Reader Jen was in her local mall, trying to get herself some clothes at Torrid, a store that caters to plus size people. What she got instead was a big sign advertising a free seminar about weight loss surgery. (To be clear the surgery is expensive, deadly, and can lead to horrific short and long term side effects, but the seminar about it is free.)
Now, I think that people are allowed to get weight loss surgery. It’s legal and it’s their body, they can do what that want – get weight loss surgery, jump out of a helicopter wearing skis, amputate their arm, whatever.
I don’t think that these surgeries meet the criteria for ethical, evidence-based medicine, but that’s a subject for another time. Even if you think that WLS should be an option, it does not follow that it’s ok to advertise it outside a store where fat people are going to buy clothes.
The idea that all fat people are seen as a “target demographic” for a surgery that is objectively dangerous is messed up. The fact that spending tons of money convincing us to have this dangerous, often deadly, surgery forms a profit center for companies like Mercy Care (and I don’t think that a facility that profits off this surgery should probably have to call themselves Have No Mercy Care) is more than a little ethically problematic.
The fact that anyone – whether it was “Mercy” or the mall – would force fat people who are trying to buy clothes to walk past a sign that advertises a dangerous, often deadly, medical procedure is just totally fucked up.
It’s bad enough that doctors suggest that fat people put our lives on the line to get this surgery, but I think it crosses a whole other line when fat people can’t buy a shirt without being given the message that our bodies somehow require (expensive, dangerous, deadly) surgical intervention.
In good news, activists were all over this. Jen posted about this on Facebook, and while people made suggestions that included everything from permanent marker, to a tasteful drape, to re-purposing a Torrid dress, someone called the mall. They were told that the mall had already received calls and that the sign had been moved immediately.
It sucks that fat people are seen as a target demographic for the weight loss industry, but the good news is that if we are a target market, then that means we have influence. The more we work together, the more we throw our weight around, the less nonsense we’ll have to put up with. Thanks to the actions of a few, every fat person who wants to buy some clothes at Torrid at this mall will do so without becoming the target of the predatory marketing of a dangerous and often deadly medical procedure!
Want to learn more about throwing your weight around? Join us at the Fat Activism Conference:
THE FAT ACTIVISM CONFERENCE:
TOOLS FOR THE REVOLUTION!
This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers talking about everything from “Re-Imagining Fashion from an Inclusive Framework” to “Activism for the Introverted and Anxious” to “Building Fat Patient Power While Accessing Healthcare” and more. This is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule. We also offer a pay what you can afford option to make the conference accessible to everyone. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016
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