I’m trying to figure out where I fall in the whole “Fat Acceptance Movement.”
For the uninitiated, this movement believes that being fat is no more a choice than your race or height is, advocates a state of good health regardless of what size you are through proper nutrition and exercise (they refer to this as HAES – Health At Every Size), and strives for equal treatment from a society in which fat people are the last bastion of completely acceptable social discrimination.
On one side of the debate, you’ve got MeMe Roth and the National Action Against Obesity. If you’re not familiar with MeMe you can read up on her here.
It’s kind of easy to hate MeMe and a lot of people do. Personally, I don’t. I think that in her way she’s genuinely trying to make her world a better place and make people happy. Activists always believe that if everyone else would just think the same way they do, we’d all be fine. It’s the same instinct that leads people to prosthelytizing their religious or lack of religious beliefs. I’ve seen a lot of MeMe’s interviews and she never appears to me to be coming from a hateful place, it’s just that as a lifelong thin person she has no understanding of how difficult it is to struggle with weight, she cannot comprehend why what is so easy for her should be so hard for others. She believes everyone would be happier being like her so she is honestly, in her way, trying to help people. She also focuses a lot on removing junk food from school cafeterias which I personally think is a great goal and I can’t fault that.
Honestly, I too believe I would be happier at her size.
On the flipside of the coin I sometimes wonder if fat people aren’t a bit like little people. They were born with something encoded into their DNA that is going to make life a bit more difficult for them physically and in all probability will also make their life span somewhat shorter than that of a standard human being. They have to live their entire lives in a world that doesn’t fit their shape. If someone formed a National Action Against Little People demanding that they grow into normal size folk for the sake of their health – how well would that go over? Is being fat any different?
Some studies I’ve seen on epigenetics and DNA would seem to conclude that it is not. Short term change is possible, but the statistical probability of remaining slim even after you’ve managed to accomplish a significant weight loss is staggeringly, heartbreakingly low. ***
Still… being able to go into a normal sized clothing store and shop, not worry about being forced to purchase a second seat on an airplane, not getting mooed at by passing teens in cars, going to a Broadway show without the teeny chairs jamming my hips painfully the entire time, and riding on roller coasters has been a lifelong dream I just can’t seem to give up on.
In the end am I just Don Quixote tilting at windmills?
I like the fat acceptance movement. I appreciate what they stand for, and in other circumstances as a person with the audacity to be both fat and medically healthy at the same time – I could have been one of their poster children.
But I don’t belong with them. I don’t want to accept this, I still want to be thin. Then again I think that a lot of little people probably want to be tall. Do any of us really have a choice in the matter?
*** The link to this fascinating, though somewhat distressing study was provided by my good friend and faithful science geek: Christopher.