What is fat acceptance?
I just started learning about fat acceptance (so please contact me with any corrections), but am so pumped about it that I want to tell the world!
Similar to the body positive or size activism movement, fat acceptance encourages fat people (especially women) to love their bodies the way they are.
Loving fatness is a pretty radical idea in a culture that is saturated with weight loss products and programs, fad diets, and photo shopped celebrities. People buy into the “fat-bad, skinny-good” narrative without even realizing they’re doing it. How many of your coworkers preface eating bagels or cupcakes with “I really shouldn’t…”? How many times has a family member pointed out that you’ve gained or lost weight? Repeatedly, in overt and subtle ways, we reinforce the message: your weight is very important and says a lot about who you are as a person.
Fat acceptance is also about fat people’s restricted access to the world. Fat people have difficulty riding planes, taking public transportation, going to the movies, and sitting in restaurants. Fat people are paid less and are less likely to be hired. Fat discrimination doesn’t just affect how people feel, it also affects fat people’s ability to live their lives. Fat activists advocate for people and businesses to increase access for fat folks.
Why “fat acceptance”? Why not “overweight,” “obese,” or “plus size”? “Fat” isn’t an insult, though people often use it as one; it’s just a descriptive word. Fat activists are reclaiming the word to decrease the stigma associated with it.
I have heard people justify their judgment of fat people by saying, “I’m just worried about their health.” I have three responses to this:
1. You cannot tell how healthy someone is by looking at them. Many skinny people are unhealthy, while many fat people are healthy. (Of course, that’s an oversimplification and health is a spectrum.)
2. A person’s health is their business, not yours. You can probably think of some ways that you could be healthier, but are doing the best you can right now. That’s also true for fat people.
3. Fat people are judged more harshly than skinny people for doing the exact same unhealthy things. Would you see a thin person eating a bag of Cheetos and think, “They are so unhealthy. Why don’t they do something about that? They must be lazy.” Probably not. But if the person is fat, those thoughts are a lot more likely to appear.
Please check out the wonderful podcast Fat & Faithful by Amanda Martinez Beck and J. Nicole Morgan. Amanda and Nicole talk faith, politics, and culture from a fat perspective. Their informative and insightful first episode inspired this blog post!
Other sources include “6 Things I Understand about the Fat Acceptance Movement” by Jes Baker on the Huffington Post, and cswd.org. (Unfortunately, I’m having technical difficulties and can’t add links to these at the moment…)
What do you think about fat acceptance? Any corrections or important additions that need to be made? Let me know in the comments or through my contact page. As always, thanks for reading!