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Posted on Oct 6, 2011 in Dear Diary, Weight Loss | 158 comments

Fat Acceptance

Hold onto your hats folks, it’s about to get real deep up in here. You know, because we haven’t already had enough heavy this week, hahaha. Let’s just call today… Thoughtful Thursday, shall we? After all, we already know how much I love alliteration.

Yesterday I came across a Facebook post that a few of my friends had shared. You can click through to see the original image included in the post, but since it’s potentially NSFW, I won’t re-post it here. It’s a picture of plus-sized model Tara Lynn, nude (though with all her ladybits covered, of course), and the text below was this:

A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was “This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?”

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:

“Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on CDs. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?
They would have no sex life and could not bear children.
Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.
And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I’d rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.
We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.
Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: “How amazing am I?!”

I found myself in a bit of an internal debate after reading through all of that. As someone who has been overweight for the entirety of her adult life, I can sympathize with the thought that you shouldn’t have to be pressured into losing weight solely for the sake of being “thin.” After all, it’s that exact motivator that drove me into disordered eating and depression, and contributed to my obesity far more than it helped. There are so many pressures out there, inadvertent or not, that point us to the conclusion that success is marked by being model-sized: actresses, advertisements, and, of course, actual models. We all feel the pressure to be thin.

Naturally, out of any sort of oppression, even the emotional kind, rebellion is born. Enter the fat acceptance movement. It’s an effort to stop discrimination against and increase acceptance of, well, “fat people.” I am obviously, 100% in favor of stopping any kind of discriminatory practices that occur simply because of one’s pants size (which can include anything from bullying to actual job discrimination), but I find myself torn overall. I may get a lot of hate for even bringing this topic up, but I have to admit that I worry about the potential for people to use terms like “fat power” as a means of justifying an unhealthy lifestyle. I know that there are legitimate activists fighting for equality, which is awesome. But there will always be someone looking for a way to tie it into their own agenda, too.

Even within this movement, it seems there is dissension as to what is really being fought for. Some people really do honestly just seem to be fighting against discrimination. Some people are trying to find a way to see past the “versus” mentality of body size (fat vs. skinny, big vs. large, etc.) and both of those goals are fantastic. But some people use the excuse of “fat liberation” as a platform for supporting their poor habits. They make it seem mutually exclusive: if you accept yourself as the “whale” you are, you’ll be happy but you have to stay that way! Strive to be a “mermaid” and you’ll be miserable (and smell like fish! Hahaha.)

You don’t need to sacrifice a high quality of life in order to lose weight. I think that I’m living proof of that! No one should be able to use their life (“I have kids!” “I have a job!” “I volunteer!” “I commute 2 hours!”) as an excuse to stay, well, fat. Theodora and Katy have recently written posts that touch on that very point, in fact.

There’s not much of a debate anymore over the fact that obesity does put you at a higher risk for health complications. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule: skinny people can get diabetes just like non-smokers can get lung cancer and people with a BMI over 30 can live to be 100. But them’s the facts. And while I can accept arguments questioning the validity of things like the BMI system as a way to determine whether someone is at an “appropriate” weight, I’ve been on the larger side of the spectrum and I simply can’t accept the idea that if you’re truly obese, you can still be healthy. Happy, maybe (I wasn’t), but not healthy.


Source: 1, 2

It’s a hard line to tow. Of course I want society to continue working on embracing the concept that beauty is not one-size-fits-all (and especially not a size 2!) and I think that models like Crystal Renn, and actresses like Christina Hendricks are helping dispel that myth (obviously, neither of these women are what I would consider “fat” in the slightest, but they aren’t stick figures either and that’s my point.) Magazines like Glamour have started featuring full-figured models on a more regular basis (though infrequently enough that they’re still somewhat of a novelty at this point in time) and shows like Drop Dead Diva and Mike & Molly even have plus-sized stars. But for me, having “seen the light” in terms of my overall health and happiness now versus when I was obese myself, I also don’t want people to become complacent just because they have an excuse to. I absolutely believe that everyone should accept themselves and love their body no matter what they weigh. But that being said, I don’t want anyone to think that self-acceptance means having to stay unhealthy. Loving yourself doesn’t mean you can’t still want to better yourself.

The passage I quoted above bothers me because it glorifies being overweight. I know that at this point it probably seems like I’m waffling, and it’s true. I do keep going back and forth. I don’t want people to disregard their health in the name of “self-acceptance”, but I don’t want anyone to feel the infinite self-loathing that I did just because of how they look or how much they weigh. For being “fat”. We can call it any number of things — curvy, voluptuous, zaftig, rubenesque — but after a certain point, it’s tiring to come up with new synonyms. I’m starting to finally make peace with the word: fat. I was fat. And then I took steps to try to change that, not for the sole sake of being thin, but to embrace health. And I’ve also made peace with the fact that “healthy” for me will probably never include being a size 4. But that doesn’t mean that it has to include being a size 20, either.

I know that fat acceptance and fat glorification really are two different things. But not everyone is always going to think of them differently. For some people, the lines will blur. And it’s at the point when we think there is justification for our actions that we stop trying to change.

I don’t ever want to stop trying.

What are your thoughts on the ideas of fat acceptance and (versus?) fat glorification?

Please do let me know, by the way, if any of the thoughts I put forth in this post are worded in a way that is either offensive or unclear. If it’s the former, know that is absolutely not my intention, and if it’s the latter, well, it is ME after all. We can only expect so much. 😉

158 Comments

  1. ^^THIS! X10000

    I have an obese co-worker who definitely is a FAT POWER kind of girl. She always comments on my lunches and races, but glorifies her figure as saying ‘I live life to the fullest’

    I just don’t get why living life must include fried food, large portions and a sedantary lifestyle?

    I ain’t miserable because I’m losing weight. Nevertheless of all the image part of this, and the pressure to look thin, at the end of the day, whatever your size it’s your lifestyle that is important.

    If your bigger but healthy, then who cares? If you’re skinny but unhealthy it ain’t better.

    Anyway, I get where you stand on the going back and forth.

    But I get it … and I’m with you on this!

    • “If your bigger but healthy, then who cares?”

      A lot of people care. They assume I’m not “really” healthy. Or that I’ll be “healthier” if I lose another 50 pounds. Or, my personal favorite, give me tips on how I can shed some weight.

      “Try parking farther from your office and walking.”
      “Just replace your whole milk with skim.”
      “Stop drinking regular soft drinks.”

      • Oh the tips are great, aren’t they? As if changing that one little tiny thing – stairs rather than the elevator – is really going be the big secret to making us all supermodel thin. It’s like, hello, don’t you think if it were that easy we’d all do that?

        • The most entertaining part is, if they knew ANYTHING about me (other than what they *think* they know about me because of my appearance) they would realize how absolutely absurd their suggestions are.

          They are like telling a priest that maybe he should check out this nifty book called “the Bible”.

    • And that’s why I am not trying to say in any way that I disagree with the “Fat Acceptance” – as in, truly the ACCEPTANCE part of things at all. I think that people make horrifying assumptions about you once you are of a certain size, and it goes in both directions. I hear endless stories about women who have naturally fast metabolisms and love to exercise not for weight loss, but just BECAUSE, and people tell them all the time stuff like:

      “Girl, eat a sandwich!”
      “You work out way too much, it’s not healthy.”
      “You should try X, Y, and Z to bulk up a little. You’re too skinny!”

      etc. We live in an extremely sizeist culture, and I hate that. Because as I continue to say, I’m probably never, ever going to be “sample size” if I want to actually, you know, eat. And I’m okay with that. But even with that fact behind me, that doesn’t mean that I should have an excuse to lead an unhealthy life when it would be easy to hide behind that as an excuse.

  2. I love you, like a lot. But man do I ever disagree with you. 🙂 Ready for a long (and possibly offensive) comment?

    “There’s not much of a debate anymore over the fact that obesity does put you at a higher risk for health complications. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule: skinny people can get diabetes just like non-smokers can get lung cancer and people with a BMI over 30 can live to be 100. But them’s the facts”

    It looks like that isn’t actually all that true. As of recent, there has been more than one study come out that obesity is NOT reliable as a sole indicator of health risks. Basically, these studies state that it is nearly impossible to distinguish the actual trait of obesity from the actual acts of being unhealthful. Sure, a lot of obese people have these terrible diseases. But I don’t believe it’s BECAUSE of their obesity. I believe it is because of their habits (stress, eating, activity).

    I truly believe that obesity is simply a symptom of something else. That can be poor eating habits. That can be not exercising enough. That can be stress. That can be a thyroid condition. That can be genetics. So just like type II diabetes, the actual physical attribute of obesity is just a result of an unhealthful lifestyle. I’m not a doctor or researcher or really all that intelligent, but I personally don’t think obesity is the CAUSE of any of these diseases.

    That being said, I’m not naive enough to believe that carrying around an extra 50-100-200 pounds is good for you. It strains your heart. It strains your joints. It strains everything. BUT, I also 100% believe that there are certain bodies that are designed to carry around more weight. I waffle on this idea, but I kinda feel like I may have stopped losing weight because my body is like “Sweet, I like it here, let’s hang out!” And I am still obese (and even morbidly so) on most scales. But I’m healthy and happy. Does that mean I’ve gotten complacent because I’ve accepted that this might be my body for the rest of my life? If complacency is lifting heavy weight and running miles and miles and eating my weight in kale, then I don’t want to know what dedication looks like. 😛

    I totally agree with you that there are people that use the FA movement as a way to justify their bad habits. And that sucks. And gives everyone that isn’t a size 4 a bad name. But I’ve also experienced so much discrimination when it comes to my size that I completely embrace the movement to spotlight people that aren’t just one size. Honestly, to me, assuming that someone who is fat (by society’s standards) is unhealthy is just as silly as assuming a black person robbed you or you are going to get AIDS from touching a gay man. Extreme examples? Maybe. But I actually sat in a health screening for health insurance and was told that I needed to “try walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator a few times a week” to lose weight when at that time I was training for a half marathon. Holy discrimination! The nurse didn’t even think to ask me if I was active or how I exercised. She immediately assumed I was a lazy slob because I was obese according to her chart. It. Was. Infuriating. Am I the exception the rule? Probably so. But that doesn’t make it right.

    Mostly, my frustration is that people think fat/obese/overweight is a synonym to unhealthy. And it isn’t. If the FA movement helps change that, then I am all for it. I am not for people hiding behind the FA movement to justify their bad habits.

    Don’t even get me started on the term “obesity epidemic”. RAGGGGEEE.

    • Not offensive at all! This kind of thoughtful comment was exactly what I was hoping for, so thank you. And maybe I didn’t express myself super clearly what with all the waffling of my own, but I don’t think that we are offering totally opposing viewpoints here. I read a really interesting article lately that was about the medical studies behind being “healthy fat”, and how BMI might not be an accurate indicator of “health”. My doctor brother-in-law feels similarly about the BMI scale. I also believe that some bodies are just meant for carrying a little more “cushion for the pushin’,” as it were. But like you said, just because I don’t think I have to weigh 135 lbs, doesn’t mean that I don’t know when I’m carrying an extra 50 that I shouldn’t be. I don’t really mean to use the term “fat” SYNONYMOUSLY with “unhealthy” but I guess that’s just the easiest parallel, since it often can be the case. Not that I know the inner workings of every obese person in the country of course, but I feel that it usually isn’t because of a thyroid problem that someone got that way. I mean, it certainly wasn’t for me. And even if it was, does that means that you shouldn’t still strive to get down to whatever your version of a healthy weight may be? For me, I know that it just wasn’t “healthy” to have the “symptom” of carrying around an extra 70 – 80 lbs of weight.

      • And I think that is your personal decision that that extra weight wasn’t healthy for you. But does that mean that the entire population of fatties (woot! woot!) should work to lose weight? Absolutely not. And I know you aren’t saying that. But what I think the FA movement is trying to give all of us the freedom to make that own decision about our weight loss (or not) efforts without the worry of persecution by employers, medical staff, friends, family, media, society, etc.

        I keep coming back to me as an example because, well, I know me the best. 😛 But for me to lose more weight, I would have to be miserable. I’ve gotten to the point where, to lose a pound a week, I have to spend 1-2 hours in the gym six days a week and be obnoxiously careful with my calories. That just isn’t a life a want. Maybe that is being complacent. Although I don’t feel complacent. I lost 50 pounds and have gotten rid of my scale and have never felt happier or healthier. Even though I’m still a very zaftig 220 pounds.

        • Sidenote: “Zaftig” is definitely my favorite word of the whole bunch.

          • I think that at the end of the day the point is not about size or weight but rather how healthy you live. I’m all for the 80-20 by the way.

            My problem comes from the FA movement valorizing unhealthy habits.

      • Your mention of “healthy fat” makes me think of “skinny fat”. There are SO many waifish (sp?) women out there that are thin/skinny/”a healthy weight” but are extremely unhealthy when it comes to cardiovascular fitness and/or nutrition.

        I think the focus needs to STOP being on size/weight and more on overall health. As long as there is a human race there are going to be people of all different shapes and sizes – that just how it goes folks. Deal with it.

        I know that at 220lbs I’m much MUCH healthier than several “thin” people I know – simply because I eat right and exercise while they are fortunate enough to have speedy metabolisms (or whatever) and are naturally thin but eat like shit and never get off of their couch.

        All that said, I do NOT think Fat Glorification is safe. Just like I don’t think Skinny Glorification is safe.

        Yes, everyone should embrace their body as it is, but they should want that body to be at its best and be healthy (I’m talking normal blood pressure, low cholesterol, good lung & heart function, etc.) Using a high self-esteem to justify unhealthy habits (like over-eating or depriving, no physical activity) is dangerous and is only going increase one’s chances of developing medical issues down the road.

        I can safely say I’ll always be considered a “big” girl. (In my early 20s when I was at my thinnest, I was 175lbs and a solid size 14). But I’m most definitely healthier – and happier – NOW than I was then. I’ll take that and the “plus size” label that comes with it any day. My focus is on living a healthy life now, and if I successfully shed more weight, fine, but if not, I’m ok with that too.

        • I agree! I ran my first 5K when I was 220 lbs, and I have friends who are 120 and wouldn’t be able to last 1 mile, let alone 3! “Health acceptance” is definitely what we should be striving towards. There are SO many other indicators of health that have nothing to do with weight, but that kind of coincident with it. I wish I had gotten blood tests and stuff done in the beginning so I could really see how my overall health has been impacted by my lifestyle change.

    • Firstly I agree with this post sooo much and also agree with Cassie’s belief in finding the weight that works for your and being healthy in yourself at whatever weight that may be.

      That said, I’m going to be a niggly scientist (it’s my day job, sorry people!) and disagree with Cassie’s comment that:
      “Sure, a lot of obese people have these terrible diseases. But I don’t believe it’s BECAUSE of their obesity. I believe it is because of their habits (stress, eating, activity).”

      This is true to a point – all these things do cause disease but the fact is when you are storing more body fat than your body should (again we go back to finding the right weight for yourself here!) that fat does start to interact with you metabolism (and so directly causes disease like Type II diabetes) and it is the sheer weight of that fat that causes joint problems and compresses your internal organs causing other issues.

      So obesity, i.e. having excess fat, is a problem in itself (on top of poor lifestyle etc.) because your body is a dynamic system and adding a whole load of fat into that system is going to cause chemical and physical interactions! So yes obesity in itself DOES cause disease.

      • Very interesting to hear from an expert! (Lest we forget that anything that *I* say having to do with actual facts should obviously be taken with a HUGE grain of salt, hahaha.)

        • Hmmm “expert” not so much, geeky science fan – definitely 😀

    • I wanted to say the exact same thing! We should always trying to figure out a reason in things and I know sooo many people who have poor eating habits, never work out, have tons of stress and are still skinny!
      I believe there are so many other reasons why one is overweight.
      And it´s proven anyways that you have a genetic bodytype and no matter what you do, you will always come back to that bodytype (for example I will never ever be as skinny as my friend, bc it´s just not me). Healthy does not equal skinny, nor does overweight equals unhealthy. Gosh, this is some discussion! Def got you some traffic 😉
      Gretchen, great post, as usual, I really love your deep thoughts. Wonderfully written and no offensive at all!
      And I loved the story of the mermaid and the whale (♥)!

  3. Hi, I just discovered your blog (through CC) a few days ago and I loooovvvve everything you write. 🙂

    I agree with you 100%. I _am_ fat. I _want_ to be thin. I want this for myself, most of all. I’m a skinny person trapped in a “whale’s” body. I love to run but I can’t because there’s just too much weight to be throwing down the trail like that. I want to be able to go out and enjoy soccer in the park with my daughter and not get winded just by walking from my car to the field.

    All that aside, I know exactly who I am. My personality, beliefs, opinions and values won’t change just because my dress size does. I am who I am and I’ll never apologize for it. Do I have certain personality traits that I need to work on? Of course. Who doesn’t? My commitment to personal change is a selfish one. I once walked down that road of “needing to lose weight so boys A-Z will find me attractive” but that’s been long gone for some years. My honey loves me whether I’m a whale, a mermaid or just a plain old manatee. 🙂

    • “I love to run but I can’t because there’s just too much weight to be throwing down the trail like that.”

      I obviously don’t know your history or your injuries or what-have-you, but you an run at any size, I promise you that. I started running at 260 pounds. I completed my first 5K at 245 and my first half marathon at 225.

      I sometimes feel like this is part of the fat discrimination, the thought, “I can’t do something because I am ___ pounds.” You can! Will it be as easy as if you were 110 pounds? No way. But you’ll build up some rockin’ leg muscles, I promise. 🙂

    • I think that all the reasons that you put forth side are really indicative of why it’s not just about being “fat” or being “thin” for the sake of being either of those things. It’s not a mutually exclusive thing. Lead the life you want to live, aim for the personal goals you have. It shouldn’t matter whether that puts you in a size S, M, or XL, as long as it doesn’t hinder you in being able to do the things you deserve. 🙂

    • I totally feel you when you say “there’s just too much weight to be throwing down the trail like that”. I weighed 247lbs when I started running regularly. And sure, it’s easier now that I’ve shed some, but if I wouldn’t have started running at 247 I wouldn’t be where I am now. Sure, it’s uncomfortable (and sometimes downright HARD), but if you ease into it and get your body used to it, running will get easier/more comfortable and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

    • I don’t know you or what you are capable of, but don’t count yourself out just because of being fat! I’m currently around 250lbs, and I just started running. Lordy, my knees hurt, and it takes everything I have to get through one workout, but I’m doing it! I fully believe that if you WANT to do something, you CAN.

  4. This is such a delicate subject but I think it’s an important one and I’m so glad you brought it up – I just saw that mermaid/whale story on pinterest and kind of rolled my eyes. What I dislike about that story is the idea that it has to be all or nothing – if you’re going to be thin you can’t ever have ice cream with your kids or eat with your husband/friends and we all know that’s not the case. Just as you pointed out, weight and health are related but not always an indicator of one another.

    I am much happier with the movements that glorify body types of all size rather than picking one shape and throwing the others under the bus. It makes me uncomfortable when the rhetoric becomes more hurtful toward “skinny” or “thin” people – suggesting that they’re somehow less of a woman, less intelligent (if fat is wisdom that overflowed the brain), less happy and so forth. It’s not okay.

    On a similar note, I read an article online recently by a former plus-size “adult entertainment” star. It included a few tasteful pictures of her posing suggestively in lingerie. The caption on one read “To anyone who has a problem with this photo: Would it bother you if she was thin?” I felt awful for the woman in the picture that the author/editor assumed we would be made uncomfortable by her *appearance* rather than by what she was wearing(um, or not wearing in this case) or doing. Meanwhile, the article was really interesting and thought-provoking about how this woman’s self esteem and body image improved because of her job in the adult industry. It wasn’t exactly cohesive.

    • Eeee, I’m so excited about everyone’s insightful and thoughtful commenting today! Huzzah! I absolutely agree – the mentality that the two things, “fat” and “skinny” have to be mutually exclusive, one or the other, is what I find so inane about it. Yes, glorify all shapes, all sizes! Women, HUMANS, are not created equal. We span 4 feet to 8 feet tall, with hundreds of pounds in between. I really like the “Dove: Real Beauty” campaign for this. It’s only when someone starts to use their size as justification for reveling in their unhealthy habits that I start to get uncomfortable. I used to tell myself similar things, in fact: “It’s okay, there are other people that are still bigger than you and they’re considered beautiful.” “Eat what you want, damn society’s standards!” blah, blah, blah. And while my words were probably just a mask for the issues that I was dealing with in terms of my self-esteem and body image, it’s not exactly like those mantras were encouraging me to start my health journey, y’know?

    • I <3 this comment. And I totally agree, I would feel much more comfortable with a "Size Acceptance" movement instead of FA or skinny hatin' or skinny loving or whatever else there is out there.

  5. Great post.

  6. I was all over the whale/mermaid conversation until the whole “I’m large because I need somewhere to put all my wisdom and awesomeness.” Sigh.

    I do not believe that obesity is an illness that is out of my control. After looking around at my family members, I believe that I am genetically (and probably environmentally based on what I ate as a young person) geared to hang out on the obese end of the spectrum. Do I think this is permission to do nothing? Absolutely not. I think it is an opportunity for me to be aware of what my health risks are. And an opportunity for me to take control of my health. Just like people with family history of heart disease (hopefully) make changes to their diets. And how people with family history of breast cancer get more frequent mammograms. Knowing my family history just keeps me alert of what I need to stay on top of.

    But I still think it is unfortunate that I wear my genetic curse. There are so many illnesses/conditions that aren’t visible. That the rest of the world can’t see if you don’t treat it properly. If someone skips their thyroid medicine for a month, will her coworkers notice? No. If caffeine triggers migraines and I continue to consume it, will everyone around me know? No. I think most of us has some sort of condition – physical, emotional, spiritual – that we have to “treat.” And I think obesity is one that cannot be left alone and go unnoticed. If I gave up on “treating” myself for a month, people around me would notice. I would look different. My clothes wouldn’t fit. I couldn’t get away with it.

    Part of this is a curse, but part is a blessing. It keeps me accountable. It keeps me honest. It keeps me from allowing myself to pay no attention to my diet. Because I have this predisposition to obesity, my husband and I are both healthier people. I don’t know if I would be motivated to run and eat cleanly if vanity didn’t play a role in it (honesty is scary!). I don’t know if I would be this healthy if it was just “good for me.”

    There came a point in your post that I raised my fist in celebration. “Loving yourself doesn’t mean you can’t still want to better yourself.” I want to better myself BECAUSE I love myself. I want to run farther, eat healthier, be healthier because I deserve it. Because I’m not living my life at 100% when I’m lethargic, sloth-like, watching hours of tv. I live my life at 100% when I’m eating pumpkin lasagna, meeting with my runnign club and spending lots of time in my tennis shoes and on my yoga mat. I never thought I would be this kind of person. I never thought this would be the life I WANTED to live. But I think that is because I told myself for so long that I was fat and happy. I was fat and limited. And I limited myself because I had so much doubt. I am so much more empowered because I took control of my health.

    I wanted the whale story to end differently. Whales are awesome. Whales are exactly the size they are intended to be. Whales live their lives, healthy and happy, and don’t even give a thought to their size. THAT’S how I wanted it to end. Not with a justification of fluff, but an acceptance of whale-bodies, whatever shape they are in.

    And I’m sitting at 1-pound under obese. And I’ve reached peace with “overweight.” Because I am eating good food. I’m not eating too much. I’m traveling lots of miles. (I’m not singing, though, because that would be scary.) I’m a happy whale. I’m a healthy whale. But I’m not using my weight to justify unhealthy habits. I’m as healthy as I can possibly be. And my size is what it is. That isn’t an excuse. That’s acceptance.

    • “I’m as healthy as I can possibly be. And my size is what it is. That isn’t an excuse. That’s acceptance.”

      Yes. This. 1000%. <3 <3 <3

      The unfortunate thing is, I feel like 90% of the world out there doesn't get this.

    • This is pretty much the best comment that has ever been posted anywhere ever. Thank you.

      • I concur. With all of that.

    • I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I don’t store any of my wisdom in my thighs or my ass. That just seems… wrong!

      “I believe that I am genetically (and probably environmentally based on what I ate as a young person) geared to hang out on the obese end of the spectrum. Do I think this is permission to do nothing? Absolutely not. I think it is an opportunity for me to be aware of what my health risks are.”
      Krissie, I don’t know you, but you said it girl! I’m in the same boat as well, potentially doomed in the future to being obese with diabetes and heart problems. BUT, I know it now, so I’m doing what I can now to avoid it and take care of myself in the long run.

    • Also towards the coment of : “I’m large because I need somewhere to put all my wisdom and awesomeness.”

      Does that mean skinny people are stupid because they have nowhere else to store their wisdom.?!

    • I mainly agree with this comment. Except, as someone with a thyroid condition, you would definitely notice if I skipped my medication because the thyroid controls your metabolism. I would likely gain about 10 pounds, my hair would be completely zapped, and my face would completely bloat up.

      My medication provides with nearly 95% of my metabolism. That being said, I still need to work out and eat pretty healthy to maintain a good weight. Luckily, I really enjoy my gym and a lot of veggies and healthier options.

      I feel like as with the rest of life, it is all about compromises that are acceptable to you. I am okay with not buying chips at the grocery store (because them too often when I have them), but I will not give up full-fat sour cream on my sweet potato.

      Should there be body acceptance? Yeah, but should people be encouraged to find types of exercise and healthy foods that they love? yeah, that too.

  7. While I normally love your blog and enjoy following your exercise and daily eats and beyond adorable puppy pics, I have to say I’m a little disappointed in some of your recent “woe is me” posts. I am about the same size as you are and I too struggle with body image, eating right and finding the motivation to get out there for a run… but I find that it’s WAY easier to be positive when you’re not focusing on the negatives. I obviously understand that this is your blog and you are free to post whatever you want, but I personally would rather see what you’re doing to be healthier as opposed to these posts that are just reflections of your past, worrying about what your co-workers will think, and deep-diving into the media’s perception of obesity. It just seems like you are spending a lot of time looking backward instead of forward. Again, please please please don’t take this as a mean or rude comment… it’s just my opinion. I really hope you’ll get back to the more positive, upbeat posts in the future, because those are a lot more fun to read and have been helpful to me! 🙂

    • Just chiming in here: I totally get wanting to read more positive and happy posts, but I really appreciate seeing all sides of Gretchen’s health journey. I think so many bloggers out there paint a picture of sunshine and rainbows, when this journey can be really hard sometimes. It makes me feel a little more normal when I see that I’m not the only one that has neuroses and problems.

    • Hi Katie! Your comment was definitely not mean or rude (thank you for that!) and I really appreciate your candidness. Your points are definitely noted. I know that this week has included a couple of heavier-than-usual posts, and you make a good point that it doesn’t help to focus on the past and not move forward. But acknowledging that, I also think it’s important to reflect upon where you’ve come from. I don’t feel that this post was particularly “negative” — it’s not necessarily a happy one, but I don’t think in this post I’m trying to say “woe is me” (Monday’s post… pretty much was though, so you’re right, haha.) Today though, I don’t really feel like I’m focusing on me much, actually, it’s more just the general concept and ideas, with my 2 cents thrown in.

      All of that being said, I really try to keep a good balance here, and I don’t ever want to be demotivating (is that a real word?) to anyone. I had already planned on making tomorrow’s post thoroughly and embarassingly upbeat, so stay tuned! 🙂

      • Excellent, I will! 🙂

    • I completely appreciate all of the “heavy” posts and don’t find them to be negative or ‘woe is me.’ As a person who as struggled with weight my entire life, reading these stories helps me understand that I’m not alone, and that someone else has actually felt the way I do and has succeeded.

      Looking back on our past does not necessarily keep us stuck there and prevent us from moving forward. It’s quite the opposite. When you remember where you came from, you can keep yourself motivated never to go back there in real life. It also allows you to celebrate all that you have accomplished despite how hard it’s been. This is a person’s real life on display, and it’s certainly not going to be 100 percent happy all the time; if it were it’d be fake and unrealistic. I’d be less inclined to read, but that’ just my personal opinion stemming from how much I relate to Gretchen and her journey.

      • Thank you so much, Jackie! I think every other person commenting here only proves that we are SO not alone in this.

    • This is actually my first time posting on here – but I LOVE your blog. I so relate to many of your struggles, triumphs, and sushi-love 🙂

      I was just reading some of the comments from this post, and found myself disagreeing with Katie’s. I have to say, I’ve found some of your last posts very humbling, honest, but most of all, inspiring.

      As someone who’s lost 50 pounds, gained 20, lost 10, gained 2, blah blah blah blah…. I sometimes get exhausted in this healthy battle.

      Overall, I know that mentally, I am in a MUCH happier place than where I was at 5-6 years ago. I’m not depressed, and in general, know I live a fulfilling, happy life. Even if I feel I have a little weight to lose, I know I’m healthy. I’ve come to realize (after a LONG time) that what makes me happy isn’t the difference between 5 pounds, but it’s how proud I am of myself when I’m sweaty and have just finished a 6 mile run. When I realize I’m capable of running over the Golden Gate Bridge (hey-o SF!), confident joining a kickball league, hiking up Half Dome, WHATEVER. That makes me HAPPY. It’s been a long journey, but I’ve learned that pushing myself to new physical abilities makes me feel like I’m living to my full potential. That I’m experiencing things that wouldn’t have been possible if I was still out of shape. That said, sometimes, I get caught up on that number of the scale or pants, I feel deflated, and I need reminders of why I do this.

      My rant really has nothing to do with the fat acceptance movement or health vs size.. but rather about looking to the negative. I don’t think that living in the past or dwelling on past negative emotions is healthy, but I do think the occasional reminder of the places we’ve been are NECESSARY. For anyone who has taken on a health overhaul, perspective comes from remembering that starting place. It’s so easy to say, man, I’m still 12 pounds from my goal, or, I only lost .2 pounds. Rather than say, damn, I lost 50 pounds and can now run 5 miles! When I am running, I frequently think of how astonished I am that I’m able to do this, given my past habits, and that makes me smile. Sometimes, you just have to acknowledge how far down you were to fully respect where you are now.

      At any rate – happy Friday!

  8. I have never been “thin,” as society dicates it but I have been at a healthy weight and thin for me. However, I am the heaviest I have ever been right now b/c of medical issues and my personal issues. That said, I cannot accept the “fat power” movement. It is not as healthy to be fat as it is to be thin, all other health/ lifestyle factors equal (because thin is not always healthy). However, it also does not marginalize a person in any other way, such as intellectually, attractiveness, or socially, to be heavy. I am working on my health issues and my me issues and part of that is FAT ACCEPTANCE. In other words, I have to love who I am right now even if I never lose another pound for the rest of my life. I REALLY hope to lose weight but, in the mean time, I need to love me. I think people confuse good self esteem and fat power. Accepting where I am now and loving myself as a person and liking being heavier are very different (which makes this process so darn heard!).

    At the same time, I think it is great that our society is very very slowly allowing alternative ideas of beauty, as in woman on the red carpet who are beautiful and heavier. And, to me, that is not fat power but simply reality; women (and men) come in all shapes and sizes and all of them are beautiful and special, some of them are just healthier shapes and sizes than others.

    • Exactly, it really is a point of making the distinction between what self-acceptance is and what self-justification is, to me. I am never going to be a proponent of hating yourself as a means to motivate yourself because, well, it’s not really very motivating, is it? It’s a constant struggle though. Even if you go back several decades to when being stick-thin wasn’t in vogue, women were still told to obsess over how they looked.

  9. This passage is jarring.
    It puts down women for not being overweight. It reinforces the idea that some women aren’t ‘real women’ because of their size. And it goes above and beyond that by implying that their lives are friendless, sexless, and somehow incomplete.

    Is this supposed to be an argument for body acceptance? Because it sounds more like an argument for the superiority of overweight women over all others.

    Also, somebody tell me that this statement isn’t ridiculous:
    We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.
    We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.

    It doesn’t even make any sense!!

    I’m borderline overweight (if we’re talking based on the very inaccurate BMI score) and I find this passage to be offensive to all women. As an overweight woman I am offended that someone wrote this as a representation of all overweight women. Well, I personally do not feel that we are better than anyone else. That we are ‘more real’ in any way.
    As a normal weight woman I am offended to be put down because of my body size.

    This is not body acceptance and it is not okay.

    • I feel your point. The last part of the passage was my least favorite part, too. I understand what the author is trying to say, but you’re right: the wording connotes that if you aren’t overweight, you DON’T have “wisdom and knowledge” and you are NOT “greatly cultivated.” That you don’t make time for your family because you’re too busy working out. I mean, c’mon! That is just blatantly untrue. There are people who take it too far on both sides of the spectrum, but many people that are just trying to find their place in between. Which is where I *want* to be.

  10. Love this post, Gretchen! I’ve been waffling on the whole thing, too. I agree that a “Body Acceptance” movement would be way more helpful than a “Fat Acceptance” one. Too many times, when a group demands something, it gets shrill and strident, to the exclusion of hearing any differing opinions, and that is such a huge problem. I’m about 60 pounds from being a “healthy” weight. I’m dealing with depression, co-dependence, fatigue, and a shitload of other things right now – and part of my depression is how unhappy I am with my weight – NOT because society is telling me I’m too fat, but because I’M telling me that. I’m unhappy with my current level of activity (which has dropped from running 2-3 miles a day, 4-5 days a week to NOTHING practically overnight…and has been that way for almost a year and a half at this point), I’m getting happier with how healthily I’m eating, but realize I need to do better for me and my family. I really, really miss running, but the fatigue I’m dealing with completely eliminates the possibility of me running right now – most days, just doing a load of laundry wipes me out for the day. But I realize that I’ve also been using it as an excuse to do NOTHING – which is why I’m starting to work core into my day, as well as yoga. I may be too exhausted right now to run, but I still need to move – for me. And too many times, I’ve seen fat women who are demanding acceptance of their bodies no matter what shout down women who are working out or eating healthy because they DO want to lose weight – and that’s the problem. What I do with MY body, fat or thin, should not matter to YOU…or your “movement.” It’s MY body, it’s MY choice – and even if I am motivated by the fact that society bombards me with images of skinny chicks, it’s still MY right to lose weight – as long as I’m healthy and happy, who cares? And it’s easy for fat women to sink into despair thinking skinny women have it all (believe me, I’ve done it!) but remember – that skinny chick you hate so much, or soooooo want to be like? She has her own issues about her body, too.

    Heh heh – I do tend to ramble, huh? Hugs to you, sweetie!! You rock!

    • “It’s MY body, it’s MY choice – and even if I am motivated by the fact that society bombards me with images of skinny chicks, it’s still MY right to lose weight” – Yes. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

      More than anything, I think my biggest problem arises with women who will defend their body and their “right” to be overweight at all cost, as if wanting to change yourself, to get healthy, to lose weight is wrong. Like you’re saying that the world is right to condemn obesity. Again, it probably wasn’t clear in the post above but I do feel that there is nothing inherently WRONG with weighing 250 lbs if you eat well, are active, are happy, etc. But there’s also nothing WRONG with wanting to LOSE weight.

  11. Last night I watched a few old Star Trek episodes from the 60s, and noticed that most of the actresses in that show were kind of ‘curvy’. They looked a lot like me! Today, these women would be considered “fat” by Hollywood standards. That made me think, “I want to live in the 60s, too, where it was totally fine for a woman to have some curves!” Isn’t it crazy how our society has changed?
    Right now, I’m neither a whale nor a mermaid, I’m somewhere in between. I used to be a whale, though. I’ve reached a healthy weight, right at the center of the so-called healthy BMI range, but I’m not sure if this is really my ‘happy weight’. I keep wondering, if I should just try to accept my current weight, or if should try to lose some more, get in shape, tone up, etc. Could I be thinner, healthier, happier, more attractive? At the moment, I have no answers, only lots of questions.

    • Hahaha, welcome to my thoughts pretty much every day. I think ALL the time how if I had lived in the Marilyn Monroe-era, my body would be viewed so differently. I think the same thing about Renaissance times, but then I remember that I love indoor plumbing, so that’s out. I feel like I am left with more questions than answers, too. But it’s not wrong to keep questioning — just know that regardless of whether you really are at your happy weight or not, you are amazing, and you shouldn’t feel bad accepting yourself as you are. 🙂

  12. I agree with you Gretchen… when I saw that post on FB it bugged the bejeezus out of me. I’ve been in the ‘overweight’ BMI category most of my life and am now solidly in the normal category (and I know BMI is super inaccurate and does not = health but I use it as an indicator). Like Kate and Samantha said, the post makes ‘thin’ women seem somehow abnormal. How is that acceptance? Can’t I be happy and thin? I know I am happiER now that I have lost weight, but that’s because I feel better, have more energy, and am more confident. Overweight me was not defective, but she also wasn’t ‘better’ because she ate whatever she wanted and was sedentary. I was not ‘wiser’ when I was heavier, and I am NOT lonely now that I’m thinner. How ridiculous.

    I think your thoughts (waffley or not) are spot on… we’re an image focused society with a flawed view of what beauty is sometimes, but everyone of us deserves to be happy and healthy at whatever size.

  13. I used to be a part of this group on live journal called Fatshionistas. They are about plus size fashion but they definitely and openly have a social agenda of fat acceptance as well.

    This was fine with me. I read all the posts, commented on the fashion ones and learned from the others and developed my own stance (but didn’t comment mainly away from the politico/social threads).

    But then…one of the members said something or other about being on weight watchers and wanting to lose weight to be more healthy or to feel better about themselves or something. And they pretty much got a polite invitation to go eff themselves.

    I think it should be about loving your body for all the things it can do, not hating it for what it can’t. Be that “can’t ever do” or “can’t do right now,” something you are working on or something you don’t think you need to work on.

    I didn’t like the way you couldn’t be proud of your body and still try to lose weight. It was like you turned traitor.

    All this to say I’m not so sure about the “fat acceptance” movement as I saw it there.

    • btw: Krissie sent me. :O)

    • I’m so glad Krissie sent you! That’s such an interesting glimpse into exactly what I fear with all of this. Like I keep saying, I am all for loving yourself, accepting yourself, and not feeling like your worth is invalidated just because the scale might not read 125. But like so many others have already said here, loving yourself means doing what is best for you. And if someone thinks that they will be happier or feel better or look better (and thus be happier or feel better because of that) by losing weight, then there should be nothing but encouragement for that! I find it heartbreaking that the woman you talk about wasn’t supported for simply wanting to make a change.

    • OH THE FATSHIONISTAS.

      I used to post there at one time (actually, side note, my husband and I met because he was looking at one of his LJ friend’s friends page and saw a post of mine in Fatshionistas and liked my picture), but the second I mentioned exercise or eating healthy or anything having to do with bettering myself, regardless of if I mentioned weight loss or not, I was flamed. Told I was a traitor and a hypocrite. Like Gretchen says, isn’t it possible to accept yourself AND want to better yourself?

      • I guess they were pretty “far left” of the fat acceptance movement then.

        I have a philosophy that for every “wrong” a group or groups or society as a whole has to swing WAY TOO FAR in the opposite direction before we can find the “right.”

  14. When I saw this “story” on FB, my reaction was similar to yours, Gretchen. I am always 100% for size acceptance, and I don’t think anyone at any size should ever be marginalized for being who they are. You have written about this way more eloquently than I probably can, but here goes.

    In response to some of the prior comments, I have to say, I just don’t believe the majority of obese people are healthy. I don’t think that their size is the problem; it’s their unhealthy habits. And, when they change their habits, typically they lose weight. Obviously there are exceptions to the obese=unhealthy rule – people with a genetic predisposition, slower metabolism, thyroid problems, etc. Cassie – I commend you (obviously you are one of these exceptions!) because you are running races that I cannot even think of attempting yet. Still, I feel that most obese people are not like you and are not following a healthy lifestyle. I think unfortunately a lot of them think they can’t run because of their weight, etc. You absolutely prove them wrong.

    I lost weight on Sparkpeople (25 lbs, woot!), and I’m now at a BMI-deemed “healthy” weight (down from being overweight). Still, like I said earlier, I am definitely not fit. I am currently working on being able to run a 5k distance. I’m definitely not a star in the weight room. I’m working on it. 🙂 I lost weight by walking, becoming a vegetarian, and way upping my fruit & veggie intake. Healthy habits for sure, but I’m by no means “healthier” than you, Cassie, or anyone else for that matter. And unfortunately, the comments don’t stop now that I have pretty much reached my goal weight (between 155-160 lbs on my 5’10” frame). To some I am way too skinny, I eat too many salads, I don’t eat enough fast food, donuts, or whatever else is offered in the break room. To others I’m still a big girl with wide hips who needs to work out more or stop eating ice cream. The other day a stranger asked if I was pregnant (um, no, and I like my midsection thankyouverymuch).

    I think the best thing we can do is love ourselves and others no matter their size. What I will never do is condone a sedentary lifestyle or unhealthy eating as the best way to eat, because I know a healthy diet can cure people’s illnesses.

    • Very well said, Rachel. I guess it just goes to further show that you really can’t please everybody. I would literally kill to weigh what you weigh, but my “official” goal weight (as I’ve blogged about it, at least) is 165 lbs at 5’9″. I’m sure that to some, that goal isn’t low enough. According to BMI (which I clearly have issues with, haha) that is barely within the “normal” range. But to others, maybe that’s even too ambitious! Who knows where I’ll really end up? The important thing to me right now is that I am confident enough in my body to say that I am happy just to be on this ride, and I am deluded enough to wear bikinis to the beach. Both of which are big, FAT steps for me. 🙂

      • BMI is BS. And I loved your bikini pics (and that post, holy cow)! You looked great and inspired me to be more confident too.

  15. This is a great post that definitely got me thinking. And I’m got to say a lot of the things you said I agree with. I don’t need to be looked down upon because I’m “fat” or “overweight” or even “obese” and I don’t want to be 110 pounds either. A healthy body is all I want and what I’m working toward.

    So thanks for this – my mind has been racing with different scenarios/thoughts all morning!

    • Oh that pesky moderation. When will I ever master you?!

  16. “Loving yourself doesn’t mean you can’t still want to better yourself.” I love this statement, and I think it really sums up the struggle between physical health and mental health that so many people who trying to lose weight face.

    Great post 🙂

    • If nothing else, I would hope that sentence is the one that resonates with anyone else struggling with this issue. Thanks, Esther. 🙂

  17. I had the exact same reaction when I saw that on Facebook.

    • It definitely seems like it’s been a polarizing article/essay/passage/piece (not sure how to best describe it.) The comments on the Facebook posting itself are really interesting!

  18. Gretchen, I really love your post! While I understand that many women are overweight (according to social norms) and are healthy where they are, it frustrates me to the nth degree to hear women (men probably do it too, I just haven’t witnessed it) defend their sloth and gluttony. I’m not talking about curvy or overweight women in general, I’ve heard specific, individual women say this. They aren’t working out, they aren’t eating balanced meals, they’ve thrown it all out the window and “embraced” an unhealthy life style. While I agree that women should have high self esteem and be okay where they are right now, I think that everyone should be striving to improve themselves, whether it be physically or mentally, and NO ONE should use “fat power” as a crutch to use to continue living a sedentary unhealthy lifestyle. Thanks for the post! Jessica

    • Thanks for the comment! You hit the nail on the head. While, as many people have pointed out, being overweight or obese is not necessarily an indicator of being unhealthy, saying that you are specifically going to REJECT things that you know are good for you (eating plants, being active, etc.) in the name of “acceptance”? That’s just bullhockey.

  19. I am SOOOOOO glad you wrote this!!!! Everyone keeps sharing this on my facebook and I felt the EXACT same thing and I felt guilty for it! It totally had me until it started in with the “We’re fat because we’re so full with knowledge” BS. I feel like the whole thing completely invalidates itself. The point it was trying to make is so valid and important, but it shoots itself in the foot in my opinion. There is nothing glorious about being fat, just like there is nothing about being any race, ethnicity, gender, etc that makes you better than the alternative. I get being proud of where you come from, but I more so believe in the idea that every single one of us is created equal and deserves equal amount of respect and weight should not be a factor in that. However, as someone who made the change (regardless of whether my BMI still reads overweight because I honestly think BMI is ridiculous), it is so hard to swallow people being proud of unhealthy behaviors. Honestly, in the extreme cases, is it really so far off from the kind of anorexia pride you read about? Both are unhealthy. Both can be deadly. I feel like the biggest thing so many of us bloggers discuss is balance, and that being the key to healthy living in general, and that is what’s missing to me from this article. I just wish it would have stuck to challenging the idea of what a healthy body looks like instead of going on a fat promoting tangent.

    • Yes! There’s a reason why sizeism is now included in company’s ethics codes, alongside racism, sexism, sexual orientation…ism (haha) and everything else! Being “fat” vs. “skinny”, “anorexic” vs. “obese” ( in the way that people use those terms as descriptors, not clinically), we are all still people and all still inherently the same. But everyone has different bone densities and body frames and heights… health will NOT look the same on everyone!

  20. Obesity doesn’t have to be characteristic of disease and health issues…in fact I’m in the obese range now and some of the healthiest I’ve been. However the medical community doesn’t articulate well enough that habits often leading to obesity (overeating, stress, lack of activity, poor diet, etc) are the actual factors and no the obesity. One of my best friends does all those things and happens to be naturally thin but that doesn’t make her healthy.

    The Fat Acceptance movement, just like exercise, clean eating, etc. can be taken to far from the healthy place of wanting the best for yourself and your own body without discrimination to be a crutch or a fixation.

    • People can become fanatical about literally anything. I mean, take my ludicrous love for Harry Potter, for example (heh.) No, but seriously. I agree that it should be able treating the lifestyle, not attacking the “symptom” – whether you weigh 120 or 320 lbs, if you eat nothing but fast food and your only form of exercise is channel surfing, your health will suffer. That is where the focus should be.

  21. Wow – this is such a loaded topic! I’ve never been a thin woman. Even at my most fit, when I was running everyday, lifting 3 times a week, taking yoga 2 times a week and teaching 6 spin classes per week, I was still far from society’s “fit.” I weighed in between 190-200 lbs at any given time, and wore a size 10/12 (I’m 5’9″). Also, I was so strong and had crazy muscles, but all I could see was a fat me that needed to work harder, eat less, and lose weight. To me, that’s the nugget of truth all of these powerful women are talking about on here: accepting your hard working and healthy body. Back then, it would have been demoralizing for me to say I had “fat power” because that would have such a negative connotation in my mind. Fat is an ugly word. And the truth is, I wasn’t fat then, just not thin. I wonder what kind of affirmation we can come up with that is empowering, but that didn’t act as an excuse for unhealthy living.

    Uh, and this the worst, most emotional, and saddest part – when I was crazy athlete lady, I still got made fun of and had rude comments thrown my way by men and women. Whether we have self-acceptance or not, I still think the hardest part about being bigger in society is the over-arching concept that skinny is good and anything else is bad. It is really hard to continually accept yourself and have self-love when outsiders are nasty. I’ll never forget reading a blog of a woman who lost 100 pounds; she was on line at the grocery store and a young woman suggested to her a great food for losing weight. The blogger wrote how could this woman assume where I was BEFORE the moment she met me – I had already lost 100 pounds, and here she was telling me to lose more.

    Ultimately, I feel lucky that there is an amazing and supportive blogging community out there that gets the real, everyday struggles of weight loss. As we work to change our bodies to be healthy and strong, we are also working to change the society we live in. Here’s to us – “Blog Healthy Power!”

    • “Here’s to us – “Blog Healthy Power!””

      Now THERE is a movement that I can get on board with. 😉

      That story about the blogger who still faced criticism even after losing 100 lbs infuriates me, as does the fact that you dealt with rude comments even at your healthiest. ARGH.

  22. Gretchen, I adore you. As someone who has never been overweight, I always feel slightly apprehensive about sharing my thoughts the “fat acceptance” movement. But, since you brough it up…

    I believe that “fat” and “skinny” are two words that should be discarded from the English language. So many people don’t even fit into either of those categories! That said – I do not support the fat acceptance ideal. I’m the biggest supporter of self-confidence, but I cannot support the idea of accepting and embracing an unhealthy lifestyle.

    Eating in excess, living a sedentary lifestlye and using “I love myself” is not okay. I hope anyone who reads this understands that I’m not trying to say everyone needs to be a size 4 to be healthy. SO not the case I’m trying to make. But using “I love myself the way I am” (and being obese) doesn’t sit well with me. If you truly love yourself, you’d strive to be your best, healthiest self.

    *steps off soapbox*

    • I’m so glad that you did post! Hearing from all sides of the spectrum is exactly what I want. I don’t think that anyone here is disagreeing with you – using “fat acceptance” as an excuse to sustain poor health habits is not cool. That being said, there’s also nothing wrong saying “I love myself the way I am” because doing so doesn’t mean you still can’t want to change.

      • Oh, I agree so much with that. I didn’t mean to come across as thinknig “I love myself” is wrong. I meant it as it’s not okay IF you don’t want to change and you’re using that phrase as a resistant excuse to change. Oh I LOVE hearing women of all shapes and sizes saying “I love myself!” I makes my heart warm, because I haven’t always had that confidence in myself. I just feel frustrated when people know they’re unhealthy and they don’t want to change, even though their life/health is at risk. Sorry if I came across as meaning anything other than that!

    • I totally agree with Colleen! I don’t think someone should glorify being “fat” in an unhealthy sense, just like no one should glorify being “skinny” in an unhealthy sense. Everyone’s body is different, some people are built different. But everyone should do their best to follow a healthy lifestyle.

  23. I heart this post so much, and am going to pretend I’m posting on Twitter so I don’t write an essay response. 🙂

    1) I had the same reaction to the picture and its caption when I saw it posted on Facebook yesterday. (98)
    2) I am genetically inclined to carry more weight than is considered “healthy,” and have no delusions about ever being a size 4. (125)
    3) That said, I am morbidly obese, and have chosen to get healthy through Weight Watchers and exercise because that’s best for *me* now. (135)
    4) It’s only since I haven’t done theatre regularly that I’ve gotten sedentary; before that, I was surprisingly healthy for my extreme size. (137)
    5) Balance is key in life. Striking a balance between upbeat, motivational posts, and thoughtful, introspective posts is about being real. (135)

    Phew. That was HARD! 😀 You rock, Gretchen!

    • Hahahaha, Twitter would be so proud. 😉

      Number 5 sums it all up for me. Balance is key in LIFE. Balance between healthy choices and indulging. Balance between introspection and motivation. Balance between social activity and physical activity. To me, it’s just about always striving to find that balance. Even though I will probably always be swaying in one direction or the other, at least I’m trying, right?

  24. I wish I had the time to read every comment and reply! This is a really thought provoking topic, Gretchen!

    Personally, I LOVE the excerpt you quoted at the begining…but I wish it simply stopped at Mermaids do not exist, instead of starting to put down the mermaids. That doesn’t really jive with accept everyone 🙂 This kind of quote empowers me, because it reminds me that as a larger woman, I’m not alone.

    I’m not sure if you know, but I was interviewed to be on Oprah at my lowest weight, but ultimately not choosen to be on the episode. When I did watch the episode, EVERY story they profiled was the same; the “befores” were miserable and full of self-hatred and did not love themselves until they became their “afters”. That’s when I realized why I was not picked. When I was a “before” I still LOVED my life, LOVED who I was and was a fabulous, outgoing woman. I did not hate myself, I did not question my place in life. I did envy skinnier people, but it did not consume me or force me into a dark place. That wasn’t the story they wanted to tell…

    I think that we relate to this discussion differently depending on where we are in our weight loss journies. I think at my thinnest, most healthy weight, I would be waffling a bit too.

    I do not think people should be descriminated against because they are overweight, curvy, what have you. It’s terrible (and I do it too!) to judge people based on appearances and assumptions in any case. Fat or skinny. But I do think that people should strive to be the healthiest they can be for themselves. For some people, that may be 200 pounds, walking regularly, eatting healthy 75% of the time. For some, that might mean 150, running a marathon every year and a vegan. It’s incredibly personal regardless. We should all just support and encourage each other. Accept each other! Glorify each other! xoxox

    • I didn’t know that. How fascinating, but also disappointing that that’s the backstory they solely wanted to portray. I have always admired your zest for life and your refusal to let your weight define your happiness! You love your life and you love yourself, but you still strive towards health, and that is exactly the point.

  25. Great post! If you ever come to Toronto during the summer, perhaps we should try and plan it during the Toronto Bite Me International Film and Arts Festival. Check out the link if you want: http://www.bitemefilmfest.com/

    I am a firm believer in what I refer to as “weight acceptance”, since it’s not just about being fat, but for some people being really skinny. Sure I sometimes think “I could lose 10 pounds”, but I would only do it out of a media born vanity. I’m healthy the way I am and I don’t need to lose more weight. My family is filled with naturally larger people; I will never be a size 4. As I tell my friends, I could live off of salads and cucumbers until I got to that size 4, but I would rather be at a healthy weight and enjoy cheese, avocados, and fries when the mood strikes me. It’s about enjoying my life without compromising my health. Being thinner (I don’t want to use the word thin because I don’t perceive myself as large at all) wouldn’t make me happier.

    I love being a healthy girl with curves who can feel both sexy and confidant, and still enjoy a burger when I’m out with friends.

    • THIS. This is exactly what I hope to feel as well. Being ACTUALLY happy when I’m at my “happy weight.” <3

      • I know you will get there! You were born to get there. I admit that I don’t feel this way every morning when I first wake up, but I do at least 90% of the time and I think that’s pretty solid. Who doesn’t have their down days? I’m only human after all. And isn’t this what your post is about, being human and how humans are all different?

        BAM!

  26. Interesting post! I have a question though: why does it matter if someone who is overweight or obese doesn’t care about losing weight? So what if you know someone who is fine being fat and doesn’t want to do anything about it? Let’s say (and this is NOT what you’re saying, and I get that) that FA WAS just about allowing people to be complacent about their current weight. Why would that bother you? What does it have to do with you, personally?

    • Very interesting question in return, Lesley! I’m not even sure if I have a real answer for it. You make a valid point, it doesn’t really have anything to do with me on a personal level. I already know what I’m working for in terms of my weight, and I believe I’m really getting to a place where I accept myself as I am: a work in progress. I guess that if someone was really, truly happy being fat then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. How we each choose to live our lives is nobody’s business but our own. But just knowing my own personal struggles with self-esteem and body image, I suppose I do find it hard to believe that you can be thoroughly content with life if that life is unhealthy. It’s not about the concept of being complacent at a certain weight, it’s about being complacent with a certain lifestyle. And I don’t believe that being a couch potato who subsists on fast-food and outrageously oversized portions could ever be considered healthy.

      Again, I’m finding it hard to voice my thoughts articulately, so let me know if absolutely none of that makes sense, hahaha.

      • No, it definitely makes sense! I guess what I’m trying to get at is the underlying sentiment of a lot comments here, which seems to be: “I personally wasn’t happy like that, so no one else could possibly be, and I’m going to make sure those FA people know that they can’t possibly be happy either.” We just can’t hold everyone to the same standards that we hold ourselves when it comes to personal issues like health and wellness. For example, I’m vegan, I run one or two half-marathons a year, and I usually work out at least 5 days a week. That makes me happy. But I wasn’t always this way. So how fair is it for me to look at people who DON’T have my personal standards and say, “I don’t believe that only working out twice a week and eating animal fat can ever be considered healthy. It’s complacent. I wasn’t at my personal best when I did that. Why don’t other people do more?”

        Does that make sense? Why care about what other people do with regards to their health if they’re happy about it? Otherwise we will all end up being judged by that one guy who’s a vegan ultra-marathoner or whatever!! And I don’t want that guy judging my personal habits! It’s none of his business, and what I do with my health doesn’t affect him!

        Other commenters have said things like, “I think being healthy is the number one important thing” and “Eating in excess, living a sedentary lifestlye and using “I love myself” is not okay.” WHY NOT? Those things may be important to YOU and that’s great, YOU may think those habits are not okay for YOU, and that’s fine. But WHY do you care if someone else does not fall in line with that thinking? Why does it bother “healthy” people so much?

        Whew, that was long. I’m sorry! I’m just genuinely curious why people care so much!

        • I think you’ve raised a very valid point. Here are my thoughts:

          1) Why does it matter? At the individual level, it doesn’t to me. If I see someone who is 400lbs and 5’3 and is happy being that size it doesn’t affect ME in the immediate sense.

          That’s not the lifestyle I choose to live but then again there are a lot of lifestyles I don’t choose to live.

          What gets my goat is seeing the FA movement spur unhealthy lifestyles for those yet unable to fully make conscious decisions: kids

          When I see a larger/obese parent with an obese child it breaks my heart and angers me.

          Why? Why does it affect me when seeing a single/non-parent obese adult doesn’t?

          I was not a fat kid but I was a chubby teenager and a fat college kid and I was not happy being so. Now I’m a healthy adult and parent.

          What sustains my continued focus on being healthy is not to fit into a cute bikini but to instead set forth a good example for my son. I also want to be able to keep up with him and boy is he a fast runner.

          An obese/fat/very chubby 8 year old girl doesn’t have the tools to decide for herself that she is or is not going to be healthy. This sets her up for a lifestyle she didn’t choose and while I can accept an adult consciously choosing a lifestyle that is not healthy, I can’t accept a child being forced to live that way. And unfortunately, unhealthy habits are very hard to break which then sets up a long-term struggle that for many many people is simply overwhelming.

          I totally accept people for who they are; I’ve been blessed to receive the same courtesy. That being said, I cannot advocate for nor accept a movement or school of thought that, intended or not, risks the health, emotions, and overall well-being of innocent children.

          No child should be obese. Adults can choose.

          • Hi Jenny!

            I agree with you 100% that parents are completely responsible for the health and well-being of their own children. Absolutely! And you are obviously setting an amazing example for your son!

            However, I don’t know if we can make the assumption that just because a child is overweight, that means that his/her parent is practicing FA. Kids can be overweight for a number of reasons, and they can still be overweight when their parents are making all the “right” healthy decisions for them!

        • Because we have the choice to be healthy, when other people in the world don’t have the same option.

          I think that to chose to be unhealthy is selfish.

          I don’t think we should strike to perfection, run marathons and be vegan, but to be obese and loving it? To *me* it’s the equivalent of having a tumor growing in your face and loving it …

          • Dr. Dan (the bro-in-law) says that a more apt analogy is equating obesity to smoking, just replace cigarettes with potato chips and your lungs with your heart. It’s just as much of a lifestyle decision and it’s just as hard to quit. I have to agree! “Quitting” was, and continues to be, REALLY HARD.

          • Hi Lucy!

            Not everyone does have the choice to be healthy, and not everyone’s definition of “healthy” is the same! That’s what I’m trying to get at. There are a lot of overweight people who eat very healthfully and exercise. Are they still being selfish just because they are not thinner?

            Why is it selfish to be happy just as you are?

          • Lesley, I agree with you 100% about the “There are a lot of overweight people who eat very healthfully and exercise. Are they still being selfish just because they are not thinner?”.

            Not at all! I’m all for being healthy at any size. My selfish reference was about chosing point blank to eat crap, be sedentary and loving it …

            Love the discussion! 🙂

          • I can see Lesley’s point about the “choose” to be healthy part being a difficult point to argue.

            Unfortunately, “healthy” living isn’t always the most affordable option and the US is not immune to problems with food accessibility and affordability. Sometimes the most calorie dense food is also the cheapest most unhealthy food.

            To Lesley’s final point: “Why is it selfish to be happy just as you are?”

            Increased medical treatment due to obesity related disorders strains the medical system and impacts everyone’s bottom line whether we see it or not.

            Obese parents with unhealthy lifestyles have the ability to pass on those lifestyles to their children and perpetuate a cycle which again affects us on the macro-level with health care.

            There’s a line between acceptance of people and encouraging unhealthy ideals.

            For the record, I’m still overweight and trying to lose weight but I’m healthy – I eat well, work out, I do long-distance runs (13.1, 10 miles) etc. I have NO medical concerns – no diabetes, no elevated blood pressure, etc.

            That being said, I get judged for being a size 10 petite instead of a 2 or 4.

            I totally get “acceptance” and I work hard at even accepting myself. I just cant accept obesity as an innocuous lifestyle.

        • Hi Lesley,

          I totally agree with what you said – what I was trying to articulate is that if there’s an obese person who embraces what is medically deemed a non-healthy lifestyle (eating unhealthy foods, not exercising) etc then it’s all gravy to me. It’s that person’s choice.

          What I’m not cool with is that same person parenting a child and that “lifestyle” being passed on by example. Clearly there are many reasons children can be overweight despite the best intentions of parents and health professionals.

          An 8 year old that subsists on junk food and is sedentary because mom or dad insists it’s all ok and that health/weight isn’t an issue is what upsets me because it’s a choice imposed upon the child.

          Of course, without being a fly on the wall, it’s hard to know the details and thus it’s easy to be judgmental.

          I was trying to respond to the initial comment of “why does it matter to others?”

          Childhood obesity is definitely a rising trend and I don’t think Fat Acceptance or size acceptance is immune from unintentional consequences.

          Of course there’s still a valid question on the table – “Why does it matter” but to me, it does.

          • I definitely get that. And I think to be worried about how kids/minors are being treated by their parents is absolutely fair (to the point of almost being instinct rather than a choice). I guess I was posing that question more to the people who seemed concerned/confused/judgmental about obese adults who are totally fine with their own bodies.

  27. I also had mixed feeling about the post. I appreciate the acceptance, but don’t think it should be a justification for unhealthy habits. I think there is also this type of debate on the size zero side. We come in all sizes and I think as long as you are healthy it’s awesome. I think being healthy is the number one important thing. If a woman is naturally a smaller size and she works out and eats right she’s gorgeous and this is also true for a size 14 woman. I don’t think there should be discrimination either way. There shouldn’t be the assumption that because a woman is larger or curvy she is lazy, never works out and overeats, just as we shouldn’t assume that the woman with the small frame is not eating or addicted to working out.

    I totally agree with Krissie…I hated the part mentioning I am big because I need a place to store all my wisdom. What?

    Anyway, in other news, I made my chicken piccata last night…it was awesome and the recipe is up on the blog if you are interested.

    • I agree with Gwen who commented that she wished that the passage had ended at “Mermaids do not exist.” I can get on board with the whole first part of it. Don’t look down on someone just because they may carry a little extra blubber (get it? ’cause of the whale analogy? anyone?), celebrate the things that make us amazing just as we are.

      But once you turn it into a versus thing, and either/or type of dichotomy, it loses focus. It’s not about this OR that, me OR them. It’s about striking the happy medium in between. And yeah, I’m pretty sure my immense wisdom has plenty of space tucked safely away in my brain. 😉

  28. You’ve received a lot of thoughtful comments. I read that excerpt on facebook last night from a couple friends that re-posted it and I can see how it would ignite a lot of conversation. I agree with what a lot of people are saying- the media often makes us feel like we should either a) be thin or b) WANT to be thin; I agree that people should accept themselves however they are BUT I think everyone should *want* to be healthy and a live a healthful lifestyle. I also think we (myself included- haven’t been in a few years yikes!) should all go for yearly physicals where numbers speak to our health (cholesterol levels, blood pressure), not a nurse’s view of our physical appearance.

    • Guff, fine, I’ll make the dang doctor’s appt. 😉

  29. I vote for being healthy, regardless of the scale or skirt “size” associated with it. A few weeks ago, my trainer asked me to meet her at the YMCA for a “morning swim.” I spent a few days trying to talk myself (and my trainer) out of the plan since I hadn’t worn a bathing suit in years and wasn’t particularly interested in entertaining the skinnies with my cellulite and fat flapping all over the pool. Even so, my trainer kept saying, “You’re ready; we’ve been working out for months,” and because she’s never been wrong, I trusted her and took the plunge–literally.

    My cellulite and fat did flap, my cheeks (probably both ends) were beet red, and I managed to break a sweat (if that’s possible) in the pool, but I swam more laps than the muscular man in the lane next to me, and I swam more consistently than the skinny fake-baked blonde in the bikini (oh, jealousy is such an evil, evil thing.)

    I swam longer and farther than some of my skinny counterparts (perhaps) because I was “healthy” enough to do so. And I realized just because a person is skinny doesn’t mean a person is healthy! I’ve had a warped image all my life that skinny people are more fit, healthy, and able than fat people. This is not necessarily true!

    Do I want to be skinny? Yes! But what is skinny? I started at 265 and weigh 224 now. My goal is 150. 150 is DEFINITELY skinny to me, even though it may be GIGANTIC to the next gal. It’s all relative. Mostly, I want to be healthier (able to run a 5K instead of run/walking it…able to swim 15 laps instead of 8…able to bike 10 miles instead of 6.)

    To a mermaid, a whale is massively HUGE! But to an ant, a mermaid is. 🙂

    Becca

    • “To a mermaid, a whale is massively HUGE! But to an ant, a mermaid is.”

      Love this. TRUE. STORY. Also, you’re awesome. 😀

  30. Cassie from Back to Her Roots led me to this post and I’m glad she did. I consider myself a member of the Fat Acceptance movement. As to the Facebook post that inspired this, I read it and didn’t give it much thought. I think it splits bodies into a silly and unrealistic dichotomy under the guise of fat acceptance. But I mostly wanted to address the call for and discussion around the Fat Acceptance movement.

    From what I know of the movement, the core (and what a lot of you have been focusing on, quite happily) is the ACCEPTANCE part. There IS a “Size Acceptance” movement and, in fact, I tend to use that term rather than Fat Acceptance when I describe my academic work and interests. I use it because I think it better describes what the Fat Acceptance movement wants to do – namely, to remove judgment from bodies. All bodies. No matter the size. It’s called “Fat Acceptance” because it’s fat bodies that often get the most vocal judgment (all those “advice” givers you mentioned, for one) and discrimination. Now, bodies of ALL sizes are judged and the movement recognizes that. One of the most important parts of the movement for me was the removal of judgment of other people’s bodies. It is not your responsibility to worry about someone else’s body. Or health. Or habits.

    Lesly from Two Whole Cakes (one of my favorite blogs) had this to say in her FAQ which I think supports this idea:
    Is it okay that I’m on a diet?

    Sure! I talk a lot about body autonomy, which is the not-so-radical idea that each individual should have the ability to make their own decisions about their body, and to draw their own boundaries, and have those decisions be respected. Thus, I respect your choice to diet, or otherwise intentionally try to lose weight. In return I expect that you will respect my choices as well.

    Part of this blog’s mandate is to criticize and analyze the cultural forces that encourage people to diet or otherwise change their bodies to fit a certain universal standard. This doesn’t mean you are “bad” or “wrong” for doing so, but it does mean that I discourage comments talking about dieting and weight loss in an uncritical way. There are lots of spaces where talking about your diet is appropriate, but this blog isn’t one of them.

    I think this is also what Cassie and some other people have mentioned in the Fatshionista community. One, the community is very explicit in its description that the community is a “no diet” zone – it’s supposed to be about sharing clothing ideas and certainly other FA experiences and questions. Does that mean dieting or weight loss never get mentioned? No. A separate issue, but one I wanted to address.

    I also wanted to point people to my favorite Size Acceptance community and concept: Health at Every Size (http://www.haescommunity.org/). I think HAES speaks to what a LOT of commenters have said about being able to be fit, eat healthy, feel better, etc. at a variety of sizes. And it’s weight neutral – that’s my favorite part.

    I am hesitant to agree with the “Fat Acceptance as an excuse for ______” statements because of the bodily autonomy Lesley mentioned. I can respect your choices, voice my concerns but in the end it’s YOUR body. Not mine. I hope that’s what people take away from Fat Acceptance (and it’s sister movement Size Acceptance).

    • Hiiiii!!!! *waves furiously*

      I was hoping you’d stop in here and toss in your two, very well-educated and researched, two cents. 🙂

    • I will be the first one to admit that there are worlds about this movement that I know absolutely nothing about, so thank you for your informative comment, Nathalie! I’m already like 6 pages deep in Two Whole Cakes, and I can’t wait to check out the HAES website. I think I’m just happy to have an actual term for the concept of “body autonomy.” You make a similar point as commenter Lesley above, which is that nobody really has the grounds for judging anyone based on their body and I agree. Judgment bad, acceptance good. 🙂

      With my weight loss blog (where obviously I’m going to talk a lot about my diet, haha) my only hope is that for those who do *want* to change, they can find support, motivation, and some similar souls in the process.

      • You are most welcome! Always happy to engage in rational, thoughful discussions with people who are interested in health.

        And you’re certainly right, your blog is definitely the place for people on weight loss journeys to find support and motivation if they need.

        I mostly wanted to “stick up” for Fat Acceptance and spread some interesting links to commenters whose only view of the movement has been negative. I also wanted to point out that if anyone wants to push the “accept your body” framework – that shouldn’t come with limitations. If you want people to accept (and love) their bodies, it shouldn’t come with a disclaimer, that you can only accept your body if you’re doing this laundry list of things that I, MYSELF find to be healthy for ME. Or that you can only love your body if you’re actively losing weight. Or have reached a certain weight. Does that make sense?

          • Unrelated: Every time I see/hear someone use the word “frak” it makes my BSG fan heart pitterpatter. 🙂

          • Related: we are obviously soulmates. Where do you think I got it from? Octagonal paper and space moonshine FTW! 😀

        • HEALTH at every size. Nuf said 🙂

    • Thank you Natalie. I’m tired of reading stuff like, “I accept everyone for who they are BUUUUUT not if they’re obese.” YES PEOPLE! Acceptance is acceptance. Period. Everyone’s version of “healthy” is different. “Health” includes mental health as well. Some days, I need to skip that run or sleep that extra hour because my mental health is just as important as my physical health!

  31. Wow, Gretchen – I love your post but I also love your ability to strike up such a thoughtful conversation in the comments!

    I’ll put in my two cents… feeling less than perfect, struggling with body-image related depression, and disordered eating are not the sole purview of women with a few extra pounds. The weight issue goes the other way too. If I had a penny for every time I heard the words “You’re soooo skinny!!!!” growing up… well, I’d be able to afford the breast implants that might make me look like the ideal woman. Even now a lot of people in my life comment that I need to eat more, I’m too skinny, etc. And then on the other side of the coin, when I was pregnant (and gained 40 lbs) my mother COULD NOT STOP commenting about how “fat” I had gotten.

    Big or little, we’re all beholden to the ideal image of beauty and it takes a lot of work to be “ok” with yourself. And then in a lot of this new fat acceptance movement, skinny women get portrayed as evil or bitchy. It’s tough because yeah, I don’t get what it’s like to be overweight (pregnancy aside – and you wouldn’t believe the things people say to you about your body then, either). But I do get what it’s like not to match up to the ideal. There’s a lot of friends I grew up with who teased me mercilessly for being “flat chested.” Or who accused me of having an eating disorder. I think as women we need to band together to help each other on the “health acceptance” that everyone here is talking about. Because portraying someone as lazy because they’re overweight is no worse than calling someone bitchy because she’s thin.

    • “I think as women we need to band together to help each other on the “health acceptance” that everyone here is talking about.”

      Well said, Nicole! They say that acknowledgement of a problem is the first step, and I know that the comments here have definitely opened my eyes to so much more than I had thought about while even writing this post originally!

      • Thanks – the comments are really great. 😉 Also I’m wondering if someone else brought up this point, but skinny isn’t always healthy. I think a lot of the fit bloggers are so much more healthy than I am because they exercise. (I keep saying breastfeeding is my exercise but it’s not doing much for my muscle tone, ha!) And the fit blog community like you help inspire all sorts of people that they can do it – exercise, eat better, whatever. I think it’s a nice blend of acceptance and empowerment to be a better version of ourselves.

  32. Maybe these issues have occupied such an important place in our thoughts and culture these days because they have so much to do with control?

    After all, one significant aspect of anorexia syndrome is a misplaced sense of virtue or complacency at having “mastered” the need to eat. And, to a certain extent, that’s reflected in the community at large. Overweight people have a harder time applying for jobs (or running for office) because — as others have already observed in this thread — obesity is seen as a sign of poor self-discipline.

    At the other end of the spectrum, the immense social pressure to be thin is often felt as another kind of control. Certainly in some feminist circles it is interpreted as a means of exerting power over women — a kind of not-quite-so-gruesome footbinding, as it were.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about weight and the idea of control lately, because I am gaining weight at a frightening pace and feel kind of helpless about it. Last summer (a little over a year ago) I weighed 120 pounds. This morning I weighed 189. Yep, that’s right — 69 pounds in just over a year. I had to get a new wedding dress at the last minute because the old one wouldn’t fit.

    I’ve been on prednisone much of my adult life (I have lupus) so I’m no stranger to sudden, dramatic weight gain. But I’ve never seen anything like this. I am told that some of the other medications I take are likely causing this reaction, and apparently I may be able to stop taking the most likely culprit soon (fingers crossed) — but, in the meantime, I’m carrying around 70 extra pounds and feeling as though I have no power to change.

    Of course, that’s not strictly true — my diet is good, but it could be better; my stamina is limited, but I could exercise more. Still, it’s upsetting to feel helpless, and I wonder how much that factors in to the issue of weight management in a wider social context.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. I can only imagine what that kind of unknown, out of control feeling must be like, as I have (fortunately? unfortunately?) always known the cause of my own weight gain was (errr, maybe that Triple Baconator for the 3rd day in a row, Gretch?) You raise some very interesting points, positing that this movement is almost like the anti-ED. Absolutely more “food” for thought…

  33. I don’t know that my opinion will be popular….but I think there’s a fine line between “loving yourself no matter what size you are” and making excuses for being unhealthy. I know, I was there for years. I used to weigh 250+ pounds and I made all the excuses…it’s genetic, it’s my metabolism, it’s my bone structure…etc etc. In reality it was lack of exercise and the massive quantities of food I was eating.

    I woke up and realized I was killing myself. I was 24 and had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and was developing diabetes. I lost 100 pounds and I’ve never felt better. I wish I had woken up earlier and gotten healthy sooner.

    Your quote “I worry about the potential for people to use terms like “fat power” as a means of justifying an unhealthy lifestyle.” is basically how I feel. I used “fat power” to justify the entire pizza I was eating in one sitting. I think we need to focus on being HEALTHY not skinny.

    • It is a really hard line to walk. So many people commenting here, myself included, felt that same way. We realized how unhappy we were being so unhealthy, we felt that we were slowly killing ourselves and that it was time to make a change. And we haven’t looked back (except, you know, in my bazillion posts where I’m looking back… ahahaha.) But to the credit of other commenters, I realize that I also need to look at whether I’m being judgmental myself. I want to be able to support and help motivate those who come to the same conclusions about their bodies, health, and happiness as I did, and who want to lose weight (or just get healthier, even if that doesn’t include weight loss per se.) If someone is truly happy with the life that they lead and the way that their body is though, who am I to tell that they’re wrong?

      • I understand. The way I write my blog to my readers is that I assume they are reading my blog because they are ready for a change, they want to lose weight, they are looking for support. If someone was truly okay with their weight and not looking to lose weight they wouldn’t be reading, right? I don’t want to come across as telling people they HAVE to lose weight. Sometimes it’s not about weight loss, it’s about being healthy.Healthy could be a size 16.

        • That’s a really good point. I guess I meant that last line in a much more general sense. I mean, we have to know our (probably) audience in being, well, weight loss bloggers! 😀

  34. I love myself, but I am not willing to accept that this is as good as it gets. Nor am I willing to accept that loving myself means I have to stay this way (which, honestly, IS unhealthy, because I wasn’t working towards a healthy lifestyle). I wish that more people understood this. It’s not an all or nothing thing! My husband said once that loving myself means I should take care of myself. And I really wasn’t. I don’t buy into the idea that fat people who are proud of their bodies/love themselves wouldn’t want to be healthy, regardless of the size they are.

    I wish, most of all, that women could love and appreciate each other. We’re all different. We’re all beautiful. We’re all smart and capable of brilliance. I think a lot of problems would be solved if we all loved each other and stopped nit picking.

    • “I love myself, but I am not willing to accept that this is as good as it gets.”

      I think that sums up what it really should be all about. 🙂

  35. Told Gretchen that I was too lazy to post but I thought as a future doc (3 more weeks!) I’d offer an opinion. My $0.02 is that while depression and anxiety related to weight are detrimental and definitely throw a block to losing weight, being proud of being overweight is very dangerous. Being fat is as bad to your health as smoking a pack a day. I know there has been a study quoted in your comments that there are healthy fat people, but that was a poorly done study taken out of context by the NYT. There isn’t such a thing as healthy fat, there are just some people who aren’t as unhealthy as people who have a similar BMI. Being overweight by 20 lbs increases the stress on your heart by about 20-25% and increases the pressure in your knees by 80 psi. Anyway, I agree with your post that if you are “fat” you shouldn’t be discouraged or depressed but that you should take comfort from your friends and work to adjust your diet and lifestyle to be more healthy.

    • So you are saying that even though I eat healthfully and exercise frequently that because my BMI is 32 that means I’m unhealthy? I’m not convinced.

      I don’t have any experience in the health field, but I can honestly say I avoid doctors that pull out BMI charts in front of me. I refuse to believe that I can fit into the little box on the chart that says I am on my death bed when I can go out there right now and run 6 miles.

      Just out of curiosity, who would you say is healthier: a person with a normal BMI that doesn’t exercise and makes poor food choices or a person with an overweight or obese BMI that exercises regularly and eats real food?

      • I think that most people here agree that BMI as a sole indicator of what you should weigh isn’t really valid. But we *know* when we’re significantly overweight, when our weight is to the point that it might be a health concern. I didn’t have a doctor tell me this, but I knew that I was headed down a path that would have inevitably led to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. because those are the kinds of things that happen when you keep gaining and gaining, like I was.

        Like I said in my post, there are of course exceptions to every rule. There are thin people who live off of fast food and channel surf, fat people who run marathons, and everything in between. But they are called “exceptions” for a reason, and the fact that they exist doesn’t invalidate the premise that there is always an opportunity to be healthiER, even if one is already leading a healthy lifestyle. And for someone who is significantly overweight, that likely will involve weight loss.

        • I definitely agree that I’m probably the exception. But more often than not, it’s the exceptions that get hurt by mass generalizations. The stereotypes exist for a reason, and I get that, but it’s those of us that don’t fit in with the stereotype that are (obviously, way over-the-top) sensitive about it and have to deal with the fall-out. I’m a sensitive little lamb.

          And I totally agree that there is always an opportunity to be healthier. I also think there is something to be said for mental health. Which is a whole other can of worms to open, but here I go. 😛

          Basically, physically, I’ll probably be healthier in the long run if I cut out bacon out of my diet (*sad face*) but mentally? Dude, I love bacon and it makes me happy and just that happiness alone I feel is just as important as whatever biological benefits cutting it out would give me. So I choose to eat it.

          I’m not saying I should go swimming in a vat of chocolate sauce daily because it makes me “feel good” but I do get that part of the whale/mermaid analogy. There is a tipping point where become physically healthier isn’t necessarily making you mentally/emotionally healthier. I’m not pretending that I’m extremely restrained and if I went any more hard core, I’d be chancing my sanity. But I am saying that I’m happy with my life and my body and my health and I think there is something to be said for that. Even if I could be healthier.

          I’M A RAMBLER. I WRITE ALL THE WORDS.

          • This one is a going to be a whole lot shorter. I’m going to tell you what I told Gretchen, you’re about halfway there mentally. Gretchen had made a wonderful lifestyle change in her diet for the better, but she still couldn’t get into exercise even if I made her. You have the opposite deal in that you sound like you’re a great runner but that you still like eating all the great foods (and hey, it’s where I am too, ask me what I ate last night ;)). Are you unhealthy? Nope. Can you be healthier? Yep, but so can I, Gretchen and everyone else. It’s a goal to strive for, not an end point.

            Please let me know if I helped or if I should just shut up…

      • You bring up a couple of good points so I thought I’d answer each comment separately (sorry to spam your inbox ;)).

        Firstly, I agree that BMI is a pretty bunk measurement. A lot of primary care docs absolutely use it as a crutch. A lot of these charts and calculations are done for the “average” person medically which is a white male who is middle age (like 30-40 yrs old) and is 68″ and 70 kg. You can extrapolate the data from there out but it’s not always completely accurate. So, long story short, BMI sucks but it’s the best we have.

        Now to get to the meat of the issue, are you at a BMI of 32 unhealthy? No, I hate to say it but there is no such thing as healthy or unhealthy. Its a range of gray, not black or white. Would you be healthier if you lost some weight? Most likely. Are you putting more strain on your heart now than if you were a BMI of 22? Yes. Is it significant? Probably not at your age, but it is something you can improve on.

        I speak from personal experience. This time last year I was 215 lbs. No one would have ever called me fat or even heavy, but at that point I had gained 30 lbs since I started med school. I could still run 6 miles very well and a whole lot faster than most, but now since I changed up my diet a bit, exercised more, and am now 20 lbs lighter (only 10 to go to get back to where I was before I learned all this stuff!) I feel and look much better. Was I “unhealthy” then? No. Am I healthier now? 100% absolutely.

        And to answer your last question: No, you can’t compare between different people like that. It’s like which is better tasting, a verb or a hyperbole? 😉

        • “No, I hate to say it but there is no such thing as healthy or unhealthy. Its a range of gray, not black or white.”

          This makes me so happy to hear you say. Sometimes it feels like people feel like there is some magical threshold to crossover to reach “healthy” and it just doesn’t exist. It’s made up of a million different daily decisions that add up to your own personal definition of healthy.

  36. I think it’s dangerous for people assume that they know how healthy or unhealthy a person is based on their size, but it happens a lot. The Health at Every Size movement, which is pretty closely aligned with fat acceptance, is all about eating healthily and getting exercise — and not hating your body, even if it’s not as thin as you might dream of having. And, frankly, even if some people invoking self-acceptance aren’t doing the best they possibly could habitwise — is that anyone else’s business? Would it be better if their self-esteem took a plunge? I’d rather have any change in habits come from a place of loving my body and wanting to take care of it than from self-hate, and lord knows society pushes enough hatred and mockery of fat people at us every day. To have something else shoring you up, saying, no, just because you’re fat doesn’t mean you’re a disgusting whale who should hide under a rock and die… I have a hard time seeing that as bad.

    A lot of the weight-loss bloggers I read say really cruel things about themselves, or their past heavier selves, and I hate to see it. You’re a worthy person whether you’ve lost weight or not. Are you doing things to improve your health? Fantastic! But don’t base your self-worth in whether the scale is moving. It’s possible to be in the ‘overweight’ range of BMI and be eating well, exercising, and doing perfectly well. I believe there are studies showing that all-cause mortality is lower for the modestly overweight. But I still think that even if it isn’t, shaming people into hating their bodies just sucks. And if the rhetoric sometimes goes too far in the other direction, well, it’s not like I don’t get ten thousand messages a day telling me my body is unacceptable. I don’t think it’ll do any harm to have that countered by one that says I’m fantastic just the way I am. The extremity of some of the anger and panic I see (not here, but in other places) at the very idea that a fat lady might not hate herself 24/7 disturbs me. If I internalize too much of that, it’s not going to help me take better care of myself.

    • Extremely well written comment, Cyn! “Shaming people into hating their bodies just sucks.” It does suck. I think your comment highlights the difficulty that comes with the existence of this dichotomy in the first place – hate your body and want to change or love your body and want to stay the same. But it’s the all-or-nothing part of it that is what I hold issue with the most. I don’t think that overcompensating for the hurtful messages we are bombarded with regarding our bodies every day by doing a 180 and proclaiming that we don’t need to change a thing is the answer. But if one is already living a healthy life, and still happens to just naturally be bigger than society dictates we should be, well I don’t really know what the answer is there either.

    • Totally agree. You can’t shame someone into losing weight. I’m sorry if looking at fat people upsets some people, but that’s not the fat person’s problem.

  37. I’m glad you posted this because I also saw it on facebook and was having the same struggle with my thoughts. I wish I’d been nicer to myself when I was heavier, but I definitely don’t want to go back there and live like that again.

  38. Gretchen, thank you for sharing this post! We have been talking a lot about stigmatization of obesity in my pathophys of obesity class and I’m going to share your post with our class. As health care professionals, I think there is a distinct difference between being accepting and respectful towards patients who are overweight/obese and offering support and behavior modification suggestions for improving their health vs. glazing over research-based evidence and glorifying the obesity epidemic as a made-up phenomenon.

    • I’m glad you find the post interesting enough for that! The comments discussion is clearly where it’s all at. You’ll have to let me know what kinds of conclusions are drawn in your class, I’d be fascinated to hear!

  39. On a side note, I totally think you could start a “Fondue for two”. Clearly you are quite the natural at hosting interesting and constructive discussion!

  40. Have you seen the show “Big Sexy?” The commercials leading up to the premier 100% advertised the show as “I’m here! I’m fat! And it’s sexy!!” And if I were any of the real women in that show, I’d be furious with TLC for advertising it that way. After the first few minutes of the first episode, it became apparent that these women worry about their weight. They worry about their health. They worry about their dating lives and their social lives and their careers. And so many of the things they worry about are often weight-centric, or at least become weight-centric at the end of the day. That’s what the show is about. And while there is definitely a “fat acceptance” theme thrown in there (hard to tell if it was there organically, or if it’s just editing), I thought there were some pretty poignant things in there.

    Also, I think the show may have been canceled. After, like, three episodes. Or maybe it’s on during Modern Family or something so I just haven’t seen it.

    • There are other things on TV other than Modern Family?

  41. Holy crap. I’m not even going to pretend – I didn’t read every single comment. I know, shameful, but I’ve got stuff to do today! Way to be uber popular, roomie!

    So on that note, I’m probably not going to contribute anything new.

    I get to live behind the scenes of “Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!” because, well, I live with Gretchen. And her brother. And her little dogs too. So last night we were talking about this post and one thing that I remember saying (again, I’m sure I’m not the first to say it here today) is that self acceptance and complacency are not the same thing. Just because you want to change your weight – whether you want to lose or gain – or anything else about yourself, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily hate yourself. In fact, since (as soon-to-be-Dr. Dan pointed out) carrying extra weight can cause many different health problems, it might even be that wanting to lose a little weight when you need to means you LOVE yourself. And I think you can accept that you are a person who can change, who will change. We all go through changes all the time; I challenge you to find a person who stays exactly the same forever!

    I think this is what’s so harmful about the media – particularly supermodels. They represent an ideal, something to strive for, a finished state. But when are you there? When have you finished losing weight or making whatever changes you’re making? Don’t wait to accept yourself then. Accept yourself as a person in progress. Much healthier, right? So go ahead – accept your fat self, your thin self, your in progress self. And if you want to make some changes, accept that. Ultimately, it seems to me that the point of this “fat acceptance” movement is (or should be) to get rid of the self-hatred that can occur because you’re not “ideal.” And in that way, I completely get it. But like Gretchen said, it doesn’t mean you need to stay exactly the way you are forever.

    Well, Harry and Daxter just ran in my room and want my attention, so I’m going to go. Jealous? Yeah, I know. 🙂

    • I know that *I’M* jealous.

      And well said, roomster. 🙂

  42. Spot on; I couldn’t agree more with your post. My favorite quote was: “Loving yourself doesn’t mean you can’t still want to better yourself.” When we actually start to love ourself, that’s when we want to better ourself.

    Discrimination based on weight is quite obviously wrong. But “fat acceptance” shouldn’t be an excuse to live an unhealthy lifestyle. These are two ends of the black-and-white spectrum. We need to accept ourselves and our bodies for exactly what they are – the good, the bad and the ugly. But if the “bad” is being obese, you are disrepecting the one body that God gave you, and frankly disrepecting yourself.

    I lost 50 pounds, moving from a size 16 to a size 6. Under the BMI scale, I am actually 5 pounds overweight. Do I care? No. Do I look like a model? No. Do I care that I don’t look like a model? No. That’s “acceptance” in a healthy way. I did not, and should not have, “accepted” myself at 50 pounds overweight because I was unhealthy – high cholesterol, at risk for diabetes, and had absolutely no physical or cardiovascular strength.

    I now have a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and am happier and feel better than I did with the extra 50 pounds. I have learned to accept the bad parts of my “new” body – the sagging stomach and boobs – as my “battle scars” from having two kids and losing the weight. I have also learned to love the great parts of my body – the biceps that poke out from my arms, and the muscular legs from running a half marathon. To me, that’s a healthy form of “acceptance.”

  43. Great topic! I found you on the DC Bloggers group on facebook. I just moved to Falls Church from San Diego…so we’re neighbors!

    As for this, I loved the quote until the end. I think the key is to decide what they are focusing on. In the beginning, the quote focus on wonderful, non-weight-related things. And if you have to choose between being model-skinny or having those wonderful things, then yes…let’s be whales.

    But the quote makes a claim that they are large b/c of their wonderfulness. Why does it have to be about size? Can’t one simply be “larger-than-a-model-but-healthy”? Why did they have to take the equal extreme?

    Moderation is, as always, the key. I think it was a well-intended quote with a less than optimal execution. Can’t blame people for trying. 🙂

  44. Hi Gretchen:

    I am so happy that you wrote about this! When I saw the post myself it generated a few different reactions from me. Firstly, I thought: what a great way to promote self-love! I for one have a lot of difficulty loving my body and myself for that matter. And I don’t mean just being confident with my body, but REALLY appreciating how sacred it is and loving every inch of this amazing blood-pumping machine. The metaphor of the mermaid vs. the whale made me realize that I take for granted what my body is and can be capable of: I can make love, I can have children (hopefully), I can move my body with ease, my sensations are working, etc. The other day I actually looked in the mirror and said to myself, “I love you, you look great today!” It was an odd thing to do at first, but ultimately it made me feel really good to show myself some love. Not in a narcissistic/egomaniac type of way, but in a “hey, I’ve been taking you for granted and just want to say that I really love you” type of way. I think, we as a people get consumed with correcting ourselves to the point where we beat our selves up, and sometimes each other, if we’re not “perfect” or don’t look, live or act a certain way. That is why this ad made me happy – it at least is trying to break down this skewed perception of “normality” or “right vs. wrong” that our society continues to portray and promote. On the other hand, I think we have a long way to go in terms of our messaging. I agree with you wholeheartedly about wanting ‘society to continue working on embracing the concept that beauty is not one-size-fits-all’ but this ad diminishes the value of caring for one’s body and health, i.e. through physical exercise and a healthy nourishing diet. Just as you say it “glorifies being overweight”. I think the ads message can resonate more honestly and powerfully once self-love and self-care go hand-in-hand. We cannot become complacent with ourselves. Sure, a person can be happy with being bigger or smaller but that does not allow for the complacency of not trying to, foster a better version of themselves: inside and out.

    Phewww, okay I said my piece now peace be with you. ;P

    Hearts,
    sm

  45. This is a very interesting topic, and I’m glad you decided to talk about it. I think I’m close to where you are in that there are some positive aspects of “fat acceptance” and other negative aspects of it. I think not judging people based on their size and not feeling miserable just because you’re not a size 2 is good. I also think it would be helpful to be more realistic about what a happy, healthy body is like (not necessarily a size 2 or 4). I also think the fact that the subject of being overweight or “fat” or whatever you call it is so taboo and sensitive actually makes the whole issue worse. You can’t be objective about it. It’s totally unacceptable to describe someone as “heavier,” but really that’s just a fact like being tall or short or having red or brown hair. (The difference, of course, is that you can control your weight unlike your height.) What I don’t like about “fat acceptance” is the idea that it’s totally okay to be significantly overweight and you shouldn’t even try to eat healthier or get more exercise. First of all, I feel much lousier at a much higher weight. Secondly, there really are at least some health risks associated with being overweight. Specifically, about the quote, I don’t like the implication that fat people are happy and skinny people are unhappy. It is very possible to live a healthy lifestyle and still be happy. You don’t have to eat lots of ice cream in order to be happy. What that quote/idea really does is link food to happiness and friends, and that shouldn’t be the case.

  46. I love your insight about that article that has been floating around! I’ve been having a lot of the same thoughts myself and I think you worded it wonderfully. In my opinion, there is a difference between being obese and being a curvaceous, full-figured woman. While I too think everyone should accept themselves even if they’re not a size two (because how many people are actually a size 2?), I think that when your health starts to be a problem, its not okay to accept yourself. Not because of how you look, but because your putting your life in danger. Love your blog and I think you really did a great job with this post 🙂

  47. It’s amazing to me how many people judge others for being “unhealthy” according to their own narrow-minded or media-induced opinion. Perhaps if society slammed drug users, alcoholics, and people cheating the welfare system this hard then America would be a better place. I’m not saying being obese is good or bad, I’m simply pointing out it is the least of America’s worries. Consider the fact that our education system is going down the toilet, our President is agreed to an assassination on an American citizen, our tax dollars are being depleted by the U.N. and people who don’t want to get jobs (I know this is not the case for everyone, but a large majority, I work with these people), and drugs tearing families apart left and right.

    So too fat problems? Hmmm, yeah, let’s deal with the real problems, k?

    • I think you do have a point, to a certain extent. It’s true that obese people are more vocally condemned by the public, probably because it’s not as easy to hide obesity as it is to hide alcoholism or a drug dependency (another reason I think smoking cigarettes is an apt analogy, since in this day and age smoking is pretty publicly slammed.) That being said, just because the “obesity epidemic” or whatever you want to call it isn’t THE most important issue plaguing the US, it doesn’t mean that it’s still not a valid issue. You list how our tax dollars are being incorrectly allocated, but people who commented above pointed out that the rising cost of medical care across the country is directly associated with the diseases that obesity leads to. There are many people who can’t work because of health problems caused by obesity, and that also affects the welfare system as well. There are studies that show how much nutrition impacts a child’s ability to learn and develop, and that has a direct impact on the effectiveness of our education system.

      In and of itself it might seem like it’s superficial to concentrate efforts on changing something like people being “too fat”, but it’s an issue that impacts many other things, not just social purview and the fashion industry. You can’t tell me that doesn’t constitute a “real problem”.

  48. I love this post. Over the past year and a half I have lost about 35 pounds to go from a BMI-deemed “unhealthy” weight to a “healthy” one. I used to read a lot of fat acceptance blogs when I was overweight. I agreed with their overarching message, and still do—that what an individual looks like or weighs is not anyone else’s business, that size does not have a 1-to-1 correspondence with health, and that genetics play a big role in what size we are predisposed to be.

    I think where the fat acceptance movement hindered me, though, was that I took too much stock in point #3: that I was predisposed to be the size I was, and that there really wasn’t anything I could do about it, and that anything I could do about it (by restricting calories) was unhealthy and crazy. I really held onto the idea that thinking about what you eat, especially in a counting calories way, was obsessive and mentally unhealthy.

    I lost weight by counting calories. I know I will have to continue to count calories to maintain my weight, because I am just not good at eating the number of calories by body needs by eating intuitively. It does make me unhappy to know that many in the body acceptance movement find that to be crazy and wrong, and thinks that anyone who makes the choice to count calories to maintain a weight is crazy and eating disordered. My choice to maintain my weight is my choice.

    I also completely understand the other side of the coin, and think that in no way should a person be forced to count calories to lose or maintain weight, and that the desire to not have to think too much about eating is a completely valid reason to not lose weight. I just wish that the movement didn’t consider me crazy for making the choice to do that.

  49. I love your posts!!

    I think acceptance is a big thing for both the overweight individual and those around them. I do not think we should glorify being overweight but we should accept people where they are. A lot of people with weight struggles also struggle with self-esteem issues and I think having people accept them where they are is important. And it is no longer appropriate to make a comment to a complete stranger of a racist, sexist, sexual orientation, etc. but it is ok to make a comment about their weight. I disagree with that…hurtful comments are hurtful comments no matter what the content.

    I don’t think it is our place to judge a person’s weight. Some people are naturally thin and we may think they are too skinny and try to feed them. Some people naturally carry a few extra pounds and we may try to encourage them to eat less. Some people may be in a healthy weight range but have horrible health habits. We are on our own journey with food and weight and we need to be supportive of others where they are. Some have hit their turnaround point, others aren’t there yet. Now that being said I don’t think we should glorify someone who is really unhealthy no matter what their size.

  50. This whole discussion is so interesting. Gretchen, I think you are 100% right in what you were talking about. What I find interesting is that so many commenters are relating FEELINGS with TRUTH. Sometimes I thank God for making food appealing and taste good. Just think. What if we didn’t have taste buds? We just ate ONLY to stay alive? Anyway, I think we as humans in particular find ourselves eating for more reasons than just to care for our bodies. We eat to enjoy fellowship, we eat when we’re bored, we eat when we are celebrating, we eat when we’re scared, we eat… to FEEL something. Because God made food taste good, I don’t think there is any harm in that. But we start to worship it. I found myself there last year. I would get to 8:30pm and say, “I feel hungry.” So I’d eat a sandwich…which my body DID NOT need. It was only satisfying a feeling I had. I just had made food an IDOL. Not like, “OH FOOD I WORSHIP YOU.” And maybe my stomach did growl. But the TRUTH was that no matter what my body said, I had had enough. The [not-so-counted] calories told me so. I guess what I’m saying is that I hope you don’t get to a point where you ignore the facts about your weight or health report because you FEEL happy. Happiness comes and goes. If your end is to FEEL happy and healthy, I think you’re misguided. To BE something is much more of a commitment. God designed us a certain way i.e. I am not saying anyone needs to loose weight or take some action or that it has anything to do with weight at all [Hi Im Ali. I’m 130lbs and I used to worship food]. “I don’t know your life.” I just encourage you to go beyond FEELING and look for the TRUTH…

  51. Numbers alone cannot determine how healthy/unhealthy a person is, but at some point of being overweight (I’m talking BMI of 35, 40 or higher) the weight will affect your health. Maybe you don’t have high blood pressure, diabetes or bad knees now, but what about 5, 10 or 20 years down the line (if you life that long).

    Compare it to smoking: someone who smokes does not get lung cancer after “just” 5 years, but usually after 20-30 or more. So while seriously overweight people might say today “I feel good in my skin” but what about in the future? And a lot of the time I don’t buy it when people who are seriously overweight state that they are fine. At my heaviest I had a BMI of around 35, and I was not fine. I’m still overweight but I never want to go back there and feel so much better now. Carrying around all that weight literally wears you down, physically and mentally.

    We judge others by their look – it’s human. After all the first thing you usually get from another person is the way they look, not who they really are. But just don’t let that keep you from really getting to know a person, inside and out.

  52. I absolutely agree with you. I think that it’s absolutely fine not to be a size 2 but there is a heck of a lot between that and being obese. Being obese is not healthy and I think it’s a bit of a slippery slope to glorify being overweight/obese. If someone has a BMI of 26, you know, what? I don’t think there is anything wrong with it if they are healthy, but obesity? There is simply no way and how that is ever healthy. Maybe some people are lucky and don’t have health issues yet but they will eventually. Losing weight is not as hard as people make it out to be. It is hard but it doesn’t mean you have to be hungry all the time. Most people could lose weight easily by just making a few little changes (cutting out junk food or snacks or soda, etc.).
    I do not like the idea of fat people being discriminated against but I also do not like that being used as an excuse to promote an unhealthy lifestyle.

  53. These arguments always have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with health. It’s about appearance.

    All you need to understand is this: if it’s not your body, it’s not your business, period. You either treat fat people with respect or you don’t. It is not your job to police other people’s bodies. If you want to lose weight, have at it, but the judgment of other people who are fat is what needs to stop. Treating other people like the human beings they are is not up for debate.

    Ask yourself why it’s okay to criticise people for eating “too much” and how it’s not acceptable to criticize people for who they screw. There is no difference between the two–what a person does with his/her own body is only his/her business. Seriouly, mind to your own body and leave mine alone.

  54. On the issue of weight, where DO we draw the line between acceptance and glorification? What a tough question, which can apply to both sides of the spectrum (underweight and overweight). What I can say is that a positive body image greatly affects your confidence in other areas of your life.

    Contrary to popular belief, sometimes diet and exercise DOESN’T work (esp long term). That’s because a lot of people are dealing with PTLD and cannot get rid of stubborn, resistant fat no matter how hard or what they try.

    Loving yourself and loving your body gives you the confidence to be happy and successful.

    Thanks Gretchen for the wonderful post.

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