I have just come out of the battlefield. I had no warning. I have a terrible flu and my voice is gone, but I fought back and won the last word for size acceptance.
On BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) radio, they had 3 Doctors, one after the other, spreading the same propaganda on Obesity, same old adage. I had been invited on to represent the size acceptance point of view.
They were saying one thing, then when I retaliated, they changed their tune. But when they went back to saying obesity kills, they sounded like a sales pitch to the connoisseur but doom and gloom to the listener.
Obesity is a major killer in Africa, they said. It is a time bomb waiting to explode and kill every one in its path.
The majority of the callers were against them. They said that the WHO (World Health Organization) should re-check their data. How can obesity be a major killer of Africans when over 77% of the deaths are from starvation and AIDS?
One of the doctors told me that I was feeling victimized, I should not. They only want my health and well being.
The other said since I am an activist, then I have negative feelings and need help. I must be positive, he said, and do something about my weight. I should not be too confident because if I have any one in my family who has diabetes, I will surely get it. I said I would get it even if I was thin. I thanked him for his advice and said that scaring people into starvation is not the right way to go about it. The worst thing, I said, was the humiliation, the abuse, the insults and the marginalization of fat people and not acceptance of diversity. You want one size to fit all and you make beauty trends that are not attainable by the majority in the world.
The dietitian said first that obesity kills and that they must get rid of it. Then when I said how does she get rid of it, when diets do not work, she then said only 10% is enough, but got back to the obesity kills message quickly.
I spoke about many things. I had more time since I was the “punching bag.” The presenter asked the doctors to convince me that obesity kills and that I should not be proud of being fat, but I answered back (I had to shout sometimes) my voice is very weak, I am not well, but I found strength in our cause and I fought on with dignity and respect for them and myself. They kept repeating the same thing about how not every fat person gets diseases like the smokers but obesity in general kills and Africa is in mortal danger from It.
I managed to talk about many things like eating disorders, stress, the ridiculing of fat people in society and in the media, my own experience as a fat beautiful normal person, the war on obesity that has no opponents, fighting the docile fat people who believe it all, they get on the merry-go-round of bingeing and dieting and getting bigger. They have no voice and they are always blamed for their size.
The doctor then said, We are not fighting you, Fatima. We are fighting obesity not the obese. You have a problem with people, but we are fighting the fat not fat people.
I said you have been fighting fat for over 50 years and obesity is on the rise, why? …they did not answer. I said what we need is education and acceptance that people can learn to live happy healthy lives at any size. And if you do not push for one size fits all and make one look or one color a trend and model of beauty to sell hope of happiness and success in a jar , if every one was respected and had dignity and their self esteem was not damaged from feeling low and inadequate, then there would not be extreme obesity nor would there be need for a war.
Fatima Parker, President
ISAA UK (United Kingdom) and MENA (Middle East aNd Africa)