Happy Fat by Sophie Hagen is part memoir, part manifesto. The Danish comedienne breaks down fatphobia and invites us to join the fat liberation movement, both by telling us about her own experiences and by interviewing others. She is funny and minces no words and I should have absolutely loved this book.
But here is the thing: reading this book was a supremely uncomfortable experience for me. And this is why: 6 months ago, I was “morbidly obese” according to my BMI measurement (which is one of things she debunks while discussing doctors’ bias, for all that is worth).
So I get it. I could relate most of the problematic situations she exposes. Getting squished in an airplane seat? Check. Not being able to shop in the high street? Check. Being unable to use public toilets? Check. Being uncomfortable in a public swimming pool? Check. Not being able to borrow anyone’s clothes in a last minute change of plans? Check. Trying to to buy an office chair to be able to comfortably work from home during the pandemic and realizing all standard chairs can’t hold anyone over 110 kgs? Check. So maybe that last one was my own example , but she does talk about home exercise equipment’s weight limits, so I think that counts.
And intellectually, I have no issues with the things she discusses. Yes, people shouldn’t be discriminated against because they’re fat. Yes, being fat doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhealthy. Yes, stores should cater to all sizes, and toilets should be big enough for everyone to comfortably turn in.
But the loving your body thing? Harder said then done. I am still hoping the current diet I am in (-25 kgs and counting) will get me back to thinness in a couple of years. And I am still hoping that once I get there I won’t gain all the weight back again. I’ve had time, and lessons to understand insulin resistance and the impact of it in my body, and for the first time in a long time I feel like that hope might become my reality. So it’s quite hard reconciling the 2 things. I almost feel like it would have been easier to understand and agree with her points if I wasn’t fat myself.
But apparently, Fitzgerald said that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” So that’s what I’m going for.