What About Fat Voices? Our Experience With Fat Invisibility

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In this piece for Resilient Fat Goddess, psychologist and fat activist Rachel Millner critiques the pervasiveness of fatphobia, sizeism, and weight bias within the eating disorder and psychology fields.

“Recovering from my various eating disorders landed me in a place where I have a great deal of body privilege and I’ve been living in this body for quite some time now. I’m a Health at Every Size(R) therapist, fat acceptance activist, advocate, and certified Body Trust(R) provider. I exist in a body that is significantly smaller than my body was at my highest weight and I am seen so much more. This is a pattern that I see occurring throughout our field in which even in a space that is supposed to be about HAES and fat activism, the voices of thinner people are centered. When I look around the field to the people who are most visible, it is a lot of thin white women looking back to me. I attended an eating disorder conference at my lowest weight in my anorexia and not one person looked at me funny, asked any questions, or wondered why I wasn’t eating. In fact, I felt like I fit right in. I attend several eating disorder conferences every year now and I see the harm that is being done to fat people at these conferences.

Weight stigma is not being named, or it is being named and then perpetuated. Weight loss is still talked about as a possible intervention for higher weight people. BMI is still viewed as a marker of health. Chairs are set close to each other with no room for people in larger bodies to move around the aisles. Eating disorder treatment centers are marketing programs that talk about ‘eating disorders and obesity’ and discuss the ‘weight management’ programs that they offer. At the most recent eating disorder conference I attended, one of the treatment centers was giving away BMI calculators that not only gave the BMI categories defined by the CDC, but also labeled severity of anorexia based on BMI as though we can tell the severity of someone’s eating disorder by the size of their body. Eating disorder conferences are not safe for fat people. The eating disorder field is not safe for fat people.”

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