The Rhetoric of Personal Responsibility



I was reading this article that Doc Samantha tweeted earlier. And after reading Coddington’s argument that I’m fat because I’m incapable of taking responsibility for my own actions, it finally clicked for me. I looked at that photo of yet another headless fatty and wished that my skin was that blemish-free and I was less pale and, oh, wait… I had a moment of clarity. An epiphany, if you will!

Right here and right now, I want to declare to the world that, all potentially contributing factors aside:

I am fat and I take personal responsibility for that!

Wow. I mean, really…wow. That was a cathartic moment for me. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – only not literally, of course, because I’m still fat. Haha!


The fact is, whether I take personal responsibility for my fatness or not has no material effect on my fatness. I suppose it could, if it then lead on to me making changes to my life that could potentially cause weight loss (although previous experience with exercise regimes and diets tends to suggest otherwise), but that’s really another matter entirely. The act of accepting personal responsibility in and of itself is really inconsequential; it doesn’t mean anything.

Coddington clearly doesn’t agree with this. According to her, if I were not to accept personal responsibility for my fatness, it would have to be because I’m “mentally incapable of choosing what’s right and wrong when it comes to putting food in [my] mouth.” Further, she goes on to sugest that, as a fat person, I’m obviously “too dumb to discern healthy food from bad food” and I must be blaming my fatness on the idea that I’ve been “brainwashed” into wanting bad food by “big institutions and the market.” Because if I were accepting personal responsibility for my fatness, obviously I wouldn’t be fat.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment. I mean, if you’re fat like me, you’re going to need the extra time, amirite!? *badum tish*



I hope you’re not getting the wrong impression about Coddington as you read this vitriolic tirade well-reasoned argument. She cares.

Every day, in every town and city, we all see fat people waddling along, heaving themselves into planes and cars, but are we allowed to comment on this, the way we were encouraged to shame smokers into quitting (who also cost taxpayers dearly in terms of the public health bill)?

Do you see what I mean? She only has your best interest at heart, because she doesn’t want to see you being a public health nuisance by…uhm…blowing your fatty breath into other people’s faces? Knocking other people over as you waddle about the place? Infecting others with your zombie-like compliance to eating unhealthy food when you mistake them for food and try to eat them?


Coddington isn’t saying anything new here – and neither are the numerous commenters voicing support for her. I think that in and of itself is rather telling, because it gets down to the heart of what “taking responsibility” for your fatness really seems to mean: that is, they want you to accept that you’re bringing these negative comments on yourself by being fat.

You are fat, ergo, it’s your fault that Coddington and her ilk feel the need – nay, the responsibility – to all but chase you down the street screaming “FATTY FAT STUPID FATTY!!” at you as you go. Because, guys, to do anything else would simply be “patronising and silly,” which would basically be putting academics out of business. And do you want to cost people even more money!? God, what is wrong with you!?

Of course, it would be a bit problematic for you to just stop eating all that food that you’re endlessly shoving down your gob. I mean, obviously we wouldn’t want anyone to think that “the food industry [is] conspiring to make us obese,” because that would just be stupid! So what if we’re increasingly inundated with advertising that tries to tell us that the only way we can be happy is to be good little consumers – and that advertising for fast food in particular tends to push the unrealistic notion that you can all but live on a diet of [insert brand here] while prancing around on at the beach with your equally attractive and svelte friends. Never mind that fast food is generally a lot cheaper, more accessible and easier to deal with when you’re running against the clock. Because the ever-increasing proliferation of these things doesn’t mean that the food industry is trying to make us obese! Duh. It’s just trying to get as much money out of us as possible – and these are entirely different things!

Jeez, stop being so stupid, fatties.

As Coddington says, “individuals need to be held accountable and stop blaming food and its makers for their problem.” And, I’ve gotta tell you, all of this taking on of personal responsibility has sure made me work up an appetite! I think I’m going to go and grab myself some Burger King. Or maybe some McDonalds.

I could totally go some KFC…


I’ll just go wherever’s closest, because I am feeling especially lazy today.

See you later!


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  • http://bigboldfashion.wordpress.com/ Sophie (Big Bold Fashion)

    Haha what a small-minded person she is. Never mind. I’ll carry on with my busy, fashionable, McDonald’s-eating-life and not give her the time of day.

    I’d like to see her try and come near me whispering these assumptions. I’d take her face off with one swift movement of one hand whilst holding a Big Mac with the other.

  • http://twitter.com/maggiemunkee Maggie Deegan

    this is phenomenal. guys.

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