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The Big Apple Gets Bigger

State of the Union: Fat people in New York City claim discrimination makes survival difficult. Maybe it’s something else.

Overweight Demonstrators

In October 2020, Eric Adams authored a book titled, “Healthy at Last: A Plant-Based Approach to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes and Other Chronic Illnesses.” The book chronicles how Adams overhauled his lifestyle and diet after being diagnosed with diabetes in 2016. The results: Adams lost 35 pounds, lowered his cholesterol by 30 points, and reversed his diabetes, which was causing him vision problems. The following month, Adams, a NYPD vet of more than twenty years and a former New York state senator, launched his bid for mayor of the Big Apple. The next November, Adams was elected to a four-year term. Fast forward to November 2023, the man who collected royalties on a book about healthy living has made a protected class out of those who cannot control themselves when presented with a royale with cheese.

On Sunday, just days after Americans gorged on their Thanksgiving feasts, legislation that Adams signed into law in May added weight and height to the ever-growing list of protected classes in housing, employment, and public accommodations took effect. Meet the anti-Bloomberg.


“Science has shown that body type is not a connection to if you’re healthy or unhealthy,” Adams claimed upon signing the legislation in May. “I think that’s a misnomer that we’re really dispelling.” Is Adam’s definition—discrimination against an otherwise healthy individual on the basis of being an endomorph or ectomorph—what activists, and now New York City law, means by weight discrimination?

Victoria Abraham doesn’t think so. Abraham is a 22-year-old self-proclaimed fat activist and social media content creator: Her Instagram account, fatfabfeminist, has ballooned to 120,000 followers, and she has been interviewed by corporate media networks like CNN about weight discrimination. “I know I'm fat. That's not a bad thing though,” Abraham told CNN. “I think the more that we use it as a neutral as a descriptor, the less power it has.”

When the New York City Council was considering banning weight discrimination, the city’s Committee on Civil and Human Rights called upon Abraham to testify in favor of the legislation brought forth by Councilman Shaun Abreu. Abraham, a recent NYU graduate, gave the council a poor melodramatic account of her experience living as a student in New York City. “The quick sideways glances as they enter the bus, bags placed on the seat next to them, their biggest fear of being touched by fat flesh; forcing my body through turnstiles at the train station, turning sideways just to barely squeeze through those metal bars; having to contact the center for disabilities at my school requesting a special accommodation for a desk capable of containing my body”—this is the discrimination that Abraham deals with daily. She could either, “sit at the special desk at the back of the class... or suffer in silence, wood digging into my side, hoping that I remember the lecture because at the angle there's no way I would get a pen to paper."

“I had to get accommodations because my school didn't once consider my needs, and I was put at a disadvantage,” Abraham continued. “I am consistently doing little things every single day [to] survive in a city that does not take fat people into consideration. I'm reminded every day that this world, this city that I love so dearly, is built without my body in mind.”

In Abraham’s mind, “that's what's so insidious about anti-fatness,” she told the council. “I live my life taking extra steps, making the necessary accommodations just to survive. Every time I squeezed my body into a chair or turnstile… I'm reminded that I'm not considered.”

For the past decade, one could say America has been in the midst of another civil rights era. The protected classes minted in this new era, based on sexual orientation, gender, and, now, weight, reveals a country that has completely lost its control over the most base appetites: hunger and sex. In other words, perhaps it’s not New York City’s chairs or turnstiles that is threatening Abraham’s survival.