Weight is a touchy subject. Most of us, regardless of size, have been indoctrinated by our culture to avoid talking about weight except with those closest to us and/or our health care providers. Sometimes even that is really difficult.
I was recently talking to a group of people whom I know well about my book. A man in the audience asked me a difficult question.
“Jon, what would you recommend we say to someone who is overweight if we want to give them a copy of your book?”
Since it was an “in the moment” question, I didn’t have much time to process a response. I acknowledged it was a difficult question to answer, primarily because our relationships with people vary so greatly that perhaps one person would think, “wow, this is so nice of him to care,” while another might think, “who does he think he is,” and take offense. I responded that it would be very important to consider the type of relationship you have with a person before giving them my book.
I also suggested focusing on the book as more of a “humorous memoir on a difficult topic” than a diatribe on weight. I didn’t write the book to try and tell fat people what they need to do to lose weight. I wrote it for anyone who struggles with anything to find hope in the midst of challenges, and to help those who’ve never had a weight problem see a glimpse of what life is like for those of us who have struggled all our lives.
As I’ve thought and processed this question more, I’ve come to realize that I would love for my book to serve as a conversation starter about weight and how our society/culture views and treats fat people. In fact, as I wrote in the Foreword, I’m on a personal mission to redeem the word “fat” because it’s been assigned negativity when it’s really just a descriptive word. The reason people are offended by it is because of how it’s been used to harm, abuse, and marginalize a group of people based on a particular physical characteristic. That’s not OK, and one way we can fight back is to refuse to allow a small, three-letter word to define who we are and classify us “defective.”
My hope is that as people read my book, it will spur conversations with their friends, family, and loved ones about weight – regardless of each person’s size. Let’s talk about weight. Let’s talk about the word “fat.” Let’s move the conversation out of the shadows and into the light of day.
To help get the conversation going, I’ve created a list of discussion questions, available here. Feel free to use these questions to initiate conversation.
I know at least three groups have already formed to discuss my book; why not form a group of your own and start the conversation about removing “fat” from the taboo list?