Fat Acceptance or Self Acceptance?

I’m a member of a group on Facebook that a friend of mine started called The Healthy Eating Support Group. Basically, it’s a bunch of us that would like to not necessarily just lose weight, but work on having a healthier lifestyle in general. I think this was a great idea for a group, and I like seeing others’ posts, comments, struggles, tips, etc. Last week someone in the group posted a link to an article titled 6 Things I Don’t Understand About The Fat Acceptance Movement. I went to read this article, and agreed with some of it, but not all of it. This post will make more sense if you go take a look at the article yourself, but to summarize it, the author basically makes 6 points and then expounds on them. The one that I disagree with a bit is point #1: “America is extremely accepting of fat.” Now, I think this is untrue. America is NOT accepting of fat. Look at any magazine or TV show or movie out there, and you will see that. Society in America is far from accepting of fat. If they were, you would see more large women (and men) in movies, on TV, and in magazines. If they were, I would not feel uncomfortable going out to a nightclub where all of the women are wearing tight, short skirts and are mostly no bigger than a size 10. In general, I am not comfortable being a fat person in America. So this leads me to disagree that America is extremely accepting of fat.

Now, the counterpoint to this, and the true argument that I think the author is trying to make is that American businesses promote unhealthiness. This I would say is the truth. America markets the ideal for people as being a thin, healthy person, yet look around at American businesses. Restaurants promote food with lots of fat and grease and sugar, in large portions. You have all kinds of unhealthy snacks – chips and dessert are rampant at convenience stores. The fastest, cheapest food you can get is also the most unhealthy. America makes it easy to be fat, while at the same time condemning it. This is something I would really like to see change. It’s also what I think the author was getting at in her first point.

It’s interesting the other articles that have sparked up from this original one. We have 6 Things I Understand About the Fat Acceptance Movement from a Huffington Post author. And then we have a follow-up from the original author, titled 8 Things I Learned From Writing An Article Critical Of Fat Acceptance. Hmm.

I had a couple of other points that I wanted to make after thinking about this some more. I think there should be a distinction made between fat acceptance and self acceptance. Thin people often have as much struggle accepting their bodies as fat people. I don’t think there should be a “fat acceptance” movement so much as a “body acceptance” movement. Why are we putting ourselves into categories based on how we look or how big or little we are? We all have trouble with something about our bodies, or at least most people I know do. And if you don’t now, I would bet that you likely did at some point in your life. I think that in most cases, anyone that accepts their body as it is, probably is having an easier time leading a fulfilling life. It is a lot of frustration hating your body. I know, I’ve been there. Heck, I’m still there. And when I say “accepting your body”, I don’t mean that you stop working to improve it or stop trying to be healthier. I just mean realizing your value no matter what your body looks like. We should all accept ourselves (including our bodies) and other people regardless of characteristics such as size, shape, gender, sexual preference, or skin color. That’s what I think it should really be about. Healthiness is a whole other thing, in my opinion. You can’t really determine a person’s health just by looking at them. Yes, fat in general is unhealthy, but you don’t know what that person might be trying to do to get healthy. Our society should support that instead of continuing to perpetuate unhealthy lifestyles by promoting greasy, battered, deep fried fast food and huge portions. Health is a good thing to strive for, but so is body acceptance… SELF acceptance. You can be perfectly healthy and still not accept yourself, and in my opinion, the latter is every bit as, if not more important than the former.