How it is possible to be fat and healthy–a body advocacy primer

weight watchers my butt commercial youtubeHave you heard about Health at Every Size® (HAES®), the Fat Acceptance Movement (FAM), or Body Advocacy Movement (BAM) and wondered if these ideologies are just ways to make people who are considered clinically obese (defined by BMI/Body Mass Indicator) to justify their size and not make “healthful” choices? Does it seem like it’s just an excuse to eat whatever people want and not bother to take care of their bodies? Does it bother or upset you that this attitude of being fat and healthy seems to be gaining wider acceptance despite the fact years of common knowledge and beliefs run counter to the idea that obese people are more likely to have health problems and that weight issues have reached epidemic levels?

You may find yourself agreeing with some or all of the 6 Things I Don’t Understand About The Fat Acceptance Movement, written by Carolyn Hall, which lists her popularly believed, if misguided thoughts about the FAM. It’s perfectly understandable, as many of the comments she makes in her article are indeed commonly held, and have been touted by physicians and health advocates for decades.

However, if you are interested in gaining a better understanding of where people who support the FAM, Ragen Chastain’s response to Hall’s article, 6 Answers To Your Questions About The Fat Acceptance Movement, gives helpful insight as well as dispel myths and obtuse reasoning as to why people believe body size is causative of health issues.

And if you still have questions, Jes Baker has a great response to Hall’s article as well, 6 Things I Understand About the Fat Acceptance Movement.

How do you feel about these topics, which are discussed so passionately on all sides these days? My personal favorite is the misconception that the idea of “health at every size” MEANS a person will be healthy at every size, weight, shape, etc. The thrust of BAM, HAES®, and others is not that a person will be healthy at every size, but that it is possible to be healthy at different sizes than the media-derived “normal” body size and shape. The kind of body we see on movie stars and weight loss gurus. The actual point is that it is entirely possible to be considered obese by a BMI measure, and yet be physically fit and have a healthful diet, while a person who has the outer appearance of the socially accepted look of health may in fact be very unhealthy in both physical activity and diet.

There have even been published, peer-reviewed scientific studies showing that people who tend to weigh in the 25-29 BMI range (considered “overweight”) tend to have the longest lifespans of all sizes.

So where do you fall in the spectrum of belief in the ability for a person to be healthy even if their size doesn’t match the societal norm alluded to through the media, medical professionals, as well as peers on a regular basis?

And have you seen the Weight Watchers “My Butt” commercial? How do you feel about the constant focus on the woman in the commercial’s narrative about her relationship with her butt? Do you think it’s fair, or is it a gross injustice to people who believe we have the right to feel secure with our own body image?


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