150ish lbs. over the years and it is nice to finally be liberated from feeling the body pressure to be the poster girl for hot bod.
I always joke that I gained 3 inches on my mothers stature and inherited my dads 30–40 lb. deficit.

My mother was 5’1 and never weighed more than about 105 lbs. her whole life and she could eat like a horse and never gained weight. My dad was a big German guy, over 6’2 and carried around an extra 40 lbs. or so but he wore it well. For years I lived on a low calorie diet and walked/ran/worked out like 6 days a week. Had a cup of yogurt and maybe a banana or small bowl of oatmeal in the morning. A half of tuna sandwich or salad or hard boiled egg for lunch and more salad and maybe a little piece of fish or chicken for dinner.

The discipline was hardcore and it was rare I allowed myself to indulge. My ex husband was very fat averse and even told me when we married that if I ever gained weight he would divorce me! Turns out I divorced him. lol
Yes, I looked great but man, it was time consuming and a constant struggle. Women especially in our culture are under constant scrutiny and quite frankly I’d rather be a little on the heavy side than to live the way I did for years. It is so liberating to not give a damn anymore!

Darth_Algar's avatar


That logic can be applied to a great many things. Probably some that apply to you too.

Coloma's avatar

Well..I always say it’s a lot easier to lose weight than to change a shitty personality.
You can drop 10 lbs. in a month, takes a lot more than a month to drop 10 pounds of over inflated ego. haha

JeSuisRickSpringfield's avatar

@josie Read my previous answer. The problem is that your logic applies just as well to redheads and bodybuilders as it does to fat people. So you either have to apply it to all of the above or none of the above.

lugerruger's avatar

People can still be ‘fat’ and healthy. Someone’s weight and size doesn’t define their health. A lot of people don’t have the ‘perfect’ body but are still healthy and it’s more about accepting and loving how we look.

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