Yesterday I came across a Fat Acceptance blogger who said that she is over 400 pounds and her weight does not negatively affect her life.
Really. I had to ask myself, “Is she being honest with herself and her readers?”
I read further in her blog (I just couldn’t help myself) and she talks about the difficulty of finding clothes that are larger than 5X or size 34, having to rent a scooter at an amusement park because she could not walk between the rides because of her weight, having to purchase a seatbelt extender for her car, and a post where she explains that she has to wear a Poise pad all the time because of incontinence that is likely contributed to by her weight.
This really bothered me because when I was 300+ pounds, I admitted that my weight affected me and how I lived my life. I didn’t always admit it in public because I tried not to talk about my weight in a public forum, but privately I admitted to John that I knew that simple things like walking through the mall was harder on me than it should be because I was “fat.” He always tried to make me feel better, but I knew the truth.
I knew that my weight was negatively affecting me. I did not try to sugarcoat the times when I had to ride without a car seat belt because the belt in my friend’s cars did not reach across my belly. I did not try to make it seem “fun” to squeeze into an airline seat, and I never said that I was “healthy” fat person because I knew that I was at an unhealthy weight that did affect every area of my life.
When I do public speaking and people tell me that their weight doesn’t affect them or their activity level, I often say, “How do you know?” If it has been years since you’ve lived at a healthier weight, how do you know that your weight is not negatively affecting your life in some way? How do you know? You don’t until you shed some of that excess weight. (Disclaimer: If you only have a few pounds to lose, then yes, your weight is likely not negatively affecting you too much. But if you are morbidly obese or have a substantial amount of weight to lose, then yes, your weight likely does affect your choices.)
Although I knew that my weight affected some parts of my life, even I did not realize how much my weight was affecting almost every area of my life until I started shedding some of those excess pounds. I knew the physical hardships of being morbidly obese, but I had no idea that my energy level had suffered so much, that my self-esteem was as low as it really was, that I thought of myself as inferior to other people, and that not being able to sit in a movie theater seat comfortably was such a big deal to me. I never realized that my oldest child was sensitive to what her little friends said to her about her mom’s weight either.
As I discovered life outside of morbid obesity, I had to own up to the fact that the days when I did try to be accepting of the Fat Diane were a complete farce. For me anyway.
Perhaps there are people who really can be 400 pounds and feel happy with wearing Poise pads, not being able to find clothes that fit, or having to struggle to breathe when walking up and down their house stairs.
Or perhaps these people are being sold a bill of goods by the Fat Acceptance movement which says:
Proponents of fat acceptance maintain that people of all shapes and sizes can strive for fitness and physical health. They believe health to be independent of, not dependent on, body weight. Thus, proponents promote “health at every size”, the philosophy that one can pursue mental and physical health regardless of their physical appearance or size.
Within the Fat Acceptance movement there are several schools of thought on whether you can be trying to lose weight and still be part of the FA movement, or whether you should not be trying to lose weight if you are a believer in FA.
Due to intrinsic linguistic misunderstandings and differing definitions of the word “acceptance,” some fat activists believe the phrase refers to any fat person fighting for equal rights and opportunities, regardless of whether or not that person believes that the pursuit of reduction in a person’s body mass is feasible. Other fat activists define fat acceptance more strictly, applying that phrase only to fat people who are not pursuing a reduction in their body mass, and use phrases such as “fat activist” to describe fat people and allies working more generally on civil rights issues pertaining to fat people.
I am a proponent of respect at any size and of not discriminating against people because of their size – remember – I used to be over 300 pounds and know what that kind of discrimination and disrespect feels like. What I’m not a proponent of is just accepting our obesity as healthy, inconsequential, and normal.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether the FA movement has any benefits beyond promoting equal treatment of all people regardless of size? Does the movement try to give people a “free pass” on obesity without regard to their health and well being? Diane