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Thread: Fat Acceptance/Fat Pride Movement

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    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Fat Acceptance/Fat Pride Movement

    The BMI thread got me thinking about this. The Fat Acceptance/Fat Pride (heretofore referred to simply as Fat Pride for shorthand) seems to be something that has really caught on. There are famous plus-size models (Tess Holiday, pic shown below, and Ashley Graham) and big gals are now acting in all sorts of shows and movies (Melissa McCarthy and Chrissy Metz). These are celebrated public figures and shown as examples of empowerment and beauty.

    Fat Pride certainly has its perks -- no more intra-personal struggles to lose weight or keep it off, no more feelings of shame or insecurity when you disrobe at the swimming hole, no more fighting those cravings to smash a pizza or bag of chips. Not concerning one's self with one's fatness would definitely simplify one's life in a sense too...

    But... how does Fat Pride jive with the obesity epidemic? Either fatness is totally fine and even something to be proud of or it is a major danger to one's health. Right?

    I also wonder, is Fat Pride just another way of trying to turn a vice into a virtue?

    Full disclosure: I say this as a guy whose BMI is 28.8. And I am 5'9" and (as of yesterday) 192 elbeez! So I ain't skinny (not even in a funhouse mirror!).

    Here is a pic of Tess Holiday just before her modeling career took off:
    tess-holliday-78f171f2-98c2-4504-949d-df49175aae72.jpg
    ďI came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

  2. #2
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ultralight
    But... how does Fat Pride jive with the obesity epidemic? Either fatness is totally fine and even something to be proud of or it is a major danger to one's health. Right?
    Sociology and cultural study is littered with examples of notions of beauty which were not healthful. Victorian squeeze-till-you-dropped corsets, Asian women with bound feet, even high heels today all illustrate how societies have ignored health in the name of beauty.

    There's also the matter of reality. I will plead to not reading the BMI thread; in full disclosure I, too, am "underheight for my weight". But I don't believe obesity is a default state for people in good health except as a result of their usual environment. Americans (and, increasingly, residents of other countries) endure poor nutrition (the Standard American Diet is loaded with large portions and carbohydrates, food deserts can make it hard to buy nutritious food, etc.) and are less active overall (daily home chores are not so physical, many of us have sedentary jobs [and manual-labor jobs are being automated out of the workforce], having two or three jobs makes it hard to find time to exercise, etc.).

    These are major structural issues that make it difficult for people to maintain a normal range of weight. Sure, at some point people need to not reach for that second or third donut and realize they do not have to be members of "The Clean Plate Club" and need to replace the movement that used to be part of everyday life. But all that requires going against the grain, which is difficult for many people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ultralight
    I also wonder, is Fat Pride just another way of trying to turn a vice into a virtue?
    Referring back to my previous paragraph, should it be considered a vice when one's environment supports unhealthful habits and not healthful habits? And why don't we turn other deviations from "young, thin, and beautiful" into "virtues"? Why is old age not celebrated in American society? Should we have a "Gray Pride" movement? tbh I think we'd be far better off with fewer "Pride" movements and just accepting people more as they are.

    When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn't get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don't gt all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying, ďYou're too this, or I'm too this." That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are Ė Ram Dass
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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    Steve, thank you for a very thoughtful well-reasoned post, and thanks especially for that wonderful passage from Ram Dass--I need to focus on this, very profound. Thank you.

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    i think what makes me pause before judging someone who is seriously overweight is that I have had friends who eat less than me and even more healthy over the years that are heavier. A couple of them are very heavy actually. Now I am officially overweight, most people would just see I have a middle aged lady shape with more in the belly than I have had before. I used to be very small, and I ate like crap and didn't exercise for several years of that, then got healthier overall and every couple of years my weight re-set to another level. Last summer was the first time I got my weight to go down. I took months over summer camp to eat healthy, cut sugar down a lot and hike often. That took a major lifestyle shift that I have not been able to keep up while doing my school year job.

    So I can't say I know how people who are overweight eat or exercise, but there is some data that suggests that the environmental toxins we are constantly exposed to are affecting weight in this country. That added on to the availability of junkier food and social norms around food,

    Well bottom line for me is that shame never solved a problem or got people to make better choices. I am against shaming people on those grounds alone (and gray pride is awesome but I don't need a special day)

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    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    Great response Steve (as usual)!

    There are so many factors that go into being obese. But......at least with the picture UL posted......I can't find pride in that, if one has done what they reasonably can, to lose weight. Genetics play a big part too, and so I feel that you can probably be healthy and overweight......but not like the picture of that woman. There's no pride in that. And I also think that in this country, every single group of people with whatever problem/leaning/belief they're dealing with, are demanding to be tolerated/respected, etc., etc. So many things going on that can bring us to crazy places in this country. If I see an obese person in line in front of me at the grocery, and their cart is filled with Twinkies, chips, coke, etc., etc.........well, it's hard to think "She's doing all she can to be healthier"......and I honestly don't think she should expect to feel pride and demand that others feel okay with that.
    It's a complicated issue........being overweight..........but I don't think we should expect a lot of respect, if we're not doing anything to correct unhealthy living. It's not like another type of "flaw", that we are born with and just have to live with it and hope people can still respect us. And our food-manufacturing part of our society isn't helping much, by offering horrible "food", that can cause us to crave it even more after we eat the bad stuff.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I have a girl crush on Denise Bidot. She is my favorite model, and she is plus sized. She is Arab-Latina.

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    I am 27.5, and I would have to lose 15 lbs to be 'normal'. I have often given myself a few pound leeway for the larger chest. I have a friend who just had a double mastectomy who used to be large chested like me and I haven't thought it was good to ask her how much weight she lost as a comparison.

    I think 15 lbs lighter (140) would be very skinny, I would feel pretty good being under 150. 145-150 is a good goal.

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    I lost 40lbs but am still overweight. At 64 I am fine with that. I get 10k steps/day, watch what I eat and accept what is.

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    My grandfathers and my great grandfather were obese.

    It drove them all to an early grave, each in their mid-to-late-90s.

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    Iím always very conflicted about this question. Iím socialized to equate lower weight with health and, yes, attractiveness. Iím personally insecure and constantly eye my body reproachfully for its bulges and sags -and my BMI is 21.1. I recently checked my body fat % and itís 32%. Depending on which metric I look at, Iím either in the healthy range for a woman of close on 60, or metabolically obese.

    I wonder how things might change if everybody had to wear placards with health markers in large font? Say blood pressure, fasting glucose, and body fat %. It is possible to be fat and metabolically healthier than a thin person. Thereís a huge and growing corpus of literature on TOFIs and FOTIs.

    I accept intellectually that even thin, active people have diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Itís thought that diabetes is way under-diagnosis sed simply because thin people fall through the cracks of doctorsí vision. Yet I do still struggle to keep my mind out of the thin = healthy mindset, and I struggle not to equate attraction with weight. I know from art history class that very large people, especially women, were often considered the epitome of beauty. From anthropology, I know that Venus figurines tens of thousands of years old often (not always) depict obese women. The Willendorf woman was not sitting on a skin in front of a fire gorging on McAnything. When I first started studying Venuses, I found them grotesque; now I think theyíre beautiful.

    In the example of the person with the grocery cart full of Twinkies and other junk foods, would we be really judgmental if the cart-pusher were thin? Would we think of the skinny person that they are not doing their best to take care of their health? This is the bind that I too often fall into! Thin person plus large pizza is okay, fat person with single slice of pizza evokes internal mouth-pursing and tut-tutting.

    Like ZoeGirl, Iím against shaming. Itís cruel and counter-productive. Many slightly overweight people who are teased/bullied about their weight become comfort-eaters and balloon.

    Overall, I think Fat Pride should be a good thing. The weights that Western society sets as ideal may simply be unattainable for many people. They may be only temporarily attainable and completely unsustainable for even more people. I recently watched a documentary on the biochemistry of obese people, and it turns out that there are very powerful metabolic forces driving the body to regain its shed weighr.

    Iím really inclined - intellectually - to engage with the Health At Every Size ethos. That in turn requires acceptance of Fat Pride.

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