NYC Law Promotes ‘Fat Pride’ and ‘Size Freedom’
In his works on rhetoric, Aristotle said that a speaker can hope to persuade his audience only if the message is underpinned by logos, an appeal to reason; pathos, an appeal to emotions; and, above all, ethos, the appeal that derives from the speaker’s own character and credibility. On that last, vital count, Mayor Eric Adams of New York City (NYC) failed miserably last week as he signed legislation (Intro. 209-2022 A) banning discrimination by weight and height in employment, housing, and public accommodations.
But before we get to Adams’s hypocrisy, let us look at the grievance of size discrimination per se. Manufactured and overblown by ‘woke’ activists, it stands on shaky ground. Body-positive activism denies the fact that being overweight is unhealthy and upends attempts by healthcare professionals to drive home the message that there is a strong connection between obesity and a host of conditions such as hypertension, high LDL cholesterol levels, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, kidney failure, and cancer. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says there is a well-established connection between obesity and morbidity and mortality.
By blaming society for the misery felt by outliers in weight, height, or other physical traits, body-positive activism diverts them from the hard work of changing what can be changed and accepting what cannot. With faddish references to “fat pride” and “size freedom” and spurious charges of “fat shaming,” many people choose to reject a rather obvious salubrious solution: adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Fortunately, the new law permits height and weight standards to be used in situations in which job performance necessitates certain physical traits. For example, law enforcement, firefighters and defense forces constitute categories with requirements that would be exempt from the strictures of Intro. 209-2022A. Similarly, the bill permits operators of public accommodations to consider height and weight criteria as part of what is reasonably necessary for normal operations. With these broad-brush exemptions, it’s hard to discern what purpose the law serves.
Now for Adams and his compromised ethos. The mayor, a former police officer who has been a crusader for healthy eating and fitness, ended up making a statement of questionable veracity while announcing the new law: “Science has showed (sic) that body type is not a connection to if you’re healthy or unhealthy. I think that’s a misnomer (sic) that we are really dispelling.”
This is surprising, coming from a health advocate whose book, Healthy at Last: A Plant-Based Approach to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses (2020), explains how he lost 35 pounds, lowered his cholesterol by 30 points, restored his vision, and reversed his diabetes with a plant-based diet. Adams is an avowed vegan who never eats anything that “that ever had a face or a mother.” He started Vegan Fridays at public school cafeterias in NYC, and has declared he is on a mission to improve public health, particularly the diet of blacks. He has also launched a “greens for green” initiative to cut food-based carbon in city agencies by 33% by 2030.
Given his concerns about public health, his statement is surprising and irresponsible. But Adams is no stranger to controversy. For all his vegan claims, he was sighted eating fish at a Manhattan restaurant, an incident labeled ‘FishGate.’ He defensively responded, “Don’t worry about what’s on Eric Adams’s plate,” calling those who questioned his diet “the food police,” and advocating his prescription for “a plant-based centered life” to all New Yorkers.
Adams has also made racist and antisemitic statements, and is a strong supporter of anti-white, antisemitic Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan, who says “the White man” is the “anti-Christ” and that “White folks…cannot be reformed [because] you cannot reform a devil,” so “you have to kill the devil….” He contends that “the real evil in America is the idea that undergirds the setup of the Western world, and that idea is white supremacy.” He disparages Jews and blames them for perpetrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “We know that many Jews received a text message not to come to work on Sept 11,” he has said.
When former mayor David Dinkins refused to meet NOI leaders, Adams lobbied the racist and antisemitic Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network, to withhold his endorsement of Dinkins’s reelection. Speaking of his time as a member of the NYPD at a private event held by the Harlem Business Alliance in 2019, Adams referred to former white colleagues as “crackers,” saying, “Every day in the police department, I kicked those crackers’ ass.” He also attacked local politician Herman Badillo, a Puerto Rican, for marrying a Jewish woman, saying, “It’s insulting to the Hispanic community that he can go to the Hispanic community for support, but he can’t go the Hispanic community when he’s picking a wife.”
For all these reasons, the mayor’s battle against both, obesity and discrimination, rings hollow. As someone who has lost a significant amount of weight for greater health, promoted healthier diets, and been professedly committed to plant-based diets, it seems disingenuous of him to deny the connection between weight and health. And given his racist statements about whites and Jews, it is ironic that he is spearheading a movement against discrimination.
The ‘normalize obesity’ movement is of a piece with other woke movements. As could have been expected in New York City, there was high praise for the legislation. Councilman Shaun Abreu, who sponsored the bill, lauded the city’s position as a leader in the national effort to end size discrimination. “Size discrimination is a social justice issue and a public health threat. People with different body types are denied access to jobs and equal wages – and they have had no legal recourse to contest it,” he declared.
Tigress Osborn, chairwoman of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and founder of the Campaign for Size Freedom, chimed in with:
“This is such a powerful moment…. When the mayor of one of the most iconic cities in the world agrees that size discrimination is unacceptable, it sends a message to leaders all over the country, and all over the world, that creating equal opportunities and accessible communities for people of all sizes should be a priority.”
Not only do these activists demean themselves and those they claim to represent by identifying solely by a physical trait – exactly what they do not want others to do – they also disparage and deny science. In 2018, morbidly obese British comedian Sofie Hagen accused Cancer Research, the world’s largest independent cancer research organization, of “bullying fat people” when highlighted the link between obesity and cancer. As if it weren’t obvious, the organization had to clarify it was not criticizing people for being overweight, only pointing out that obesity is the second leading cause of lifestyle-related cancers in the U.K.
The National Health Service of the UK has recognized the current obesity epidemic and tried to dispel the ‘fat but fit’ myth, saying ‘fat but fit’ individuals still run a 28% higher risk of heart disease compared to those of normal weight. Physicians and health organizations the world over will agree that this is true, and that the epidemic must be fought. But the woke advocates of “fat pride” and legislation like Intro. 209-2022A could very well sabotage critical efforts to do so.
Photo credit: YouTube screengrab (cropped)