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Fatology 101 review

July 19, 2012

Fatology 101 by Marla Richter is an interesting take on what it means to be fat in today’s world and how fat people are treated/mistreated by society and the medical establishment. It raises more questions than it answers — questions that need to be investigated by researchers not beholden to the weight loss industry, which has a $121 billion stake in keeping us coming back for their “solutions” to being fat.

There’s just enough research quoted to give anyone who’s interested in finding out more information plenty of places to look, but most of what is contained in the book is based on Marla’s life experience as a fat woman who has dieted and lost weight, only to regain it in spite of starvation and hours of exercise a day — stories with which a lot of us are familiar (I know I am).

I laughed in places, I agreed with a lot of it, I saw myself and my experiences in a lot of it, and I totally agree that things certainly do need to change. All in all, an interesting and worthwhile read. Below are some passages from the book (and my thoughts on them) to pique your interest:

I want to explore how, as a society, we are getting fatter yet living longer. Why do so many believe that being thin equates to virtue and being fat equates to vice? Is obesity the cause of poor health or is poor health the cause of obesity?

A very good question and one that I’m not sure researchers have looked into, at least not without preconceived ideas/biases.

Doctors need a few lessons in the causes of obesity. Yes, doctors have their place and they help us when we’re sick. I have respect for doctors when it comes to that, but I do not respect their opinions when it comes to being fat. My brother-in-law is a doctor and his wife is fat. Don’t you think he would help her be thin if he knew how? Most don’t know and don’t really care why we’re fat. You can stand up to your doctor when he or she tells you just to eat less. Bless him or her and be on your way. They really don’t know. Most really don’t care. They have their own prejudices (as well as their self-righteous attitudes) that seep into how they care for the obese.

I love this: “Bless him or her and be on your way,” which is a polite way of saying “You’re full of shit, I’m ignoring you now.” The only thing I would change are the references to fat people. Calling fat people “the obese” is othering. It’s what doctors and fat-phobes do to us. Using the term “obese people” is better if you have to use the term “obese” at all.

It is not what or how you eat; it is what the body does with the food once you eat it. I always felt responsible for what I put in my mouth, but I am not responsible for what happens once it goes in my body. Fat people are not gluttons any more than thin people are gluttons. Food doesn’t make you fat when you are naturally thin. There isn’t a need to work at being thin if you are born thin.

This, I think, is the crux of the whole fat/thin dichotomy. Do we really have any control over how our bodies deal with the food we ingest?

My purpose for writing this book is to get the answers to what causes obesity. I think I have found some of the answers, but I’d like proof. I wrote it to ask questions I know have never been answered. If these questions have been answered how come it isn’t on the news and talk shows? In my experience being fat is not about food. I want to take the guilt out of the equation. I want it understood that it is not your fault you are fat. I want you to know you are not a second-class citizen or any less of a person just because you are fat. This is not a moral issue. It is about who you are and how great you are, no matter your size.

This statement needs to be shouted from rooftops across the land – “I want it understood that it is not your fault you are fat. I want you to know you are not a second-class citizen or any less of a person just because you are fat. This is not a moral issue. It is about who you are and how great you are, no matter your size.” It can’t be said often enough, and more fat people need to be aware of this. If this book accomplishes that goal alone, it’s been a worthwhile endeavor.

Maybe we will find all the reasons why we are fat and find the treatments for all of them. Or we might just find that in nature, we are fat, tall, thin, small and we are who we are. Until then there are a few things we need to do. We need to be healthy and take care of ourselves from the inside out. We need to be comfortable in our skin, even if we have a lot of skin.

We need to make some changes. We need to change ourselves first by accepting ourselves the way we are. It won’t be easy at first. When we accept ourselves as fat, then others will accept us the way we are. There are ways to do that. If we are going to change other people’s minds, we need to start with ourselves and change our minds.

I’d like to believe this is true, but I have a feeling that there are minds out there that we aren’t going to be able to change. But hopefully, they’ll end up being a very small minority.

There’s a lot more to this book that I didn’t include in this review, but at 180+ pages and 18 chapters (plus a final exam), I could have run on for pages talking about this book. But then you wouldn’t get to read it for yourself, and where’s the fun in that?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Janet permalink
    July 19, 2012 12:03 pm

    This sounds like a book I would like to read. Maybe it can empower me enough to stand up to my family about THEIR issues with MY weight. For the most part, my own issues with it stem from my weight vs attractiveness/desirability as a woman who likes men. But I think the two are, while interrelated, very different issues. Where can I get this book?

  2. vesta44 permalink
    July 19, 2012 12:30 pm

    Janet – It’s available on Sorry, I should have added that to the post.

    • Janet permalink
      July 20, 2012 8:28 am

      Thanks Vesta….I’ll look that up.

  3. fatology101 permalink
    July 19, 2012 6:52 pm

    Thank you for the nice review. I hope I can help people. That is my passion.

  4. July 19, 2012 10:11 pm

    Great review, Vesta!

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