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.