Fat acceptance has been presented to me as a movement trying to normalize unhealthy body weights and lifestyles (obesity) and claiming that society is the problem, not the weight of the person. While society is guilty of treating obese people poorly when it comes to belittlement and bullying, it should not be society's duty to look at an extremely fat person and think to themselves, "Yes, this is what self-love and healthiness look like," as the fat acceptance movement expects it to.
I do, however, agree that being overweight is not a black and white issue, and should sometimes not even be an issue at all. I agree with other aspects of the fat acceptance movement as well, but parts of it just outright confuse me. Here is a list of topics on "fat acceptance" and the beginnings of conversations about each of them:
1. Food choices
Yes, eating unhealthy foods is a way to make yourself fat. But unhealthy weights are usually caused by a number of things, not just a diet consisting of Burger King and giant cups of soda (although that certainly doesn't help). Some people are just born meaty and can't really do much about it. Others have really fast metabolisms and can put junk food away and yet have no physical repercussions. The opposite is also true. And age can be another factor, as with age comes a slower metabolism. It's just science. It's natural.
Eating unhealthy food is okay as long as it is not on your plate every meal of every day - we've all had food comas over the holiday season at least once - but once it does get to that 'every meal' point, something needs to change. I do think that there is a clear difference between a little overweight and obese. A little fat is fine and we shouldn't criticize anyone who has a few rolls here and there. We really shouldn't criticize people who are hundreds of pounds overweight, either. But that is usually where food choices have played a bigger role. Personally, whenever I have seen someone who is obese, they usually have a giant (GIANT) cup of some sort of soda in their hand. This correlation is no good. And no, it is not "self care" or happiness to treat yourself to these giant sodas too often! It can cause a lot of damage in more ways than one.
2. Low income
I do understand that obesity is linked to low income, which isn't necessarily the fault of those who lack the money to buy healthier foods. It's a fact, it's sad, and in this case, it is DEFINITELY society's fault. Healthy foods cost way more money than a meal at McDonald's, and, let's face it, McDonald's is way more filling than a bowl of lettuce. This is one of the downfalls of capitalism and is absolutely something we need to fix. And we are. For those who do have low incomes, there are food banks filled with healthy foods like bananas, apples, kale, spinach, rice, and whole grains. This food is free and has been donated by local grocery stores and random citizens. And even though McDonald's isn't known for its healthy options, they do exist.
3. "Curvy" girls
I love the show "Project Runway" so much, and I was super excited last season when they decided to have different-sized models on the show for once. They didn't all fit the cookie cutter model cliche! The only problem I had was when some of the models described their "curves" and how they wanted the designers to really keep their "curves" in mind when creating their looks. I guess they don't understand that there is a difference between curvy and…fat? It's like the whole apple-shaped, pear-shaped thing. Yes, you can be fat and curvy, but just because you are fat doesn't mean that you automatically qualify as curvy.
Rolls are not curves. They are rolls.
Curves, however, are defined shape in the body. Curvy girls have trouble finding pants that fit around the hips. Those high-waisted jeans might fit in the leg and butt, but are all of a sudden way too big for your torso. And don't even think about getting low-rise jeans. You will moon everyone when you need to bend slightly forward or even when you sit down (unless you get a belt, which doesn't really go with every outfit). When obese people can't fit into pants, it's either because their stomach sticks out too much or they just when up a size. (Or down. If that's the case, good for you!)
There is TONS of research on what obesity can do to your body (CAN - not will). Writing this all out is just rehashing from basic health classes, but here it goes. Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable health problems in the USA, as it can cause strokes and cancer. Not to mention type 2 diabetes, multiple cardiovascular diseases, and gallbladder disease (which does NOT sound fun). Sleep apnea doesn't sound like a walk in the park, either. You have to be hooked up to a machine while you sleep so you don't suffocate.
Now, let's be clear. People can have these diseases and body issues without being fat, and not all fat people fall victim these health problems. If your weight is not affecting your health at all, then by all means, do not change a thing.
5. Shame (or pride)
You should NEVER be ashamed of your size, no matter what the scale says. Just accept when you are overweight or underweight and continue to lead a healthy life, if that's what you're doing. But pride in being fat or skinny? I don't quite understand it. The only reason you should be proud of your body is if you set a health goal and eventually reach it and see the results in your body. Acceptance, however, is what we are looking for, and we can achieve that just by letting everyone live their own lives. And we really shouldn't worry about other people's bodies at all, unless we know it's definitely causing health problems. This includes binge eating disorder as well as anorexia. As long as the aim is to help and not cut down, there shouldn't be any problems.
6. Discrimination and bullying
Discrimination of any kind is absolutely detestable, and pretty much everyone has to deal with it (some more than others, mind you). One of my very good friends has been naturally skinny all of her life and she gets called anorexic because of it. There are three things wrong with this: she is not anorexic, anorexia should NEVER be used as slang to cut people down, and saying things like that is a form of bullying. Anorexia is a very real problem many people have, and we should take it seriously.
The above instance also draws me to wonder why we care so much about how other people look in the first place. Could it be that we are jealous? Could it be that we are so insecure about our own bodies that we feel the need to shut people down based off of their judgment outward appearances? Something I heard a lot in high school is: "She's not even pretty." Hm. Okay. But why say something like that at all? Because you are insecure and are probably jealous of something she possesses or has accomplished.
The same idea can be applied to people who are overweight and made fun of for it. It is wrong, it is stupid, and it probably has nothing to do with weight. If people resort to diminishing your self-worth by making fun of your weight or appearance, then there really is nothing wrong with you. Something is wrong with them. But there is a difference between that nonsense and someone doing their job, such as when a roller coaster operator won't let you on the ride because of your weight. That is not discrimination, that is the operator doing their job to keep everyone safe. They do that for the same reason they won't let children under a certain height ride. It is to protect you and everyone else on that ride from serious injury (possibly even falling out).
Don't make fun of people who are a different weight than you. You are not them; their lifestyle choices are not yours. And you don't know their story. Hire them if they are right for the job and serve them food without judgement. No matter what shape or size they are, see them as flawed human beings, just like you.
If you find yourself at a weight that isn't considered "healthy," don't blame society. There are some situations that you can't blame anyone for. In some cases, it could just be how you're built. And if it isn't how you are built, there may be medical repercussions. Seek some help, get some feedback, and understand how your body works. Don't focus on the problem and expect others to fix it for you; instead, focus on the solution and the path you need to take in order to get there.