Let people enjoy their damn donuts

This week Krispy Kreme announced a promotion: show your Covid-19 vaccination card and get a free donut every day for the rest of the year. A playful way to urge folks to get their shots and a fun way to reward people for doing so.

And apparently a sign of the end times, if you listen to any number of busybody doctors and busybody wannabe doctors on twitter and elsewhere, who were quick to tell people that they might be saved from covid but would undoubtably die of heart disease from eating donuts every day. The promotion, these folks seemed to take great pleasure in assuring everyone, is more evidence of America’s unhealthy obesity culture.

Paired with a number of articles that have just come out analysing the number of pounds we’ve all packed on over the course of the pandemic, it was a great week for people not minding their own fucking business.

“Donuts are a treat that’s not good for health if eaten every day,” tweeted Dr. Leana Wen. No shit. But how many people are really going to go get a free donut every day? And you know what, so what if they are? Jesus, we’ve all just been through the worst year-and-change of our lives.

For many of us, food—whether a new obsession with baking sourdough, a takeaway coffee on a Saturday afternoon, elaborate dinners cooked in the place of nights out—has been a small joy throughout this time. If a donut brings a bit of happiness to your day, nobody should be trying to take that away from you.

I’m not fat. I don’t say this to distance myself from fat folks but to make clear that while I am aware of the fatphobia people often experience when dealing with medical professionals who assume all their problems must be caused by their weight, regardless of what the patient says, it’s not something I have had happen to me firsthand.

But like most people, I have gained weight over the course of this pandemic. And in realising this, I’m sad to say that my immediate reaction was not to remind myself that weight is only a physical feature and not an indication of health or worth, but to want to lose it again, as quickly as possible.

And that’s in no small part due to the “helpful” articles suddenly popping up about shedding quarantine pounds and comparing your weight gain to the national average.

To be going through this pandemic and to be finally coming out the other side and immediately be shamed for surviving, but for doing so higher weights than we started? That’s serious bullshit.

I have friends who, for the first time, were able to use their weight to their advantage in the medical sphere and get the covid jab because of their BMI (despite BMI actually having very little to do with health). I also friends who hesitated on making an appointment on the basis of eligibility through such a useless metric. It’s unfair that they should have to make that choice, knowing that it could colour the way medical professionals look at BMI’s validity in the future.

Diet culture and fatphobia are insidious in the way they dig their claws in. But what to do about it? Studies show that girls as young as 6 want to diet or worry about being “too fat”. It’s easy to blame it on unrealistic model photos in magazines or on instagram, but if that was all, it wouldn’t run as deep. It’s in everything, including ourselves.

On a surface level, I don’t believe I feel differently towards people depending on their size, but deep down I must because I know I place a value on my own weight. How can I say with certainty that doesn’t carry over toward others? How do we unlearn our own feelings toward our physical appearances and therefore the feelings that inform our judgment toward others?

It’s something I’m working on in myself, but it needs to be something across society. Wouldn’t it be great if we could come out of all this with less of a focus on appearances—especially other people’s? We’ve already normalised sweatpants every day, so why don’t we normalise not judging strangers’ health by what they look like?

Maybe they’re healthy, maybe they’re unhealthy, maybe it has something to do with their weight or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe they’ve gained weight, lost weight, snacked on junk food or grazed on salads. It’s none of our business. Shut up and eat your donut.

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