{The Body Liberation Guide} Fat hatred: Simple machines

A photo of a fat white woman exploring her stomach rolls at a body positive photo session in the Pacific Northwest. Text reads, « Client J. at their Body Exploration session » "Belly, companion, digester of snacks, you wobble when I laugh, rise and fall as I breathe, rollick, tingle, give me signals when someone around me is a liar or a danger or a friend, the site of my hunger (my aliveness), receiver of rubs and kisses from mother and lovers, layer of warmth, inspirer of gasps and of erections in tight short dresses, you move with me, a sign of my indelible perfection." » Virgie Tovar

Hi friend,

The situation in Gaza is weighing on me so much this week, as is the grief of Palestinians and Jews at the occupation of Palestinian land by the state of Israel. Opining on these events is far out of my lane, so I encourage you to hope over to this email from Vicky Bellman at Concentric Counselling for wisdom and resources. 

Also, reader Alicia has some wise words about the section on trolls in last week’s newsletter

“I think that part of the reason for trolling is the assumption that everyone’s bodies work the same way. At least some of the trolls are thin without trying to be, so they may assume that everyone else’s “baseline” weight is similar, and that fat people have been intentionally overriding their bodies’ signals about how much food is “enough”.  

(Everyone has overridden their body’s signals at SOME point in their life…I don’t want to go off on a tangent about that, though). They may see this as a matter of disrespecting one’s body and health.  What they don’t know/understand is that most (nearly all?!) fat people have attempted to reduce their weight by using methods that involve disregarding their bodies’ signals, and that many fat people are the size they currently are (at least in part) because they used these methods in the past.  

Basically, at least some thin people likely think that because they don’t have to do anything to maintain their thinness, fat people must be engaging in “outrageous” (by their standards) behaviours in some kind of act of defiance against their own health.” 

This week, let’s look at a specific cause of fat hatred: the just-world fallacy. Our culture wants us to believe that bodies are simple machines with simple rules. Calories in vs. calories out. Do this, be healthier; do that, be unhealthier.  

The laughable wrongness of this view is made obvious by science, common sense and the fact that fat people still exist. 

But this belief in “do X, get Y result” simplicity dovetails neatly with the just-world fallacy, “the cognitive bias that a person’s actions are inherently inclined to bring morally fair and fitting consequences to that person; thus, it is the assumption that all noble actions are eventually rewarded and all evil actions eventually punished.”  

Thus, fat people’s flawed bodies are evidence both of their flawed inhabitants (because, of course, compliance with beauty standards is extremely simple unless one is somehow perverse or defective) and flawed minds (because anyone who can’t understand and follow such simple rules must be of low intelligence.) This belief in thinness as evidence of moral superiority can drive the dehumanization of fat people by thin people. Unfortunately for these believers, fatness (and physical disability) are closer to them than they would like to believe.


P.S. Share this week’s letter or save to read later here

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The Conversation

Here’s what’s being discussed this week in the world of body acceptance and fat liberation: 

» “how did you learn to love yourself” (read

» 5 ways your workplace isn’t accommodating to fat people (read

» how much fatness and disability interacts in terms of weight limits for accessibility features is fucking terrifying (read

» Study Looks at Higher-Weight People and Nursing Practice (read

» The Fat Theater Kids Survival Guide (read


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Upcoming Events

Quick Resources: Risks of Weight Loss Surgery

» Food Psych Episode #176: Confessions of a Former Weight-Loss Surgery Dietician with Vincci Tsui 

» A Message for People Considering Bariatric Surgery 

» the HAES® files: The High Costs of Weight Loss Surgery 

» Alternatives to Consider for Bariatric Surgery

A preview of the fat-positive Breathe art print by illustrator Jiji Knight, which features a fat feminine person with long hair and a short dress. She's holding flowers and has a halo, and there's starry space above her head.

Hi there! I'm Lindley. I create artwork that celebrates the unique beauty of bodies that fall outside conventional "beauty" standards at Body Liberation Photography. I'm also the creator of Body Liberation Stock and the Body Love Shop, a curated central resource for body-friendly artwork and products. Find all my work here at bodyliberationphotos.com.