Something I really love seeing is non-fat people speaking up for the fact acceptance movement. I like to see that people of all shapes and sizes are saying “You know what? It’s bullshit that fat people are treated like pariahs in America, and elsewhere. I’m gonna do something about it.” That’s great! Please do hop on this bandwagon of awesomeness and acceptance. However, while I generally love the non-fat praising the fat, I’m finding I have some issues that I can’t quite settle with, so I’m gonna try to hash them out here.
Issue 1: Non-fat people joining the fat acceptance movement and claiming to be fat themselves.
Okay, I will say right away I feel like an asshole for where this is going but I also need to say it. Not everyone gets to call themselves fat. You don’t get to claim the title of fat and proud because you have some belly rolls or jiggly thighs. Having fat on your body does not make you a fat person. You don’t have to be fat to support or participate in the fat acceptance movement or fat acceptance activism, but this doesn’t mean you actually are fat. Now, the big problem with this is, of course, at what point is someone considered fat? There is no magic number on the scale or the size tag that means a person is now fat. But if you have spent any time reading various size acceptance tumblrs you have probably seen a lot of small girls with little round bellies calling themselves fat or chubby and talking about how they finally learned to love their body. That’s great, I am so happy that you are loving yourself and accepting yourself! But are you fat? And is it fair to be a size eight and saying you are fat when there are really fat people that are still struggling to be considered worth anything by society? I never thought I would see the day when I got upset that people were calling themselves fat, but in today’s world people (typically girls and women) will get called fat for being anything other than model-thin, which might be where this “I have cellulite and I’m finally loving my fat body!” mindset stems from. I feel like the more small people that call themselves fat, the more people will only support fat acceptance as long as the fat people in question aren’t too fat. And that brings me to my second issue:
Issue 2: Supporting fat acceptance up to a certain extent.
I’m fat. Very fat. Over 300 pounds fat. For a lot of people, both inside and outside the body-acceptance crowd, this puts me outside the acceptable range of, well, acceptability. This ties in very closely with the first issue I brought up because many people might see a smaller, slightly chubby girl touting fat acceptance and say “I’m all for fat acceptance if that’s what their talking about! I just don’t support those really fat people.” Now, just to be clear, I’m not saying that every smaller fat acceptance advocate thinks this way, just that some do, and some people outside the movement see those smaller people and think that’s all they need to support. This isn’t news to anyone that has been involved in FA for a while. We’re used to people saying that it’s totally awesome to love and accept yourself but not if your, like, obese or anything! This is the big news, folks: Fat acceptance means fat acceptance. You don’t get to cherry pick the smaller folk and say, hey, they’re ok, just don’t expect me to accept really fat fat people. When I really hate to see this is when it’s coming from people claiming to be IN the fact acceptance movement, as in fat themselves. You don’t get to stand up and demand acceptance for your body and say that mine is outside the realm of acceptability. Onward to issue three!
Issue 3: Non-fat people speaking FOR fat people:
This is similar to issue 1 but slightly more specific. Here I am referring to people that are speaking up for fat acceptance and drawing attention to it, but not referring people to the work or words of really fat people that have already been saying these things. It’s great to draw attention to a movement you care about. But chances are, lots of people have already been speaking for themselves for a long time. If you’re a thin person, or maybe a little chubby, you have a voice that a lot of people are more willing to listen to, because you are closer to the acceptable body ideal than I am. So when you say that fat people should not be shunned, that we should all stop judging our own and everyone else’s bodies, that’s an awesome thing. People will listen. That’s powerful. But if you don’t point your listeners towards the work and words of advocates saying the same thing from a much bigger body, you run the risk of people thinking that fat acceptance stops with people that look like you.
We all deserve love, we all deserve to accept ourselves and be accepted by others. My goal with this post is really not to alienate people from the fat acceptance movement, because it is a wonderful place to be. I just want people to ask themselves if they are helping or hurting. I want to make sure that in the fat acceptance movement, fat people continue to have the loudest voices.