The one sided narrative pushed by general social standards that fat is bad, unattractive, unhealthy or unneeded are just fucked and not a true representation of the truth.
Seriously, if body fat was so bad for us, why the plop would our body create and store it?? That was a rhetorical question.
Why do we even have body shaming?!
There is a long history of fat shaming and body shaming in western culture. It’s particularly focused towards people who are AFAB.
That’s not to say that people who are AMAB are not also influenced by these same social views and attitudes.
It’s just that it is not pushed on them with the same level or aggression.
Whole industries have been built around weight loss.
Pointing a big finger at the fitness industry here. As well as spaces like weight watchers and Jenny Craig.
Then there are the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing weight loss pills and supplements.
Or surgeons offering lap band and gastric bypass surgeries.
And they all do it under the pretence of “Health”.
They obviously don’t see the hypocrisy of this because they sell health by perpetuating a toxic and harmful AF culture of body and fat shaming.
They encourage women and AFAB folks to engage in their spaces to lose weight and therefore become more socially accepted, attractive and “healthier”
There is big money in body shaming people into feeling so ashamed of themselves that they invest money and years of their lives trying to change the things about themselves that they have been told aren’t ok.
This is not ok.
None of these industries truly value the AFAB folks they target.
They don’t value all physiques. They put worth on one particular type of physique and try to force everyone to fit it.
This is impossible for so many reasons.
The truth is as I mentioned just a minute ago, that our bodies require fat for many different reasons.
And that’s what we’re gonna be looking at today. I mean I could honestly make 10 episodes just on the fucked things that the “health and fitness, pharmaceutical and medical industries do to make money off the body shaming, fat shaming and pathologizing of fat bodies but that’s not gonna happen because fuck them.
Today is all about why our body fat is good for us and why we need it in our lives.
Because it’s not spoken about anywhere near as much as it needs to be.
What is Fat?
Fat is a word that is used so often. But what even is fat?
Because let’s face it, we’re never really taught much about it other than it’s supposedly bad for us to have on our bodies and bad to eat it in our foods.
Ok let’s nerd out about fat for a moment.
Fat = Adipocytes
Fat cells are known clinically as Adipocytes. And there are all different types of these cells.
The most abundant of these cells are the ones that store excess lipids and molecules that include fats (triglycerides) and related tissues.
Fat as stored energy
Triglycerides make up the bulk of our stored fat. They consist of three fatty acid molecules connected to a single glycerol molecule.
So when anyone refers to fat, they are oversimplifying a very complex system in our body whose job is essential in keeping us alive and functioning.
Our bodies need fat. Contrary to what so much of the messaging out there likes to imply.
What this all means is that fat cells are stored energy.
The fat that most people talk about or think of as bad is actually known as “white fat” because these fat cells appear white under a microscope. This is the main substance that our body uses for energy storage.
Fat supports our body parts
Then we have the adipocytes (or fats) that our body uses for supports or cushioning like the fat that supports our eyeballs, the heels of our feet and our finger and toe pads.
There was a study back in 2006 that concluded that these adipocyte clusters (fatty accumulations) probably don’t release energy unless the body ends up in a state of starvation.
Subcutaneous Fat and Cellulite
Our bodies store fat in a bunch of other areas of the body. And it’s known by different names depending on the area it lives.
Fat that the body stores under the skin is known as subcutaneous fat. And is the cause of the much dreaded and stigmatised cellulite.
Our body also stores fats around our organs. This is known as visceral fat.
‘Brown’ Fat Cells
There’s also ‘brown’ fat cells. These fat cells are abundant in iron and have their own unique function. They are found only in mammals.
They differ from white fat cells in that they release certain proteins which influence other cells in our body associated with heat generation at the expense of stored energy.
Brown fat cells surround the heart and greater blood vessels in infancy but dissipate as we get older and tends to only be found in small deposits within white fat cell accumulations.
So as you may be starting to see, fat in our bodies is not just fat for no reason.
It’s a hugely important part of our bodies.
And it can’t be generalised into just a statement of fat is bad/unhealthy/unattractive by every jerk out there who probably has no idea of the complexities of the role that fat plays in our lives.
How Does Fat work?
Now that we see there are various types of fat cells, let’s look at how it influences our bodies. Let’s start with white fat cells.
Fat regulates our blood sugar levels
After we eat and our insulin levels rise, our white fat cells literally swell in size and take in more triglycerides as energy to store. And when our insulin levels drop our white fat cells release these triglycerides as a quick energy source.
This helps to regulate our blood sugar levels.
White fat cells actually secrete multiple proteins that help increase or decrease our blood sugar levels.
As a little side note here. If our body has too little fat on it, it’s unable to regulate blood sugar and glucose levels. So all the super shredded people you see being pushed out as ideals of health can actually be totally fucking with their bodies ability to regulate itself.
Our bodies ability to store energy is essential for our survival.
If our body does not have an energy source to draw from, we are unable to function.
And not everyone is able to rely on eating regularly to provide the energy they need.
Fat cells insulate our bodies to help keep us warm.
It helps keep our core temperature stable particularly in cold weather because it stops our bodies losing heat.
It is vital for the break down of vitamins A,E,D and K.
Because these vitamins are absorbed by the bodies fatty cells.
Fatty tissue also plays a big part in our immune system as well.
They release compounds which promote inflammation which is super important to help the body fight infections. There is a flap of fat in our abdomen that has immune cells situated across it. These immune cells within the fatty tissue act as a defence that monitors the fluids surrounding our organs for infection.
So it’s pretty clear to see that fat cells are vital for us.
If we don’t have them, our bodies can’t possibly function.
Let’s look at the research that exists on fat
It’s interesting to note here that throughout all the research I’ve done regarding the influences of fat on our bodies, they are mostly skewed towards the negative implications of what is perceived as excess fat.
Finding objective information that wasn’t focused in some way on fat shaming was a real challenge.
So when we think about the messaging out there or the “research” available it’s important to remember that the people who conduct these studies have an agenda.
Funding for research is often done with the intent to prove a specific point. And funding for said research can be provided by organisations looking for “research” to support their particular views.
This helps them push the message that they have “scientific proof” that their agender is valid.
After all, the weight loss industry is multifaceted and is worth a lot of money to the people and organisations that want to profit off the shame and trauma of people.
We’ve touched on a lot today.
We’ve had a pretty in-depth look at what fat is.
The role it plays in our bodies.
And that fuck-off to the weight-loss industries that seek to pathologize fat bodies for their own profits.
Until next week remember our bodies are supposed to have fatty tissue. The real falsehood is the messaging that says we shouldn’t. Your body is perfect just as it is regardless of your size. Your body is doing exactly what it was created to do, which is live and thrive in the best ways it can.
Have a rad as day pals!
What did you think of this podcast episode?