The Strong Voice of Aubrey Gordon

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:

“Coronavirus Chronicles — The Virus As a Driver of Change”
“Being Heard and Seen”
“Coronavirus Chronicles — Fear Creeps Closer”
“What’s Up With Cacomorphobia?”
“People of Size, and Their Voices”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Bestselling Author Dismantles Myths about Fatness in Latest Book,” PBS NewsHour on YouTube, undated
Image by Oxford Languages

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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