Hello! Welcome to The Fat Lip, the podcast for fat people, about fat people, hosted by a fat person who is me. I’m a fat person, and my name is Ash. On Today’s episode (which is our 30th one, which feels so weird but so amazing)…anyway, on today’s episode I wanted to talk about some current events in fatness again.
To start, I wanted to talk a little bit about This is Us. I did a full episode on this show last year, and, if you haven’t listened to it, let’s just say that I was not impressed with the fat character, Kate. I felt like she was one-dimensional and just another shitty representative of a fat woman in mainstream media. I finished watching last season and have watched all of this season so far, and my feelings are… mostly the same as before. Warning: if you’re not caught up, you’re going to want to fast forward this bit because I’m going to spoil some things.
I do think that Kate’s storyline is becoming a little more dimensional—she has a career focus now and more going on in her personal life—but I still don’t think it’s enough. First of all, every move she makes in her pursuit of a singing career is also colored by her obsession with losing weight. She has a gig but she’s too fat for her dress. She goes to an audition and makes a scene because she thinks she’s passed over because of her fatness. And okay, these are things that some fat women feel and experience, but I’d like a single pursuit to be not about Kate’s weight.
Also, not fat related, but it is a personal pet peeve of mine when a woman on a tv show is given an unintended pregnancy story arch. It’s just so cliche and lazy (seriously, it happens in nearly every tv drama AT LEAST once) and, to me, it’s indicative of a show runner who doesn’t know how to tell good, compelling stories about women. And we know that they don’t know what to give this fat character other than weight loss, so it just seems like they threw this other trite garbage at her to try to make her more interesting. And the thing is, there are unique circumstances and issues around fat pregnancy that could make this an important story, but so far no one is talking about these things. We need an actual fat woman writing for this show so these things can be addressed!
There are other areas where, when I’m watching this show, I think “if there was a fat woman writer on staff, she could provide valuable input here.” Like when Kate is at her audition and she’s sitting in a room full of people, my first instinct is “Wow, if that were me I’d be so anxious about the seating.” And if that worry was acknowledged even in some tiny way, maybe the not-fat people who watch this show would understand one tiny thing that’s hard about being fat.
And listen, I know this is a TV show and it’s about entertainment and not activism, but this is literally ALL WE HAVE. And I’m going to keep wanting more from it because we deserve fully formed, complicated fat characters with full, rich lives and great stories to tell, and if we can get some minds changed and some chairs without arms in waiting areas along the way, I’m going to keep campaigning for that.
Okay, now onto something more serious.
Amid the surge in public reporting of sexual abuse following the Harvey Weinstein allegations, a story surfaced this week about a judge in Quebec who told a fat 17 year old that she was overweight and “maybe a little flattered” when her taxi driver tried to kiss and grope her. He also went on to suggest that a kiss doesn’t require consent.
In other legislative fatphobia news, a local clinical commissioning group in the UK county of Hertfordshire has announced that for the indefinite future, people in the “obese” bmi classification will not be eligible for routine, nonemergency surgical procedures until they lose 15% of their body weight. Other local health councils in the UK have implemented similar policies, but in those localities patients who are unable to lose the weight are ultimately eligible for surgery. The difference here is that the Hertfordshire council has made no such exception. The county says that they’ve made this decision because improved health before surgical procedures improves patient outcomes, shortens recovery, and reduces costs for the National Health System. They have a similar policy for smokers—no non-emergency surgery until the patient goes 8 weeks without smoking.
But the problem is that we know that actual sustained weight loss is incredibly, incredibly rare. Even if a patient is able to achieve 15% weight loss, chances are that they will regain it all and then some, especially if they are convalescing post-surgery. Plus it is entirely possible that a fat person—even a very fat person—is in a healthier, more stable condition for surgery than their thinner counterparts, but because of their weight alone they are disqualified from procedures. It just seems like a very arbitrary requirement that isn’t based in actual weight loss or weight maintenance science.
This is what we mean when we say that fatphobia is systemic. A legislative decision was made that effects the healthcare of an entire subset of the population in this county, but it was made based on a narrative that misguidedly equates body weight with health AND assumes that sustained weight loss is possible whereas we know that, in the vast majority of cases, it is not.
And finally, I was up late the other night, and I was thinking about seating. It’s truly one of the hardest, most anxiety-inducing parts of being fat, at least for me. I’m always worried about where I’ll sit when I go out or visit friends or go to the doctor. In reality, most chairs out there in the world just aren’t meant to hold me. And the prospects aren’t even great when it comes to home furniture—finding chairs that have high weight ratings is pretty difficult. Over the last few years I’ve purchased a lot of chairs trying to find solutions to everyday seating needs.
So I decided to make a handy list of affordable, sturdy seating options that you can find on Amazon. I came up with 7 options and compiled them into a blog post. Go to thefatlip.com and click on the Blog link to check it out!
Okay, that’s all I have for you today. If you have other stories that you’d like to hear discussed on the blog, submit those via the Tell Your Story link on thefatlip.com!
As always, thank you to Starcrusher for the music you heard on today’s show. Hear more at cstarcrusher.bandcamp.com
And thank you to our Patreon patrons! Our patron of the week is Hayden. Thank you so much, Hayden for your support! If you are interested in supporting the show, go to patreon.com/thefatlip to learn more!
Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you again in a couple weeks!