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“Fat Activist” Speech at University Sparks Confusion

Updated: May 13, 2016 6:37 AM

The Land of a Thousand Lakes recently had someone speak at a public university recently and it’s caused people to be confused, concern and confounded.

In celebration of “International No Diet Day,” the University of Minnesota school of public health, together with the School of Social Work and its College of Food and Agriculture, invited Virgie Tovar, a self-proclaimed “fat activist,” to instruct America’s future nutritionists, dietitians and social workers on the finer points of “fat oppression.”

Tovar’s talk, entitled “Dispelling Myths: Fat, Fatphobia, and Challenging Social Stereotypes,” was designed to help students understand that “fat phobia” is rampant in a “white, heteronormative society” that is looking to actively oppress people with larger body types. Society’s bias against fat people is, apparently, a form of bigotry and discrimination, evident in everything from sexual preferences to the size of seats on public transportation. (Heat Street)

I’m going to preface everything I am about to say with the following: I’m not “fat shaming” at all. I’m not saying I’m a doctor and can diagnose problems for others. I’m simply going to state my opinion on the concept of the speech altogether.

Have our colleges all across the United States become more of institutes of tolerance rather than education? I remember when I went to school, there were a number of protesters here and there who wanted me to sign something to advocate their cause.

More often than not, I respectfully declined mainly because I had a bigger priority. I wanted to learn and accrue knowledge in what I thought was an establishment of higher learning.

Now, especially with public colleges and universities, they have become battlegrounds for political stances and heated debates that, in the end, yield no winners.

Where have our priorities as students, young adults, and relatively mature adults gone? I understand that college students’ minds are fresh and still relatively adaptable to a cause here and an issue there.

Whether you believe strongly or not in Black Lives Matter, Fight for 15, protecting the right to bear arms, providing better protection for the border, or whatever, we need to understand what’s important for the good of all people. Don’t come to me with this nonsense about “thin privilege.”

Self-esteem issues will be prevalent no matter what happens in our society. There’s this concept that we need to excoriate those who are overweight, obese or have a little extra on themselves. There’s nothing wrong with these people.

Quite frankly, it’s the entertainment and media industries that have portrayed this loathing of those who are deemed “fat.” Photoshopping has certainly made itself present across many outlets and platforms to promote “healthier” images, when it’s really detrimental to its own cause in the end.

“Weight loss is not a realistic goal for most people,” she said, declaring that exercise and diet are “social constructs.” She implored her audience to “lose hate, not weight” and rebel against “diet culture.” (Diets are, of course, just a tool of the hetero-normative Patriarchy.) (Heat Street)

I get it. We all have different conditions that may hinder our attempts of becoming healthier in our own eyes. Bullying from others will exist and it sucks. I’ve been bullied myself.

Perhaps I wasn’t bullied or harassed for my weight, but I realized in the end that what others thought of my physical stature was no reason to be upset. If I wasn’t happy with myself, then that’s a “me” problem, not a “you” problem.

If that was a lot to take in or hard to follow, please let me simply say it this way: Stop focusing on people giving speeches and creating ridiculous phrases, whether it’s “thin privilege” or the next big epidemic that’s supposedly spreading more and more hate among human beings.

We must stand strong to not accept the stupidity of others. We must reassess our priorities, not only in our own lives, but in the lives for the better of the people as a whole.

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