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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"This is for all the Fat Girls"-Camryn Manheim

Fat Acceptance….
One of my favorite bloggers, Kelly, posted about the Fat Acceptance Movement. While she has a personal blog, she also contributes to www.groundedfitness.com, and she is working on a fat acceptance post for that site. She asked her readers, their opinions on the fact acceptance movement. Most of the readers responded with something along the lines of “ We shouldn’t discriminate against fat people, but fat people shouldn’t really ruin their health with being fat either.” I want to know how many of the posters are fat. Or obese. What is fat anyway? What is obese? Who decides? Ok..before I get ahead of my self…I’m addressing this later in the post.

I wanted to comment, but I was 10 minutes away from a staff meeting, and there was no way I was going to be able to form my thoughts about the fat acceptance movement, write them coherently and then post them. So I’m posting them here.

The Fat Acceptance Movement. Fat. Fat being adipose tissue on your body. We all have adipose tissue. We all have fat. So, would accepting our fat, just be the acceptance of ourselves has humans? Of accepting that no matter how much we work out, or count calories our eat frozen meals chock full of sodium and other unpronounceable chemicals, that we will probably still have fat, because we are designed that way. Fat keeps us warm, and soft, and you know..human.

But that of course isn’t what the F.A.M is about …it’s about accepting those who are large, who have to ask for seat belt extenders on planes, all the while hoping that we aren’t relegated to the middle seat, or that maybe no one is next to us, because those seats? Yeah..the arm rests aren’t that comfortable when they are digging into your hips. I’ve never had to ask for a seat belt extender, but why should I have to? It’s about realizing that fat people, are people first. Just like people with disabilities, or gay people, or black or white or red people. That hearing the word “fattie” muttered by a passer by, is just as hurtful and inappropriate as calling the pretty girl you are jealous of a slut, or calling the adult with downs syndrome a retard. It’s about recognizing that discrimination is alive and well in our world.

Let’s talk about me for a minute, I am 5’7” and when I weighed myself this morning I weighed 240 pounds. At this time last year I weighed 260. The last time I weighed under 200 pounds was probably in the seventh grade. I wear a size 18/20 and sometimes a 22 depending on the store (usually, the cheaper the clothes..the bigger the size I wear).
And if that was all you knew about me, you would say I am fat, and probably unhealthy.

But what if I said none of that…what if I said I was 25 years old, and I started gymnastics at age 3 and continued until 12. I can still do handsprings and backbends and the splits. Just don’t ask me to vault! I played soccer from age 6 through 17. I did pilates through college and went to the gym about 3 times a week. I currently get up at 5:20 am, and go to the gym before work, four to five days a week. I also walk my dog about 2 miles a day. I don’t count calories, but I eat pretty healthy, making sure to eat 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies. I don’t eat white bread or high fructose corn syrup. I have 2-3 drinks a week, don’t smoke and get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. And if I told you only that….would you know that my BMI is 37.6? That means I am on the high side of obese. Morbidly on some scales.

For me to have a “healthy” BMI, I would have to lose 100 pounds. 100. 100 pounds. That is the size of my college roommate. Have you heard those commercials on the radio that say “Are you 100 or more pounds over weight? If so you would be a good candidate for weight loss surgery.” Now, this might be my own prejudices coming out, but to be honest..I don’t think I qualify for weight loss surgery. I honestly think the doctor would look at me, and look at my fitness level, and my healthy heart and regular cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and I believe if they were worth their salt, and moral they would tell me to get out of their offices. That having the surgery would create more health problems for me than not having it. You know it isn’t a walk in the park right? That having the surgery doesn’t automatically make your life easier.

My whole point on this is….numbers. You can’t live by them. You can’t judge someones fitness level, or fatness level on their BMI, or weight or pant size.

So, in my opinion claiming that there is an obesity epidemic based on increasing BMI levels in America is totally crap. Check out this website, are those people labeled obese the people you think of when you think of “obesity epidemic?” No. Those people look healthy to me. Some of those people have already lost half of their body weight through diet and exercise, but as far as statistics are concerned..they are obese and contributing to the epidemic. The F.A.M. is about debunking that crap.

People in this country are bigger than they used to be, they are getting fatter the media tells us. What a strange concept. Could that be due to the fact that our society is no longer agricultural? That most of us work at a job that is considered sedentary? That while we are in an “obesity epidemic” the government is cutting funding for PE programs in schools? That kids aren’t being taught the value of physical play, they are being taught that it’s way more important for everyone to perform well on a standardized test, because lord help us if any child is “left behind.” That is a completely different rant.

Is it any surprise that we are obese when our food industry is run by corporations that lobby for their position on the food pyramid? That our foods aren’t whole and pure in their nutrients. The other day, I was buying dog treats for my dog, and found they had a better nutritional line up than Nabisco Brand Cookies. Or, at least, were less chemically enhanced.

Fighting the obesity epidemic is fighting the symptom, not the cause of our problem. We should be sending lobbyists to Washington to fight for PE in our schools, not to convince the government that High Fructose Corn Syrup is “natural.”

I realized that I’ve sort of veered away, but in my mind this is all connected. Yes, I am fat according to society. But I am also fit. More fit than my 100 pound college roommate. Yes, people should strive to be healthy and do the best possible things for them. The F.A.M is trying to tell people that you can do that, and be Healthy At Every Size.
In Kelly’s comment string, someone brought up the point that people who ascribe to the F.A.M movement get all angry when people who are fat try to lose weight. I don’t know if this is true, and to be honest…I don’t spend that much time on F.A. blogs, so I don’t know, but I think their true anger is that fat people feel like they have to be skinny, that the world tells them that skinny= worth it, and beautiful, and smart and socially acceptable. So they try hard, and sometimes fail at getting there. People shouldn’t have to be skinny. They should be healthy…and it isn’t the same thing. Dieting your life away isn’t healthy. Not eating birthday cake at your own birthday when you want to isn’t healthy. Eating McDonalds everynight isn’t healthy…….two sides the coin right?

I am not disputing that there are unhealthy people. There are people who eat nothing but junk and don’t get in any exercise, drink to much and smoke. And just like people who have healthy habits, they come in all shapes and sizes. Tall, short, skinny and fat.

This post, even though its looooong..is just the tip of the ice berg. The Fat Acceptance Movement is no different than the Feminist Movement, or Race Movements, or movements for Regligous freedom. It's about recognizing that we are different, that no one is inherently a bad person for having a genetic trait that they can't change, it's about realizing that Health and Beauty come in all shapes and sizes....

12 comments:

every gym's nightmare said...

Of course i read your blog, you goof.

I dont want to get too far into it cause im trying to stay unbiased until i finish all my research (and make you all read my post on thursday, HA!) but there are so many parts to this (healthy, unhealthy, activists against the acitivists trying to lose weight, discrimination, etc) but i just want to make one point:

Everyone has something they have to deal with, whether it be depression, a disease, an eating disorder, a handicap, a disfigurement, abuse, or a bad life situation in general. I find it disgusting that we, as a society, are accepting of this, and "supportive" with our concern, our charites, our awareness campaigns, etc. until "they" try and sit next to us on the bus, or try and work at our busniesses. Some of these are easy to hide (depression, etc) but for the unfortunate few that have to wear their "flaw" on the outside, and cant hide it, they have to endure ridicule and prejudice. and its not fair.
my boyfriend smokes. its bad for him. he knows its bad for him, so i dont have to tell him. its not my place to nag him until he burns me with one. hes a big boy and he can take care of himself. although I do not smoke, and dont support it, i gert just as mad as he does when someone make a comment while he is smoking 25 feet away from entrances (its the law in washington.) what business is it of theirs?
not all overweight people are unhealthy, and those that are, know they are, and dont need us to tease and torment them into doing something about it.

i could go on, but ill save it for thursday. thanks for your view,and not being scared to express it.

www.groundedfintess.com

Allison said...

Kelly,
I couldn't agree with your more.
And I think the paragraph you just wrote in your comment...could be your article.

Daisy said...

Hey,

I just wanted to say I found your blog through Kaths blog and every gyms nightmare and really enjoy reading your prespectives on things

Allison said...

Daisy,
Thanks! Do you have a blog? I can't link to it through your comment. :)

every gym's nightmare said...

SHHH! im probably going to use some of that ;)


www.groundedfitness.com

Daisy said...

No I don't have a blog. Too much work. I just like reading others.

littlecalder said...

i love this post! so poignant. i think a lot of times people forget that the ones that they're looking down on are human, forget that they deserve to be treated with respect, simply based on the fact of their humanity.
i suppose it wouldn't be too out of place to mention that i just started a blog dedicated primarily to my art, which kind of deals with women being joyous in their own forms, regardless of shape. if you'd care to check it out sometime, it's throughthehourglass.wordpress.com

every gym's nightmare said...

back to plagerize my own comment ;)

the post will be up monday, so check it out!

www.groundedfitness.com

Melanie said...

I stumbled upon your blog trough Kath eats. I'm too am 5'7 and weight 240 pounds. I was 325 pounds 7 years ago. I go to the gym 3 to 5 times a week. I walk as much as possible. I play tennis. I swim. I jog a little. I'm also a vegetarian, so I eat healthy and indulge when I want too. I'm healthier than when I was thinner in my teenage years, 15 years ago.

My "healthy" weight should be between 130 and 165 pounds (according to Health Canada). I could never weigh that low. I have a big bone structure, so for me to weigh 165 pounds is not possible. I would look terribly ill.

For me it's all about how I feel about myself. Yes, they are days when I would like to be a really skinny girl, but that's just not me. I struggle everyday to accept myself, and it's not an easy job.

The thing that I know is that when I work out I feel really good about myself and I have a more positive outlook on life. So working out and being active, for me, is the most important thing in my life. For both my mental health and my health in general. If I stay at 240 pounds for the rest of my life, so be it! At least, I'll be a healthy happy 240 pounds woman!

Allison said...

Little Calder,
I'll be sure to check out your blog!

Kelly-Your article was awesome.

Melanie,
Congrats on creating a new healthy lifestyle for yourself! It is uncanny things we have in common..i just found my self nodding through your comment. We should start the "Happy and Healthy 200+ club" Thanks for stopping by!

Sue Carter said...

I came across your post by accident while searching for something else but really enjoyed it.

I am what is considered morbidly obese. I am 450 lbs. I go to Curves 3 times a week, I eat healthy (well as healthy as anyone can I guess - I don't eat junk food or MacDonalds, etc except for once in a blue moon). Growing up large though is not easy. So many people look at you funny, laugh at you and the media keeps perpetuating the stereotype of large women sitting around the house in a housecoat, fuzzy slippers and eating bags of chips, pizzas, etc. Though that may be a small percentage of the SSBBW population (super size bbw) most are active individuals with jobs, families, etc.

I created an online magazine last year (www.ssbbw-magazine.com) to bring these women together and to let them know that they can be accepted and loved and happy.

Thank you for your post.

Ruth said...

Great post. I love what you said about not living life by the numbers... and arbitrary numbers at that. I've been reading an awesome book, Embracing Your Big Fat Ass and it's really helped me to see that even though I'm fat, that doesn't mean I shouldn't like myself just the way I am.