8.21.2013

Fat Acceptance?

My friend Michael sent me a link to this tumblr, "I Need Fat Acceptance." The idea is that people are posting their arguments that obesity is equivalent to homosexuality, race and gender, and should just be accepted as such.

No. It's just not.

Look, you're not born fat (except for the people with actual medical problems, whom I already covered in this post). Gay people are born gay. Everyone is born whatever race you are. You're born male or female. You're born with your eye color, hair color, height, and so on. But you're not born fat. You can HELP being fat.

Asking me to accept you for being fat is easy: I accept it. You're fat. There you go.

The problem is, you're not ok with it. You can't accept it. You want validation from me that being fat is okay, not acceptance that I'm okay with you being fat. And you feel fighting the "good fight" of forcing people to accept your poor eating habits, lack of exercise and general apathy are normal and good is going to change how you see yourself. If society accepts you, you can accept yourself.

That's just not going to happen. Because it's a choice. Much like smoking, drinking, tattoos and other things are choices. I chose to lose weight and be fit. I'm still fighting that fight, but I'm not morbidly obese anymore. I also chose to get tattoos. Yes, I get comments on them, both good and bad. And when I post on Facebook or Twitter or this blog the stories of how a lady was scared of me on a plane because she assumed I was in prison from having tats, I'm not asking the world to change their mind and accept me. I'm laughing at her. Because she doesn't get me and think she does.

I was once 390 pounds. I am now 269, and actively participate in a number of athletic events. This did not happen overnight. In fact, it didn't happen in a few months. It's been a systematic process of eating right and exercising.  It took a LOT of hard work and discipline.

Asking the world to accept my 390 pound self takes no work and no discipline. It puts the responsibility of my self-image in the hands of everyone else. It's lazy. Period.

If someone thinks you're stupid because you're overweight, laugh at them, flip them off and move on. If you didn't get a job because you're overweight, sue them, or find another job with less superficial people. If you're getting ridiculed for your size, change your size. You CAN help it. Take it from someone who said he couldn't help it for ten years, then one day did the necessary work.

Otherwise, learn to accept yourself for who you are. And who you are is fat. Being fat comes with certain societal consequences. Accepting those is part of acceptance. If you actually accept and love yourself, you won't care when people dismiss you for your size, because you love you, and that will be enough.

If you need the external validation, do what the external sources demand. Otherwise, quit telling me what to think.

*** Update *** 

My amazing friend Liz Stricklen made a great point on Facebook I agree with and want to share here, because it's the other half of the argument:

I think "fat acceptance" should really be translated to "Don't be a jackass to people because of how they look." And that applies to everyone. Basic politeness doesn't cost anything, and if someone just can't bear to be around humans who look differently than what they prefer, maybe don't leave the house. 
(It should be noted that I am not in favor of obesity, and I think almost everyone has the power to change it via hard work, consistent effort, and self respect. However, you don't know the road someone is on, and maybe that 300lb person used to be a 400lb person and they try as hard as they can every day. How would you know?)