What I wish I could tell food justice advocates

Sometimes I wish I could make everyone in the food justice movement read these fat acceptance 101 resources (or any fat acceptance resources).

I’m so sick of reading article after article, interview after interview, holding my breath for the inevitable reference to “obesity.”

The latest one is Feministing’s interview with Saru Jayaraman, the founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center United and a leader of campaigns to establish a living wage, paid sick days, and freedom from sexual harassment for restaurant workers.

She talks about the importance of sustainable labor practices as well as sustainably-grown foods; about the high poverty levels among restaurant workers, especially women and people of color; about the vulnerability to sexual harassment that comes from dependence on tips to make a living; and about the need to organize both in person and online for better wages and working conditions.  I couldn’t agree more….until I got to this part:

The reason for the fact that you have the largest and fastest growing industry in American proliferating the absolute lowest paying jobs is the power of the National Restaurant Association, which we call the Other NRA. They really are, we like to say that they kill more people annual that [sic] the Rifle Association because of obesity.

I just wish I could take Jayaraman aside and tell her:

“Obesity” is not a disease.

It’s just a ratio of height to weight. It was never intended to be used as a measure of individuals’ health, and it doesn’t tell you anything about how healthy a person is.

“Obesity” doesn’t kill people. Fat stigma does.

Restaurants don’t make fat people fat. Fat people have always existed, and always will. There are thin people who eat out regularly, and fat people who hardly ever eat out.

Fat bodies are not a symptom of corporate irresponsibility or unjust food systems. Fat bodies just are, and we’re sick of being used as pawns for pretty much every social justice cause under the sun.