Making choices

The idea of individual choice is a huge part of Western culture.  Especially in the US. We have enshrined the ideal of the individual choice as our most sacred secular right.  

MY body.  MY choice.  

I am a strong supporter of  the idea of body autonomy- the idea that your body is yours and yours alone to do with what you will.  

Body autonomy is the best answer to the question of reproductive rights.  The best answer to the non-argument in the abortion 'debate' of- but it's a baaaaaaaaby. 

You can't win an argument against cute babies. But what you can say is that no one is allowed to use someone else's body against their will. We don't force people to give blood or bone marrow. Why would we force someone to do give birth which is much more invasive and time consuming, not to mention dangerous.

Because when people talk about restricting or eliminating abortion care, what they don't want to admit is that what we're really talking about is coercion.  We are talking about using the power of the state to force people to give birth or seek abortion in some other way- a more expensive and dangerous way.  

We're talking about killing people who are pregnant. Because taking health care away results in death for some portion of those people who can't get that health care.

Refusing abortion care will result in people dying. Refusing hormone replacement therapy for trans people who want it will result in people dying. Refusing to treat people because they can't pay will result in people dying.

We're all good progressives here, right? We all agree that it's morally wrong when conservatives want to remove health care from people that they've decided are bad or have made bad life choices. 

(Except people who are hate-reading this blog. HELLO! I'm going to delete all your angry emails.)

We have elevated 'personal choice' to such a fetish that we can't even see or discuss the coercion inherent in our systems.  There are people who will tell you with a straight face that people choose to be poor. As if anyone would.

I have to wonder what happened to my good progressives are when it comes time to talk about fat people, cause shit gets hateful pretty fucking quick.  "You choose to be fat. You could go be on a diet."

Set aside the idea that there is even a way to make fat people thin permanently. (Spoilers- there kind of isn't. Not for most of us.)

Let's discuss the idea of "choosing to diet".

There are fat people who choose to diet.  I don't think those people should be kicked out of FA (Fat Acceptance). I fully understand why fat and non-fat people alike would choose to diet.  I spent years dieting before having to give it up for my own mental health.

So some fat people choose to diet. And since it's their body, they can choose to do whatever they'd like.  But let's be honest about the level of coercion that society pushes down on fat people.  

As much as we would like to tell ourselves that our decisions are all made strictly by ourselves for our own reasons, it's simply not true.  We are subject to coercion all the time.

That's one of the things that's wrong with the free market capitalism model, right?  The idea that workers and bosses can meet on a level playing field and negotiate is clearly wrong when the workers are dependent on their wage to live and the bosses can just find other people if they don't like how the negotiation is going. 

Dieting is the shield fat people use to try to defend themselves from the never ending fat stigma and hatred the world pushes down on us.  It's never ok to be fat.  But if you diet, at least you're 'doing something' about your disgusting body.  You can redeem yourself somewhat by asserting your strict diet and exercise routines.

Diet talk is how women bond. There are some women who never talk about anything else.  If you find yourself in a group like this and don't want to talk about diets- you will basically be cut out of the group. 

Pushing diets onto loved ones is considered a form of love and caring.  Friends and family members will try to 'help' by suggesting this or that diet. If you refuse the diet talk, then sometimes they get offended that you are refusing to accept their care.

Some doctors refuse to treat fat people who won't diet. Which is just about the ultimate form of coercion.

There are a ton of reasons why people choose to diet. But these reasons don't happen in a vacuum.  It's time to stop pretending that there isn't intense pressure on women to diet to conform to impossible standards.

This pressure pushes people (and especially women) into spending time and energy running on what amounts to a hamster wheel, never actually getting anywhere. Because these impossible standards require constant vigilance.  

No matter what your personal choices around dieting are- diet culture steals people's time and money.  It ruins lives and it can kill people.  It's time to stop pretending like we have unlimited choices, because until we really see how our actual choosing is restrained- we can never open up actual new options.