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"Oh, crap! I was so busy using my thin privilege to fat oppress you, I forgot what I was writing!"
PJ Media posted a report on a new academic article written by two professors at the Oregon State University, and published in the journal Fat Studies (yes, apparently there's an academic journal thoughtfully named Fat Studies. Who knew?). The article, written by Vicki Ebbeck, a professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU, and Shannon Austin, a graduate teaching assistant at the same school, informs us that gym instructors and personal trainers are guilty of perpetuating "fat oppression" and "anti-fat bias".

The article is titled "Burning off the fat oppression: Self-compassion exercises for personal trainers," and right off the bat I've been triggered by that 'O-word', leading me to believe I know exactly what's coming - an SJW screed pigeon-holing all fat people into an oppressed category who have power held over them by a powerful group of fit people (mostly that most oppressive of oppressive power-holders, personal trainers). I wasn't disappointed.

That said, this one took a bit of effort to tease apart. On the one hand, this seems like a total 'snowflake libtard' academic take decrying what should be obvious - being overweight is not healthy and making efforts, through diet and exercise to control for excess weight, is beneficial - by recasting the overweight as an oppressed group. And make no mistake, that's exactly what this article is.

On the other hand, it's not like fat-shaming isn't a thing. And a really bad thing, at that. There are all kinds of issues surrounding the supposed ideal body-weight and the picture of health we've created and shoved down the throats of society at large (no pun intended). On the face of it, we shouldn't be condemning anyone based on their weight any more than we should due to their race. Seems pretty obvious, especially when you consider the incredibly varied circumstances leading a person to be the weight they are.

And yet, the journal Fat Studies, and the rising academic discipline of the same name, represents a disconnect from reality where obesity and health have no relation whatsoever, in any circumstance. Not only does this go against everything we know about biology (not that liberal academics have a problem denying biology), not to mention thousands of medical and nutritional studies, but it also goes against personal experience. Obesity, in the majority of cases, is directly related to health. But it seems Fat Studies is more interested in casting the gravity-challenged as victims who've been outcast for no other reason than not adhering to a social construct, doomed to be condemned by a cold and heartless public who just can't accept them for who they are because they enjoy their position of thin privilege so much.

From PJ Media:
In their article, Ebbeck and Austin argue that fitness instructors are guilty of fat oppression because they often work with gym-goers to help them become more active. Exercise, they warn, is "often promoted as a way to manage, control, or manipulate body weight."
And let's deconstruct this sentence: "Fitness instructors are guilty of fat oppression because they often work with gym-goers to help them become more active". So they're guilty of fat oppression by helping them become more active. By giving people the service one would assume those people asked and paid for, personal trainers are guilty of fat oppression. I feel like I've had my workout for the day just trying to wrap my head around that one.

And the next sentence: "Exercise, they warn, is often promoted as a way to manage, control, or manipulate body weight." Well thanks for the warning! Imagine that - exercise being promoted as a way to manage weight. What an oppressive idea!
There are numerous ways that gym instructors reinforce fat oppression, according to Ebbeck and Austin. For example, some fitness coaches may encourage clients to "burn that fat" during a workout, or believe that normal weight is "important to one's health."
I feel like I've walked into a Twilight Zone episode here. Encouraging their clients to burn fat and believing normal weight is important to one's health are not particularly radical ideas. Yet the authors are revealing them as if they're taking apart a subversive counter-culture, only now made public in all its horror.

So we can see the issue here. The article's authors seem to be engaged in some sort of health-denialism where exercise, weight loss, and encouraging weight loss, are considered a bad thing, oppressive. Those who are overweight are to be accepted as they are and efforts made to encourage them to improve their health should be abandoned. Never mind that obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes, certain types of cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, kidney disease and pregnancy problems, among others. Then again, I suppose those are just social constructions.
Even when clients yearn to lose weight, fitness instructors may risk perpetuating "anti-fat bias" if they fail to warn their clients about the "advisability of even having weight loss goals," according to Ebbeck and Austin. In agreement with the general outlook of the Fat Studies journal, they foreclose upon any possibility that health is linked to body weight.
Anti-fat bias? If eating crappy food and not getting off the couch makes you sick, and deeming this as a bad thing means you're biased, we're just going to have to chuck all valuative statements out the window. Nothing is bad, and if you just can't accept it it's because you're biased. It makes you wonder if these authors have checked themselves for anti-cancer bias. Or anti-Ebola bias. Or maybe anti-necrotizing fasciitis bias. After all, flesh eating bacteria have rights too!

Considering, for the majority of those with weight issues, self-responsibility, knowledge acquisition and taking steps towards becoming healthier will take care of the problem, or at least mitigate it, the authors are really just "peddling social justice fat-acceptance nonsense". It would only really make sense for personal trainers to warn their clients about the "advisability of even having weight loss goals," if exercise was seen as a bad thing (and even if it weren't effective for weight loss, exercise still has multiple benefits in and of itself). Perhaps the authors are threatened by the idea that people taking positive steps to become healthier would force them to give up their victimhood. What a tragedy.
Nevertheless, Ebbeck and Austin warn against the promotion of exercise as a means for weight loss. They also highlight that fitness instructors' bodies are problematic, since most "benefit from thin privilege" and fail to "responsibly and respectfully work toward destabilizing thin-centric norms."
Benefit from "thin privilege". Never mind the fact that those personal trainers have probably worked damn hard to get and maintain those bodies. But no, they're 'privileged'. Not that I'm trying to argue that the ideal put forward by your average personal trainer is necessarily healthy. Again, there are issues around the societal norm based on appearance rather than actual health, and personal trainers aren't helping this. Personal trainers, at best, may teach you how to work your ass off to look good, but not necessarily how to get you healthy. Don't be fooled by the chiseled abs and sculpted buttocks!

Tangled up in all of this, of course, is the fact that the advice given by your average personal trainer is essentially bunk. Want to lose weight? Severely limit your calories and do more cardio! And stick to the government dietary guidelines, too. Your health wouldn't be a total disaster without that thrown in there. There are good trainers out there, I'm sure, who understand the need for dietary interventions (which are far more important for weight management), the benefits of HIIT training and maybe some other lifestyle interventions for good measure. But your I-just-took-a-weekend-course-and-now-I'm-a-personal-trainer isn't going to know much more than the people they're training who have done some internet research.
The article was published in the most recent issue of Fat Studies, which featured articles on how small desks cause a "hostile environment" for fat students, on how fat people move through time differently, and on the shock a professor felt after learning that most women fear gaining 100 pounds.
No comment. Actually, I changed my mind - I can't believe this is an actual academic discipline. Fat people move through time differently. What a load of postmodern nonsense.

As Barbara Kay wrote in the National Post years ago, "fat-acceptance is not the answer to obesity". The obesity epidemic is called an epidemic because it's harmful and growing out of control. As a result of being encouraged to eat crappy food, suffering the worst dietary advice possible, being born and raised in an environment that encourages sedantarism and artificial environmental conditions as well as inundated with a chemical shitstorm on a daily basis, we're now seeing some of the worst chronic disease states the human race has ever witnessed, obesity included. Most sane people wouldn't argue that we can all get over the autoimmune disease epidemic by simply accepting it. You do something about it, research, talk to people on the front lines, find out what helps. You take responsibility for your health and make the changes that are within your ability to make.

The bias that exists around being fat is shitty. But if we deny the basics of biology (where else are we seeing that?) and just shame people for their microaggressions we're going see the problem spiral further out of control. Fat Studies fosters an attitude that is harmful in the short and long term, painting those who are unhealthy as victims of prejudice. Fat people are victims in the sense that we're all victims - victims of terrible advice on diet and health. So do something about it. Research and take responsibility for your own health - it's yours, after all.