Who says you’re worth it?

Who decides who much you are worth? Last time I checked, there was no quantifiable value attached to a human life, but I think we spend our lives trying to work it out all the same. Or rather society does it for us.

And it’s an interesting concept when you think about it, because who determines how much anything is worth? Those of us who have been paying close enough attention to the news, will have learned a lesson or two about value over the last few weeks courtesy of the people over on Reddit.

[Never thought that was a statement I would hear myself saying.]

What the GameStop scandal has to do with weight stigma

You see, the guys on Wall Street had decided how much GametStop stock was worth. They were so confident in their assessment that they bet billions on it by through hedgefund investments. But then a group on Reddit who, from what I can tell, were either bored or pissed at the world, decided to teach those Wall Street guys a lesson. So they all invested in GameStop stock.

STwo things happened. Firstly, the price of GameStop stock skyrocketed. Secondly, the guys on Wall Street crapped their pants and had a meltdown. Apparently it’s OK for them to decide what something is worth, but not for the rest of us plebs.

Photo by lo lo

What I loved about this wasn’t the fact that the crazy conspiracy theorists on Reddit wiped out billion dollar hedgefunds or that we got to see stockbrokers throwing a tantrum. No, my favourite thing about this story is how we all got to catch a glimpse of the people who are in charge of deciding how much things are worth.

And it turns out they are fallible just like the rest of us.

Who determines your worth?

Did you know that there is no law protecting us from weight discrimination? You can’t deny a person a promotion based on their gender, ethnic origin, religion or disability but you can deny them a promotion because you believe they are too fat. You can also jack up the cost of their insurance, deny them life-changing surgery or medical treatment, and say whatever you like about them in a public arena.

And as of today, there is nothing UK citizens can do about it. No legal protection. No way to challenge these decisions or force people to treat us fairly. Nada. And what that tells me is that I am valued less than my straight-sized fellow citizens. I am worth so little, that my rights aren’t even protected by law.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

And that is really starting to piss me off. Because I spend a lot of time arguing with people that it is possible to be fat and healthy. But what happens to fat people who aren’t healthy? Are they not just as worthy as everyone else? Are they not entitled to the same basic human rights and to be treated with the same amount of human decency as the rest of us?

The bigness scale

Over the years, I have heard people say something along the lines of “you’re big but you’re not that big”. Apparently that is supposed to be some kind of compliment. Which is really quite offensive if you think about it. Apparently there’s a scale of bigness, and the implication is that your value decreases as your bigness increases.

I can still buy clothing in regular size shops (even though I am at the top end of the scale). I don’t have to buy a second seat on a plane or ask the air hostess for an an extendable seatbelt. I will never be a catwalk model but I don’t quite fit into the morbidly ob*se category.

So according to society, whilst I am by no means as worthy as a thin person, I am worth more than a really fat person? Well f*** you society. Who says you get to make all the rules? And who are you anyway? Who exactly gets to decide whether I am worth it?

Follow the money

That’s a complicated question. But like GameStop, it is possible to determine my stock value. It may not be the guys on Wall Street, but there are definitely large multi-billion dollar industries that profit when my stock plummets. How?

Well to start with, some people get to tax me for my “excess” fat. True story. Insurance companies will increase your premiums based on your BMI and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Even though so many studies have shown that this is not fair for two fundamental reasons. One, there are plenty of fat people who are healthy. Two, there are plenty of thin people who are not healthy.

So what do people like me do when they are unfairly penalised for their weight? Why they turn to the weight loss industry, of course. And as we all know, the weight loss industry makes you a promise that they know they are not able to keep. But they have absolutely no problems taking lots of your money nonetheless.

Now it seems to me that insurance companies and weight loss programmes have every reason to go into business together. First they tax me for being overweight. Then I turn to fad diets and so-called “fitness and nutrition experts” to help me to shed the weight. Only that hardly ever works and is virtually impossible to sustain long term. So now I have spent money on insurance premiums as well as weight loss programmes that don’t work. And I’m no better off. In fact, I am worse off because I’ve got less money and my health has most likely worsened as a result.

Moral value

It’s not just money that determines value either. Morality and virtue come in to it too. Studies have shown that most people consider fat people to be lazy, lacking in self-discipline, less well-adjusted and having less self-control. Those are some giant stereotypes for people like me overcome.

Those stereotypes affect me in the workplace, in school, in the criminal justice system and they affect my ability to access good quality healthcare. They are perpetuated by the media and by healthcare professionals, who are notorious for judging people’s health based on the way that they look.

Everywhere I look, the message is loud and clear. I am worth less than a thin person. And that sucks. Because when you delve deep enough you realise that this form of bias is rooted in racism. It is born of white, evangelical Christian beliefs that date back over 100 years ago.

It profits white privilged men in suits who sit at the top of their ivory towers and make decisions that penalise the poorest and most vulnerable members of society the most.

You get to decide who determines your worth

Somewhere along the line, this journey stopped being about my personal weight losses and gains, and became about something more. Something bigger and more profound. It’s not thin versus fat. It’s capitalism versus health. Privilege versus oppression. White supremacy versus the rest of the world.

[Don’t get offended by that last comment. It you’re reading this and you’re white, you probably don’t buy into white supremacist ideals. Not all white people are white supremacists. But white supremacy favours all white people… Think about it.]

Photo by Alex 

So I started this blog post by asking “who says you’re worth it”? And I guess only you can answer that. The question is who do you actually want to determine your worth? Greedy insurance companies? Fitspo accounts on instagram? Your nextdoor neighbour?

Or you?

Did I ruffle your features today or do you agree with what I have to say. Make sure to leave a comment below and join in the discussion. And if you like what I have to say, you can subscribe to my website and never miss another blog post again.

5 thoughts on “Who says you’re worth it?”

  1. I have been reading your blog for a few months now and I’m so grateful someone send me a link to it. I don’t feel so alone anymore and I wish my gp would read your blog. Thank you for making me feel valued and a bit like a normal person rather than just a fat blob.

  2. Brilliant post yet again. This was, in my opinion, everything:

    ‘Did you know that there is no law protecting us from weight discrimination? You can’t deny a person a promotion based on their gender, ethnic origin, religion or disability but you can deny them a promotion because you believe they are too fat. You can also jack up the cost of their insurance, deny them life-changing surgery or medical treatment, and say whatever you like about them in a public arena.’ Wow. Just wow.

  3. I saw you on this morning. Thank you. I then came to your website. Thank you again
    Thank you for saying what you say because it doesnt go unnoticed and it helps. It helps when im feeling low or struggling with weight and eating issues to know there are others out there fighting the views that are really the things that make us unhealthy

  4. christian lapierre

    You said on your TV appearance that you had evidence to back up your claims that fat is healthy, one study linking to US and Insurance??? Not relevant to the UK what so ever, US insurance is an even bigger scam than the UK so obviously the rates for obese is likely to be grossly inflated (no pun intended).

    A study about peoples perception of fat people as lazy? Numerous studies have be done to show that people prefer symmetry, proportions, absence of face markings. You also quoted obese people earn less, are you implying they are paid less simply because their fat? Or does their obesity impact their productivity (way more likely, high performers are way healthier than the average joe).

    I’ve come here to see you spouting non-sense trying to justify your own obesity. Obesity undoubtedly raises all cause mortality rates, how as a doctor can you deny that. You claim that this whole obese thing was created by ‘white men for profits’ those same white men PROFIT from people being OBESE. You are so misguided with all of your points it’s concerning you are a ‘health care’ professional.

    Again, with your virtue signalling, you don’t determine your worth the market does! You can control what you’re value is to the market though, cause and affect.

    No one is saying that everyone needs to be size 0, no one is saying that BMI is the only health metric.

    But what people don’t tell you is that if you get slim and healthy, people find you more attractive, you become more confident, you have more energy. With this new found energy and confidence you try new things, learn new skills and get better at work. You may not be slim but you’re not obese anymore and you’re happier for it.

    Word to the wise, looking after the only body you are given, with organic foods, fresh fruit will be the best decision you make in your life. Do not listen to this non sense as you won’t be any happier for it, it’s a nice comfort blanket for now to shield you from the harsh truth. HEALTH IS WEALTH.

    1. This is one of the saddest things I have ever heard. I am really sorry for whatever happened in your life to turn you into someone who feels comfortable spouting such ridiculous nonsense. I also feel really sorry for all the people that have to deal with you in their day-to-day life because you are about as prejudiced as they come my friend. I hope for your sake and the people around you that you will learn about empathy. Good luck

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