Pathologizing the ‘fat body’ as immoral and then experimenting on non-human animals to find a ‘cure’.
I just read an article on the NY Times, “Gut Bacteria From Thin Humans Can Slim Mice Down.”
This is amazing to me. First, fatness is pathologized in the US. And then, to offer a cure, scientists conduct experiments on non-human animals to prove that they can cure the immoral fat body. I’m just shaking my head over this. As usual, the lack of critical thinking around the new obsession over bodies that don’t conform to a BMI of 21 is disturbing. The lack of more critical thinking and compassion towards non-human animals being experimented on, in this article, is very sad.
I also started thinking about how fat-shaming and sizeism in the USA mainstream vegan and vegetarian community don’t really engage in critical analysis of the fatphobia in this culture. Even though most animal liberation oriented vegans don’t support non-human animal exploitation, this NYTimes article points to a huge over-arching problem: concepts of healthy bodies continue to be shaped not by objective science, but by normative ideologies of civilized bodies that are constructed by systemic sizeism, classim, ageism, ableism, racism, and sexism just to name a few. These ideologies influence the direction of medical science research. The detached use of non-human animals as ‘experiments’ to cure our anxieties over achieving the perfect healthy body really speaks volumes of how much our minds, at least here in the USA, have been colonized. Even though the collectivity of USA vegans condemn speciesist logic in using non-human animals for medical experimentation, a majority continue to support fat-shaming, sizeist, ageist, as well as ableist and racist/colorist conceptions of how a moral body should look like. There is a reason why Skinny Bitch is a bestseller and why VegNews declared Rory Freeman their “person of the year” for 2008: The majority of VegNews and Skinny Bitch fans sincerely believe that not being skinny is objectively immoral. For that 2008 issues, VegNews didn’t take the time to even write one sentence that critiques the accepted USA culture of fat paranoia and shaming. As “person of the year”, Vegnews upholds Freeman’s books and her bodily aesthetic (white, class privileged, skinny, young, able-bodied) as the benchmark of a ‘healthy’ vegan change-maker; and they do this without ever questioning how that body type reinforces white supremacist capitalist conceptions of a post-2000 healthy moral citizen.
The intersectional topics of fat-shaming, veganism, and race will be one of the keynote talks at the upcoming web conference on September 14, 2013: “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies.” Click here to find out more.
T.O.F.U. Magazine will be sponsoring several scholarships for people to attend the conference. Please check out their amazing issue this past year that interrogates veganism, sizeism and body types here.