I just discovered Aubrey Gordon.
And I love her.
Aubrey is a fat activist. She thinks we need to get more comfortable saying the word fat.
It’s just a descriptor. And she’s well aware that it accurately describes her.
Aubrey is the kind of plus-size who struggles to find clothing even at plus-size retailers.
And she’s fed up.
She’s sick and tired of the assumptions people make about her health.
She’s sick and tired of people shouting at her on the street to lose weight.
She’s sick and tired of strangers snickering when they see her.
She just wants to live her life in peace like anyone else.
And to do that, she’s realized she has to speak up.
Anti-Fat Bias is Real… And Deadly
In a world clamoring with trendy diets and wellness gurus and #thinspo, Aubrey dares to say what should have been obvious:
No body should be discriminated against.
No more fat-shaming.
No more making larger-bodied people the butt of jokes.
No more denying health care because of a person’s size.
No more enforced weight loss.
A body is just a body. Some are big; some are small. You can’t tell how healthy a body is by how it looks on the outside.
Why is that so hard?
Who’s Afraid of Fat?
Aubrey’s bestselling book What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat opened my eyes.
I hadn’t realized that fat people could get thrown off planes or fired just because of their size.
I hadn’t realized the daily abuse that some fat women experience.
I hadn’t understood the impact of shows like “The Biggest Loser” or “My 600-lb Life.”
I didn’t see these things. And I should have.
Aubrey made me realize that anti-fat bias is an invisible part of our culture.
An invisible part of MY culture.
Growing up, I’d internalized the belief that fat=bad, thin=good.
I saw it in the TV shows I watched. I read it in the diet pages of women’s magazines. I heard it when the women in my family talked about weight.
And if I looked closely inside myself—really really looked—I could still find it in me.
Health ≠ Thin
I’ll never forget the first time a doctor fat-shamed my daughter.
She was in one of those normal ebb and flows. Kids grow out, then they grow up.
But this particular doctor only had eyes for the BMI chart.
She delivered a weight loss lecture, which my daughter heard as an unfair judgment of her habits.
This doctor never asked how we ate at home. She assumed.
Because my child’s BMI didn’t match the “healthy” range, we got the lecture.
I am still undoing that damage. Kids don’t forget.
The correlation of fat with ill health is a particularly virulent form of anti-fat bias.
Aubrey argues persuasively that many of the so-called “documented risks” of being fat are not due to body size, but rather the health-corroding effects of diets and discrimination.
The “obesity epidemic” pins blame on the millions of people who presumably lack willpower and diet advice…
Deflecting attention from structural issues such as the deep pockets of a food industry that both engineers addictive food and lobbies the government for policies benefiting them.
But it’s easier to blame people than to call out capitalism.
Besides, the $5.3 trillion dollar diet and wellness industries depend on it.
Aubrey is just one voice against the diet industrial complex… good thing she’s loud. 🙂
But Don’t Just Listen to Me…
Listen to Aubrey herself!
She stars in the 2023 documentary YOUR FAT FRIEND. (Watch the trailer here.)
Her friend Jeanie Finlay documented her journey from anonymous blogger to public activist, author and podcaster.
The documentary was an official selection at the Tribeca Film Festival. Since then, it’s hit the indie circuit. But it probably won’t land in a major cinema chain near you.
As Aubrey explains, Hollywood has very few roles available for fat people. They can be the comic relief or the fat friend. They can be part of a transformational arc from fat to thin. But rarely are they allowed a role that doesn’t hinge on their body size.
Aubrey wants to change that.
And this documentary is a way to start having that conversation.
If you want even MORE Aubrey, she co-hosts the popular podcast Maintenance Phase, which debunks common diet and wellness myths.
What She Said
This, then, is my life as a fat person. I am expected to absorb the discomfort and outright bias against my body in a world built for thin people.”
When we reduce fat people to their bodies, to ‘before and after,’ or to bellies and rolls, we come to think of fat people as bodies without personhood. Fat bodies become symbols of disembodied disgust.”
I don’t really want to hear everything you’re doing to avoid looking like me.”
Whether being fat is a choice for an individual or not, they do not deserve discrimination, harassment, or unkind treatment because of the size of their bodies. None of us should have to change our appearance in order to ‘earn’ basic respect and dignity.”
All of us deserve peaceful relationships with our own bodies, regardless of whether or not others perceive us as happy or healthy.”
We can build a world that doesn’t assume fat people are failed thin people, or that thin people are categorically healthy and virtuous.”
We can build a world in which fat bodies are valued and supported just as much as thin ones.”