For Her Own Good

Renee at Womanist Musings reports the despiriting story of an abusive father who, having decided that his teenage daughter was ‘overweight’, and having failed to control her by putting locks on the fridge or simply beating her, chained her to her bed for two days before being arrested.

I totally concur with Renee’s discussion: this is just the very extreme end of a culture of fat-hatred. The most disgusting thing is that the father apparently “stated he didn’t think he had committed a crime and that he was acting in his daughter’s best interest“. This is only possible because of all the other parents, peers, and partners who, similarly thinking they’re acting in people’s (largely women’s) ‘best interests’, ridicule or criticise signs of ‘fat’ or it’s (symbolic, not real) counterpart, ‘piggish’ gluttony (the fact that in our relationship with pigs it is we who eat and they who are eaten doesn’t seem to stop us identifying them with the activity).

I’d just add that we should avoid listing only imprisonment, psychological abuse, and beatings here – the forcible restriction of food is itself a form of abuse. Preventing someone from eating when they are hungry is an attack on their body, and, especially for people whose metabolism demands lots of food, it damages that body, both in the short run and in the long run.

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