December 30th, 2013
09:33 AM ET

Defending Against Fat Prejudice

"Scholar. Writer. Activist. Unapologetic Fat Lady."

That's how Wayne State university grad student Amanda Levitt describes herself.

Levitt is the founder of, a blog where she writes about fat prejudice and defends the right everyone has to be comfortable and confident in his or her body.

Levitt says: "Specifically, fat people are more likely to live in poverty, we're more likely to deal with stigma in every facet of our lives from, especially because it's incredibly gendered and targets women specifically, fat women are less likely to be hired, less likely to be promoted. Fat people in general are more likely to deal with stigma when we go to the doctor's office."

But in a world where zero is the goal, and the word "fat" often equals "unhealthy,"  Levitt's message has met a very mixed response.

Amid words of thanks, the comments on Levitt's blog are also filled with hate: curse words, ugly names, even death threats. Critics who say Levitt is defending an unhealthy body type.

She responds saying "It's really them assuming that fat people live a specific lifestyle, that they live in a specific body and in a specific way that makes it so they're unhealthy. I'm far more interested in talking about poverty, far more interested in talking about how we live in a society that has a lot of inequality and not really interested in trying to defend my right to be a fat person."


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soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Bill Freakin Nye

    The amount of stupidity in these comments is overwhelming. No buddy, I'm sorry. Your underactive thyroid did not cause you to gain a hundred pounds, your choice of a big mac and fries over a chicken sandwich did. Your choice of chocolate cake over a glass of milk did that. Your choice of sitting and watching reruns of Friends over getting on the treadmill or just walking around the block did that.

    To quote

    Since the BMR in the patient with hypothyroidism (see Hypothyroidism brochure) is decreased, an underactive thyroid is generally associated with some weight gain. The weight gain is often greater in those individuals with more severe hypothyroidism. However, the decrease in BMR due to hypothyroidism is usually much less dramatic than the marked increase seen in hyperthyroidism, leading to more modest alterations in weight due to the underactive thyroid. The cause of the weight gain in hypothyroid individuals is also complex, and not always related to excess fat accumulation. Most of the extra weight gained in hypothyroid individuals is due to excess accumulation of salt and water. Massive weight gain is rarely associated with hypothyroidism. In general, 5-10 pounds of body weight may be attributable to the thyroid, depending on the severity of the hypothyroidism. Finally, if weight gain is the only symptom of hypothyroidism that is present, it is less likely that the weight gain is solely due to the thyroid.

    Tl;dr Thyroid under activity causes 5-10 pounds of weight gain. That's it. An underactive thyroid is not an excuse for being morbidly obese. Or moderately obese. It's an excuse for being less than ten pounds overweight.

    And to you, Amanda. Fat people aren't poor. Our society does not condemn fat people to poverty. Rather, it condemns poor people to obesity. There is a giant freaking difference, because one is a giant conspiracy against fat people, the other is consumerism and capitalism disenfranchising the poor. Remember, correlation =/= causation. ONCE MORE. CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION. This is an extremely simple and extremely illogical example of B causes A correlation, or reverse causation. It's the same as saying that windmills spinning faster causes there to be more wind. That's just blatantly false.

    May 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Reply
  2. letmeeatcake

    ...does this mean they can finally stop putting that apple slice crap in the happy meal?

    March 24, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  3. Christian Toth

    Ok. This is not all one way traffic, but she's more wrong than she's right in holding her position. I understand what she's saying and the angle she's taking on the issue, which is indeed an issue. It is undeniably is. However, there is an increasing trend towards fat acceptance, which she is undoubtedly a part of, and that's also a problem. The most basic, fundamental reason for people being overweight is a simple of calories in and calories out. She's leaning towards this "anti-gay" ideology that being fat is NOT a choice, but that's a false analogy. It does reflect conscious decisions that people make, and having a stigma against obesity is not a bad thing, and neither is unusual. It all smells of "making excuses" for being overweight, and I'm not a fan of it, Because the bottom line is that YOU need to change something about yourself, and not the other way around, which is the assertion that she's making. Her agenda is partly to shift accountability off of herself for being overweight, and that bothers me. Being in shape and "thin" is hard work in the environment that I live in. It takes discipline. No one is saying it's easy, and when people look for an easy way out, it stinks.

    February 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  4. Ya Ok

    Lots of seriously disgusting ignorance on this comment thread

    January 5, 2014 at 10:15 pm | Reply
  5. David M

    Notice that as soon as she brings up the 'defending an unhealthy lifestyle' the first thing she does is try to change to subject to avoid the question. Nothing against people making their own choices, but don't pretend there isn't anything wrong with obesity.

    January 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Reply
  6. Jason

    Being fat is a choice 99% of the time. If you don't like how others judge you for it (which is their right) then change. I was fat. I did not like how people treated me and looked at me. So I worked really hard to change my diet, gave up foods that I loved and started working out. I am sure it's easier to yell "you don't have the right to judge me" than to actually change, but you do not have the right to not be judged for your behavior and it's outcome.

    January 1, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Reply
  7. RRS

    I support a lot of what she says, but I'm not sure what research she's talking about. Though people can be perfectly healthy at weights that some might consider 'fat', the DEFINITION of 'obesity' is as follows: "a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health" At a certain point, those extra pounds do adversely effect a person's health no matter how much they earn or how luxurious a life they live. People should not be shamed because of their weight, but they should not delude themselves into thinking that obesity is healthy if they have several doctors tell them it is not. Judging people simply for their weight is very wrong, as is the stigma against metal illness. That does not mean that mental illness and obesity are not serious health issues.

    December 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  8. Ivy

    It's sad we live in a society that is so hateful toward "fat" people. I don't choose this lifestyle, its been chosen for me. I have a thyroid condition that is so bad the doctors had to send me for several labs to find the right medication. Come to find out, my thyroid is nearly non-existent. Unfortunately, I did not find this out until I was in my early 30s and had my 3rd child. As for the food thing. I recently went to get a food box and was encouraged to load up on snack cakes while only being allowed 3 loaves of bread and one bag of vegetables. I do the best I can on food stamps but the prices of healthy food are insane. $3-4 for one gallon of milk or 99 cents for a 2 liter of soda. As for exercise, try taking a walk when people are yelling out their windows and calling you names. Damned if you do, damned if you dont.

    December 31, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • Jason

      The fact that you did not even consider water as a beverage is telling about your behavior.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Reply
    • Aimee

      Ivy, go for that walk… when I do, I feel like I am being a superhero for other large women. You are fighting injustice with each step. Don't let other people stop you from being active and doing what you love just because THEY are uncomfortable with it. You are right about food. It is cheaper to eat less healthy. Keep your chin up. 🙂

      January 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm | Reply
      • JTemprillo

        In all fairness, as a runner and a cyclist, I've had obnoxious comments and objects direct at me while exercising as well.

        I still exercise. I realize that it may come as more hurtful when it's directed at your body, but if you want to exercise you can't let that stop you. There are just a lot of ignorant (and stupid) people in the world and you can't let them stop you from doing what needs to be done.

        January 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
  9. Brenda

    I am overweight based upon current norms for my height. I eat healthy, limit my intake of carbs and sugars, exercise at least 3 days weekly but I have a thyroid condition that all but stops my metabolism process. I am fat because of an health issue, not a choice or laziness issue. Yet I know the feeling the author discusses in this video. I am a college grad, funny, skilled at many things and enjoy seeing new places. Though sometimes my physical presentation limits my opportunities before I can demonstrate my abilities to others. People should remember that a book is more than its cover and stop judging people based upon their weight.

    December 31, 2013 at 9:15 am | Reply
  10. Obviously.

    It's her right to be fat. People make lifestyle choices for themselves. People will judge each other for anything and everything. He'll, people will comment on my hair at work if it's not perfect today. It's unavoidable and you need to learn to shrug it off.

    As for the economic side of the issue, it just makes sense. Why do health insurance companies charge more for people with pre-existing conditions? Because they have to to stay in business. Certain services are affected by weight and space. This includes aircraft. You wouldn't demand to be billed the same price for shipping a refrigerator as the guy who shipped a pair of socks.

    December 31, 2013 at 6:39 am | Reply
  11. Anthony

    Of course fat people are less likely to be hired and promoted, how can they manage a job well if they can't manage their own weight well. Also when a fat person goes to the doctor, of course their going to hear more problems than a fit person would. Haven't you heard? Being obese is unhealthy! You can't even begin to preach to people that obesity is ok when it is clearly not. People will always bully you no matter what, its human nature. If you want less bullying and less health problems though, then you should probably reconsider being fat.

    December 31, 2013 at 5:07 am | Reply
  12. Shane

    "Ya know...ya know....ya know..." Geez.

    December 30, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  13. jack taylor

    Well I think she is very articulate , courageous and sexy.. I love a renaissance woman..

    December 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  14. Eleanor Martin

    While I support her opportunity to express herself, and if she can honestly say that she exercises enough and eats healthy enough foods and quantities of foods to maintain her stature as it is now, then she's done everything she can do. I personally know I am overweight for my frame and i feel it. I also know that I don't have the healthiest lifestyle and I accept that until I'm motivated internally to change that I'm going to simply maintain. But do I wish I could poof magically change and be that way? Abso-friggin-lutely. And the second someone says anything I say I wish I was different but for now I'm comfortable and come to terms with myself as I am. I can also say that my exterior is not why people judge me and my exterior and posterior are not why I do or do not have friends. I have a bold personality and with that comes turmoil. I can also absolutely guarantee that I have yet to be ostracized for my size in a professional manner in any way. It has to do with my strong willed bold personality.

    It's one thing to accept and be comfortable in your skin and lifestyle, as it is your only one, but it's completely different to say your comfortable to have a reason to not go to the gym that day, or go for an extra long walk, or to pass on that snack at the gas station on a road trip, as well as use that as an excuse to not apply for a job or not push yourself to be proactive in the workforce. It's especially difficult as a female in a corporate setting. I'm constantly struggling, especially currently at age 26, to find, define, then break down those boundaries and to challenge myself, personally and professionally. And considering that her voice now has a public following, I only hope, ask and encourage her and her followers to do the same for each other.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my opinion and I appreciate people willing to put theirs out there as this young lady has.

    December 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Reply


    December 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  16. Jwil

    Sorry but fat is unhealthily I'm struggling to lose weight but I'm trying. Over half the health problems have to do with knees, ankles , back are caused from your body exceeding its own limit. 250 for someone at 5'6 is not healthy. When it comes to fire rescue and other occupations that fat people would have to have someone strain and kill themselves to remove someone 300 is unfair. You create your own living environment. It's not that people don't like day people but all I've seen and read is mainly a real crappy excuse for not getting off your ass and trying to improve your life.

    December 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Reply
  17. Rob

    Sounds like a bitter fat feminist with a chip on her shoulder blaming all her issues on society. Unlike race, fat is choice. You chose to be fat – don't like the treatment? Eat less and move more instead of sitting on your azz whining on the interwebz.

    December 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  18. anonymous former fatty

    find her argument of defending against the question of her "supporting an unhealthy body type" rather funny. sure fat people get some prejudice which can lead them to become fatter. but so what the reason that they are fat is that they chose a unhealthy way of living due to poor exercise and eating habits. easy fix to "fat prejudice" from somebody who was overweight for while, LOSE WEIGHT! bullying fat people is what in psychology is called positive punishment, where something which is negatively perceived is done to or given to someone who does not fit a social role or specific norm which people value. thus if you chose to be healthy the punishment stops.

    December 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Reply
  19. jay man

    (trombone music plays)

    December 30, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  20. justice

    Good for her!

    December 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  21. Robert H. Pike

    Obesity is an infant-based food addiction started by our parents. Before we could walk and talk, some parents gave us hugs, water, and rubber "pacifiers", some gave us fruit or cereal snacks, and those of us who became food addicts were fed….(fill in the blank – name any junk food!). That's why we need to end the disrespect for those suffering obesity, and offer solutions in an empathetic way.

    December 30, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  22. Lina

    Yeah well how about the fact that all these "fat body-positive" activists are reverting to "skinny-shaming" to promote their cause. Comments such as 'men like meat, bones are for dogs' are popping up everywhere. And honestly it's not meat, it's fat. And people using those comments are just as ignorant and are being the exact same as the opposite point of view. Shut the hell up, stop being hypocrites. Don't insult other people when you're "working towards equality". You sound just as ridiculous. And yes, you are promoting an unhealthy life style. There's no way around that argument. I know that some people are overweight due to medical issues, but most people aren't and you're killing yourselves, just as overly thin and underweight people are.

    December 30, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  23. crimsonrile

    Yeah...or you could, you know, take walks once in a while

    December 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  24. Jake

    Fat people don't get hired/promoted as quickly/easily because it's basically a sign that you don't take care of your self. You're only given ONE body to walk this earth with. If you choose to make your temple filthy and sloppy people will look at that and assume it carries over into other areas of your life. It's not rocket science, and if you don't like it, you have every bit as much in your power to change it as the next person (save for some disease). But short of some major health issue that literally MAKES you fat, you're just whining and complaining. If you don't like how people treat you for being fat, lose some weight. It's all in YOUR control. What's not in your control is the behavior of OTHERS.

    December 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  25. Mike

    So you're an activist for equality and fat people. What about non-fat people. Do you eat more than them? Don't you believe in equality? Why, as an activist, wouldn't you be sharing your food to the less fortunate if you believe in equality? Wouldn't you end up not being fat if you did that, or do you have a medical problem? I think it's important to let people know if you have a medical problem, since less than 1% of obesity is cause by genetic dysfunction, and almost all are cases of an excess of caloric intake. Did you know starvation is a major issue over in Africa? Why don't we start with survival, and saving lives instead of making your western society, over-priviledged, hard-knock life a priority?

    Trolls gonna troll right? Easy cop out.

    December 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  26. theorycraft

    are skinny people automatically healthier? probably not... but every woman wants to be that skinny girl who can eat as much as they want and still look good.... so why can't we just accept that either you either work hard to maintain a slim figure or you have great genes that keep you skinnier and acknowledge that as something of value when choosing a mate? Both from an evolutionary and biblical point, our goal is to survive and reproduce and for one reason or another people not too skinny nor too fat have an advantage towards that goal.

    December 30, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  27. Aaron

    I agree that the stigma is wrong. No one deserves to be profiled based on weight. But I feel that, if we're accepting the AMA's definition of obesity as a disease then it seems we must be supportive of the fat people the same way we're supportive of the people we care about who smoke. Neither of these are conducive to a healthy lifestyle. And as someone who cares about them and their continued well-being the best thing you can do is tell them you're concerned about their health. The smoker without cancer or an oxygen tank is no different than the 5'6" 220LB fat person. Look into the dopamine/pleasure hormone receptors in the frontal lobe and you can see that pleasure is derived from eating very similarly to how it is derived from smoking or any other addictive behavior.
    On the socio-economic level I feel like data showing whether fat people have statistically significant poorer experiences (in terms of socio-economic status, stress, work/social life, etc.) would have to be compared to the experiences of commonly unattractive people. This sounds mean but in every society certain physical attributes are appreciated more highly than others. In America we like working with pleasant people, sometimes this means people who are pleasant to be around and sometimes it means pleasant to look at, quite frequently the latter. In certain professions it really pays to be attractive, in others it doesn't matter how you look because your success in business will not be determined by how appealing you are.

    December 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  28. Eric

    If you work out and eat right you will have the body you were meant to have, barring any physical limitations. That is a fact. People are not the same size and that is okay. It is wrong to assume far people are lazy in work, although not necessarily so to say they are lazy in working out.

    December 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  29. waa day

    If she was happy being fat she probably wouldn't care about being fat

    December 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
  30. Sam Lee

    Can she describe how fat people are likely to live in poverty? Has she ever seen a fat homeless man or woman? Homeless people and some people in the develpoing countries live in poverty; not someone who spends loads of $$$ on junky and fatty foods 🙊🙊

    December 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  31. Africanna

    Love all people that come in different shapes n sizes

    December 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  32. Africanna

    In as much as we need to be,comfortable with our own selves, it's also good to,know that obesity is not something to be celebrated on, has a lot of health risk,attached.
    Pls love all people,that in different shapes n sizes

    December 30, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  33. ATK

    I wish this interview touched up on GMO products and how those are truly effecting the population and making more fat people. Not to mention cryo mutagenesis on seeds that are then in turn turned into the food we eat. I DO NOT LIKE RADIATION.

    December 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • Jason

      You need to do some actual research before stating something like that. GM products are tested 2-3 times before human consumption, over the course of years and years. Do you know how often organic or "natural" food is tested for anything? The answer is never. Do you know how many people have been harmed by GM foods? None to date. Do you know how many have been hurt or killed by being poisoned by organic or "naturally" grown foods? hundreds of thousands. This is not gospel by any means, but a lot of it cracks down on common propaganda.

      January 3, 2014 at 8:03 pm | Reply

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