The main goal of the fat acceptance movement is to change the way people think about fatness.
Since the first fat activist group appeared in the early ’70s, its focus is political more than aesthetic.
But most people struggle to understand fat empowerment. So, here is a broad overview of fat positivity and the anti-fat acceptance response.
What does fat acceptance mean?
Fat acceptance is the general agreement that everybody’s size is right. Therefore, by extension, overweight people, and fat women, in particular, should not be the target of discrimination in any social context.
Such a revision to the impact of the stigma of fatness depends on the collective social beliefs.
More precisely, on the awareness about the barriers that fat people face. Or the role of society in allowing us to accept our own bodies.
Fatness is a word loaded with social norms, which are children of the time we live in. To be clear, while obesity is not a healthy condition, being overweight or fat is not the end of the world.
However, you should not have any problems imagining how fatness can lead to several issues like:
Most likely, you can imagine several other examples because you share the social norms that being fat breaks.
But perhaps, you can also think about plus-size models and fat positivity influencers. Well, without fat acceptance and the activists that promoted a change in the last sixty years, you would only be able to come up with the negative scenarios.
The anti-fat acceptance crowd
No activism exists in a vacuum. So, fat acceptance sparked off the retaliation of the anti-fat acceptance crowd.
On either side, no one seems to be against our ability to love our bodies. But the contrasting attitudes struggle to find a balance.
The typical anti-fat acceptance stance puts health on the first line.
So, whenever anyone steps off the path on which most social norms agree, the finger-pointing begins.
Virtually any doctor and fitness coach has digital content that further explains this point of view.
Of course, having a real concern that fat acceptance may promote obesity in kids is understandable. What the anti-fat acceptance crowd ignores today is their downward communication style.
Fat positivity is a relatively new online phenomenon. But most people are not ready to concede ground and go against the tide.
Mockery attracts clicks, likes, and views. In other words, earnings from the monetized content. It is the fuel that pushes online content creators to create more videos.
On the other side, wannabe influencers are ready to give it a try and expose themselves. Often by posting inflammatory remarks, photos, or videos that barely do anything for the fat acceptance movement.
What about the authorities?
The authorities stand among the anti-fat acceptance supporters. Here are some notable examples:
1. The World Health Organization has a strict view on both obesity and overweight.
2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that adult obesity increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the US, almost one out of three patients with coronavirus needed medical assistance because obesity increases the risks of hospitalization.
3. All over the world, fat-shaming makes its way into the courts of justice. But the verdicts take time and lead to dragged-out trials as in the case involving Amira Khandala.
As most public figures do not address the body-shaming issue, change is bound to happen slowly. This is why the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) remains active since 1969 and promotes campaigns for fat rights.
How fat positivity differs from body positivity
Body positivity has eclipsed fat positivity and fat acceptance. In case you didn’t know, these terms express three distinct meanings.
In a way, fat positivity is present in both movements. But body positivity has a more commercial nuance and involves both media and companies.
Instead, fat activism is all about social change and anti-fat bias.
In a nutshell, fat acceptance is a political movement that aims to involve people of all sizes. You do not need to be overweight to support fat acceptance.
A narrow standard of beauty harms skinny people as well. Think of the unrealistic body image that professional models portrayed in the last decades. In the end, they caused:
- female stereotypes that triggered feminists
- eating disorders
- plastic surgery addiction
- skewed perception of the relationship between skin color and physical attractiveness
1 – Body positivity and money
All genders experience body shaming. However, some individuals are more affected than others by this issue.
Body positivity does not focus on creating more rights and a life free from discrimination.
Instead, the body positivity movement asks the question: “how do I love my body?”.
With such a general focus in mind, body positivity fails to help people who hold a different view of beauty.
Collective change can only happen when society understands the impact of discrimination based on body and who the victims are.
Body positivity is more about slogans. Especially in marketing and social media.
For most people, it is nothing more than a hashtag or a piece of clothing that says how it feels good to be fat proud.
The main reason that this movement got traction is that savvy entrepreneurs and marketers saw an opportunity to spark new business projects.
2 – Fat positivity and prejudice
Most people understand the role of genetics in determining each body shape. But for some anti-fat acceptance advocates, some fat influencers are going too far.
Especially when they post controversial content in which they talk to their belly or exhibits unusual behavior.
Fat positivity is not the denial of obesity. While body positivity promotes a Health at Every Size approach, fat acceptance wants people to feel empowered no matter their size.
From the latter perspective, you can still change and improve your health because the right to health is not in question.
A fat positive attitude is the result of a cultural and personal change. That is, believing that fat people deserve respect.
Weight loss should not be the only goal for them to achieve approval or admiration.
3 – Fatphobia and fatphobic tendencies
The word fatphobia has found its way behind the lines of fat acceptance supporters. Usually, critics and trolls use it to upset detractors and opposite views.
But its usage puts on display the same mechanics that the fat acceptance movement combats.
If a doctor explains how his or her patients struggle to lose weight because they need to for their health, that is not an anti-fat acceptance claim.
Similarly, if an overweight person fears obesity and the related health risks, stating that those beliefs show fatphobic tendencies is silliness.
Fat shaming is a form of destructive criticism. That is why fat acceptance is necessary. But if you are not willing to listen to what other people say, achieving collective change is impossible.
Talking about weight should not be a problem until a specific conversation breaks someone down instead of building him or her up.
Can you be fat-positive and lose weight?
The short answer is yes. Mainly because the benefits of exercise are so enormous that weight loss is just a side effect.
Besides, the face of the fat acceptance movement should become increasingly whiter, straighter, and thinner as time passes.
People of all sizes, all shapes, all ages, all abilities should support fat positivity. So, this includes skinny people as well.
Changing the way you look because you want is not the same as being forced to. When a beauty standard or social norm sets the basis for structural discrimination, people’s bodies that do not comply with the arbitrary requirements will always pay the price.
As a result, other people judge you because you look different, which is a cultural problem.
There is no rule saying that body positivity does not support weight loss. After all, the main idea behind this movement is to fight the weight stigma and expose how health outcomes depend on social and economic factors.
Likewise, fat positivity can protect fat people’s emotional health by influencing how medical care doctors and staff talk to their patients.
4 ways to be fat peremptory
Above all, being fat positive means:
- holding a positive body image so that you do not need to compare yourself with others for validation.
- promoting self-respect and self-love in teens and children.
- talking in an empathetic manner without making a fat person humiliated.
- understanding the frustration of people who cannot lose weight even if they stick with healthy lifestyles.
Obesity, health risks, and other misunderstandings
In some families and cultures, food is a very big deal. Family members often socialize around food.
Perhaps, bringing food to friends when you visit them is part of who you are or your culture. Plus, some people enjoy food more than the rest.
Overweight people usually know about health risks related to obesity. Then again, some groups do not share the same beliefs about fat being unhealthy.
For example, the Big Beautiful Women (BBW) gather consensus among men who love chubby women.
Plus size girls and curvy singles do not hide in separate dating apps and social networks.
But as the general situation improves, the anti-fat acceptance reaction links the increase of fat positivity content to obesity promotion.
Of course, the news talking about the obesity epidemic does not go in the opposite direction.
So, this means that the fat acceptance movement will continue because the main point is that there is nothing wrong with just being a fat person.