My Questions For The Fat Acceptance Movement

“We have women in the military, but they don’t put us in the front lines. They don’t know if we can fight, if we can kill. I think we can. All the general has to do is walk over to the women and say, ‘You see the enemy over there? They say you look fat in those uniforms.’” Elayne Boosler

I am confused by the fat acceptance movement.

First, let me say that I’m opposed to discrimination against fat people (well, all people, except crazy right-wingers.) I don’t think that fat people should be mocked for eating a Snickers. I don’t think that fat people should be fired because of their weight. I am opposed to the obsession with the body ideal for women, which keeps women focused on being skinny rather than doing other, productive, things. Further, I agree that a number of measures for obesity are flawed (such as BMI) and that being skinny does not equally being healthy.

It would seem then, from what I just said, that I’m pretty on board with the fat acceptance movement. The Fat Nutritionist seems pretty smart. I bet she knows way more about nutrition than I do. (Plus she has this really fab jacket that I want.)

And yet I have some serious reservations about the movement.

While I disagree with the notion of “American exceptionalism” with regard to most things, we do seem to be doing exceptionally well at being fat. Obesity rates have been increasing in the past thirty years. So unless the last few generations of Americans are exceptionally predisposed to being fat, other factors are at play.

Americans drive more than their European counterparts. Our food portions in restaurants are larger. Kids playing video games mean they play outside less. We eat out more than we have in the past and eat more prepared foods. Those prepared foods aren’t as prevalent in Europe. I realize this is all based on personal experience and anecdotal, though I bet I could find citations for most of it.

Sure, some “fat-ness” can be ascribed to a genetic predisposition. And some to other health problems. But not all of it (and I’d contend not even most of it.) At least some is attributable to crappy diet and lack of exercise. And while weight may not be an indicator of health, what you eat and how much you exercise certainly is.

Does the fat acceptance movement want us to accept all people at any size? While, like I said, I’m opposed to discrimination, does that mean I should be opposed to doctors who advocate healthy eating and regular exercise for their overweight patients? What about those crazy talk shows with the 150lbs fourth graders? That can’t possibly be acceptable, can it? So, where’s the line?

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