Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Move To Fat Acceptance

For several decades there has been a movement, and even an association--The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance--to influence our society to stop being prejudiced against fat people. Yes, they call themselves fat, and there's a carefully thought out reason for this: labeling a person as "overweight" or "obese" lends more credence to the condition because of the clinical and scientific sound of the title.

Now with over a full third of the American population obese (previously clinically defined as 20% above their ideal weight, and now as have a body mass index [BMI] of 30 or above) more and more are joining the movement. Many women claim that being fat--even weighing as much as 300 pounds--is not what makes them unhappy; dieting is what makes them unhappy. They want to stop obsessing about their weight and their eating and stop experiencing the prejudice and public gawking they suffer because of their size. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) works to have laws passed to prohibit discrimination in the work place and act to intervene when children who are overweight are bullied at school. Indeed, these fat women assert that the number on the scale or the size of their clothing or the way that they look should not be what determines their acceptance in society, their happiness, or their self-worth. They point out that mental well-being is important just as physical health is, and that they suffer greatly from being singled out, stared at, and experiencing self-loathing because they don't meet society's ideal standard of weight.

For those who believe this is just an excuse for these fat people to eat what they please, most of the member of the fat acceptance movement say they are concerned about their health and do keep up regular exercise and sensible eating. They go to their doctors for physicals and evaluations and many can honestly say that their blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels are normal. They also point out the dangers of yo yo dieting, which are well documented.
While the people who are part of the fat acceptance movement say they are happier accepting their weight as it is, feeling great in every aspect of their life--including dressing well and finding worth in their family, relationships, and career insteadof their size--health professionals still acknowledge there is no denying that extra weight will more than likely contribute to chronic illnesses as these people age. No one can say being one hundred pounds overweight is good for you.

Another stand I take issue with is the NAAFA's statement that "society believes fat people are at fault for their size". I believe people are at fault for their size. As long as an overweight person attributes their weight to an outside factor--whether it's their metabolism or genetics, the fast food industry, or their destiny--taking the responsibility away from themselves is being in denial. This greatly reduces the chance they they will ever assume responsibility and do something to take control of their situation

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