Shannan Butler 2020

[Courtesy Photo]

During an interview on Buzzfeed in January, personal trainer Jillian Michaels said that Lizzo, a body-positive music artist who happens to be a fat woman, shouldn’t be celebrating her body. “Why are we celebrating her body?” Michaels, who starred on the TV reality show “The Biggest Loser,” said. She continued with “It isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes.”

Dear body shamer, just because I am fat doesn’t make me unhealthy. Why do you feel it is your business in the first place? How many seemingly-healthy people can dance and sing on stage for two hours like Lizzo does in her performances? The answer is: not many.

It is a myth that people who are fat are unhealthy, disgusting and unlovable. I’ve heard that people who are fat are all going to develop diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. I say please stop using my health as a reason to offer your concerns about my fatness. You see me both as too visible and not invisible enough; Lord forbid that you have to look at my fat body in public.

I say, “poppycock!” to your belief that you have a right to any opinion of my body or my health. We all have health problems to some extent, but I also have loved ones who look “normal” who have health issues like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer.

My loved ones are baffled that strangers approach fat people they don’t know to offer their advice and input. Some cowards offer comments within earshot, like “you would be so pretty if you weren’t so fat” or “you’re so pretty, but you’d be prettier if you weren’t fat.”

Yes, people have actually said those things to me and worse. I could list them all but there is a word count limit so let’s move on. Don’t get me started on the toxic environment in social media, where actual death threats are mixed in with suggestions that we’re not deserving to live and should just kill ourselves because we’re fat.

Yes. It actually happens.

Don’t strangers who offer their fake concern to fat people think we’ve tried to lose weight? Don’t you think we’ve been on multiple diets and exercise programs, and spend millions of dollars annually on weightloss programs? For a lot of us “fat people,” these programs don’t work for many reasons. How would you know? Have you spent a day in my life? No, no you haven’t.

Another myth I’d like to challenge is that we’re prevented from doing things “normal” people can. As a fat woman, I have been a firefighter, an EMT, an EMT-paramedic, a 911 operator, a police dispatcher, a massage therapist, an artist, a teacher’s aide and I can do anything from being able to operate every type of saw (chain, saws-all, table, jig, circular), operate hydraulic cutters/spreaders, intubate a person in full cardiac arrest, start an IV, drive a fire truck backward through an obstacle course, bake an amazing wedding cake, create award-winning pottery (Best in Utah, 2018)...heck, I even helped the FBI save a woman from a sex trafficking ring and I can actually touch my toes! So to “H-E-double hockey sticks” with your misconceptions of my abilities as a fat person!

For those of you who want to judge me, who think I’m “gross” or “icky”: I have many friends who will tell you I’m pretty freaking awesome, regardless of being fat. I’m telling you that I reject your judgments and from now on, I’m going to take care of me. I accept my body as it is and from now on your hurtful, “well-meaning” advice will be set aside. I no longer think, care or conform myself to your warped sense of what you think I should look like. Those are your issues.

This is dedicated to the women (and men) who are fat and sick of listening to other people’s opinions about what they should look like.