The fat acceptance movement

NAAFA: the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance

Founded in 1969, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) is a non-profit, all volunteer, civil rights organization dedicated to protecting the rights and improving the quality of life for fat people. NAAFA works to eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide fat people with the tools for self-empowerment through advocacy, public education, and support.
Why Should I Support NAAFA?Fat people are discriminated against in all aspects of daily life, from employment to education to access to public accommodations, and even access to adequate medical care. This discrimination occurs despite evidence that 95 to 98 percent of diets fail over five years and that 65 million Americans are labeled “obese.” Our thin-obsessed society firmly believes that fat people are at fault for their size and it is politically correct to stigmatize and ridicule them. Fat discrimination is one of the last publicly accepted discriminatory practices. Fat people have rights and they need to be upheld!
NAAFA’s message of size acceptance and self-acceptance is often overshadowed by a $49 billion-a-year diet industry that has a vested economic interest in perpetuating discrimination against fat people. Without active financial support from people like you, NAAFA would not exist and could not fulfill its crucial role defending your rights. While it is an uphill battle to achieve our goals, together we are making a difference.

Our VisionA society in which people of every size are accepted with dignity and equality in all aspects of life.
Our Mission

To eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide fat people with the tools for self-empowerment through public education, advocacy, and support.
Our Promise NAAFA will be a powerful force for positive social change. Using our collec­tive will, talents and resources, we will improve the world — not just for fat people, but for everyone.

We Come in All Sizes…
Understand it.
Support it.
Accept it.

National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance

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  • The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), founded in 1969, is a nonprofit human rights organization whose purpose is to improve the quality of life for fat people. NAAFA has five …

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    • Biological or Genetic Contributors to Obesity
      • Adipocytes
      • Adiponectin
      • Adrenergic Receptors
      • Agouti and Agouti Related Protein
      • Animal Models of Obesity
      • Animal QTLs (Quantitative Trait Locus)
      • Bardet-Biedl Syndromes
      • Cannabinoid Receptor
      • CD36 and FAT (Fatty Acid Transporters)
      • Cholecystokinin (CCK)
      • Cortisol
      • Cushing Syndrome
      • Cytokines
      • Db/Db Mouse
      • Dopamine Receptor
      • Down’s Syndrome
      • Epistatic Effects of Genes on Obesity
      • Estrogen-Related Receptor
      • Familial Lipodystrophies
      • Fatty Acid Transport Proteins
      • Genetic Taste Factors
      • Ghrelin
      • Glucagon Receptor
      • Glucocorticoids
      • Glucokinase
      • G-Protein Coupled Receptors
      • Growth Hormone
      • HDL Receptors
      • Histamine Receptor
      • Hormone Sensitive Lipase
      • Human QTLs
      • Hypothyroidism
      • Insulin and Insulin Resistance
      • Insulin-Like Growth Factors
      • Interleukins
      • Intrauterine Growth Restriction
      • LDL Receptors
      • Leptin
      • Leptin Receptors
      • Lipoprotein Lipase
      • Low Birth Weight
      • Melanocortins
      • Mendelian Disorders Related to Obesity
      • Metabolic Rate
      • Monogenic Effects that Result in Obesity
      • Neuropeptides
      • NPY (Neuropeptide Y)
      • Ob/Ob Mouse
      • Obesity and the Immune System
      • Obesity Gene Map
      • Opioid Receptor
      • Perilipins
      • POMC (Proopiomelanocortin)
      • PPAR (Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors)
      • Prader-Willi Syndrome
      • Protein Kinase
      • Set or Settling Point
      • Steroids
      • Thrifty Gene Hypothesis
      • Thrifty Gene Hypothesis and Obesity
      • Thyroid Hormone
      • TNF (Tumor Nucrosis Factors)
      • Transgenics and Knockouts for Obesity-Related Genes
      • Tubby Candidate Gene
      • Twin Studies and Genetics of Obesity
      • Uncoupling Proteins
      • Viral Causes of Obesity
    • Children and Obesity
      • Advertising
      • Atherosclerosis in Children
      • Bariatric Surgery in Children
      • Behavioral Treatment of Child Obesity
      • Beverage Choices in Children and Obesity
      • Breastfeeding
      • Changing Children’s Food Habits
      • Childhood Obesity as a Risk Factor for Adult Overweight
      • Childhood Obesity Treatment Centers
      • Children and Diets
      • Ethnic Disparities in the Prevalence of Childhood Obesity
      • Family Behavioral Interventions
      • Family Therapy in the Treatment of Overweight Children
      • Flavor Programming and Childhood Food Preferences
      • Food Intake Assessments in Children
      • Formation and Development of Food Preferences
      • Genetic Taste Factors
      • Hypertension in Children
      • Implications of Restriction of Foods on Child Feeding Habits
      • Medical Interventions for Children
      • Metabolic Disorders and Childhood Obesity
      • Morbid Obesity in Children
      • National Weight Loss Efforts for Children
      • Overweight Children and School Performance
      • Overweight Children and the Media
      • Peer Influences on Obesity in Children
      • Pharmacological Treatment of Childhood Obesity
      • Physical Activity in Children
      • Prevalence of Childhood Obesity in Developing Countries
      • Prevalence of Childhood Obesity in the United States
      • Prevalence of Childhood Obesity Worldwide
      • Prevention
      • School-Based Interventions to Prevent Obesity
      • Self-Esteem and Children’s Weight
      • Stigmas against Overweight Children
      • Type 2 Diabetes
    • Dietary Interventions to Treat Obesity
      • Atkins Diet
      • Calcium and Dairy Products
      • Caloric Restriction
      • Carbohydrate “Addictions”
      • Chromium Picolinate
      • Diet Myths
      • Dietary Restraint
      • Exercise
      • Fast Foods
      • Fiber and Obesity
      • Fruits and Vegetables
      • High-Carbohydrate Diets
      • High-Protein Diets
      • Jenny Craig
      • L.A. Weight Loss
      • Liquid Diets
      • Low-Calorie Diets
      • Low-Fat Diets
      • Macrodiets
      • Medifast
      • Non-Diet Approaches
      • Nutrisystem
      • Nutrition Fads
      • Optifast
      • Physical Activity and Obesity
      • Portion Control
      • Slim-Fast
      • South Beach Diet
      • Supplements and Obesity
      • Vegetarianism
      • Very Low-Calorie Diets
      • Volumetrics
      • Water and Obesity
      • Weight Watchers
      • Zone, The
    • Disordered Eating and Obesity
      • Anorexia Nervosa
      • Antidepressants
      • Appetite Signals
      • Binge Eating
      • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
      • Body Image
      • Bulimia Nervosa
      • Childhood Onset Eating Disorders
      • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
      • Depression
      • Dieting: Good or Bad?
      • Disinhibited Eating
      • DSM-IV
      • Eating Disorders and Athletes
      • Eating Disorders and Gender
      • Eating Disorders and Obesity
      • Eating Disorders in School Children
      • EDNOS
      • Families of Eating Disorder Patients
      • Feminist Perspective and Body Image Disorders
      • Genetic Influences on Eating Disorders
      • Hunger
      • Neurotransmitters
      • Night Eating Syndrome
      • Physiological Aspects of Anorexia
      • Physiological Aspects of Bulimia
      • Prevalence of Disordered Eating
      • Sexual Abuse and Eating Disorders
      • Treatment Centers for Eating Disorders
      • Weight Cycling and Yo-Yo Dieting
    • Environmental Contributors to Obesity
      • Accessibility of Foods
      • Advertising of Foods to Children
      • Children’s Television Programming
      • Economics of Food
      • Energy Density
      • Fast Foods
      • Food Advertising
      • Food Labeling
      • Governmental Subsidizing of Energy Dense Foods
      • Inaccessibility of Exercise
      • Increased Reliance on Automobiles
      • Increasing Portion Sizes
      • Palatability
      • Parental and Home Environments
      • Safe Play Opportunities for Children
      • School Lunch Programs
      • Schools and Obesity
      • Sodas and Soft Drinks
      • Sugar and Fat Substitutes
      • Supersizing
      • Television
      • Toxic Environment
    • Health Implications of Obesity
      • Appetite Control
      • Asthma
      • Atherosclerosis
      • Back Pain
      • Blood Lipids
      • Body Image
      • Breast Cancer
      • Colon Cancer
      • Congestive Heart Failure
      • Depression
      • Elevated Cholesterol
      • Fatty Liver
      • Fertility
      • Fitness
      • Gallbladder Disease
      • Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
      • Gastrointestinal Disorders
      • Gestational Diabetes
      • Gout
      • High-Density Lipoproteins
      • Hormones
      • Hypertension
      • Impotence
      • Kidney Failure
      • Kidney Stones
      • Low-Density Lipoproteins
      • Menstrual Problems
      • Mortality and Obesity
      • Osteoarthritis
      • Osteoporosis
      • Ovarian Cancer
      • Ovarian Cysts
      • Overall Diet Quality
      • Polycystic Ovary Disease
      • Respiratory Problems
      • Sexual Health
      • Sleep Apnea
      • Stroke
      • Type 2 Diabetes
      • Urinary Incontinence in Severe Obesity in Women
      • Uterine Cancers
    • Medical Treatments for Obesity
      • American Medical Association
      • American Obesity Association
      • Amphetamines
      • Caffeine
      • Cost of Medical Obesity Treatments
      • Dexatrim
      • Dieting: Good or Bad?
      • Ephedra
      • Fenfluramine
      • Future of Medical Treatments for Obesity
      • Gastric Bypass
      • Gastroplasty
      • Health Coverage of Gastric Surgeries
      • International Obesity Task Force
      • Laparoscopy
      • Liquid Diets
      • Low-Calorie Diets
      • Medical Interventions for Children
      • Medications that Affect Nutrient Partitioning
      • Multidisciplinary Bariatric Programs
      • Noradrenergic Drugs
      • North American Association for the Study of Obesity
      • Orlistat (Xenical)
      • Physician-Assisted Weight Loss
      • Qualifications for Gastric Surgery
      • Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass
      • Serotonergic Medications
      • Sibutramine (Meridia)
      • Thyroid Medications
      • Vertical Banded Gastroplasty
      • Very Low-Calorie Diets
    • New Research Frontiers on Obesity
      • Acomplia
      • Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis
      • Bod Pod and Pea Pod
      • CART Peptides
      • Combined Approaches to Treatment
      • Computerized Tomography
      • DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry)
      • Dilution Techniques
      • Doubly Labeled Water
      • Drug Targets that Decrease Food Intake/Appetite
      • Drugs that Block Fat Cell Formation
      • Energy Expenditure Technologies
      • Food Technology
      • Frontiers in Maintenance and Prevention
      • Functional Foods
      • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
      • Genetic Mapping of Obesity-Related Genes
      • Genomics
      • Histamines
      • Hormone Disorders
      • Hydrodensitrometry
      • Indirect Calorimetry
      • Intestinal Microflora Concentrations
      • Leptin Supplements
      • Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scans for Viewing Body Composition
      • Metformin
      • Microarray Analysis
      • New Candidate Obesity Genes
      • New Drug Targets that Prevent Fat Absorption
      • New Drug Targets to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
      • New Drug Targets to Increase Metabolic Rate
      • Non-Diet Approaches
      • Obesity and Viruses
      • Quantitative Trait Locus Mapping
      • Rimonabant
      • SNP Technologies
      • Three-D Image Reconstruction
      • Translational Research
      • Whole-Body Potassium Counting
    • Obesity and Ethnicity/Race
      • African Americans
      • Asian Americans
      • Body Fat Distribution in African Americans
      • Body Fat Distribution in Asian Americans
      • Body Fat Distribution in Hispanic Americans
      • Cardiovascular Disease in African Americans
      • Cardiovascular Disease in Asian Americans
      • Cardiovascular Disease in Hispanic Americans
      • Caucasians
      • Dominican Americans
      • Ethnic Variations in Body Fat Storage
      • Ethnic Variations in Obesity-Related Health Risks
      • Genetics
      • Health Disparities—NIH Strategic Plan
      • Hispanic Americans
      • Hypertension in African Americans
      • Hypertension in Asian Americans
      • Hypertension in Hispanic Americans
      • Mexican Americans
      • Native Americans
      • Obesity and Socioeconomic Status
      • Pima Indians
      • Puerto Rican Americans
      • Sisters Together
      • Thrifty Gene Hypothesis
      • U.S. Office of Minority Health
      • Western Diets
    • Obesity and the Brain or Obesity and Behavior
      • Antidepressants
      • Appetite Control
      • Autonomic Nervous System
      • Bombesin
      • Cannabinoid System
      • Central Nervous System
      • Cholecystokinin
      • Conditioned Food Preferences
      • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
      • Dopamine
      • Drugs and Food
      • Fat Taste
      • Flavor: Taste and Smell
      • Folic Acid and Neural Tube Defects
      • Food “Addictions”
      • Food Reward
      • Gustatory System
      • Habituation
      • Hypothalamus
      • Inherited Taste Preferences
      • Insulin
      • Liking vs. Wanting
      • Medications that Increase Body Weight
      • Mood and Food
      • Neuropeptide-Y
      • Neurotransmitters
      • Norepinephrine
      • Nutrient Reward
      • Olfactory System
      • Opioids
      • Oxytocin and Food Intake
      • Peripheral Nervous Sytem
      • Pituitary Gland
      • Satietin
      • Sensory-Specific Satiety
      • Sweet Taste
      • Sympathetic Nervous System
      • Taste Aversion Learning
      • Taste Reactivity
      • Thyroid Gland
      • Tryptophan
    • Obesity as a Public Health Crisis
      • Access to Nutritious Foods
      • American Academy of Pediatrics
      • American College of Sports Medicine
      • American Diabetes Association
      • American Dietetic Association
      • American Heart Association
      • American Medical Association
      • American Obesity Association
      • American Society for Bariatric Surgery
      • Built Environments
      • Center for Maternal and Child Health
      • Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
      • Center for Science in the Public Interest
      • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      • Child Obesity Programs
      • Community Level Initiatives to Prevent Obesity
      • Community Programs to Prevent Obesity
      • Council on Size and Weight Discrimination
      • Economics of Obesity
      • Expanded Food and Nutrition Program
      • Federal Initiatives to Prevent Obesity
      • Food and Drug Administration
      • Food Guide Pyramid
      • Food Labeling
      • Food Marketing to Children
      • Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program
      • Government Agencies
      • Head Start
      • Healthy Eating Index
      • Healthy People 2010
      • National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance
      • National Cancer Institute
      • National Center for Health Statistics
      • National Eating Disorders Association
      • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
      • National Institutes of Health
      • NIDDK
      • North American Association for the Study of Obesity
      • Obesity in Schools
      • Office of Dietary Supplements
      • Office of Minority Health
      • Policy to Prevent Obesity
      • President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
      • Safety of Urban Environments
      • School Initiatives to Prevent Obesity
      • Shape-Up America!
      • Social Marketing and Obesity
      • State and Local Initiatives to Prevent Obesity
      • Taxation of Unhealthy Foods
      • Toxic Environment
      • U.S. Department of Agriculture
      • U.S. Department of Health and Social Services
      • Weight Control Information Network
    • Psychological Influences and Outcomes of Obesity
      • Addictive Behaviors
      • Anorexia Nervosa
      • Anxiety
      • Binge Eating
      • Bulimia Nervosa
      • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
      • Compulsive Overeating
      • Depression
      • Disordered Eating
      • Eating Disorders in School Children
      • External Controls
      • Loneliness
      • Night Eating Syndrome
      • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
      • Psychiatric Medicine and Obesity
      • Self-Esteem and Obesity
      • Stress
      • Suicidality
      • Well-Being
    • Societal Influences and Outcomes of Obesity
      • Alcohol
      • Appearance
      • Body Image
      • Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding
      • Built Environments
      • Calcium Intake and Dairy Products
      • Carbohydrate and Protein Intake
      • Computers and the Media
      • Eating Out in the United States
      • Fat Acceptance
      • Fat Intake
      • Flavor Learning
      • Food Advertising and Obesity
      • Food Guide Pyramid
      • Food Intake Patterns
      • Food Labeling
      • Food Preferences
      • Governmental Policy and Obesity
      • Income Level and Obesity
      • Nutrition Education
      • Obesity and Academic Performance
      • Obesity and Drug Use
      • Obesity and Sports
      • Obesity and the Media
      • Obesity in Schools
      • Personal Relationships and Obesity
      • Physical Activity Patterns in the Obese
      • Smoking
      • Soda and Soft Drink Intake
      • Stereotypes and Obesity
      • Supersizing
      • Variety of Foods and Obesity
      • Virtual Environments
      • Weight Discrimination
      • Western Diet
      • Women and Dieting
    • Women and Obesity
      • Assessment of Obesity and Health Risks
      • Bariatric Surgery in Women
      • Body Image
      • Breast Cancer
      • Breastfeeding
      • Colon Cancer
      • Coronary Heart Disease in Women
      • Early Onset Menarche and Obesity in Women
      • Economic Disparities among Obesity in Women
      • Endometrial and Uterine Cancers
      • Estrogen Levels
      • Ethnic Disparities among Obesity in Women
      • Exercise and Physical Activity among Obese Women
      • Fat Acceptance
      • Fertility
      • Food Preferences
      • Gestational Diabetes
      • Implications of Gestational Development
      • Maternal Influences on Child Feeding
      • Menopause and Obesity
      • Morbid Obesity in Women
      • Obese Women and Social Stigmatization
      • Polycystic Ovary Disease
      • Pregnancy Prevalence of Obesity in U.S. Women
      • Self-Esteem in Obese Women
      • Support Groups for Obese Women
      • Waist-to-Hip Ratio
      • Women and Diabetes
      • Women and Dieting
    • Worldwide Prevelance of Obesity
      • Africa, North
      • Africa, Sub-Saharan
      • Asia, Central
      • Asia, East
      • Asia, South
      • Asia, Southeast
      • Australia and Pacific
      • Central America and Caribbean
      • Europe, Eastern
      • Europe, Western
      • Middle East
      • North America
      • South America
      • World Patterns
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National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance

Bookcover of National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance Booktitle:

Betascript Publishing (2011-05-30 )

eligible for voucher ISBN-13:

978-613-6-10978-7

ISBN-10: 6136109786 EAN: 9786136109787 Book language: English Blurb/Shorttext: Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) is a non-profit civil-rights organization in the USA dedicated to improving the quality of life for the obese. NAAFA works to eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide people of size with the tools for self-empowerment through public education, advocacy and member support. NAAFA was founded in 1969 by William Fabrey in New York as the National Association to Aid Fat Americans. In their early years social activities and letter-writing campaigns were a major part of the organization. As the organization turned more toward political activism, the name was changed during the 1980s. Publishing house: Betascript Publishing Website: https://www.betascript-publishing.com/ Edited by: Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe, Susan F. Henssonow Number of pages: 112 Published on: 2011-05-30 Stock: Available Category: General Social sciences Price: 39.00 € Keywords: Penn & Teller, List of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episodes

The Fat Acceptance Movement

More than 60 percent of Americans are currently obese or overweight. Skyrocketing obesity rates have brought widespread attention from the medical community and public health officials in recent years due to the health consequences of packing on pounds. But people dealing with obesity are throwing their weight around, too.

The fat acceptance movement, spearheaded by the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), has been waving the fat power banner and gaining recognition for the movement. Members of NAAFA even took their message of fat power to Congress in 2009, meeting with the staff of 45 senators and representatives to address concerns of the fat acceptance movement.

Recently, Everyday Health spoke with NAAFA co-chair Frances White about the fat acceptance movement, fat power, and NAAFA.

Everyday Health: What is the fat acceptance movement?

Frances White: The fat acceptance movement champions a new kind of beauty that is not defined by the size of your waist. Supporters of the fat acceptance movement work to fight size discrimination. Most people in the fat acceptance movement have an issue with the words “obese” and “obesity,” which seem overtly prejudiced and negative. We prefer the words “fat” and “fat power.”

EH: Who started NAAFA and why?

White: An engineer named Bill Fabrey founded the NAAFA in 1969 because he was tired of the discrimination his overweight wife faced. He saw the need for an organization to support fat people. He started by placing an ad in the Village Voice; six people answered. That same year, the organization was incorporated in the state of New York. We now have 11,000 members nationwide, a monthly e-newsletter, and an annual convention, which will be held this year in San Francisco.

EH: What is the main goal of NAAFA?

White: NAAFA is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to fighting the stigma of obesity and eliminating discrimination based on body size. NAAFA does this through education, advocacy, and support. At our conventions, we have self-empowering obesity workshops, movement classes, dances, a plus-size fashion show, and a vendor fair where large-size people can buy attractive fashions and accessories. We’ve also launched a $1,000 scholarship fund to encourage fashion design students to think about obesity-related designs and consider going into the plus-size fashion world. We also strive to get our message across with political advocacy.

EH: Do obese people in America face discrimination?

White: Obesity discrimination is common in this country. In fact, it’s one of the last publicly accepted discriminatory practices. Fat people face discrimination in employment, the ability to adopt children, and in receiving unbiased health care. The New England Journal of Medicine documented that an equally qualified fat person will earn about $7,000 less per year than an average sized person. Parents in several states report having their children taken away by social services because the child is fat and therefore it’s considered that the parent is abusing the child. Some states and municipalities have started passing laws prohibiting weight discrimination. States and cities with such laws include Michigan, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Santa Cruz, Calif.

EH: Do you feel fat people are unfairly pressured to lose weight?

White: Yes. Many people struggling with obesity are told by medical professionals that they would not treat an obese person until that person loses weight. But that same doctor would not hesitate to recommend potentially dangerous bypass surgery. The fat acceptance movement is opposed to drastic weight-loss diets and weight-loss surgery. Evidence suggests that 95 to 98 percent of diets designed to lose weight fail after five years. Yet our thin-obsessed society believes that fat people must lose weight in order to be healthy and happy. This is perpetuated by the $49 million-a-year diet industry that has a vested interest in discrimination against fat people. The NAAFA and most people in the fat acceptance movement oppose making changes to one’s body at the request of another person.

EH: Critics of the fat acceptance movement say that the movement gives a stamp of approval to obesity, which is linked to serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and reduced life expectancy. They also contend that fat power and the fat acceptance movement discourage obese people from trying to get to a healthy weight. Can you reply to these criticisms of the fat acceptance movement?

White: We in the fat acceptance movement believe that people of all sizes and shapes should strive for fitness and good health. Even though I’m fat, I make healthy food choices and get movement into my life. There is too much blame placed at the door of fat people in the war on obesity. Fat people are blamed for increased health care costs, even though people who are not fat also get heart attacks, have high blood pressure, and develop diabetes. The fat acceptance movement promotes “health at every size.” This means that everyone should pursue optimum mental and physical health regardless of physical appearance, obesity, or size.

EH: What do you think of the 600-pound woman in New Jersey who is trying to reach 1,000 pounds to win the title of the world’s fattest woman?

White: I think it is a really odd goal to have. We feel that everyone should be free to have the body one is slated to have genetically and not feel pressured to conform to the standards of a thin-obsessed society. We certainly don’t support the idea of getting fat just for the sake of winning a title. Instead, the goal of the fat acceptance movement is a society in which everyone is respected and valued regardless of his or her size.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Weight Center.

Fat pride: The growing movement of people looking for fat acceptance

Sarah says she gets plenty of interesting reactions when she tells people what she does for a living.

She thinks there’s a real problem with how society links exercise and weight loss.

“The problem with aligning exercise and weight loss is that then we put a whole lot of pressure on the only benefit of exercise is a way to lose weight,” she says. “The benefits of exercise are so enormous.”

“I think we’re doing exercise a great disservice in only making it about weight loss.”

While there are many people ready to offer opinions on what it means to be fat, Kath wants to tell people that while she’s not an expert on societal health, being fat is not an illness.

“I’m not a disease and I’m not diseased,” she says. “This is the body that I come in.”

“Fat acceptance led me to a place where I could be who I wanted to be…and that was positive and bright and colourful and fun.”

“It’s a really good feeling to not hate myself.”

Join the conversation by following The Feed on Facebook and Twitter.

What The Fat-Acceptance Movement Is Really About

Late last year, I was interviewed for a magazine article about the demise of dieting. It was a great discussion; I love spreading the word that life can get exponentially better when you make peace with food and your body. Of course, I added, self-acceptance takes practice, especially when you live in a culture that says all bodies need fixing (large bodies especially). My brain is used to waking up every day with the goal of getting thinner, and I still work hard to unlearn that mental habit. Weeks later, the writer forwarded me a follow-up question from his editor, asking, “is it fair to say Kelsey sometimes wishes she weighed less?” Well, no, I thought. But the rest of the world sure does, and I have to live here. So… Often I am asked — confronted, rather — with questions and comments about the fat acceptance movement. Because I am a woman with a body many would categorize as fat, and because some of my work as a writer puts that body front and center, I am assumed to be an Official Fat Acceptance Activist. Really, I just thought I was doing my own thing. I didn’t start out seeking an alliance to join — a selfish attitude perhaps, because I surely benefited from their activism. The truth is, while I admired the work of the fat acceptance movement, I didn’t really know what it was. Until I faced that question — does Kelsey sometimes wish she weighed less? — I didn’t really understand that I was very much a part of it. And I think you should be, too. Many date fat acceptance as a movement to the late 1960s, when groups began to organize and protest anti-fat bias. Though a separate entity, it’s inextricably linked with the feminist movement, both being rooted in the concept of equality and primarily driven by women. There are far more educated voices who can speak to the history of this movement, and I won’t minimize their work into a soundbite, but it is very much worth researching. The point is that today, fat acceptance is still just as radical as it was back then. While equal rights and treatment for women is now embraced by the mainstream as a vital mission (not yet accomplished, to be sure), few are willing to demand those same rights for fat people. While size is reported as one of the most prevalent forms of discrimination — up there with gender, race, and age — more people are fighting against fat people than for them. That’s why many in the movement say “acceptance” is not enough. We need to be active. “A person in fat acceptance believes that bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and that all bodies have equal value,” says Sarai Walker, PhD, a contributor to Our Bodies, Ourselves and author of the bestselling novel Dietland (Sarai herself is fat, as is her heroine). “Fat activism is a political movement that advocates for the rights and dignity of fat people,” Walker continues, adding that personal acceptance is often the first step toward activism. Walker doesn’t claim any expertise or leadership in this fight, yet she inadvertently spent the past year and a half on the front lines, while on an international book tour. “What I’ve learned is that it’s virtually impossible to have any discussion about fat acceptance with the general public, because any such discussion is derailed instantly by alleged concerns about health, if not outright abuse,” she says. At each publicity appearance she was either asked to justify the acceptability of her fat body (and therefore herself) or else listen as others railed against it. Her health and intelligence were questioned, her image disparaged; one fellow novelist with whom she appeared on a radio show even cited the Holocaust as some sort of evidence about the link between food, exercise, and body size: “You never saw anybody fat come out of Auschwitz.” This is the shark-jumping level this argument has reached, and that’s why it’s so important that everyone of all sizes gets clear on what the issues are — and what they very much aren’t. “One misconception I’ve heard repeatedly is that people in fat acceptance want fat to become the ideal body shape, which will mean that thin people will be considered unattractive and face abuse,” says Walker. Absurd as it sounds, it makes horrifying sense in light of other backlashes: Men’s Rights Activists believe feminists are out to destroy men. Black people demand the value of their lives and white people jump in, frantically insisting that hey, wait, we all matter, right? When our privilege is threatened, we don’t act rationally. Of course, none of these movements are against anyone or any one privilege. They are against privilege, period. One of the reasons many see this movement differently is yet another misconception: Fat people decide to be fat. Either they’ve deliberately gained the weight, or they’re too lazy, undisciplined, uninformed, and/or stupid to lose it. I don’t know who first said the phrase, “glorifying obesity” but I see it almost once a week. Every time I publish or read a story illustrated with photos of a woman above a certain size, some commenter will jump in, outraged: “Why are you promoting this?!” and then follow up with a diatribe about the loathsome creature in the photo, a product of America’s junk-food addiction, raising everyone’s insurance premiums just because she refuses to put down the doughnuts and go for a walk. This argument, of course, is just as ridiculous and just as entrenched in fear and prejudice as those that say feminism means stripping men of all their human rights. If you think fat people just haven’t tried hard enough, just don’t know what to eat, or are just too unmotivated, you are simply, categorically wrong. There is no shortage of motivating factors to be thin, and no lack of people to remind fat people of them. But if you are hurling the health argument, you are missing the point.

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