TW: The OP links fat and health
I have been wanting to write something on this issue for a while. It may be an unpopular opinion, but it’s my current opinion on the topic…
I have known for years that the media has been and will continue to perpetuate unhealthy, unrealistic, ‘ideals’ that women (myself included for most of my teenage years and early 20’s) should live up to in order to be considered beautiful, successful, etc. Since joining Tumblr, this issue has become more and more apparent. That and the issue of body acceptance.
While I hated myself for years, calling myself ugly and fat, I was not fat according to typical standards. I am naturally a petite person so I in no way am trying to say that I understand what it’s like to be fat because I don’t. I don’t know what it’s like, nor do most other people unless they are living the experience.
What I do know is that losing weight is hard. Bone structure, genetic factors, lifestyle, and for some, thyroid issues, can predispose someone towards becoming overweight or even obese.
Is it okay to be fat?
I honestly believe that everyone should be accepted for who they are regardless of the way they look. We’re all human after all - the fat-shaming, the hate, it’s unnecessary - where’s the compassion? You don’t know stranger’s stories. Why is it okay to assume that all fat people are lazy and eat McDonald’s every day? The fat girl you see walking down the road could could actually be following a clean and healthy diet while exercising regularly and the ‘skinny’ girl may be the one starving herself thin, bingeing on junk foods in secret. You don’t know. You can’t judge. You should not judge.
However, the one bone I have to pick with this acceptance movement is that I haven’t been able to see much talk about health. From a medical perspective, I have seen on a first hand basis the number of diseases and chronic health issues that are closely linked to obesity - diabetes and hypertension to name a couple…
So I guess I have a bit of a conundrum - I want women of all shapes and sizes to love themselves and their bodies, but I also want women to take care of their health. Many of the chronic diseases prevalent today are diseases of lifestyle i.e. linked to stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise.
Can you be accepting of all body types and still want women to take interest in their health and in topics such as central obesity - a waist circumference of greater than 35” has been linked to many health risks - ?
Not everyone can look like a super model or would even want to… but everyone can live a healthy life.
First of all, I want to point out that health is not and sometimes cannot be a priority for all. Physical and mental disabilities can impact how much a person exercises. Healthy food and produce are not always accessible or affordable (check out alithea’s and waywardvictoriansnark’s excellent words on this). Also, some people just don’t care about eating well or exercising regularly which is a choice we allow thinner people to have. Because, you know, body autonomy and all that.
The absolute bottom line of fat acceptance (in my eyes) is that fat people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Health is not a criterion.
But it’s important to you, and that’s cool, so I’m going to pick on this sentence of yours: “However, the one bone I have to pick with this acceptance movement is that I haven’t been able to see much talk about health.”
Are you kidding? Health is the number 1 go-to rebuttal to fat acceptance; we talk about this shit ALL.THE.TIME. (So your statement that your post “may be an unpopular opinion” is totally false, as most people have your opinion.) How hard have you looked?!
Here are three sources to get you started:
- The Fat Nutritionist talks about, unsurprisingly, fatness and nutrition
- Dances With Fat mainly writes about fat and fitness
- Fat acceptance writers talk about health at every size, or HAES, a lot. A major advocate of this approach is Dr Linda Bacon.
Start there. Fat acceptance exists outside of tumblr, so read the books and blogs that are out there. You are not raising any new questions.
Finally, I get that you’re aiming for a respectful tone in your post but “Is it okay to be fat?” is a really shitty question to ask. I mean, you are using the existence of fat people as a thought piece. You are questioning if our existence is okay. We are not a concept, we are people.
We are not a concept, we are people.
People do seem to forget this, don’t they? That “the obese” and “fat people” - and worst of all, “childhood obesity” - don’t refer to some abstract idea, but real people with all the thoughts and feelings and diversity of every other group.
Why Do Dieters Regain Weight? by Ragen Chastain
The argument that ‘plus-size’ clothes cost more because they take more fabric is bullshit. If clothing sizes were priced by the amount of material they take to make, each size would cost a little more than the size below it. And if a size 20 would cost more than a size 12 then a size 10 should cost more than a size 2. But it doesn’t. Because your argument is fucking bullshit.
And if fat bodies were valued as much as thin bodies, the extra cost in materials would be applied over all sizes and averaged out to one price. If fat bodies were valued as much as thin bodies, this wouldn’t even be a fucking conversation. End of story.