Now, let me shed some light on a few things.
When I was a teenager, I was in top shape. I roller skated 3 times a week and my 10-speed was my car, till I was 19 years old. My blood pressure was so low that they were worried about it but it was a result of my excellent cardiovascular health.
Starting in my mid-20s, I started getting sick. My multiple sclerosis wasn't diagnosed till many years later, but the symptoms began in my 26th year. I also started having other issues as well. For one, I could not run over a half a mile without pain, and this was due to the way I was born. I was born with my legs crossed; the doctors casted my left leg to straighten it, but not my right. As a result, my right is just crooked enough that the stress of hitting the pavement during running doesn't dissipate up the leg as it should, and starts to accumulate in the lower part of my leg. The longer I run, the more painful it gets, so that I start to compensate with my left leg, which then accumulates more stress than it's meant to. It becomes a domino effect, and I either have to stop or collapse.
It was due to this slight crookedness of my right leg that I started having knee issues. Again - compensating with my left leg brought knee issues to that side, too. A simple case of a kneecap "riding wrong" has since turned into osteoarthritis in both knees. If I bend, you can hear my knees grind in a most sickening way.
Then we get to my back. Yes, I did some stupid things when I was younger that I'm sure didn't help the health of my back. However, I also inherited a tendency toward disc problems and arthritis. I now have several bad discs in my back - neck, middle, and lower - as well as something termed "degenerative joint disease", which is a fancy term for spinal arthritis.
I didn't begin to gain weight till I hit my 30s, and it got worse after I ended up on total disability at 36, because of the MS getting worse. I had a choice - go on disability or face the very real possibility of another brain stem lesion that could stop my breathing or my heartbeat. I had one that screwed up the coordination of my eyes. When you have to face something like that, you don't have much choice in what to do. Lastly, all my conditions compounded the general physical and mental fatigue I felt every single day to the point where I was generally incapable of functioning much if at all. I was taking off more work than I was attending. I spent all my time in bed.
Finally, if you have ever had to take corticosteroids - prednisone, Solu-medrol, ACTH - you know what that does to your metabolism, and you never quite recover from it. Most times, doctors don't like giving these kinds of steroids in high doses more than once every couple of years. In my 36th year, I got enough high dose corticosteroids to last me for the next decade, just to restore the function I lost due to frequent and severe relapses of the multiple sclerosis.
I am now 6 feet tall and roughly 300 pounds. If I walk for any great distance my back begins to cramp and my knees begin to hurt. I have a permanent disability parking plate because I just can't do it anymore.
Any person who would look at me, including the person I referenced at the beginning of this article - and not know my background, would automatically assume that I got fat first and had my health problems after. That is the attitude that is promoted in this country, and in most cases, it's dead wrong.
Many of you know what High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is, but how many of you know how prevalent it is in the processed foods of this country, and what it can do to your metabolism? Oh, I know, you'll say "buy and prepare fresh foods." If you can afford to do that for your entire diet, the more power to you. If you can't, you have a problem - and there are a lot of families in this country who simply cannot afford to do that and feed everyone. Hence they buy certain prepared foods, and they can't escape the HFCS. The day the companies started using HFCS in place of plain sugar was the day they condemned a goodly share of people to weight problems in this country.
I'm sorry, but I refuse to feel guilty if I have a meal from McDonald's once every couple of months, and, considering that I'm on a fixed income, that's about all I get. To me, it's a treat. To others, it's a convenience food that fills them when they wouldn't get the chance to eat otherwise. There are a myriad of reasons why people eat fast food, and not all of them can be changed.
The Body Positive movement isn't about saying that overeating to obesity is OK. It was never about that. What it is about is accepting people despite their body. That's what people like this woman don't "get". It's a movement to look past the body and accept that someone can be OK. It's a movement to point out that not everyone who is obese wants to be obese. It's a movement to point out that people have VALUE even if they're obese. No one likes health issues, and I'd wager 90% of people who are obese don't choose to be obese. Yes, there will always be those who just eat whatever, don't exercise, and don't care - but that's not true for the majority. Hell - we are constantly bombarded, day after day, in ads everywhere, that we're "supposed" to be thin, that "thin is attractive", etc., etc. Do people like this woman really think that fat people ignore all that stuff? I manage to avoid a lot of that programming by not having a TV - but when I did, I was just as bombarded as anyone.
No, we can't avoid it, we're aware of what our culture puts forth, and yet, we have to deal with our individual bodies the way they are, in the situations we're in, with all the hidden health or income issues that play a part in it. For most of us, it takes a goodly long while to get to any point where we can love ourselves, no matter what size we are. We won't even mention what others think of us, because the woman I am referencing pretty much sums up the general consensus of the public eye. It takes a great deal of self-work and self-love to get to the point where you can accept yourself, just the way you are. Sadly, many people never get to that point, hence all the diet programs, plastic surgery, and other products and surgeries out there that were developed to offer some sort of "answer" to our lack of self-love.
I can't just exercise my pounds away, and I don't eat very much at all on a daily basis; in fact, my roomie and adoptive brother has to remind himself to cut my portion of any shared meal down to about a third of what he normally eats. I was born with a slow metabolism that was messed up further by medications I didn't want to take but didn't have much choice over. Some of the meds I take to this day have metabolic side-effects.
The next time you look at a fat person, whether they're a model, or your next-door neighbor, catch yourself, and don't assume the person looks like that because they want to. There is always more to the story. Their body also doesn't define what kind of person they are. They can be the most energetic and go-to person in the world, and still be fat, for a variety of reasons. A body-positive attitude says "I accept that person even if their body does not fit what I think it should." Don't make assumptions, because, in most cases, you will be dead wrong.