Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Fat as a Form of Protection

Snow White EatingThere’s something that comes up in the literature about survivors of sexual assault that’s been bugging me for awhile:  the idea that survivors of sexual assault gain weight to protect themselves from further assault.

First, I’d like to bring to your attention the fact that sexual assault is about power, not attraction.  Fat people, old people, children and even infants are sexually assaulted.  Now, I’m going to use women as the default for the rest of this conversation, because I am more conversant with what is said about female survivors than male regarding weight gain.  If anyone who is more knowledgeable about what is said regarding male survivors and weight gain would like to chime in the comments, I can edit this to add your comments on the bottom.

Next, I’d like to talk to you about people assuming that thin is the default state of the human race, and women in particular, and that you must be doing something wrong in order to get fat.  So, of course, if a sexual assault survivor is getting fat, it must be because she’s doing it to herself.  This is in spite of the fact that nearly everyone knows that for many of us, unless you actively pursue thin-ness as a goal all the time, you will almost invariably gain weight.

After a sexual assault, depression is a common response.  When you’re depressed, you don’t feel like doing anything, let alone doing something that has as it’s basis, for many people, the desire to look better to other people.  I don’t think it’s that sexual assault survivors gain weight on purpose as a form of “protection,” I think it’s far more likely that they quit doing all of the things they did to keep fatness at bay, and the weight just comes on.

Regardless of the fact that about 95% of all people who lose substantial amounts of weight gain it back, often with friends, within five years, people still assume that the default state of all human bodies is thin. Another problem with this world view is the automatic assumption that being fat is the result of a weakness or a failing.   In the case of sexual assault survivors this failing is fear.  Fear of being seen as attractive enough to be assaulted again.  Do I really have to point out how incredibly fucked up this is?

There are dozens of reason sexual assault survivors might gain weight:  depression, the medications for depression, lack of exercise due to trauma induced agoraphobia (a fancy way of saying they’re afraid to leave their house).  So, why do people immediately leap to “they’re doing it on purpose?”

2 comments on “Fat as a Form of Protection

  1. Sarmonster
    December 3, 2010

    Why assume that weight gain is a result of sexual assault at ALL? I’m willing to bet the percentage of sexual assault victims in the general population is the same in the overweight crowd.


  2. polimicks
    December 3, 2010

    I’m betting there is some corollary, because like I said, there are an awful lot of sexual assault survivors who get depressed or suffer from forms of PTSD that may make their former work out routines difficult to impossible for them. But I just don’t buy the, “they’re insulating themselves from the world with FAT” argument.


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This entry was posted on December 3, 2010 by in Fat, Featured Articles, Sexism, Surviving.

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