For quite a few years, Aubrey Gordon was known to the world only as Your Fat Friend. Her first published opinion piece was read by around 40,000 people. For years she wrote under a pseudonym. The approaching publication of her first book in 2021 inspired her, at age 37, to announce her true identity with the words, “I weigh 350 pounds. I’ve been waiting to meet you.”
Gordon is no stranger to Childhood Obesity News, having been quoted several times before the appearance of What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat. Somewhere along the line, she started a podcast called Maintenance Phase. Now, there is a second book, You Just Need to Lose Weight and 19 Other Myths About Fat People. The author was recently interviewed about it for PBS, and among other things, we learn that “fat” is (or should be) a neutral descriptor.
Why? Because we need a nonjudgmental word, and despite widespread belief to the contrary, the term “obese” is not neutral. In the original Latin, it meant that the people being described had literally eaten themselves into fatness. It presumes the person behaves gluttonously and has no self-control. But “fat” is straightforward and impartial, according to Gordon, and people should not hesitate to use it when describing themselves or others.
Flying While Obese
The book also discusses a factor we have mentioned, the likelihood of having a profoundly humiliating experience in an airplane. Other passengers will describe their flight as terrible, because they had to sit next to a fat person. In fairness, they should be mad at the airline, for not providing what the customers need. Instead, they are mad at fellow customers whose needs are not being met. Airlines show no apparent interest in solving the problems of certain passengers.
The professional problem
PBS interviewer Stephanie Sy mentioned to the author a myth that exists in the medical field, that “doctors are sort of neutral judges of health” and are not biased. Gordon replied that while medical students learn to do a great many things, they are not trained to examine their own preconceptions, and that gets in the way of practicing appropriate and humane medicine.
She shared her own unsettling story, dating back to her teen years when Fen Phen was considered a miracle drug, and she was on it…
[…] and it was pulled from the market within two years because it caused people’s hearts to stop and their lungs to fill with fluid until they essentially drowned.
Now, there is constant worry about heart-related problems in the future, and constant awareness of “the reality of being essentially sort of a ticking time bomb…”
Other Childhood Obesity News posts that mention or quote Aubrey Gordon:
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Source: “Bestselling Author Dismantles Myths about Fatness in Latest Book,” PBS NewsHour on YouTube, undated
Image by Oxford Languages