Posted by Pattie on 2/16/2005 07:26:00 AM

What is "Fat Acceptance"

Paul, over at Big Fat Blog has asked this question for the current discussion topic.

There are a lot of good answers there. I wrote one, too, but for some reason can't get it to post right now. So, I decided to share here:

I dream of a day when "fat" is just an adjective like "tall" or "brown eyes." I think fat acceptance is about removing the visual stigma associated with being fat. "Fat" is fraught with a whole body (sorry for the pun) of meanings about the moral character of a fat person. It is the same meanings that are always associated with stigmatized persons.

It is good to be self-accepting and, yes, in order to be able to accept others and to confront the prejudices of others, it takes a good dose of self-fat-acceptance.

But I hold the person exhibiting bigoted behavior responsible for the stigma. All too often the "answer" for stigmatized persons is purported to be in "self-acceptance."

Fat acceptance for me is about removing the stigma and that means someone other than me is going to have to change. That means that at its base, fat acceptant is about a cultural change and that takes time and repetition.

BTW, that is where my nickname "cshock" comes from. I know my body is "culture shock" for many people and that is why I proudly go out and about. The more others see fat folx out enjoying themselves, the more natural we will become. Our visibility is part of the repetition that needs to be in order to change culture. But it isn't easy to stand up to the prejudice.

Because it is going to take time and repetition, I'm always excited when I see fat accepting tidbits in the culture. My two favorite quotes:

"You probably noticed, elsewhere I used the word fat. I used that word because that's what fat people are. They're fat. They're not large; they're not stout, chunky, hefty, or plump. And they're not big-boned. Dinosaurs are big-boned. These people are not necessarily obese, either. Obese is a medical term. And they're not overweight. Overweight implies there is some correct weight. There is no correct weight. Heavy is also a misleading term. An aircraft carrier is heavy; it's not fat. Only people are fat, and that's what fat people are. They're fat. I offer no apologies for this. It is not intended as a criticism or insult. It is simply descriptive language. I don't like euphemisms. Euphemisms are a form of lying. Fat people are not gravitationally disadvantaged. They're fat. I prefer seeing things the way they are, not the way some people wish they were..." -- George Carlin

"Mom, I'm fat. But big deal. I don't feel bad about it, and you never made me feel bad about it. And just because there are people out there who want me to feel bad about it doesn't mean I have to. So Bobby Hill's fat. He's also funny, he's nice, he's got a lot of friends, a girlfriend. And if you don't mind, I think I'll go outside right now and squirt her with water. What are you going to do?" -- "Bobby Hill" from the cartoon "King of the Hill" while comforting his mom regardeing her supersized feet. (BTW, I have to admit I cried when I first saw this episode. It was a rare and beautiful TV moment.)