The Fat Acceptance Movement v. The Obesity Epidemic

Race, Gender, Media — Blog 5

The Fat Acceptance movement defines itself within its name: fat is okay. The obesity epidemic refers the United States’ population encroaching on a 40% obesity rate, and concerns related health risks. In other words, at a certain point, fat is not okay. Both movements claim health and wellbeing as their first priority, and seemingly feel they have stark facts in their favor. The closely associated belief systems take the same situation, interpret it incredibly differently, and come out with what many label as contradictory results.

Obesity-related illnesses remain well-documented and largely undisputed. However, these also need to be analyzed in accordance with other eating disorders. These are defined as “any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits.” Disregarding health conditions not concerning eating decisions that involve weight gain, eating amounts so extreme that they lead to obvious health risks certainly sounds like an eating disorder. Eating disorders fall under the umbrella of respect and understanding deserved by all mental illnesses.

Furthermore, at their best, body acceptance movements are not about beauty. Body acceptance movements encourage people to see beyond their most shallow labels. Feminist movements have pointed out that women need to be seen attractive first in order to even continue on to other notable attributes. Body acceptance movements encourage people, likely women, to see themselves as whole beings beyond bodies to be kept at certain criterion for others.

“Fat acceptance does not encourage people to be unhealthy: fat acceptance gives people the opportunity to cast off those constant negative jibes. It offers a space where fat people are allowed to be comfortable with their bodies, and to work from there — whether that means maintaining the same shape or changing it.“
~ Liverpool University Study

Positive movements encourage people to maintain and strive for their best selves. Who’s to say a person can’t love their body along the way, if part of that best self journey involves such physical change? In fact, a study at Liverpool University concluded that people exposed to Fat Acceptance are more likely to exercise and make strives for better mental health.

“…it seems that we now have some solid evidence to support the idea that fat acceptance and body love are inherently linked to shaping a more healthy and positive lifestyle. The study, conducted by Eric Robinson of the Institute of Psychology at Liverpool University, shows that feelings of discrimination may be causing overweight people to comfort eat, therefore leading to weight gain. So perhaps — just perhaps — public humiliation isn’t the way to encourage healthy attitudes, after all.”
~The Independent

Thus, scratch or two beneath the surface shows that healthy attitudes prevail, and that the key to this is balance between physical health and mental health. The two movements have more overlap than may first appear.

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