Beth Ditto- front-woman for The Gossip (a great fecking band, btw)- posed au naturale for NME recently. Ditto pretty much totally kicks ass. She knows what she wants and likes, and she just kind of goes for it, regardless of what other people might think. She's an outspoke advocate for gay rights, an out lesbian, is currently dating a transgendered man, doesn't shave, and loves tattoos. She's also about 210 lbs and makes no secret of the fact that she loves her body.
So, posing for NME has drawn some attention.
It looks like some people have mixed feelings on it. On the one hand, it's great to see a big woman proud of her body and the cover is like a giant middle finger to the all the covers of tiny size 0 models that get pushed as the norm. On the other hand, as some people point out, it's still a naked woman being used to sell a magazine. So, it's tough to know exactly how to feel about it.
You know what's not tough to know how to feel about, though?
The people who see that post as an opportunity to lecture everyone on how unhealthy it is to be fat.
Every time someone posts anything remotely related to weight and not being ashamed of being big, people crawl out of the woodwork to moralize and lecture about the dangers of being fat, and how if only we'd put our minds to it, we could lose weight. Look through some of the comments there- people call Ditto "disgusting" and say that she's gross because she's carrying around "blubber." They go on about how awful her weight is, and what a horrible standard of beauty we're trying to push by telling people to be like Ditto. They drag out comments that nobody likes looking at women like her, etc etc.
Why does this happen? What's really going on here? They'll claim that they're just worried about other people's health, and the huge risks that being obese present, but is that really what's going on? Obviously not.
Here's the thing: it's none of your fucking business how healthy Beth Ditto is.
I know that's hard for some people to grasp, but it's true. Her health isn't your concern, unless you're somehow intimately associated with her. If you're her sibling, or her boyfriend, or her friend, or her doctor, then you can show some concern for her health. If you're a random stranger on the interwebs who doesn't know two things about her lifestyle, then you can kindly fuck off. It's not your business if she's fat. It's not her business what risks you take in regards to your health, and it's not your business what risks she takes in regards to hers.
I'm going to repeat some of the things I said there, but it's worth repeating: You can claim that you're concerned about her health, but it's obvious that's not what's really going on. You don't know fuck-all about her actual health. Seeing a picture of her only lets you see how big she is. It doesn't tell you anything about her actual health. I'd wager that none of us know a damn thing about her health. We don't know what she eats. We don't know if she works out. We don't know what her blood pressure is. We don't know how active her lifestyle is. We're not her personal doctor, so her health is really a mystery to us.
And, again, even if we did know about her habits? So fucking what? Why is it your business?
I don't work out. I eat like shit. I work a desk job and sit on my ass. I play video games and watch movies, and I eat too much pizza. I do these things, knowing that my health suffers as a result. So far, my enjoyment of these things has been greater than my fear of the health risks. That's my choice. Nobody calls me disgusting over it, or criticizes me. Why? Because I'm not fat. I went to see the women of Big Moves perform while I was in Boston last month. Any one of them is clearly in better shape than I am, even though I'd guess that all of them weigh more than me. They're active, though. They work out. They dance. They're active.
People who go off on fat shaming will always claim that it's about health. The medical community is finding that weight is not an indication of health. Doctor after doctor report that fitness exists independent of weight. Articles are being written about the findings that an active lifestyle is more important than how much you weigh. Weight is not fitness. One has nothing to do with the other. A "fat" person who exercises does not have a statistically significant increase in mortality than an active person of any other weight.
Fat shaming is about aesthetics, not health. It's about someone finding fat disgusting, and wanting to make it clear to fat people that they're gross. There are tons of things we do every day that are dangerous to our health, but fat shamers won't target those things. They don't tell people who drink regularly that they're gross and disgusting. They don't tell people who smoke that they're awful people and could change if they wanted to. They don't tell people who go out tanning- which is much more dangerous than being fat- that they're disgusting and nasty.
Here's my take on the Ditto photograph: I think it's fabulous because it's a woman who has a body a lot closer to the norm than most of the skinny models you see on magazines, and she's not ashamed of it. She's proud of what she looks like, regardless of how jerks like fat shamers try to push her into feeling bad about it. That's good for all women. You don't have to look like her to be happy with your body. If you're unhealthy you should want to get healthy for health's sake and for your own sake, not because a bunch of asshats have convinced you that being fat is ugly, which is the attitude fat shamers reinforce.