The fat acceptance movement is a grass-roots effort to change societal attitudes about people who are overweight. The movement, started in 1969, has gained steam since the 1990s, and now includes several activist organizations.
Fat acceptance covers several fronts but generally can be surmised as attempting to change societal, internal, and medical attitudes about fat people.
Societal: The movement argues that fat people are targets of hatred and discrimination, with women in particular subject to more social pressure. Hatred is seen in multiple places including media outlets, where fat people are often ridiculed or held up as objects of pity. Discrimination, it is argued, comes in the form of lack of equal accessibility to transportation and employment.
Internal: The movement also argues that people of all shapes and sizes should accept themselves as they are, at any size. It promotes "health at any size ," which places one's mental and physical health before physical appearance and size.
Medical: Through the works of authors such as Paul Campos and Sandy Swzarc, the fat acceptance movement has arguably improved its standing on health at any size. The movement's stance is that doctors should treat the problems of fat people independent of weight.
The movement faces challenges internally as well. Organizations such as the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA) are small, numbers-wise, and people interested in the movement tend to be clustered in larger cities - and spread across medium- to small- sized web communities. In addition, NAAFA's history has been entangled with Dimensions Magazine , a highly visible website for men who have sexual preferences for fat women. NAAFA has recently changed leadership in order to cut these ties, and has made several policy changes (including taking a stance against feederism, the practice of weight gain for sexual pleasure) which were applauded in the fat community. The role of sites such as Dimensions in the movement is a contested issue.
Fat acceptance has ties and common ground with the feminist movement and, arguably, the civil rights movement.
Visible People in Fat Acceptance
- Marilyn Wann , author of FAT!SO? and Activism Chair of NAAFA.
- Jennifer Portnick, certified Jazzercise instructor who was dismissed from her position solely due to her size.
- Paul Campos , author of books such as The Obesity Myth.
- Paul McAleer , author of Big Fat Blog.
- Sandy Szwarc, author of articles challenging widely-held beliefs on fat and health.
- Allen Steadham, President of ISAA.
Last updated: 10-12-2005 11:04:47