Australian women online: talking Fat Acceptance

Events of recent weeks made a few things abundantly clear: there is still not nearly enough information or discussion about size acceptance outside of Fat Acceptance (or FA-friendly) blogs; quite a few people are interested in finding out more about the Fat Acceptance movement; and even a little awareness of the main principles of size acceptance can bring about real change in people’s attitudes and beliefs about fat people.

So I’m very grateful that Australian Women Online has given voice to FA – my guest post on the topic is their featured article today.

Fat Acceptance is a diverse movement, and I think it’s primarily a social justice movement – one that I’m also fairly new to. But I wanted this guest post – which couldn’t cover everything! – to reflect on the important intersection between Fat Acceptance and health/mental health/body image promotion in the community. At present, the National Advisory Group on Body Image explicitly calls for ‘healthy’ representations of women in the media to include those with a BMI in the ‘healthy range’. That is, it specifically excludes fat people (even ‘BMI overweight’ people, the majority of whom would barely register as fat in the public consciousness.) Now, I have huge issues with the idea that to promote positive self esteem, young people need only see ‘healthy’ bodies in the media, but even putting that aside: what I absolutely take issue with is the notion that the only healthy bodies are thin bodies. Cause that, my friends, is a stinking pile of excrement.

So that’s where I went with my article.

Now, do I actually think that health – as in the ‘moral virtue’ – is actually the main issue facing fat people? Not really. And do I think there are ‘bad fatties’ and ‘good (healthy) fatties’? Hell, no. I believe in bodily autonomy and I believe that no one has a right to judge me on ‘health’ grounds anymore than on ‘size’ grounds. Tasha Fierce says it perfectly in her post As Fat As I Wanna Be: My body, my weight, my choices, my health, MY BUSINESS. But, when we’re talking specifically about government health policy – both physical and mental health – a Health At Every Size paradigm is a lot more productive than the current approach which demonizes fat. Fat isn’t the health issue (sedentary lives and processed foods may be part of it, if there’s a health crisis at all). Nevertheless, prejudice against fat people is constantly justified on health grounds, and the way to get rid of that justification is to show, through HAES, that it’s false. I think that’s valuable.

The bottom line, though? Without the health justification, many people will just find another way to make their fear and loathing of fat acceptable. So at the very heart of the Fat Acceptance movement is the basic notion that fat people are human beings. We deserve, like all people, a life free from hateful prejudice.

If one person reads my article and is persuaded to that conclusion, through a Health At Every Size prism or not, I’ll be happy.

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7 Comments

Filed under Body Image/Fat Acceptance, Meta/Linkage

7 responses to “Australian women online: talking Fat Acceptance

  1. Len

    That was such a well-crafted article and basically said it all very nicely, I think. In fact I have bookmarked that one to show people in future when they ask me about Fat Acceptance since it is so succinct and has all the references. Thank you!

  2. You did so good honey. Boy did you do good. I’m so proud to be in the fatosphere with you.

  3. G

    It saddens me greatly that “Fat Acceptance” has to be a movement with a name. I think that a large part of the problem lies in socialised medicine. When others are forced to pay for other’s lifestyle choices they start to believe that they have a say in those choices. Many of us would feel unhappy about paying for a chronic smoker’s lung cancer treatment when they brought it on themselves for example. People can feel with this obligation to pay, that they have an ownership stake in your health, because the healthier the society, the lower the costs.

    To me, this is a spurious argument, in a free society which has democratically agreed to have a communal health system, then you have to accept the lifestyle choices of everyone, from the smoker, to the extreme sports fan. This can’t be all it is though, and I admire your campaign. I remember once as a naive four year old asking my mother why men were allowed to be fat but women weren’t. I had obviously come to this conclusion from the inevitable media bombardment that apparently does not criticize fat men t0 anywhere near the same degree as women. Fat male politicians are never (almost) criticized for their body.

    I as a libertarian am a proponent of individual freedom. It isn’t anyone’s business but mine how I live my life and I judge you by the same measure!

  4. Bri

    Awesome post hon, totally awesome. You rock!

  5. One thing that blows my mind is how “everyone” can come to believe something completely wrong: that being fat is unhealthy. I know it’s not the only example of this, but every time I come across a new one, I have to reflect on how I could have ended up with the mistaken position. As a non-expert in the health domain, I necessarily rely on experts to provide me with accurate information.

    Have I been given wrong information by a doctor? by a teacher? read it in a health pamphlet? Or, as I suspect, was it just that I absorbed it via the media and no expert bothered to stand up and correct it?

    We need the experts to immediately stand up and communicate accurate information on this topic. Where’s the AMA on this?

    • You should read ‘The Obesity Myth’ Andrew. I think you’d enjoy it. It’s very US centric and a bit hyperbolic in parts but it might answer a lot of your questions about how we got to this type of thinking.

    • G

      A good book is also “The Diet Delusion” also published as “Good Calories / Bad Calories” by Garry Taubes. Garry Taubes is a science journalist whose last book covered how Pons and Fleischman’s Cold Fusion experiments gained and then lost credibility. In this latest book he traces the origins of a lot of our current obesity and diet related myths and exposes just how shoddy the science is behind our current knowledge.

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