Health + Beauty

Opinions on Fat Acceptance and Health

This started as a comment on SkinnyEmmie’s post from June 14th, (A Fat Acceptance Weight Loss Blogger?) but it got a little out of hand length-wise so I just decided to write a post here instead. Please take a minute or ten to go read her post (and peruse her blog!) then find your way back here if you are so inclined. This one might take a little while as I just couldn’t seem to stop writing.

I’ve had to spend several days thinking about my response because I sometimes feel like I’m always the dissenting voice or my initial reaction is different than when I take a step back to evaluate the big picture (so I usually just keep my mouth shut). I’ve also considered not posting this at all (as sometimes just writing things out for myself is cathartic enough and I don’t need to share it – hence my obvious lack of actual published posts!), but since I wrote my last post on giving up I made some connections for myself that I think I do need to share.

First for Emmie, I think the backlash against you wanting to lose weight / promoting weight loss has more to do with other people’s personal insecurities than it does with anything you do or don’t do. I’ve also never gotten the sense from your blog that you are trying to get “skinny” or promoting an unhealthy weight loss goal of “skinniness.” I think the name is cute, as is your curvy blog logo! I think what you have accomplished so far, and what you are working to accomplish in the future (both health wise and career wise) is very inspiring to me. I think you rock!

[the rest of this post is not specifically a response to Emmie’s post – it’s more of a mishmash of comment response and things I’ve learned about myself in the last couple weeks that have helped me to solidify my opinions]

I have known about the FA (Fat Acceptance) movement for a long time, but have always kept my distance. I absolutely agree that we could all learn to love ourselves more and appreciate what we have. I also agree that we should all show love, kindness and compassion to everyone, no matter what they look like or how they choose to live their life. It is absolutely possible to do those things, even if you disagree with someone’s choices. I also agree that the current trend of trying to shame people into losing weight or taking away their choices in the hopes of forcing people to lose weight (I’m talking to you Bloomberg) is absurd and dictatorial. Bullying and shaming are not okay.

I like and appreciate the movement’s push for loving yourself as you are now. Whatever size or shape or weight you may currently be (I think everyone struggles with this), but I will also say that I don’t believe you are truly loving yourself if you are choosing to live in a body that hinders you from normal daily activities (you should not be out of breath after bending over to tie your shoes). I’m not talking about people with a little ‘extra weight’ (100 lbs is not a little extra weight), or those who have genetic or other disorders that make it nearly impossible to keep weight off; I’m talking about self made obesity/morbid obesity. And we can talk about having ‘great’ cholesterol numbers (for now) and not having diabetes (yet) all day long. You are preaching to the old me, and I don’t buy it anymore. Being obese is unhealthy. I accept that there are people who choose to live this way and they may truly be happy with this choice, but I will never accept that it is a perfectly healthy way to live.

I also see nothing wrong with saying “I hate how my arms look[link to interview with fat acceptance activist Lesley Kinzel] and choosing to make the necessary changes so that you do like what you see. I do hate how my arms look, but I am thankful that I have arms and that they are strong. You can be thankful and appreciative for something and at the same time not like everything about it and choose to change it. Also, making the choice to change something about yourself doesn’t automatically mean that you are filled with self-loathing and hatred in the first place.

I suppose I’m a bit touchy about this subject at this particular time especially as it relates to me recently deciding to ‘give up.’ This would have been the ideal time for someone to swoop in and tell me that I’m perfect just the way I am and I should learn to love my big-self  and accept my weight and that I don’t need to change anything and I can learn to live happy and healthy as a fat girl… and they would be wrong.

And perhaps I’m also just the wrong audience for the Fat Acceptance movement in general. I did not grow up being overweight so I know what it physically feels like to live at a healthy weight (fyi, I’ve never been ‘thin’ by society’s standards) and maybe it comes down to living what you know. A friend recently said, after changing some foods in her diet for health (not weight) reasons, that she never knew she could feel this good because she always thought that how she felt before was normal. If all you’ve ever known is being overweight, then I would guess it does feel very normal to live that way, but that doesn’t make it healthy. I also know it’s not an option for me to continue to live in an overweight, unhealthy body.

So in the end, I guess I both agree and disagree with parts of the FA movement. I do, however, agree very strongly with Lesley on the following point: STOP DIETING. Although I think we have differing opinions on what happens after that. I say stop dieting, but start eating real foods and moving your body. Extra weight will come off eventually. My friend who changed her diet, lost 50 pounds without dieting. Of course I’m still working on following my own advice, but I have no intentions to remain as I currently am because I do not enjoy how I look or feel at this weight and I feel like I love myself enough to admit that and work on changing my behavior, which includes removing the negative self-talk when my weight loss doesn’t go as planned.

*I’ve decided to split this post into two pieces so it’s not quite so overwhelming – tomorrow, I’ll give you my thoughts on Fitspo (which actually line up pretty close with Ms. Kinzel’s), because I’m apparently on an opinion roll.

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  • Reply Kate June 29, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Yes to this. All of this.

    I have a Macbook Pro. It’s four years old. slow as hell, and the right arrow key doesn’t work anymore. But the computer is fine and even if it takes longer than I want I can still get done what I need to. My friends and family encourage me to replace it. Because in computer years, 4 years is like 400.

    I have a 6 year old car with 88,000 miles on it. It has never had any major problems (fingers crossed) but the passenger side mirror is held in place with super glue and my cup holder is broken. My parents are after me to replace it because they feel like that’s a lot of mileage.

    I am about 80 or so pounds overweight. My cholesterol and blood pressure are great. My blood sugar levels are stellar. My thyroid is awesome. I am in better shape than I have been in 10 years. But I’m considered obese.

    My car, computer, and body are fine. Do I feel exceptionally blessed for all I have? Yes. Do I still want better even knowing there are a lot of people out there who don’t even have one of those things? Yes. Will I always? Yes. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful or don’t love myself or accept myself. Even if I had a “perfect” body I would still want something else. It may be our fatal flaw as humans that we always want what we don’t have. But I can be happy and confident with what I have even if I want more, and even as I chase after that “more.”

    • Reply Shanti June 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      Excellent analogies (and PS super kudos to being part of the frugal club!) and great comment! :D

    • Reply Tiffany June 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Yay, I’m so glad you got what i was saying! I’m always afraid I sound mean, ha! :) Love your examples too, and your last paragraph is perfect!

  • Reply Shanti June 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    YES YES YES!!!!!!!

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