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Accepting Fat —

January 4, 2012
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I have trouble accepting Fat Acceptance.

It just seems so… meh.

For me, acceptance has always seemed like the kind of response you have to something unpleasant which you have no control over, but begrudgingly allow. Like if you go to your favorite restaurant and there’s a two-hour wait, you either go somewhere else or you accept the long, dull wait in hopes of a fantastic meal.

But I don’t want to merely accept my fat as some unpleasant parasite that makes society, and potentially myself, disgusted. I want to embrace my fat as part of my unique genetic inheritance, as much as I’ve come to embrace my squinty eyes. I want to celebrate my fat for all its warm and cuddly essence. I want to liberate my fat from the current attitudes that form an oppressive barrier between me and self-acceptance.

All of those verbs seem so vibrant and wonderful and positive. “Acceptance” just sounds so… meh.

But this week, after everyone else had staked their claims on the various identities that describe our activism, I figured would defend the old standby, Fat Acceptance. But a funny thing happened on the way to the blog post: I developed a newfound appreciation for meh.

The reality of our fat-hating world is that although you and I have long since accepted our fat, our job as activists is not to enter fatty Nirvana, there to remain blissfully content our big and wonderful bodies. As activists, we must take on the role of Body-sattvas, teaching the path to enlightenment to those who still wallow in self-loathing and despair.

There are literally many millions of miserable, diet-fearing fatties to educate on the importance of seeing through the insidious Fantasy our Being Thin. There are literally millions of miserable thin people who believe that the negligible amount of fat on their body makes them hideous and unhealthy and unloveable. Most of all, there are millions upon millions whom we must convince that being fat is not a crime against humanity or a crisis in need of a savior.

Take, for example, the public health campaigns like this piece of shit in Georgia that enables fat bullies in an attempt to convince children that they should feel ashamed of being fat.*

For those countless millions who believe weight loss is the answer, regardless of the question, the idea of accepting fat is anything but meh. The idea of accepting fat is tantamount to accepting that you can drive a car while looking backward and waving like a moron without hitting that oncoming train.

But when you actually take the time to study the evidence and evaluate the alternatives to weight loss, such as Health at Every Size®, you begin to see that the Public Service Announcements are so hyperbolic as to be laughable.

For the vast majority, the idea of not fighting against your fat until the day you die is unnatural and unhealthy. For the vast majority, the idea of being happy with your body the way it is, rather than perpetually pursuing the American dream of thinness and beauty, is heretical. For the vast majority, Fat Acceptance is too radical and dangerous of an idea to even entertain it.

So, although the term “Fat Acceptance” seems meh to those of us who have made the journey from self-loathing to self-acceptance, to the rest of society, we are identifying with a movement which accepts what is simply unacceptable.

Fifty years ago, demanding that minorities, women, and homosexuals should be accepted as equals was considered a radical position. And just as activists of old fought for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights, Fat Acceptance activists are fighting for basic level of humanity and acceptance in society. We are fighting to be recognized as valid human beings who deserve equal access to employment and healthcare and happiness.

These are basic needs that the various identity groups have been denied in the past, a basic level of acceptance in society. So, although the term seems rather milquetoast, I now believe that Fat Acceptance is a rather radical stance to take in a society that engages in such unrelenting Fat Rejection.

Upon reflection, it seems that the trouble I have with the term “Fat Acceptance” has more to do with perspective than any actual problem. When I look at the term from my tower of self-acceptance and security, it doesn’t seem to capture the essence of all those fierce, freethinking fatties who are fighting against an oppressive regime of body hatred. But when I get down from that ivory tower and listen to those we are trying to help, fat acceptance seems to be a rather daunting proposition.

*Today I will be spending my time on Twitter railing against the Strong4Life (the Georgia childhood obesity bullying campaign). Take a moment to let them know what you think of their shittiness.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mulberry permalink
    January 4, 2012 7:33 pm

    Thank you for putting in a word for my old favorite. I’m sure I don’t wish to hate fat, and I’m not so sure that I want to embrace it or celebrate it, any more than I might celebrate particular body organs. They are part of me, they are there, they have some useful functions. Fat has been been part of me all my life, and insofar as it sticks around, I want to be mentally integrated with it. Not treat it as if it were a creeping tumor or some such. It is not an “other”.
    “Acceptance” has a deep meaning here, There is an ease and comfort (not to be confused with wallowing) which is just totally alien to most people. People also confuse “acceptance” with “resignation”, and that may be why the term sounds “meh” to some.
    Or perhaps it doesn’t resonate with the blood-and-guts fire-in-the-belly crowd. That’s quite all right. No one term is going to please everybody. We can always adopt a slogan – Fat Power? Kiss Our Fat Asses (and bring a lunch, etc., thanks, Vesta, for that line!)? – for our more radical adherents.
    Atchka, I admire your spirited defense of a term you initially didn’t care for. It shows a great mental flexibility.

    • January 5, 2012 12:22 pm

      Thanks Mulberry. That means a lot coming from you. 🙂

      Peace,
      Shannon

  2. March 11, 2012 12:59 am

    I love the idea of being a body-vista. Great word.

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