Book review: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat

I’m a white, cis and athletic male, the archetype of a privileged person. Sometimes we thing that it’s being woke to try to figure out when we do have them. I reviewed a book about race, read others about gender, but I didn’t think about my build. Well, I was wrong.


The first chapter is an introduction showing some examples of what the author went through. It’s just mind blowing. I don’t know if it’s mainly the case in the US, as I’ve never seen this kind of behavior in the UK or France, but I’m not the target of this abuse, so it may well be occurring more than what I see. The book then tackles more reasons for this abusing behavior towards fat people and balances this with the actual science.

In our society, too many people thing that people are fat because they want to be fat. It’s not true. One of the most fundamental issue is malnutrition due to our capitalistic system and poverty. But even then, too many people suffer from a problem, whether it’s genetic or not. Yes, some people are lazy, but they are the minority and there are thin lazy people as well. I’ve never been faced with fatcalling, but I’m not fat, so obviously I’m not going to be face with this, just as would not see catcalling in the street either! We can see from the point of view of the author that it’s a real suffering to have people calling you out without any reason. And that’s wrong.

The next chapter tackle more social media, and the fact that they basically seem to be supporting fat people, but in the end, it’s still about optimizing your body image and shaming fat people. Relity shows are abusing fat people into making them thinner, even if, indeed, no diet actually was proven to work (which makes total sense as it’s usually not an personal issue, but really genetics, or social status)

I loved the chapter afterwards about trolls and bad actors. It’s only when you consider what people are actually doing that we can understand that they don’t care about us, but really about themselves, their self esteem or confidence and their social status. Otherwise it would not be trolls that express their “concerns” publicly. If you had concerns, let’s start by having a discussion, show some empathy and then we can talk!

From this point in the book, I’m starting to understand the pattern, but it’s not even finished in terms of abuse fat people are experiencing. On top of fatcalling, there is the concept that fat people have less sex and lower libido in general. I don’t know how much of that is scientifically true and how much is due to societal pressure. There are asexual people everywhere and they also should not be shamed, it’s their sexual choice and there is absolutely no reason to mock them. But then using this as a reason to exploit fat people “because we are gifting them”, it’s disgusting. There is a whole concept in general that men are God’s gift in general (or a divinity gift if you don;t believe in a unique god), which is completely stupid, because women don’t need us. Ever.

The next chapter goes even in worse parts of the human brain, as some people really are into fat people, but then are ashamed of having these tendencies, when they are actually totally fine. Who you are attracted to only is a matter for yourself and the people you are attracted to. But when what people would think about them makes you tell people to change because they are not matching what people expect (but they do match what you expect, talk about schizophrenic thoughts), then there is a huge problem.

The last chapter before the conclusion is about the healthcare system. It’s true that lots of education still needs to happen in this space, lots of existing biases, but it’s exactly the same problem as with sleep depraved healthcare people that don’t even try to get the latest science and keep up to date. I don’t agree with the fact that all machines should accommodate fat people though. As with all handicaps, not every health facility can accommodate them, and there is a price attached to bigger machines, and it’s not just about money, but also precision, for instance. But yes, more fat people need to be incorporated into studies (just like more women need to be, or POC, there is a fundamental bias in most of the healthcare system, and probably far more in the US than in Europe).

The last chapter is a conclusion that feels like a utopia. Unfortunately, no, this will not happen, we can only unlearn so much and evolve so much in a generation. As I’ve said, there are also some constraints that will never make fat people have access to the same facilities as thin people, although I hope that we will move to a better food industry that will lower the impact of this handicap.


I have much to learn in terms of discriminations. I will have to learn more and read again this book in the future, as I will probably not do enough in my empathy with fat people. We all have inner biases because of years of misinformation. But that’s not a reason to stop trying, it’s a reason to try to do more. And when we think we have done enough, we need to inform ourselves and do more again.

And some of my opinions will probably anger fat people because I will not have understood what they are going through enough. This is my current point of view, and I’m sure it will evolve again in the next few months, hopefully in a good, more empathic way.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.