Thursday, March 17, 2011

Introduction to the Fat Acceptance Movement

Let me introduce you to the cutting edge of activist thought: the Fat Acceptance (or FA) movement. Helmed primarily by women writers who self-identify as fat, this movement arose in response to the discrimination experienced by individuals we have deemed to be "overweight."

And that discrimination is massive. Unless you've been living under a rock, you cannot possibly be unaware of the vitriol we heap upon the largest among us, often under the guise of fashion criticism or health concerns. It has passed far beyond a medical discussion of whether a certain amount of body fat can cause ill health and into a strange new food-based morality.

This fear of fat has pervaded the lives of people of all sizes. We spend a lot of time dieting, despite the fact that diets do not work. And let me head some of you off here; "lifestyle change" = "permanent diet".

In our zeal to justify this obsession, correlation is eagerly conflated with causation, and studies showing the benefits of fat are ignored. People purposely drive their bodies into ketosis. Others risk malnutrition. The benefits of exercise are derided in favor of weight loss. We consider "overweight" individuals to be not only unhealthy, but also lazy, ignorant, and fundamentally unattractive, no matter how much evidence to the contrary we may personally encounter.

In short, we have come to value thinness over health. This is an absurd position with only a few voices speaking out against it; we should listen to those voices:

Kate Harding, whose blog is now defunct, but there are over a thousand great posts in the archive.

Lesley Kinzel

Marianne Kirby

These are my three favorite FA bloggers, but there's many more out there. Check it out!


  1. Marilyn Wann, also.

    This is a topic near and dear to my heart.

    What's really horrifying is that it keeps pressing younger and younger--and fat discrimination comes from people we are supposed to trust, often including doctors.

    My sister text me a few weeks ago, infuriated. She had taken my 4-year-old niece to the doctor. The doctor told my sister that my niece was overweight, according to BMI. She was above average for her age. I guess that was supposed to be a voice of "concern," but my sister and I were infuriated. (Unfortunately, my sister does not do well with confrontation and didn't respond to the doctor). My niece is a healthy, active, energetic kid. She's solid muscle! (She could make an awesome derby girl in about 15 years!)

    I find fat discrimination to be incredibly reprehensible. I find it even more so when it is carried out--and sanctioned!--by members of the medical profession, those who are supposed to be concerned about our health and welfare.

  2. If Lesley Kinzel and I were both not already married, this alone would prompt me to propose:

    I hope your sister yells at the doctor for that shit. And in a few more years your niece ought to join junior derby. :)