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Fat acceptance bloggers featured in New York Times

22nd January 2008

Fat acceptance bloggers featured in New York Times

Welcome readers of the New York Times. The-F-Word has been featured in a story about the growing movement of fat acceptance bloggers, popularly known as the Fatosphere.

If you’re new to fat acceptance or dubious that one can be fat, fit and healthy, I encourage you to read a primer written by Kate Harding called “But don’t you realize fat is unhealthy?” I also invite you to check out any of the fantastic and insightful blogs that make up the Fatosphere.

I realize the notion of fat acceptance is a radical one for many people. I respect differing opinions and encourage debate of the issue, but I must ask that you respect that this site is first and foremost, an eating disorders awareness and educational site. Many of the readers here either have or have had degrees of disordered eating and/or an eating disorder. Please be sensitive to this in your commentary.

No one in the fat acceptance movement is suggesting fat people ought “give up” or lounge around eating Twinkies all day – far from it. Many members of the fat acceptance movement promote a health and wellness concept known as Health at Every Size (HAES). The approach encourages people to kick the vicious and often unsuccessful yo-yo dieting habit and to develop a healthy relationship with food and eating. Subscribers learn to to listen to their bodies for cues on hunger and satiety and exercise is promoted not as means of weight loss, but as physical activities to be enjoyed with myriad and multiple health benefits. The end result is that you settle into your body’s natural setpoint range – which may or may not be thin – that is maintainable without dieting, obsessing over food and/or killing yourself at the gym.

The term fat acceptance is somewhat of a misnomer and many folks, such as I, describe themselves as body acceptance activists. Most fat acceptance sites, like mine, are staunchly anti-diet and many express grave concerns about the rising popularity of weight loss surgery, but we are not anti-thin nor do we dismiss the body insecurities people of all sizes are made to feel they have.

The New York Times article accurately summed up much of what people in the fat acceptance movement believe and promote. Sadly, the story did leave out one crucial and foundational part of the movement: The crux of fat acceptance is in fighting the stigmatization and social, political and economic marginalization distinctly and acutely experienced by fat people.

Regardless of whether fat is healthy or unhealthy, fat acceptance activists believe that people of all sizes deserve and have a right to equal access in employment, education, access to public accommodations, adequate and competent health care, adoption, and housing.

So, read on with an open mind and critical eye. What you read may resonate with you, too. And kudos to NY Times writer Roni Caryn Rabin for taking the time to really understand what it is we’re after here.

P.S.: For anyone wondering about the image in my header, which also appeared on the front page of the New York Times’ website, it’s taken from a 1954 Pillsbury advertisement. The ad and caption are here.

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There are currently 57 responses to “Fat acceptance bloggers featured in New York Times”

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  1. 1 On January 22nd, 2008, Carrie said:

    Already blogged it. :)

    Rock ON.

  2. 2 On January 22nd, 2008, Fatadelic said:

    Way to go! Thanks for being so articulate in your interview. That’s one awesome article.

  3. 3 On January 22nd, 2008, rini said:

    I do admire your message. No one should feel bad or shameful about their bodies. Dieting does not work.

    However, I do worry that fat is becoming the new normal. Perhaps, given obesity rates, this is unavoidable. However, I don’t want people to forget that it is healthier to be thinner (up to a point). I also think that people should be angry at the junk food companies that, in my opinion, are directly responsible for the obesity epidemic. Personal responsibility is important. However, when everyone has problem with the same issue, maybe we have to look at the environment.

    Perhaps I say this as a thin woman who gets tired of hearing that “real women” have curves etc.. What am I “fake?”

    We should all accept our bodies and our weights and concentrate on staying healthy and enjoying our beauty.

  4. 4 On January 22nd, 2008, CynthiaC said:

    If body size activists are accepting of all different shapes/sizes, then why are size activists overwhelmingly plus-sized? Google “body image” and the majority of the sites that come up are about people who are “fat.” Not skinny (there are non-pro-ana skinny sites out there.) Not tall. Not short (face it. Short people face discrimination too…especially young looking short people (do you really want to be 33 years old and have people think you’re a 21 year old intern? What about sales associates suggesting that a grown woman in her 30s shop at the girls’ section? Thirtysomething women have curves, no matter how skinny she is. Girls’ 12 will not fit properly. Sometimes, a short person just “disappears” or is ignored by a group of people because the taller people don’t “see” them. Oh and the beauty myth…note the type of roles shorter actors get compared to taller ones. Short = comedy; tall = drama (unless you are a former child actor, then it’s easier for a shorter person to get a dramatic role…see one of my recent posts in my blog)) I even sent an e-mail to a body image site on this very topic but never heard back from them. I sent the e-mail about a week and a half ago.

  5. 5 On January 22nd, 2008, Rachel said:

    If body size activists are accepting of all different shapes/sizes, then why are size activists overwhelmingly plus-sized?

    Cynthia – Perhaps for the same reason the civil rights movement is dominated by black Americans? And likewise as the women’s rights movement dominated largely by women. Sure there are non-black people involved with civil rights and sure, there are men who campaign for women’s rights, but by and large, specific movements such as these often are initiated by the very people whom discrimination impacts most.

    Many of the body images sites I’m aware of aren’t anti-thin, either, and I’m surprised to hear you’ve found some who are. Why don’t you name some of the sites you’re referencing or take issue with so we can all examine them?

  6. 6 On January 22nd, 2008, CynthiaC said:

    Rachel, just about any body image site gives off the vibe of being anti-thin. Just by saying that “real women” aren’t size zero makes us smaller girls feel less “real.” Just by not acknowledging that numbers have changed in women’s dress sizes gives off the same vibe (I know that the whole “Marilyn Monroe was a size 14″ thing makes larger girls happy and feel sexy, but a woman with Marilyn’s measurements is nowhere close to a size 14 by 2008 standards. Not even a dressmaker’s size 14.) The worse is when people say that anything under a US size 4 makes is uncurvy/boyish/childish. Makes some of us smaller-sized women feel unsexy and worried that significant others prefer us because we look “underage” yet aren’t and therefore the relationship with us is legal.

    OF course, there are also the tons and tons of Facebook groups that are devoted to being anti-thin. They claim to be anti-thin model, but often, they start talking about being anti-size zero period (or at least seem to) You’ll find a post about this in my blog:

    http://shorty-stories.blogspot.com/2007/10/have-you-ever-noticed.html

  7. 7 On January 22nd, 2008, littlem said:

    Whoa.

    Hope you had your extra coffee today, Rachel.

    Looks like it’s just starting to warm up in here.

  8. 8 On January 22nd, 2008, BBWLVR said:

    Excellent interview and a very positive article! I am a life-long weight-challenged (I made that one up) guy who has struggled forever with my weight. I’m thrilled to see a mainstream publication, like the Times, finally publish something that doesn’t make us look like the oddities of the world.

  9. 9 On January 22nd, 2008, Susan said:

    As a fellow Cincinnatian and blogger, I was so excited to see the story in the Times today with a mention of your blog! Really cool stuff. My hubs and I recently started a blog about getting fit (http://mrandmrsgetfit.blogspot.com/), and I also have another blog about being a working mom (http://www.workingmomsagainstguilt.com/). While I am trying to lose weight and be healthier, and am not too crazy about being fat myself, I agree with your premise that fat people deserve the same rights as skinnies. It’s human rights, people! Anyway, congrats on the awesome article.

  10. 10 On January 22nd, 2008, Tari said:

    Rachel – congrats on the great write-up! Brilliant, as ever.

    CynthiaC…are you trying to say that Rachel is anti-thin? ‘Cause I think she’s made it pretty clear that that’s not the case. If you have beefs with other sites, I would encourage you to take them up at those other sites. I’m not sure how quizzing Rachel about other nonspecific sites is helpful to you or anyone else.

  11. 11 On January 22nd, 2008, Sweet Machine said:

    CynthiaC, I’m not sure if you’re a regular reader of the blogs mentioned in the NYT article, but the vibe you describe, while certainly prevalent in some circles, is really not a part of any of the blogs featured in that article. At <a href=”http://www.kateharding.net”Shapely Prose in particular, there is no thin-bashing (we have many thin readers and one thin blogger), and we even have an article debunking the Marilyn Monroe thing. Health at Every Size really means *every* size.

  12. 12 On January 22nd, 2008, Sweet Machine said:

    Oops, my HTML is bad–sorry, Rachel!

  13. 13 On January 22nd, 2008, RG said:

    I must confess that I am, frankly, baffled. I’ve checked out a few of the blogs mentioned in the NYT today, and looked at the few contributors’ pictures that are available. My conclusion: you guys aren’t even fat. That’s why the diet + exercise don’t work for you — you’re already at a healthy weight. You guys are only fat compared to Hollywood standards!

    Would love to hear your thoughts on folks that are well above their healthy weights, and whether your advice to accept oneself as one is applies to them. Is fat acceptance only for people who are genetically full-figured, or does it apply to people who are really and truly fat?

  14. 14 On January 22nd, 2008, Sunny said:

    I’m trying to recover from disordered eating, and I just read the NYTimes article on the fatosphere and started exploring some of the blogs. To Cynthia, I would like to say that just bc a woman is “thin” doesn’t mean she is happy. I am very underweight right now and my whole life has been an obsession with food, exercise, calorie-counting and weight control. I am so moved, as I work on my own road to recovery, to find a community of men and women who love their bodies. I don’t think the fatosphere is a place where “thin” and “fat” are set up as polar opposites; rather, the idea is, don’t spend your life obsessing about what you eat, when, and how much, or planning your life around exercise routines, but rather learn to listen to your body – feed it when it is hungry, relax and stop worrying about every calorie that goes in or gets burned off, enjoy the social and personal comforts of good food (including cheesecake!), and live your life, don’t live your life around or through food.
    When we’re accepting of our bodies as they are, it is no longer a battle between “fat” or “thin.” We’re all just people. We all just try to take care of ourselves and look after one another and make the most of the life we’ve got. I’m reading a great book, “Eating in the Light of the Moon” by Dr. Anita Johnston, that Cynthia (and anyone else who wants to learn to appreciate their inner feminine and thereby learn to embrace their womanly, feminine beauty, which comes in all shapes and sizes) might find really uplifting and powerful. I know that for me, as I recover from my disordered eating, no matter what size my body ends up being I want to advocate for more realistic, accepting approaches to health, bc I really believe that a tremendous number of people suffer under our society’s impossible beauty standards and under our medical establishment’s unrealistic, restrictive, repressive “weight and health” goals.
    Long live the fatosphere, and all of the wonderful people in it, whatever size they are!

  15. 15 On January 22nd, 2008, Becky said:

    Cynthia, I’ve been short and thin, I’ve been short and fat, and I’ve been short and inbetween. I’ve also always looked very young. And let me tell you, the discrimination I faced and insecurities I had due to being short and young looking don’t hold a candle to what I face being fat. I don’t get daily – hourly – messages from every possible source about how being short is unhealthy, being short is ugly, being short is disgusting, being short means I’m lazy and just don’t have the will power to freaking grow a few inches already, being short will ruin my life, being short is a moral failing, being short means I will never ever find somebody to love, being short means I will die young and alone. It is difficult being short, and even more difficult looking very young, but neither are even close to what it’s like to be fat – at least in my experience.

    As for anti-thin statements, none of the fat acceptance or size acceptance blogs I visit make or allow those kind of statements – whenever someone tries to make a statement about how “real women have curves” or how thin isn’t sexy, they get told that isn’t appropriate. Maybe you’re reading the wrong sites.

  16. 16 On January 22nd, 2008, Devi said:

    Haven’t yet read the article but am thrilled you’ve been featured. Your blog is one of the few that never strays from my “must read” list.

  17. 17 On January 22nd, 2008, withoutscene said:

    Cynthia, I remember you from LJ, and I don’t understand why you go around attacking people who you could form coalitions with. Yes, there is rhetoric out there like you describe among people who claim to be body positive or fat positive. But you will not find that on Rachel’s blog, or Kate’s blog, or most fat activist/body activist blogs. I’m a fat/body activist, and I hate anti-thin rhetoric and TOTALLY relate to the discrimination of which you speak. I even object to the “real” rhetoric that’s out there. Sites about body image and sites about body acceptance or body activism are two different kinds of sites. Please, stop attacking people who are on your side. I really don’t understand it.

  18. 18 On January 22nd, 2008, Rachel said:

    Ditto to what others have said. Cynthia, I’m sorry you feel you have encountered sites that are anti-thin. This site is clearly not one of them. Any site or organization that perpetuates discrimination towards any group of people is not one that I – nor any of the fat acceptance bloggers featured in the NY Times story – are a part of or want to be a part of. Perhaps it is best if you take your grievances to the responsible parties.

  19. 19 On January 22nd, 2008, The Rotund said:

    RG – Fat Acceptance applies to anyone. There is no such thing as unacceptable fat. “Real” fat is up for debate, as well.

    As for people here not being “real” fat…. I write The Rotund. I weigh 319 pounds and am 5’4″. I am, by any measuring stick, fat. People who are much smaller than me are also fat because fat is a continuum, not an arbitrary point on a scale.

  20. 20 On January 22nd, 2008, Rachel said:

    *waves* to Susan: Hi, neighbor.

    Rini: Thanks for sharing your views in such a polite and respectful manner. I do want to address one of your statements:

    Studies have shown that, as a group, fat people eat no differently than their thin counterparts. The ways in which our bodies metabolize and store different nutrients does vary by person and is directly regulated by factors much beyond our control, namely, genetics.

    We also have to separate the idea of junk food and poor health with that of obesity. If you’re opposed to fast food and junk food because it isn’t healthy, then you should apply the same standards to the scores of both thin and fat people who consume it instead of focusing solely on fat people.

    And like I mentioned early on, it is possibly to eat healthy and exercise regularly – and still be fat. For me, maintaining a weight that BMI standards consider to be average for my height requires an anorexic lifestyle to maintain, one which I practiced for a period in my life. I’d much rather be fat and healthy than thin and unhealthy.

  21. 21 On January 22nd, 2008, CynthiaC said:

    Without sense (and others),

    I often don’t feel welcome or feel uncomfortable on body activist sites and blogs because they almost always err on the fat activist side. You can’t call yourself body or size activists if you are going to focus predominantly on people who are larger. That’s exactly why I sent an e-mail to the International Size Acceptance Association. The organization is very much a larger size acceptance site. They shouldn’t be calling themselves the ISAA if they don’t talk about other size issues. I focus a lot on height versus weight rather than weight itself. Most body image/size acceptance sites and organizations overlook height.

    Also the Hollywood thing: Some actresses truly aren’t all that skinny. Many hear size zero and think sick, but people rarely think Eva Longoria looks sick.

  22. 22 On January 22nd, 2008, Becky said:

    You can’t call yourself body or size activists if you are going to focus predominantly on people who are larger.

    Of course you can. Rachel and others are size activists who focus predominately on fat activism. You’re a size activist who focuses primarily on height activism. But I don’t come over to your site and demand you talk more about fat – why should I? You have the right to focus on issues that are more important to you, just as Rachel has the right to focus on issues that are more important to her.

  23. 23 On January 22nd, 2008, CynthiaC said:

    But Becky, the ISAA (and other LIKE ORGANIZATIONS) shouldn’t be allowed to call themselves the International SIZE ACCEPTANCE Association and only focus on being fat.

  24. 24 On January 22nd, 2008, The Rotund said:

    *snort* Cynthia, fat is a size.

    Thin is also a size, which is why both fat and thin people can be size activists. You are trying to divide everyone up – fat activists over there and thin activists over there, which really only weakens us all. Size activism is a large (no pun intended) issue. There is room for many different approaches.

  25. 25 On January 22nd, 2008, Rachel said:

    ISAA mission statement: “ISAA’s primary purpose is to end the most common form of size discrimination and bigotry–that against fat children and adults; ISAA will strive to defend the human rights of members affected by other forms of size discrimination as well.”

    Private, non-profit organizations aren’t beholden to anyone or any group to represent specific agendas or causes, Cynthia. The ISAA has chosen to combat the “most common” of size discrimination issues, but doesn’t neglect other forms of size discrimination. This suggests to me that you should view them as an ally and not as an opposing force.

    If you want to start an international movement focusing on height’ism Cynthia, there is nothing stopping you. Or you can choose to work with ISAA to expand their focus on this front. Regardless, the onus is on YOU to stop lamenting what isn’t being done and to start acting on issues you feel most passionate about.

  26. 26 On January 22nd, 2008, CynthiaC said:

    But Rotund, they aren’t talking about height. I could not find a single link to size activist sites. Nothing to shortsupport.org. Nothing to the National Organization of Short Statured Adults. If they want to be inclusive, they should include other size issues too. This leads me to believe that the ISAA wants to divide or at least concentrate on larger sized people. And if they want to concentrate on larger sized people, then they shouldn’t call themselves a SIZE ACCEPTANCE association.

    As of this moment, they have not replied to my e-mail.

  27. 27 On January 22nd, 2008, janet said:

    Congrats on the New York times article. You can guess how I got here… I am 5’1 and thin and used to write one of those dieting blogs (yeah, puke). I stopped because the whole thing (dieting, exercising) kind of messed with my head to the opposite affect that I wanted. No, I didn’t gain a ton of pounds but I just never lost the impossible Perfection that I wanted to be in my head. I am not saying that writing (accountability) and food diaries do not work, because I think they CAN be a good tool for some people BUT it was the whole culture of dieting, hollywood, obsession that got to me. I have somewhat disordered eating because I often only eat one-two meals a day, and think calories are bad, etc. Even though that I know that is distorted thinking and that eating 5 small meals a day is a better way to go… I still continue to eat only one-two meals.

    Anyway, I guess what I’d like to say is that I appreciate this different kind of discourse. I’m beginning to think more and more that thin = oppression. What I mean is that there is so many crazy things in our society that say thin = happiness, health, beauty, etc. That it is almost like it undermines the true message that eating well and exercising is healthy. I get the message of THIN confused with the message of health and have a hard time sifting from what’s right and wrong. And how NOT to get obsessed with what’s wrong. I think this site and others in the ‘fatosphere’ have a very positive message and it’s refreshing to hear. So thanks and consider me a new reader :)

  28. 28 On January 22nd, 2008, Andrew said:

    We in this country are obsessed with extremes. Of course it is bad to be too thin just as it is unhealthy to be too fat. The problem I see is we have such an obesity problem in this country that a certain segment of the people are basically throwing in the towel and trying to convince people they are healthy anyway and they live a healthy lifestyle which our eyes can tell us is untrue. I will buy that not everybody can be or should be thin. But to actually promote it as a healthy lifestyle is unforgivable in my opinion. Sometimes in life people have to be told the truth no matter if it hurts or not. To avoid this is compounding the problems for our youth. Get real fit is fit and to thin or to fat is just that.

  29. 29 On January 22nd, 2008, Rachel said:

    Cynthia – Please, stop beating a dead horse. If you want ISAA to work on these sorts of issues, then do something more about it than just jot off an email. Get involved. Start a campaign. Work with ISAA and not against them. And keep in mind, these are non-profit, often under-funded, organizations staffed by volunteers who have real jobs and families and lives outside the organization. It might take a while before they respond to your email.

    I learned long ago that if you want something done, it’s best to do it yourself. Whining doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

  30. 30 On January 22nd, 2008, Rachel said:

    Welcome Janet – glad to have you here.

    Andrew – you need to remove the blinders and realize that what you see (fat) isn’t always what you believe (that it’s unhealthy). The fatosphere is chock-full of people like me who lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle and for various reasons, are still fat.

    It’s as my favorite songwriter (Bruce Cockburn) has written: “It depends on what you look at obviously, but even more it depends on the way that you see.”

    As was reported in the story, and as repeated numerous times both on my blog and others, no one is saying anyone ought “throw in the towel” and eat Twinkies all day. What we are saying is that diet and exercise doesn’t always equal weight loss, and that you can be fit and healthy – and still be fat.

    Wouldn’t you agree that health and wellness should be our primary goal? This is what the movement promotes, only we also promote good mental health, too – something which dieting proponents often fail to recognize. You can’t always mark good health by the numbers on the scale.

  31. 31 On January 22nd, 2008, Thor said:

    Comparison:

    Indeed, as not all people are the same height, nor can they ever be or should be, so to for plumpness. Still, I must ask: why in, say, India, China, Ethiopia, Uganda, etc., are the majority relatively thin?

    Might abundance and kind of food have something to do with it? Afterwhich,physical activity, even after genetically set metabolism is factored?

    BTW, I am plump.

  32. 32 On January 22nd, 2008, Sniper said:

    Sometimes in life people have to be told the truth no matter if it hurts or not. To avoid this is compounding the problems for our youth. Get real fit is fit and to thin or to fat is just that.

    Fine. I suggest you start by going to elementary schools and screaming “fattyfattyfatfat!” at every fat kid you see. You’ll only be hurting them for their own good.

    :roll:

  33. 33 On January 22nd, 2008, pennylane said:

    Sniper–excellent point. Certainly fat kids don’t hear that they’re fat from their peers on, say, an hourly basis.

    I thought the article was great and it was fun to see so many of the blogs I read regularly mentioned in the Times. I agree with you that it would be nice to have greater exposure for the the political/social justice elements of fat acceptance. It’s a shame that you always have to talk about 1) yes, we’re aware we’re fat 2) yes, we’ve thought about health.

  34. 34 On January 22nd, 2008, Sniper said:

    Certainly fat kids don’t hear that they’re fat from their peers on, say, an hourly basis.

    I’m still glad that Andrew stopped by. It’s good to know that people who’ve screamed fat hatred at me from moving cars only had my best interests at heart.

  35. 35 On January 22nd, 2008, Rachel said:

    Indeed, as not all people are the same height, nor can they ever be or should be, so to for plumpness. Still, I must ask: why in, say, India, China, Ethiopia, Uganda, etc., are the majority relatively thin?

    Hey Thor, you want to look at the actual numbers and then rethink your conclusions on all the thin people in India?

    Ethiopia and Uganda are easy ones: the people there are literally starving. As for China, might that not also suggest an ethnic (genetic) component for weight?

    No one is saying that the kinds of foods you eat and how much is irrelevant. What we’re saying is that on average, fat people eat no differently than thin people. Our bodies all metabolize and store fat and nutrients differently – don’t we all seem to know that one thin person who can eat what they want and never gain weight?

    An abundance of food is certainly at play, although an abundance of food doesn’t necessarily mean that people, especially fat people, are gluttonous sloths. Americans have gotten consistently taller through the years, thanks to improved health and nutrition. But I don’t hear any doomsday warnings about height epidemics.

  36. 36 On January 22nd, 2008, brenda said:

    A friend shared this with me this morning after seeing the NYT article
    I’ve never blogged before and have some catching up to do but you can be certain that I will stay tuned! Love it!

  37. 37 On January 22nd, 2008, JeanC said:

    Congrats in getting featured in the article Rachel :)

  38. 38 On January 22nd, 2008, bigpersonal said:

    Congratulations! I have never known there are so many blogs about fat acceptance. All the blogs are great ones.

  39. 39 On January 22nd, 2008, Gina said:

    I think that calling yourself a size acceptance blog when you leave out fat people who want to lose weight is dishonest. You’re only for fat acceptance if the person wants to stay fat. What happens to the people who are going through the same struggles and mistreatment but also want to lose weight? Where’s their voice? And saying that there are tons of weight loss blogs out there that cover that is disingenuous. Anyone who is significantly overweight knows that the weight comes with an entirely different set of issues.

  40. 40 On January 22nd, 2008, Rachel said:

    You’re only for fat acceptance if the person wants to stay fat. What happens to the people who are going through the same struggles and mistreatment but also want to lose weight?

    Quite the contrary, Gina. Those in the fat acceptance movement encourage people to reach and maintain their body’s natural setpoint range, a weight that may or may not be thin. The concept of Health at Every Size isn’t a weight-loss based approach at its heart, but people who follow it do find sometimes that weight loss follows. These people are neither shunned nor ostracized. As well, it should be noted that there are a great deal of thin people who are also involved in the fat acceptance movement.

    What we in the movement are opposed to is the vicious and largely ineffective cycle of dieting. The issue of dieting and obesity is often inseparable, a classic case of the chicken and the egg. What came first? The “obesity epidemic” or dieting? I invite you to read my explanation of why I am anti-diet or read up on the myriad other reasons why others are opposed to dieting.

    And note: Making positive changes in your eating and exercise habits to better improve your health isn’t dieting, it’s practicing HAES. Making changes in your eating and exercise habits to lose weight is dieting.

    The doors to fat acceptance aren’t shut to dieters. Dieters are free to participate in FA discussions (as long as they respect the movement’s position and don’t post annoying “If I did it, you can too!” comments) and to learn and benefit from the movement’s gains. But the idea of dieting – of weight loss for the sake of weight loss alone – isn’t compatible philosophically, morally and ethically with the concept of fat acceptance.

  41. 41 On January 23rd, 2008, Valerie said:

    The article is great, it’s too bad it kinda have to end on a negative note.

    I have been fat all my life. Everyone on my mother’s side has been from chubby to fat. They are not lazy people and don’t stuff their faces. I am definitely not against thin people or fat people wanting to diet. I just want to be accepted for who I am without all the stupid stereotypes. I guess that’s what everyone wants regardeless of their size, gender, ethnicity.

    Anyway long live your blog! :) And feel free to check mine.

  42. 42 On January 23rd, 2008, Michael P. said:

    Rachel, congrats on your moment(s) in the sun. The Times story also brought me here for the first time, and I’ll probably return.

    However: I can’t agree with the premise of fat acceptance. As the linked blog post makes clear, I have lived on both sides of the discussion — superfat and normal (but never thin; never will be) — and there is no doubt, to me, that normal-sized is better. Not for being “normal,” per se, but because, for me, that’s what the opposite of being fat is. Not thin, just not freakish.

    I had all the humiliations back to grade school, all the lack of dating, all the embarrassments, and yeah, I would have preferred not to grow up like that.

    But other people’s reactions are not the whole story of MY obesity. Early mortality and a less-fulfilling life — these would have resulted even if everyone else had been fine with me as I was.

    People should be less cruel, absolutely. But they are a sideshow to the real issues, imho.

  43. 43 On January 23rd, 2008, CynthiaC said:

    Re China: Genetics is at play when it comes to weight, but so is food. In China and Japan (if you want to include a country in the “developed” world) as in other “old world” countries in parts of western Europe, people consume fewer processed foods, which is one reason why they’re thinner. It isn’t necessarily the fats in the food – French and Italian foods often contain lots of fat – but how the food is made. I’m not sure if it was this blog or another one, but someone mentioned that she saw a lot more fresh, prepared foods at a 7-Eleven in Japan than one would find in North America.

  44. 44 On January 23rd, 2008, Valerie said:

    CynthiaC – I feel the need to add that the portion of food in The US are huge compared to Europe. When my American friend visited he was amazed at how small the portion where in the restaurants here. But after he was done eating, he said he felt fuller than with a bigger plate.

    Also when I visited The US I often refused sides at the restaurant and got laughed at so many times because waitresses couldn’t understand why I didn’t want them when they part of the price. lol

  45. 45 On January 23rd, 2008, Rachel said:

    Hi Michael, welcome to the site.

    I do want to clear up some misconceptions you have about fat acceptance. Fat acceptance does not encourage fat people with eating disorders, such as you, to continue being disordered and fat. Rather, we encourage a holistic-based wellness approach that would actually be beneficial to someone with any eating disorder.

    No one in the fat acceptance movement is saying that it isn’t possible to eat oneself above one’s natural setpoint, just as it is entirely possible to starve oneself (or diet) below one’s setpoint weight range. This isn’t in dispute. It should be noted however, that our bodies all metabolize and store fat differently. Not all calories are created equal (different nutrients affect weight gain differently) and 3,500 extra/burned calories doesn’t always equal a pound gained or lost. It’s all relative to the individual and their body.

    Because you admit you are an overeater, it is possible and quite likely that you ate yourself above your body’s setpoint range. When you return to healthy eating in moderation, your body is likely to adjust accordingly.

    I also question your claims that obesity always results in early mortality. Recent studies of senior citizens have found that it’s fitness, not fatness, that is a predictor of longevity. In that study, adults who were more fit, lived longer – regardless of body fat. Other studies led by Katherine Flegal have also revealed that overweight is actually optimal than underweight. All of this was noted in the Times story, if you would like to go back and reread it.

    I do hope you stay on and participate in discussions and debate. But please do research the issues before you make assumptive comments on fatness or the fat acceptance movement.

  46. 46 On January 23rd, 2008, CynthiaC said:

    Valerie, yes, portions in North American style restaurants tend to be bigger (I think Canadian portions are slightly smaller than US, but still bigger than Europe) and whenever my boyfriend and I go to European style places to eat, he complains that it’s a waste of money because the portions are so small (to him)!

  47. 47 On January 23rd, 2008, Becky said:

    Valerie, yes, portions in North American style restaurants tend to be bigger

    Except that what I found in Europe was while the portion sizes were quite a bit smaller, it was common to order an appetizer, first course, second course, and dessert. Whereas in a Canadian restaurant, I’ll usually just have a main course (and then gaze wistfully at the dessert menu wishing I wasn’t so stuffed) because it’s so big it fills me up all on its own. Same thing at European style restaurants here – you’re expected to order several small courses instead of one huge one. And the food is often very rich, so even though it’s less food, it may very well be more fat and calories.

  48. 48 On January 23rd, 2008, Rubiatonta said:

    Portion size, processed food, and the like are straw men. One of the reasons that the obesity statistics went up in the US is a recent rejiggering of the completely arbitrary and non-medically based BMI.

    And, anyway, the point of size/fat/body acceptance is not to figure out why people are the way they are. It’s to accept that they are the way they are. No more and no less.

  49. 49 On January 23rd, 2008, CynthiaC said:

    Size acceptance is accepting people the way they are AS LONG AS THEY’RE HEALTHY. If someone weighs 250 lb at 5’1″ and has trouble walking and breathing, yes, I would suggest that the person see a health care professional.

    As for processed foods/portion size, etc…I was back at my old high school recently and noticed that the kids are, in general, rounder than kids 10 years ago. Demographics based on ethnicity, etc have not changed a great deal.

  50. 50 On January 23rd, 2008, Becky said:

    Size acceptance is accepting people the way they are AS LONG AS THEY’RE HEALTHY.

    Well, no, Cynthia. Unhealthy people deserve to be treated as human beings just as much as healthy people. Unhealthy people don’t deserve to be mocked or humiliated or insulted or to have their health concerns dismissed by doctors or to be discriminated against in the workforce. Fat acceptance advocates fight against all those things when it comes to healthy and unhealthy fat people alike.

    Now, that doesn’t mean FA encourages people to live unhealthy lifestyles. If I knew a fat person (or a thin person!) who had trouble breathing or walking, I’d recommend they see a doctor, and maybe change their excercise habits. As part of a HAES approach, not a weight loss approach. But basic acceptance is not contingent on health status.

  51. 51 On January 23rd, 2008, cate said:

    hey all,

    while reading the comments, i have to say, i got the opposite impression from the NYT article. in fact, i think it did your movement very little justice. in reading the comments, i am so happy that so many people HAVE banded together to say “forget crash dieting. be healthy.” however, what i got from the NYT article was that it’s okay to stop at self-love. it’s okay to eat cheesecake and fast food nonstop. reading this now, i know it’s NOT what you all stand for, and i’ll apologize ahead of time for my, ah, blunt post on my blog (which actually echoes a lot of the sentiments that i’m seeing here).
    i’ll write another one momentarily. great work here.

  52. 52 On January 23rd, 2008, Rachel said:

    Thanks for the wonderful summation, Becky. It should also be noted that good health isn’t a moral imperative to be treated like a human being. Even fat people who admittedly eat unhealthy and don’t exercise and don’t care do not deserve to be discriminated against and stigmatized. People do all sorts of activities that can be considered detrimental to their health (Yes, I’m looking at all you meat eaters out there) and we don’t legislate discrimination towards them.

  53. 53 On January 26th, 2008, BigLiberty said:

    Hi Rachel &co,

    I have been lurking on this site (and Shapely Prose) since I saw the NYTimes article two days ago.

    I’m deeply floored and humbled; what I’d dreamed to do, to make known to the world (in personal and scientific frustration) was here all along, and I never even knew about it. I began working on a book of short stories that would each in itself ‘debunk’ a fat myth while plunging readers into the horrific realities of the discrimination and hate which comes the way of fat people every day.

    I read the NYTimes religiously, hunting through the “Obesity” search articles for links to journal articles, then reading those. I’m not a biologist or a life scientist, but my background is in science and mathematics and I’m a die-hard Baloney-battling logician. I’ve been pleased to see the myths debunked by journalists like Gina Kolata, though at times disheartened by the ‘same ole’ message of “eat less and move more” promoted simultaneously in a singularly contradictory manner.

    Finding these sites has helped me in more way than one:

    1. I don’t feel so alone anymore. Sure, I was ready to fight the Fat Acceptance Fight by myself if I had to, but you know, I really didn’t want to have to.

    2. All the links I’ve been gathering together that link to viable studies and newspaper articles are finally all in one place! Thank you very much, Rachel, for doing that legwork. ;)

    3. You’ve convinced me to start my own blog on the issues (including fat) that have been central to my life and the lives of so many others.

    4. From my reading, I’ve been very slowly starting to get the sense of an all-out war brewing on Fat. Not just the so-called “War on Obesity,” which right now is still largely private (thank god) and so can be largely avoided, but the government getting involved to rip children from parents based on weight (I know that’s happening already, but on a larger scale), refuse medical benefits to people based on (bullshit) BMI (which will likely happen if we have universal healthcare like in the UK, imho), and sanction wide-ranging fat-bias programs like summer weight-loss concentration camps being mandatory for children, and fat parents forced into ‘re-education’ centers for the crime of being fat and having fat children, etc.

    Good luck with MeMe Roth on that account, by the way. She likes to play the ‘parents of fat children are child-abusers’ card a lot. The welfare of children is one of the most politically volatile cards to play; if you notice, a lot of fat-haters apologize by saying, “Oh, I don’t hate fat people, but my god, won’t someone think of the children???” Beware, she’ll play that one for all it’s worth.

    It’s been a long, hard road for me. But that’s not quite on subject; I’m sure I’ll be posting much of my own story in my blog in the weeks to come (I’m a smart fatty so I’ve got all sorts of projects that no, fat-haters, don’t include inhaling pie and Doritos simultaneously, hooked to an IV of extra-sugared sodie pop, while soap operas drone in the background).

    I just wanted to stop in, with my first comment on your blog ever, to say — good work. Very seriously, MLK would be proud (steep praise, since he’s a great idol of mine). I’m sure he would ‘get it.’

  54. 54 On January 26th, 2008, Sarah said:

    Cynthia, unhealthy human beings are, well, still human beings. But yet, you don’t think they deserve fair treatment? Even criminals get a right to a fair trial. What crime have I committed by being unhealthy?

    I don’t consider myself a member of the “fat acceptance” movement anymore because I AM fat and unhealthy. I don’t care much for exercise and I prefer to eat what I enjoy. Like the majority of social movements, fat acceptance tends to trot out normal-sized people (like a “14″) who are good-looking because it gives them a better “face” to the general public. The dregs (like me) get ignored.

    So I’ll die, what, two to three years earlier because of my obesity? Big whoop. At least I’m enjoying myself and not being ashamed of living a life I desire. Like I care what some random person on the internet thinks?

  55. 55 On June 4th, 2009, Another one bites the dust » The-F-Word.org said:

    [...] was to help me learn how to SLOW DOWN.  I’ve not mentioned this here, but shortly after the New York Times story came out about the Fatosphere, I was contacted by a couple of book agents.  I pitched my idea of a [...]

  56. 56 On June 4th, 2009, Another one bites the dust » The-F-Word.org said:

    [...] was to help me learn how to SLOW DOWN.  I’ve not mentioned this here, but shortly after the New York Times story came out about the Fatosphere, I was contacted by a couple of book agents.  I pitched my idea of a [...]

  57. 57 On October 3rd, 2010, fivehundredpoundpeep said:

    I took a quick glance through the blogs, most of the ladies are young, and in the lower realm of fat, two would barely even be considered “chubby” and most fit the size 16-22 realm. I am glad they are accepting of themselves and trying to live best lives, but you see that is the limitation of size acceptance, should they ever cross the 350-450lb mark, that is when life gets far different.

    One thing I have realized a certain well known fat blog [not this one] rejected my membership, I supposed because I am do not fit the parasailing in Costa Rica class.

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