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I'm a huge fan of Maintenance Phase and this book offers a clear and concise summary of some of the excellent points Aubrey has made on the podcast, as well as interesting and well-researched additional information. A must-read for anyone who wants to challenge their own anti-fat bias and to have some quick points to add to any discussions with others on the topic.
I “met” Aubrey Gordon on the Maintenance Phase podcast. I have learned so much from her, and I’m delighted this book presents many of the great points she has made on the podcast. In this book she includes her own stories, stories from others, research about weight loss and weight discrimination, wise language to use in conversations, and a challenge to all of us to stop the ridiculous obsession with thinness that dominates so much of the wellness and health discourse today.
I am what Aubrey calls “small fat.” I wear plus size clothes that are readily available online in reasonably attractive styles. I have struggled to try to be thinner ever since I was 13. I have been deeply moved by Aubrey’s descriptions – in the podcast, her first book, and now this book – about what “large fat” people experience: challenges in finding any clothes that fit, getting thrown off airplanes at the last minute, medical appointments focused on weight when that’s not the presenting problem, and especially advice, advice, and advice.
The opening chapters of this book lay out Aubrey’s overall perspective about fat, and she presents helpful ideas about vocabulary. She describes why she prefers “fat” to “overweight” or “obese.” She explains why “fat phobia” is not a helpful term; she prefers “anti-fatness” or “anti-fat bias.” She uses “thin” and “non-fat” to describe “those whose bodies are thinner than fat people’s, and who receive social, cultural, and institutional privileges on the basis of that thinness.” She notes that many people who fit into that category feel fat, but they still receive the privileges that are withheld from fat people.
Aubrey divides her 20 myths into four sections, and these sections in themselves are worth pondering because of how often we hear these ideas: (1) “Being fat is a choice.” (2) “But what about your health?” (3) “Fat acceptance glorifies obesity.” (4) “Fat people should . . .” One of her myths relates to the BMI. If you are not familiar with the many arguments why measuring BMI is not helpful, her chapter gives essential information. In two other chapters she cites research showing why permanent weight loss is impossible for most people. In another chapter she debunks the myth that weight in itself is a measure of health.
One of her chapters upset me so much that I have been grieving ever since I read it. Here’s the myth: “Parents are responsible for their child’s weight. Only bad parents let their children get fat.” This myth, which I had never heard articulated like that, probably explains part of why my mother was so obsessed with my weight – she probably didn't want to look like a bad mother. Aubrey describes instances where fat children have been removed from their families and put in foster care, despite the entire lack of evidence that this leads to any improvement in children’s weight, health, or wellbeing. I am grieving the level of stress on children who are already probably bullied and ostracized, and then they lose their home and their parents. This is evil! Wrong! We simply must break up the myths about weight and health that are so powerful and pervasive. Aubrey does a great job with that essential task in this book.
To start, I did not check all the footnotes, but the book was well referenced throughout. I myself am "overweight" but probably not "obese". But I could relate to the struggle of trying to lose weight. I've seen others go through the struggle. And I know it has nothing to do with laziness.
I've been trying to figure out how to write this without bringing my wife's death into it, but I don't think I should. She died early December 2022, most likely a heart attack. They tried to revive her at Urgent Care, but couldn't. I believe her heart condition was something that she had, irregardless of her weight, although those at Urgent Care may not have thought that. And so when I heard about this book, I had to read it.
I'm glad I did. I highly recommend the book. I did find the author a bit repetitive, which is why just four stars. But it was very informative.
As a fat person I found myself facing a lot of bias while reading this book. I have faced the shame and discrimination due to my size most of my life. I have been told you have such a pretty face, or I would date you if you lost a few pounds. Thank you Aubrey Gordon.
The book is well researched and cites sources you can investigate yourself (unlike much of the easily available material on the topic). This is a compelling read, even fun, and dense with reliable evidence that calls into question the attitudes and policies toward fat people in society, governments, and in the medical establishment.
Do you want to undo years of toxic diet culture that you never ever knew was being shoved down your throat? This book is for you! Audrey methodically, kindly, but fiercely debunks or dismantles so many myths I’ve dealt with my whole life. Great book, we’ll written, and useful info!