A pattern I’ve noticed with trolls, snarky linkers, and even friendly dissenters who take issue with our “Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy?” post is that some people really, really don’t like the following statement:
Diets don’t work. No, really, not even if you don’t call them diets. If you want to tell me about how YOUR diet totally worked, do me a favor and wait until you’ve kept all the weight off for five years. Not one year, not four years, five years. And if you’ve kept it off for that long, congratulations. You’re literally a freak of nature.
Something about this paragraph makes people’s brains explode. I can’t tell you how many trollish comments I’ve deleted or silly trackbacks I’ve followed that say something like Well I guess I’m just a FREAK OF NATURE then, Kate Harding! Despite the fact that, as we know, diets are designed to fail and that the vast majority of dieters put weight back on as soon as they start indulging in those fattening carrots and glasses of milk again, the dieters who are just so gosh-darned proud of their lithe bodies that they MUST come set us fat-lovers straight cannot handle being called “a freak of nature” even though they’re, by any measure, statistical anomalies.
You see, successful dieters aren’t the Freaks of Nature. Fatties are the Freaks of Nature! (Results not typical.)
The whole mindset of rewarding yourself for self-hatred and denying anything that might be remotely pleasurable is predicated on the attempt to escape that dreaded label, freak. Though the beauty/thinness ideal is incarnated by only a handful of people in the world, that ideal labels anyone outside the mainstream a freak, an abnormality, less than fully human. The desire to fit the beauty ideal is to erase that scarlet “F” (fatty, freak, dare I say female?) from one’s body. So when we say to those few people whose diets have stuck for over five years, or whose WLS operations didn’t leave them fatter and less healthy than before, hey, you guys are the real freaks, they feel like we’ve slapped them in the face and kicked their puppies and stripped them naked all at once.
Here’s the thing, though. We like freaks. We are freaks! Publicly embracing fat in a fatphobic society means publicly declaring yourself a freak, even if your fat body actually makes you something close to “normal.” We’re all freaks of culture (freaks of nurture?) here.
Attention, freaks of nature: We are against the status quo. We don’t believe that normal is good. We believe the division of “normal” and “abnormal” people, of default and deviant people, is profoundly harmful to individuals and to the culture at large. If you’ve invested your sense of self-worth in finally escaping the scarlet F, to the extent that someone pointing out your statistical unlikeliness makes you feel attacked, you’ve been putting all your hard work into the outer part of yourself and not enough into the inner part.
We’re all freaks here. You don’t need to freak the fuck out about it.