MH: Much of this is about who has the power in a situation. I think most of the messages people get about this have been misrepresented to them. As soon as you start talking about these things publicly, what you get is someone saying, “Well, what about the fat activists who think going to the gym is scary? star?” This actually happened a few weeks ago. Some random person on a talk show – I think she’s, like, 19 years old – said that doing CrossFit or something like that was very fat. And it’s like, she’s in college, she’s experimenting with ideologies, but this then becomes, like, 55 YouTube video essays [saying] “Fat activists don’t want you to go to the gym.” Also, I think individuals should be kind to others, I don’t really have a personal prescription for anyone. And what we’re trying to change is that these powerful people are like, in measurable ways, harming people.
AG: It is extremely inefficient to try to get a group of people to change their personal behavior and expect social change only to lead to change. That’s how we got here. For me, it’s much more important that if we talk about exercise, we talk about the ways in which fitness and exercise culture has been used to promote, such as white supremacy organized. That feels far more enjoyable and productive to me than arguing with someone about whether or not they’re okay with going on a low carb diet.
What do you think about cultural changes like the body positivity movement and the fight against obesity?
AG: I’d say that as a fat person, the main effect I’ve noticed with body positivity is a false sense of security in non-fat people that they’re doing the right thing because they tell everyone people love their body. It doesn’t ask people to reflect on their own behaviour. Much of the active body movement is focused on moving the goalposts very lightly, slightly extending the target which we consider acceptable form. If body positivity explodes our understanding of beauty, it will make a real difference, we will have many people with obvious disfigurement or disabilities, we will have many people with different sizes. size like me or bigger, like very fat people, we will have more people with skin problems like pictures or acne.
We’re having a similar transformation in the weight loss world, which is changing clothes and wearing a felt hat and glasses with a nose and mustache. Like, “we’re healthy now,” you’re like, “oh, it’s still Weight Watchers, it’s still Nutrisystem.” It’s still completely like a product and a playbook.
Why are health myths and misinformation so rampant?
AG: If you can bring your mind back to the first few months of the pandemic, the number of people I know are amazingly smart people who will call me and say, “Hey, I heard that if you If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you definitely don’t have COVID.” I think what advertising for health, wellness and weight loss products does its job well is fear. At this point, you don’t have to make up the whole thing about diabetes and heart disease and all that to make people be like, “Hey, you’re so fat.” You just have to be like, “is it good for you to be fat?” And I would say, “no.” Like, that’s all it takes.
https://www.gq.com/story/maintenance-phase How Maintenance Phase Interrogates the Wellness and Weight Loss Industry