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Fat Acceptance vs. Fit Acceptance

June 16, 2009

You may be familiar with the growing phenomena of Fat Acceptance. Or you may never have heard of it.

If you haven’t yet encountered FA in your travels, be assured you soon will. As a movement it is growing. And more importantly, it’s growing in the public consciousness.

People are becoming aware – perhaps only peripherally, but soon they won’t be able to ignore it.

Disclaimer: this post only sketches out the barest outline of FA. For more complete information, the links in my blogroll under the heading F@ Acceptance all offer a better and more thorough experience than I can provide here.

So what is fat acceptance all about?

At it’s simplest [and I’ll leave the comments open and happily take correction if anyone cares to poke me for getting anything wrong], FA is about treating people as people. It’s about making people aware of what they say and do regarding fat. And it’s about examining the science behind conventional wisdom and our preconceived notions about fat.

BMI? Bring it up if you want to – you’re bound to learn a thing or two.

Ever heard of HAES? The link leads to a pretty concise breakdown of the concept, but in brief it stands for Health At Every Size and it’s all about being healthy regardless of how big you are [or aren’t]. It supports being active and having fun over regimented exercise. It recognizes that just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy and just because you’re fat doesn’t mean you’re a physiological wreck. And it encourages intuitive eating – listening to your body, paying attention to what it’s really asking for rather than just eating whatever is convenient.

Personally, I love the concept. It totally fits the way I live and what I believe about life and health and the human body.

But sometimes I see a disconnect.

And knowing what I know now, I even understand the disconnect a bit. But it still disturbs me.

There is a fair deal of scorn in the FA community regarding getting thin. They’re fine if you want to lose a little bit of weight because [insert bona fide health reason here]. But I’ve witnessed real anger over people dieting and/or exercising for purely cosmetic reasons.

Out come the reports and the statistics and the litany of studies that “prove” permanent weight loss is nothing more than a pipe dream . . . (and a dirty little pipe dream at that).

Now, there are some aspects of the rants I have witnessed that I agree with. You don’t shed emotional baggage with the fat. Your crappy job and your mortgage are still going to be there. Your insecurities will still hang on you like grave shrouds until you deal with them intellectually and emotionally.

In short, you will still be you, and life will still be life. Being thin won’t change that. There is no magic. There is no quick fix.

But I find it discouraging to see people quoting study X and experiment Y with a superior sneer to show why big, permanent weight loss just isn’t possible.

I find it discouraging because a good hard look at the studies will make the exact point they are trying to make. Conventional wisdom, conventional dieting, is a miserable failure of an experience for most people over the long term. It can even be dangerous when it results in yo-yo swings in weight (not to mention all the stress and anxiety associated with dieting and regimented exercise).

What I find even more discouraging, however, is that there is almost never any exploration of alternative methods of weight loss. Ideas that, like FA itself, go against conventional wisdom.

I guess I just wish that a group that is so dedicated to changing the way people think about fat would be a little less rigid in their own thinking on the subject.


:mrgreen: Tip O’ Th’ Pen to Attrice @ Exceptionally Fat for sharing her story with me regarding her time in the fat acceptance community and the reasons she left it behind[ish].


2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2009 14:52

    Here’s my perspective:
    Everyone has a right to experiment with their own body.
    If someone wants to experiment with the amount and composition of what they eat, and the amount and composition of their movement, and the amount and composition of their thoughts — hey, they are welcome to do so. It’s a big world, and there’s no way I can control other people.

    However, if I have a blog, I can set the rules about what gets talked about.

    I do think we need spaces for thoughts like yours, and Attrice’s and others who are interested in saying, hey, I reject the dominant paradigm, but I’m also not feeling comfortable in my body. So, how awesome that you and Attrice have spaces in which to explore this stuff.

    It also can feel harsh to be shut out of some conversations because of beliefs. I wouldn’t, as a pro-choice person, go to an anti-choice forum and expect to be well excepted.

    People who are not comfortable with their health status or size or weight and are trying to pursue change from a more size accepting perspective are on the cutting edge. The innovators. You all may discover stuff the rest of us (in the fat acceptance or cult of thinness camps) do not. But the price to being an innovator is that it can feel lonely. So I encourage you to keep doing what you are doing. I hope we can find some good conversation and respect each others’ perspectives in the meantime.

  2. brahnamin permalink*
    June 20, 2009 17:32

    I hope we can find some good conversation and respect each others’ perspectives in the meantime.

    I don’t see why not.

    I usually find (if I’m paying attention) that there is always something worth taking away from any conversation or point of view – even if I happen to disagree with it.

    And for the most part I try not to disagree out loud on other people’s blogs unless I can do so constructively or to clarify something I didn’t understand.

    My own blog is platform enough to express my ideas.

    And though I don’t feel like much of an innovator, looking around me I do think I may be racing ahead of the rest of the pack, nose-to-tail with those who broke away before me.

    I guess it can be a little bit lonely, but mostly it’s that exciting kind of lonely where you feel like you are seeing things no one else has seen before and that every step around the bend might lead to something new and wonderful.

    And I’ll stop there and go check out your blog before I start quoting Bilbo Baggins. :mrgreen:

    Thanks for dropping the comment.

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