Some Questions about the Fat Acceptance Movement

So, recently I read some blog posts about the FAM. Many were clearly for or against the movement, some just seemed cruel and ignorant (and the comment section below each one of them! My god!). Then one post clearly asked the question – How should we talk about weight?  And eventually, it got me thinking.

My mother and my brother are both overweight, yet, their vital stats are perfectly normal. My brother plays squash and swims very regularly, and has a healthy, balanced diet, yet, can’t seem to lose much weight. Sure, he isn’t gaining more weight, but that’s the least one could hope for. I have also had cousins who have gained weight because of hormonal problems or other medical issues, and while they exercise and take  care of their diet, they have been unable to shed the excess pounds. Lastly, I have also come across overweight people who just love junk food and can’t bother to exercise – the kind which can be considered the ‘Fat person stereotype’ in an ignorant society.

So, when I saw the question – How should we talk about weight? – come up, my immediate response was – we shouldn’t. Unless it is certain that one’s excess weight is contributing to or causing a medical problem, I don’t see a need. Even in the case I just mentioned, only a medical professional should talk about this, and in no way does that give him or her the right to shame the person in question. I don’t know why people feel the need to attack the overweight with cruel comments or unsolicited advice. I don’t know why it is so difficult to just let them be.

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It doesn’t matter why the person in question is overweight – by choice or otherwise. Even if someone chooses to lead an unhealthy lifestyle, how is that someone else’s problem? They’re not stupid. They don’t need someone to tell them what is healthy and what isn’t. And jesus, they certainly don’t need jerks to make them feel bad about their appearance. The media has already done enough of that. I don’t live in the US, I am not overweight and I am not an activist when it comes to body image. So of course, I can be wrong about the details of FAM and HAES. But I really don’t see why people can’t mind their own business and stop telling others if they should lose weight. I have come across a fair share of ‘fat discrimination’ incidents, and it breaks my heart to think of what overweight people might be going through.

But as I continued to read more articles, one argument, against FAM, got me thinking. If someone was clearly anorexic, bulimic or had any other eating disorder which was causing them to rapidly lose weight, would you just ‘mind your own business’ because that person had made a conscious decision to eat that way? Would I not ask my anorexic friend to get help? Would the choice argument hold good for the other end of the spectrum? So, why should we use this argument when it comes to being overweight?

But are these two situations even comparable? Can you say that choosing to starve yourself into thinness is similar to choosing an unhealthy lifestyle which leads someone to obesity? Are the health implications similar? Or is this another exhibit of ignorance and lack of research?

I know that I will probably force an anorexic friend to get help, but I will not do the same for a friend who has ‘chosen’ to be overweight (whatever the hell that means). So does that make me a hypocrite? Thoughts?

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