health

OPINION: Please stop giving fat people 'advice'.

This post deals with disordered eating and might be triggering for some readers.

Let me make it clear. 

‘Thin’ people - including ‘reformed’ fat people - have no place advising anyone on how to deal with their myriad physical and psychological complexities unless they ask for it.

Full stop.

When I wrote a story about my experience with fat and shame, I hoped that people who have similar struggles would feel seen; that they would know they’re not alone. Feeling alone with your pain is damaging to your soul. Because I have always felt alone with my pain. I know.

Side note: Talk to your family about their health history. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

To Recap.

I was not a fat child, and I was not a fat young adult, but I thought I was. Thinking I was fat became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now I am fat.

If reading my story helps another person to feel like a human, then I’m happy.

As someone who has been caught up in disordered eating and distorted self-image for over forty years, I know all the ins and outs of every diet. I know which foods have the most nutritional value and those that have none.

I know that weight loss can sometimes be achieved by exercise and diet. A lot of the time it can’t. I know that dieting does not work long-term. It makes everything worse.

Being told how to diet or exercise or think is triggering for me and for a lot of people.

I was watching The Handmaids Tale online and every ten minutes there was an ad for a weight loss company. It made me angry, and I had to turn the sound down and look away when it came on.

I don’t want to be exposed to people peddling diet culture when I am watching TV. Many of us are traumatised by a lifetime of failing at diets, at paying for these ridiculous plans that perpetuate the dangerous yoyo cycle.

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The world is full of people on the internet talking about wellness and health and body positivity; fat acceptance and exercise and dieting. It’s exhausting.

Don’t tell me what you think is best for me.

Don’t assume things about my life. If you are thin and you don’t have any hang-ups with your body or struggle with your relationship to food, good for you. But you have no idea what it’s like to be me. No one does.

The story I wrote is a summary of my struggles. It doesn't go into all the therapy I’ve had or all the diets I’ve been on, the dietitians I’ve seen, the gyms I’ve joined, the eating plans, the excessive exercise; the number of clothes I have in varying sizes. 

All the internet searches I have made, yoga classes, gym memberships, clean-eating Keto-loving diets.

I see it in the comments section of fat acceptance posts everywhere: Thinsplainers, telling writers who have been brave enough to share their struggles what they can do to improve themselves.

Author Lindy Ralph. Image: Supplied.

Don't feel sorry for me.

I don’t want your sympathy. I want you to really hear what I am saying. Take it in. Mull it over. Think about people in your life who could be experiencing similar pain. 

Do not tell me you ‘feel’ for me, don’t say ‘I hope you find peace’. I am not a victim so please don’t treat me like one.

Shannon Ashley is a great example of a person on the internet vulnerably sharing their story to help others. She, like most of us, knows herself inside out and has done all the research. 

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SO many people are not only giving her un-asked for advice, they are being blatantly mean.

I want allies. I also try to be an ally. We need people to hear us and stand with us without judgement, just like I do if I read a story by anyone who is openly sharing their pain with the world.

Sometimes people write about their pain to set it free, to unburden. Sometimes it just needs to be out there floating in the world. You don’t need to pull it apart. Just leave it be.

And finally, unless I explicitly ask for advice, don't give it to me.

This is one woman's experience and should not be used in place of health advice.

Lindy Ralph is a writer from Melbourne. She writes honest non-fiction about life as a middle-aged woman. Her intention is to help people like her feel seen.

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or email [email protected] 

You can also visit their website, here.

Feature Image: Canva/Mamamia.

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