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Resisting the Fat Acceptance Movement

Fat Fact

FACT: If you’re obese, you need to loose weight or else you’ll be at risk of shortening your life by eight years, and diminishing the quality of the years you have left.

This is a message we don’t hear much anymore.

For the sake of political correctness, and out of fear of offending anyone, we’re not just silent when it comes to obesity.

We’re creating a culture where obesity is seen as beautiful.

Yet, in reality, sickness and premature death isn’t beautiful.

There’s a fine line between acceptance of obesity and promoting or enabling an unhealthy lifestyle.

We can accept people they way they are, while at the same time having hope that they can be better.

We accept someone who is a smoker, but hope, for their sake, that they can quit one day.

In every area of life, for ourselves and others, this is a positive outlook: “I’m okay today. Tomorrow I can be better.”

Research suggests we need as much motivation and support as possible:

“According to the study, morbidly obese men have a 1 in 1,290 chance of slimming down while women fared better with a 1 in 677 chance.” (Source)

Given that the chances of success are slim, it’s even more important to be motivated to lose weight rather than hear a message reinforcing people to stay as they are.

Obesity is Big Business

Obesity is big business. Larger people produce larger profits.

Big people pay big money for their big food, large-sized clothing, oversized furniture, accessibility modifications, and healthcare.

Industries have grown up around the obesity epidemic in the United States, and it’s essential for their long-term profiteering that more people get even fatter and sicker, so they can make fatter salaries.

Obesity, like tobacco use, shortens life and degrades the quality of years that remain. Yet, it continues to be promoted and validated.

In an effort to be more accepting of everyone, including those who are in plus sizes, society has made even life-threatening obesity something that’s normal and acceptable.

It’s inevitable that big business will influence views about big bodies.

It’s no wonder that young people growing up don’t make an effort to avoid fattening food, and they skip spending time at the gym in favor of watching television or playing video games.

Fat Acceptance Movement

The fat acceptance movement (also known as the size acceptance, fat liberation, fat activism, fativism, or fat power movement), is a trend toward accepting plus sized people, but also people of any shape and size.

Jes Baker, a vocal activist in the Body Advocacy movement, has written a thorough article clarifying what the movement is about: “6 Things I Understand About the Fat Acceptance Movement.”

In summary, the movement is about eliminating bigotry, prejudice, and poor treatment of people who don’t fit a traditionally narrow definition of beauty. Everyone should feel respected and welcomed regardless of their body type.

These are all good goals. However, the Fat Acceptance Movement can go too far.

Fat Acceptance Gone Bad

It’s one thing to promote a welcoming and affirming society where people at any place in life feel accepted. However, it’s another thing to promote and glorify eating addictions and harmful morbid obesity.

There’s now a movement that promotes obesity as a desired and popular lifestyle, with obesity celebrities that have fans on their video channels.

The video below is of Caitlin Finley, a 400 pound 22-year-old who eats 10,000 calories a day and has a YouTube channel where she shows her body and blogs her gorging.

Obesity Stereotypes and Prejudices

There’s a long list of stigmas, stereotypes, and prejudices relating to obesity that make it difficult for overweight people to get jobs or establish dating relationships.

  • Depressed – Fat people are depressed. They have low self esteem and are depressed about their condition. They eat because they are depressed maybe because they are rejected by society.
  • Disorganized – Fat people are disorganized and inefficient. Because they are sloppy, they misplace things and aren’t organized.
  • Emotionally Damaged – Fat people are emotionally damaged. Maybe they were picked on when they were young. So, they eat when they are upset or sad.
  • Gluttonous – Fat people are gluttons. They have a big appetite and just keep eating with a constant greed for more.
  • Lack Discipline – Fat people lack discipline. They won’t stick to an exercise program.
  • Lack Self Control – Fat people lack self control. They don’t have the inner strength to stop eating.
  • Lazy – Fat people are lazy. They aren’t very active, they take shortcuts, and they don’t do their fair share of work which is a kind of selfishness.
  • Sloppy – Fat people are sloppy. Given their mobility problems and laziness, they don’t spend much time cleaning or organizing their home, car, or workplace.
  • Socially Awkward – Because they are not accepted by society, they are withdrawn, and this limits their social skill resulting in a socially awkward personality.
  • Tired – Fat people are tired because they don’t have the strength to get around easily.
  • Unattractive – Fat people aren’t as attractive as slim people.
  • Weak – Fat people are weak. They have more fat than muscle, so they have less strength.

Combating the Stereotypes

The entertainment industry has helped combat the above stereotypes. An example would be the popular Melissa McCarthy movies such as The Heat, and Spy — trailers for these movies are below.

Melissa McCarthy is funny, strong, courageous, beautiful, intelligent, and in other ways completely breaks down the above list of stereotypes. That’s good. Yet, it’s also not good because in real life we don’t have stunt doubles or makeup professionals to make us look radiant.

The Heat


What’s Needed Now

What we need now are two movements working together simultaneously:

  • Overweight Acceptance – We need a movement that results in obese people being welcomed and accepted as they are. Without acceptance and support, overweight people may be at risk of going into a vicious cycle.
  • Wellness Promotion – We also need a movement that promotes health by telling people they are okay the way they are, but getting healthier might be a good thing.

It’s not easy to advance the two above initiatives that sometimes seem to be at odds with each other.

Accepting things as they are today. Hoping for a better tomorrow.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com