Whole New World

I have just stumbled upon the world of Fat Acceptance blogs. YANYB is not one of them, nor does it want to be. What is your view on the fat acceptance movement? Don’t know what it is? Look it up. Read up on Big Fat Deal and some Kate Harding. Extensive list here.

I do love the mentality of acceptance. However, I don’t like the way many women are going about this. It’s not about equality, but about “Fat power! Skinnies can kiss my ass!” Yeah, pear shapes rule, but so do stick shapes, and so do stereotypical American beauty pageant shapes. It’s all good.

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17 Comments

Filed under body image, eating disorders, FA, fat acceptance, pro-health, Uncategorized, yanyb, you are not your body

17 responses to “Whole New World

  1. Actually a lot of us Fat Activists don’t have an issue with slim people and often call people on prejudice towards slim people. What most FAs want is for there to be no discrimination against anyone – fat, thin, yellow, white, black or purple etc. However there is still a lot of angry fat people that have been actively discriminated against by skinny people and they are channelling that anger with the sort of attitudes you refer to. While it isn’t helpful for them to do that, you can’t really blame them too much. When someone has been harrased and discriminated against, sometimes for their whole life, it is only natural they are going to be angry at the group that does the discriminating.

  2. Amy

    I also like the idea of fat acceptance, but I think sometimes it can get too much into “fat good, skinny bad,” which isn’t any more helpful than “fat bad, skinny good.” It should be about helping people feel comfortable and secure in their own bodies, and if we fatties need to put skinny people down to feel good about ourselves, there’s something wrong, because we’re just giving back the crap we get instead of doing people good.

  3. Rene

    Also, be careful because lots of these sites aren’t giving out credible information.

  4. Part of the problem is that fat acceptance is a process; shedding the misconceptions of fat as a moral judgment of character tends to produce a fair bit of anger within the individual. Oftentimes, this does come out as “fat good, skinny bad”, but ultimately that sort of viewpoint is not really condoned by the movement as a whole. At least, not as far as i’m concerned.

    Whenever we see that sort of thing within our own ranks, we try to pull them aside and say “okay, you’re new, this is how it works…”

    Because the FA movement is NOT about “fat is better than ___”. It’s about “fat is no better or worse than ___”.

  5. chelsey

    i am all for people being comfortable in their own skin and proud of their bodies– but, from what i know about this whole “fat acceptance” movement– it seems as though many of these people who are speaking out on its behalf, are elitist in their mindset, as though that they have an upper hand in society because they’re not “conforming” to the stick-thin propaganda thats being fed to us by the media.

    maybe im wrong but, thats just what ive seen of it, which makes me unsupportive. i dont support anyone who thinks that their way is THE way, under any circumstance.

    thank you.

  6. but, from what i know about this whole “fat acceptance” movement– it seems as though many of these people who are speaking out on its behalf, are elitist in their mindset, as though that they have an upper hand in society because they’re not “conforming” to the stick-thin propaganda thats being fed to us by the media.

    Who in particular strikes you as this way?

    I don’t see anyone in the movement presenting themselves as “elitist,” but I can see where a fat person speaking up and saying they are happy with themselves as they are and love their bodies may come across as rather radical to many people unfamiliar with body- or fat-acceptance.

  7. “Also, be careful because lots of these sites aren’t giving out credible information.”

    I would be interested to see some examples of this…

  8. Sarah

    “Also, be careful because lots of these sites aren’t giving out credible information.”

    Examples?

    And as somebody who has taken much abuse for being fat, I would never subject anybody else to it. Fat acceptance is about body acceptance too.

    I don’t care what size a person is, as long as they are happy about it.

  9. weedivine

    As someone who cannot wholly identify as a purely physically “fat” person as identified by culture, its interesting the affinity I’ve developed for the FA movement. The ideas of skinny privilege certainly are useful to me- but not as tools to devalue any body type- rather as a way to expose inequality.

    As with any movement that is trying to resist, there is a lot of anger, but this anger does not define the movement. We must remember to separate the ideas and goals of a movement, and the individual participants’ emotions.

    I would never say that angry African Americans, or anyone angry about racism, is wrong, they are individuals with personal responses. They in NO WAY invalidate the very important struggle for racial equality in this country.

    Learning to accept all body shapes and sizes provides me with relief from my own incessant judgement of my own. Thus, I’m drawn to the fat acceptance movement as a way to resist the way that culture tells me I should be as skinny as possible.

  10. YANYB

    Weedivine- You have truly said it the best way. One or few people should not represent the whole. I compare the FA movement to racial inequalities often and some people are offended. It’s very similar. One being the “better”, the other being less tolerated.
    I’m honestly just surprised at the number of Fat Acceptance blogs vs. Body Acceptance. I understand why; one side needs more of a voice at this point in time. However, I can see impressionable minds being torn from one extreme to the next very easily. I really don’t believe in eating whatever you want whenever you want. Your body will be unhappy later. I do praise many of these FA blogs for promoting a balanced diet and not the latter, but I have seen a few on the opposite end. Chugging butter does not make you beautiful.

  11. weedivine

    I think you bring up a great point of fat acceptance versus body acceptance. Its a distinction that should be explored further. I agree that treating your body without respect and love is not a beautiful thing.
    As for the FA compared to racial inequality- I too have been told that this is an offensive comparison. The point I always try to make is not that I am comparing the severity or merit of the two, for that’s not really worthwhile. I like to look at the ways in which oppressions operate, no matter the cause. There are many similarities, patterns and overlap no matter the oppression- many great minds have insisted that one oppression cannot be undone without the deconstruction of another. Understanding the idea of intersecting oppression is critical!

    Indeed, there are many ways in which fat acceptance can be incorporated into a racial justice paradigm, and vice versa. A easy example is the dismantling of stereotypes- like the “mammy”- the fat, benign, nurturing black woman. This project needs the critical analysis of both racial and body activists.

  12. michelle

    I think to use “fat acceptance” is too extreme – I agree with the idea of body acceptance. I think any extreme of body in terms of health is not really a good thing. I’ve heard the lines about “fat and healthy” and I agree that can happen. But I have a lot of people in my life who are fat and very unhealthy and it scares me to see them get sicker due to their weight and diet.

    I’ve had an eating disorder and no one ever tried to say “emaciated acceptance.” It’s an extreme that is unhealthy. And I did put up with a lot of grief for being too thin, even when I wasn’t emaciated. To be told one is looking digustingly thin is just as hurtful as being told one looked disgustingly fat. But it was more accepted. People felt free to say, “Go eat a hamburger!” yet no one ever said to my overweight husband, “Go eat some steamed vegetables.” I heard things like “Oh my god, you are so skinny! What happened to you?” and he never heard, “Oh my god, you are so fat! What happened to you ?” I’ve had people size me up and roll their eyes at me. It’s *all* hurtful. No matter what the size.

    I was healthy for a long time despite my eating disorder, and then I wasn’t. It took a long time before the impact of my lousy eating habits showed up. But that didn’t mean my way of eating was okay. My husband was healthy for a long time with his weight issues, and then he wasn’t. Same thing – he “got away with it” for a long time until his way of eating was making him sick and unhealthy. We both went to two different extremes, and he used food for emotional reasons just as I used starving for emotional reasons. If we had both just proclaimed “acceptance” we would have ended up with dire health issues (and we both kind of did until we learned to eat healthily.)

    Bodies *do* come in all sizes and shapes. And I love that. But I do think it’s important to not just accept that everything is “acceptable.” If my spouse and I had accepted our bodies as is, we might have died from it.

  13. chelsey

    michelle, thank you.

    you said what i was trying to say only i said it horribly and you said it perfectly.

    i chose words that obviously i shouldnt have and i received a lot of grief for it from some of the girls checking out this site.

    anyways, im sorry if i offended anyone here on this site that wasnt my goal. i wasnt going to respond to any of the comments people left towards me because i had done such a lousy job with my first comment that i didnt want to dig myself further into a hole that i didnt mean to be in in the first place.

    so im sorry, and thank you michelle for saying what i meant to say.

  14. weedivine

    “But I do think it’s important to not just accept that everything is “acceptable.” If my spouse and I had accepted our bodies as is, we might have died from it.”

    I agree with you, completely, that it is a wonderful thing that people are able to change their eating patterns.

    I believe what fat acceptance is though, is not accepting in the sense of RESIGNING. Fat acceptance is a movement to separate a person’s right to exist from their size- not about sitting on your butt all day and eating whatever you want. Though personally, if you’d like to do that its your choice. Fat acceptance though, would say that skinny people do that too! Unfortunetly, fat is equated unfairly to that behavior, which is the problem. Fat acceptance (the movement at its core, though perhaps not some of its “activists”) is about removing the stigma from a size. The stigma of fat is very very real- and has different characteristics from that of skinny stigma, for it is inappropriately equated to being lazy, irresponsible, or unhealthy. If you’re unsure about my assertions about the non-relationship between size and health, please check out kateharding.net- her blog is a great place to start for the studies and stats on that.

    Fat acceptance highlights how fat people are unfairly stigmatized and discriminated against for their size. This injustice, as ALL oppression does, hurts everyone, skinny, fat and in-between. Body acceptance is important, and we can use fat acceptance to break down the false stereotypes in order to find our way to body acceptance.

    Again, using a racial oppression example as a way that oppression works- the struggle for African American rights can not just be disregarded for some sort of quest to “love diversity.” In the same way as fat, having darker skin carries very real stigmas and penalties (I AM NOT COMPARING THESE DIRECTLY, but showing the dimensions of how oppressions work.) The stigmas and stereotypes must be recognized and brought to light, not just mushed together with “all the other colors”, in order to heal.

    Yes, white people (those who are “normal” or receive privilege in a system of oppression) also suffer in the system of racism, but they are the group with a power system behind them- as are skinny people who have a power system behind them.

  15. I just wanted to pipe in and say that I am completely in support of what the FA movement is promoting. It’s a common misconception that FA is saying fat is better than thin. That notion was unfortunately conveyed in that otherwise good article in the NYT. (i.e., “Big is in” … so thin or average weight is out? Not quite guys.) To me, pure and simply, FA means this: people should not be judged for their bodies. I’m whole heartedly in support of that.

    I’m a recovered bulimic but I still have lingering body image problems that get worse and better in waves, and I struggle a bit with emotional eating. Stumbling upon the FA blogs was a wonderful accident for me, because I grew up in a family in which fat equaled failure and there were clear lines between good foods and bad foods. My father has an ED, too, (I would call it exercise bulimia) and I’ve watched him go through it before I even realized what *it* was. Getting tipped off to the concept of Health at Every Size and doing my own research into it has been an incalculable help to my own recovery. I’ve spent so many years struggling with the fear of getting fat, not only due to societal pressures on looks, but also because of health concerns. (Heart disease runs in my family.) Mentally disconnecting “fat” with “unhealthy” has been key to me.

    Rene — I’m also interested in hearing what unreliable information you’ve come across, because I’ve found FA bloggers to be very open minded and accurate writers.

    Chelsey and Michelle — I know of no FA blogger who insists that fat is “the way.” Encouraging people to shun dieting is not giving them an ultimatum to get fat.

    Also, much of the “elitism” that you may be sensing is to me the promotion of a positive body image no matter what a person’s body looks like, skinny, fat, or in between. Fillyjonk at Shapely Prose wrote a great post on this topic, pointing out that a positive body image cannot just wait around for you to get to some arbitrary goal weight. It has to start now, wherever you are, even if you’re 500 pounds, because life’s short and every person deserves to love himself or herself. Self-esteem is not just for the already-thin.

    And Michelle, I’m saddened by your comment that there are certain body types that should not be considered acceptable. The idea that one’s body is unacceptable is part of what adds fuel to many EDs, whether you are emaciated or morbidly obese. It’s impossible to have a positive image about your body if you think it’s unacceptable.

    I also think your comparison between “emaciated acceptance” and fat acceptance is way off the mark. Anorexia is not healthy, period. Fat in and of itself is *not unhealthy*; rather, it is poor nutrition and lack of exercise that generally will cause health problems. A person can be a 100% organic vegan intuitive eater, work out hard four times a week, and still be fat. Another person can do the same and be thin. Both people could have cholesterol levels that make an internist weep with joy. Both people could also have heart attacks at age 40. You cannot make a single assumption about a person based purely on his or her body size.

    Even if a person *does* sit on the couch, drink butter, and watch TV all day, that doesn’t mean he or she is horribly unhealthy. My grandparents are both in their mid 80s. My grandfather is the very definition of sloth and glutton. His eating is legendary in our family. He also drinks like a fish, and literally will get in his car in the garage and drive twenty feet to the mailbox at the end of the driveway rather than walk to it. He’s fat. My grandmother eats like a rabbit, doesn’t drink, and exercises daily. She’s thin. She also has recurring heart valve problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and has just recently gotten her Type II diabetes under control and is now only considered pre-diabetic. My grandfather has never had any major health problems besides a knee replacement after a golf cart accident, and I imagine he’ll see 90 or higher, easy. Yet, when you look at them, who do you see as the unhealthy one? Him. True, he’s one lucky sonofabitch for the genes he got (and maybe all the gin kills off the saturated fat he mainlines), but it still goes to show that you can tell little about a person by his or her fatness.

    I’ll end this little diatribe here : ) Just, please, don’t write off the positive messages of a good movement. I would encourage anyone reading this to do some more looking around on FA blogs, particularly Shapely Prose and The F-Word. Could do you some good, just like it did for me. (And for the record, I’m at a weight considered healthy by the medical establishment, I eat a healthy vegetarian diet, and I’m very active. And yes, I still think the FA movement is an awesome development.)

  16. I think that the reason it’s termed “Fat Acceptance” rather than “Body Acceptance” is because in our society, thin people already are accepted by the general public. I have yet to see an emaciated person be told that they need to put some weight on- when I was skeletal, everybody commented on how beautiful I was.

    Also, part of it is accepting the fat in and of itself. Fat is demonized in today’s world, when it’s really not all that bad. Having adipose tissue on your body does not make you lazy, stupid, or anything else it seems that we’re being told it makes us.

    🙂

  17. Keia

    Angie, I am not nor have I ever been emaciated yet I have been told several times that I “need to eat” or “let me feed you”. Granted, it is a lot less common than compliments, but yes, it does happen. I just wanted to add that.

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