You Have The Right To Remain Fat
by Virgie Tovar
You Have The Right To Remain Fat is a short manifesto on why society needs to change the way it treats fat people, and that we don’t need to lose weight to fit into society. Tovar talks about the sexism, classism, and racism that is often behind fatphobia and discrimination, the way culture has shifted around looks, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. She rips diet culture to shreds, shining a spotlight on the gaslighting technique that is heavy in dieting language. (You’re not losing weight because you’re not doing it right. You don’t have enough willpower to deprive yourself of essential nutrients? Shame on you.)
I could understand people being offended by this book – she basically says if you’re trying to lose weight for the sake of losing weight, you’re wrong. But if you really look at it, if that really is all you’re losing weight for, to be thin, shouldn’t society accept you as you are? If you need to lose weight for actual, valid health reasons, that’s different. But if it’s just for the sake of being thin – maybe rethink your reasons.
I’m going back on the Auto Immune Protocol as soon as we settle in to the new house – and while losing weight is a nice side effect, I’m doing it to control autoimmune symptoms. And in all the literature around AIP, it’s about not feeling fatigued or nauseous. It’s about getting your digestive system back on track and reducing the chronic pain. It’s NOT about losing weight, though people often do lose weight on it because it boosts the metabolism and cuts sugar. (Although it’s also used for hyperthyroid people, who often have unhealthy weight loss, so really it’s about stabilizing your weight!)
One of the most interesting parts of the book was when she discussed a conference she’d gone to and talked to women about fatphobia and inferiority complexes. First she asked if anyone there felt inferior. Of course, no one did. But then she asked a series of follow-up questions that pointed out behaviors born of feelings of inferiority. Things like: “Are you wearing something physically uncomfortable because you believe it makes you look better? Today did you refuse to do something you wanted to do because you were worried how it would make you look to someone?”
Out of curiosity, I read all the questions (there were eight or so) to my husband. He’d done exactly one of them. I have done all of them in the past, and still do some. (I’m currently a housewife. I don’t wear uncomfortable clothes.) It was rather eye-opening.
You Have The Right To Remain Fat is a quick, thought-provoking read that is uncomfortable at times but also makes you want to shout HELL YES at other times. I definitely recommend it.
From the cover of You Have The Right To Remain Fat:
Growing up as a fat girl, Virgie Tovar believed that her body was something to be fixed. But after two decades of dieting and constant guilt, she was over it―and gave herself the freedom to trust her own body again. Ever since, she’s been helping others to do the same. Tovar is hungry for a world where bodies are valued equally, food is free from moral judgment, and you can jiggle through life with respect. In concise and candid language, she delves into unlearning fatphobia, dismantling sexist notions of fashion, and how to reject diet culture’s greatest lie: that fat people need to wait before beginning their best lives.