What is Fat Acceptance?
There are many different definitions of fat acceptance, but the basic idea is that fat people do not deserve to be discriminated against, bullied or shamed because of the shape of their bodies. It also has a lot to do with combatting the negative stereotypes associated with fat. The association of fat with moral decrepitude is baseless and absurd, and does nothing but hurt people. Do you want to hurt people?
The fat-o-sphere is vast and diverse, and not everyone agrees on everything, but here’s a definition I like from fat acceptance blogger Spilt Milk:
- All people, regardless of shape or size, deserve to be treated with respect. No one body type is inherently better than another.
- The relationship between fat and health is complex and nuanced. You cannot tell if someone is healthy by looking at them, or by weighing them. The health risks of being fat have been exaggerated in the media whilst any neutral or beneficial aspects are ignored. Media rhetoric around the ‘obesity epidemic’ does little to promote healthful behaviours in the community but does fuel fat-hatred and fat-phobia. It is important to think critically about the messages the media conveys about fat bodies and about health. Fat people have the right to be critical of what is being said about us; we have the right to be consulted on public health policy that concerns us.
- Stereotyping fat people as lazy, gluttonous, smelly, stupid etc. is harmful and actively damages the mental and physical health of people in the community. Discrimination and hate-speech is never okay. Fat people face discrimination in health care settings, employment, fashion and many other aspects of every-day life. This is unacceptable.
- Body positivity means honouring diversity: telling a thin person to ‘go eat a sandwich’ is no better than telling a fat person to ‘stop eating doughnuts’.
- Weight loss diets or ‘lifestyle changes’ do not work in the long term (only a tiny minority of dieters ever maintain weight loss for five years or more: the vast majority, around 95%, gain back their weight and then some within a year or two). The diet industry is harmful and exists to make a profit, not to promote good health. A Health At Every Size approach to wellness is not only more body-positive, but more effective too.
- Health is subjective, and health status should never be grounds for discrimination, prejudice or bullying. Regardless of whether people are ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’, thin or fat, disabled or currently not disabled, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Good health or a particular type of body is not a marker of superiority or moral virtue.
- All human beings deserve bodily autonomy. Fat people have the right to make decisions about our own bodies. My body (including my eating and exercise habits) is not your business.