When I was a kid the thing I hated the most about being young was not being believed. See Seen but not heard: children and epistemic injustice for a discussion of this phenomena in the medical context.
Lots of groups aren’t given the credence they deserve. It’s not just children of course. It’s also women, disabled persons, people of colour. And people who bear multiple minority group status can be doubly or triply not trusted.
You can add to this list of victims of epistemic injustice, fat people.
It’s about the interrogation fat people face about what and how much we eat.
“Sometimes, when I tell her how I eat, she will flatly insist, that’s not possible. Because to her, my body is evidence in a trial that’s already underway. Like a childhood nightmare, I am failing a test that was never announced. I am on trial, and she is judge, jury, executioner. Her eyes are fiery, overtaken with a determination I do not understand. She is a bomb I cannot defuse.
This is the interaction, with staggering reliability, and not only with her. The interrogation is visited upon me from old men and young women; city-dwellers and rural folks; people of all ages and many walks of life. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, this is how we will interact. Every question is a turning point, and every answer a dead end. I am forever searching for an escape that does not exist.”
I get this too. I hate feeling like I am a mystery or a liar. For awhile a group of fat athletes were posting food logs online. In a “believe me now?” exercise they shared without logs and food logs for the world to see.
But the thing is it never works. It’s all about fear. If I’m fat and exercise and eat well, it could happen to you too. That’s horrifying news.
No one wants to believe that. Thin people want to believe they work hard and deserve their thinness. So it must be that I’m lying. Or I haven’t tried the right thing that works. Most recent was a cycling coach (not mine who also struggles with his weight and knows) who said there must be some number of calories you could eat and lose weight. Do that! What if I ate that few calories and couldn’t ride my bike? Lose weight now and ride your bike later. Unbelievable.
It’s frustrating. It makes me angry. It makes me feel unseen and unbelieved.
I wish I had something positive to say about this, some suggestions for a way out, but I don’t. I do know that going down the road of telling people what I do and what I eat isn’t worth it.
I don’t hide in my room and emotionally eat cookies. I don’t. I don’t say I’m exercising when I’m not. Really.
Do you experience this? What’s your strategy?