Skinny Therese

Adventures in Shrinking My Fat Ass

When Does Fat Acceptance Become Bad For Our Health?

There is a movement of people, mostly women, who are fed up with the super-thin models, the constant media focus on dieting, and the general discrimination and scorn that fat people face everyday of their lives–they are commonly known as the Fat Acceptance Movement. Having been a fat person most of my life, I agree with this movement’s  basic principles. I am tired of being told that I am not beautiful, do not deserve a great career, or stylish clothing simply because I am fat. I also greatly respect the eating disorder (ED) community. As an undiagnosed bulimic (I purged with exercise as a pre-teen), I understand the need to be careful when discussing weight loss with young women to avoid triggering dangerous behaviors. I get it.

But I take issue with those whom I believe walk on entirely too many eggshells when discussing these issues. Back in February, when Michelle Obama announced her Let’s Move! campaign to combat childhood obesity, there was some controversy over some of the comments that she made.  Particularly with her using the word “chubby” to describe her children. A few years back, she had taken her daughters to their pediatrician, who told her that their BMIs (Body Mass Index) were getting high and that she should do something about it. (Some also questioned the First Lady involving her daughters at all.) Momania and The Los Angeles Times have “weighed in” (so to speak), among others. If you watch the video available at this link, the First Lady’s statements sound completely reasonable. Some simple changes to the girls’ diet and activity levels solved the problem. A transcript of her remarks from the official launch of the program are at the end of the LA Times article linked to above.

I firmly believe that we should accept people for who they are and that pestering and shaming a child–particularly a girl–about their weight does far more harm than good. I know this from personal experience. I had a relative in my home who did this to me constantly and I attribute it as one of the causes of my own childhood obesity problem. You cannot shame a person into losing weight. In fact, shaming them usually makes them self conscious and they will withdraw from social situations and activity and wind up gaining even more weight. I fell into deep depressions at times when I was young and then exercised excessively (and dangerously) after binging. My mother tried to keep me active, but I experienced such ridicule for being fat when I played soccer the summer after my big weight gain that my mother was faced with an impossible choice: keep me active, but watch me be miserable and cry everyday as a result of the abuse or take me out of sports, resulting in a thoroughly sedentary summer. She’s a sweet and compassionate lady–she chose the latter.

But I also believe, as I have previously discussed on this blog,  that the obesity problem in our country is getting way out of hand and something needs to be done. Which begs the question: When does “fat acceptance” become bad for our health?

I think fat acceptance is bad for our health when:

We start criticizing Michelle Obama’s very reasonable statements on childhood obesity.

We deny the obvious health problems that are associated with obesity.

We interpret any discussion of weight loss as an attack on a person’s self-esteem that will result in an eating disorder.

We accept the fatigue and disease associated with obesity as a regular part of life, as opposed to something that can be dealt with by a trip to Whole Foods and a DVD player.

Fat acceptance is good for our health when:

We find it repugnant when people refer to a talented Best Supporting Actress Nominee as “an enormous woman the size of a planet“.

We realize that strength, endurance, flexibility, sleep patterns, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, essential nutrient consumption and blood pressure are far better indicators of a person’s health than BMI alone.

We accept that the “ideal weight” is different for everyone.

I started this blog because there were certain things that I refused to accept. I refused to accept the ankle and back pain I suffered as a result of carrying extra weight, how tired I felt because being heavy was making it difficult to sleep and walk long distances, my lack of flexibility, my bad skin that was mostly the result of poor diet…I just got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. And while I use the title “Skinny Therese” in a somewhat tongue and cheek manor, the shrinking of my fat ass has done wonders for my alignment, allowing me to sleep on my back much more comfortably. It will also help me spend less on clothes–plus size clothing is expensive and even when things go on sale, you can rarely find your size if you are a size 14 and up.

After refusing to accept those other things, I realized that the only thing I really needed to accept was ME, not my fat. And as long as I did that, as long as I accepted my body, listened to it, studied it, gave it what it needed and stopped judging it, the rest would take care of itself. But I’ll be damned if I am going to resign myself to my body being this size forever, just because losing weight takes a long time, or is frustrating and difficult. No way. I’ve come too far to quit now.

My advice: Accept YOU, not your fat.

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April 5, 2010 - Posted by | Fat Shaming, General Health, Nutrition, Random Observations, Weight Loss

2 Comments »

  1. Just stumbled across your blog kind of by accident. I love what you have to say and I think this is a particularly great blog. I see you haven’t posted anything since so I do hope that your adventures in shrinking your fat ass (haha love it) are going well!!

    Comment by Sarah | July 7, 2010 | Reply

  2. Michelle Obama advocated paying for her school-lunch “improvement” program by cutting the future budget for food stamps. The Senate passed a bill that would do this; fortunately, the House balked, despite Nancy Pelosi. Source: http://www.larouchepac.com/node/15506 http://www.larouchepac.com/node/15953

    Given the present state of the economy and of world food supplies, and the Nero-like narcissism of the Obama administration, not only should we “accept” fatness, we should be grateful for it — as long as it doesn’t catch fire!

    Comment by doomgloom | November 13, 2010 | Reply


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