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Weight loss and fat acceptance


This morning I went walking around the neighborhood for 75 minutes, and according to my calculations I burned at least 500 calories. I plan to incorporate more exercise into my daily schedule and keep my daily calorie consumption under 2,500 (maybe even under 2,000). The reason I am doing all this is because I am clinically obese and want to better myself in both health and physical attractiveness. In briefer words, I want to lose weight.

Unfortunately I have observed a trend among other overweight people, especially on websites like Tumblr, that really irritates me. This movement calls itself "fat acceptance" or "body positivity", and from what I have seen it essentially advocates that overweight people should embrace their obesity as harmlessly viable, even beautiful. They are the ones who complain the most about how society or the media glamorizes thinner physiques at the expense of obese people who suffer from low self-esteem. The way they present the issue, overweight people are an oppressed class in the same sense as Africans, homosexuals, or women.

Pardon me, but I don't have much sympathy for fat acceptance. Obesity is not a harmless and biologically innate property that people are born with the way sex, sexual orientation, or so-called racial features are. Instead it is an environmentally induced and inherently unhealthy condition that has grown prevalent only in humanity's most recent history. Fat acceptance advocates whine about how society won't tolerate their obesity and accommodate them, but they would better spend their energy actually shifting to a healthier lifestyle and losing weight.

To be fair, I don't advance that overweight people should be bullied simply for being overweight, and I do think that certain segments of society (especially lower-class people of color in the US) suffer environmental conditions more conducive to obesity. What I can't stand are those overweight people who refuse to do anything about their unhealthiness and even deny that they have a problem. Instead of demanding that society glorify your obesity as beautiful, why not actually better yourself and become genuinely beautiful?


The problem seems to be a primarily US phenomenon. There's a 30% obesity rate in the US, compared to most developed countries of the world with an average of 10%. This creates an arbitrary "class" of people. Fashions tend to flow from Europe to the west. Fashions in a country where 10% of people are overweight, and likely older people who are "out of fashion" have little or no negative cultural impact on young people. In the US, there are many obese young people. When fashions for average weight people are desired by obese people, it creates a psychological problem.

Being obese is dangerous for your health. It is an undesirable state. By working to make it acceptable for people to be obese may appear to benefit the self-esteem of obese people in some twisted way, but it only serves to make it socially acceptable to be unhealthy. That is what is dangerous about it.

I used to be obese. It sort of crept up on me in my late 20's. I ended up with a big round belly and a fat neck. I was eating all the wrong things: bread, french fries, muffins, crackers, cereal, beef, pork, etc... All this food is high calorie, high carbs and fat. Combine that with a sitting down job, driving to work, sitting on computer, etc... A recipe for a heart attack at 40. Six years ago I changed everything. Daily exercise of 45 minutes, I don't drive to the train station, I walk, no matter the weather. I walk for 45 minutes at lunch. Walk the dog. Despite the fact that I work on a computer, I get at least 2 hours of high speed walking in a day. I don't eat that crap any more. I eat vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, eggs, and occasional fish. I still have fluctuations, mostly because I like wine. Alcohol is sugar, and sugar is stored as fat. I try to keep it under control. In 6 years I went from 265 to 190.

When I was overweight, I lacked energy and I was always in pain somewhere. I thought that was what it was like to be alive: lethargic and in pain. Now, at 41, I can outrun most 20 year olds. I look much better. I still have about 10-15 lbs I need to lose.

I needed to do this not just for my life, but that of my children. When my son, now 17, was 9, he started getting fat. I was working all the time, and we were eating so poorly, he was suffering for it. When the weekend came, I didn't have the energy to get him out and moving like he needed to be. His school gym class... they would stack cups! How can you burn calories and build muscle stacking cups? My bad lifestyle was affecting him. I didn't see it. Now, he's fit, he's healthy. We started going to the gym together when he was 12. There were complaints. But I dragged him with me, and now he is doing it on his own. I set up a gym downstairs and he keeps himself fit.

My two young daughters grew up eating vegetables and fruit as 90% of their diet. It's normal, that's what they eat. They are very athletic because I am athletic. We turn off the TV and go outside, to the park, playing soccer, basketball, we take hikes, we have dance parties at night instead of only watching television, we move our bodies.

We all get old. There's two kinds of old. There's the kind who is 80 who can enjoy physical activity and good health, and there is the kind that lives in a world of pain who struggle to move from the sofa to bed. We should try to increase our chances of being the good kind of old. My dad eats terrible, he never exercises. He had a heart attack 2 weeks ago. He's got diabetes. All from obesity. My step dad is 70, he volunteers at the YMCA every day and does a work out. He can run marathons. He helped me carry in a washing machine a little while back. That's the kind of old I want to be. Not the kind living in pain and fear of death or worse... laying in a bed for years until death, trapped under the weight of my own body. Dante eat your heart out, that's no hell I want to be in.

The question is one of selfishness. When we try to make our obese selves feel better, we make it easier for children to accept obesity as normal. Danger alarms should be going off.
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Jabrosky- First of all, good for you. Obesity is a pandemic in America, and the worst part is that it's completely controllable.

That's all I'll say about it for now.

For about five years I was a personal trainer and competitive bodybuilder. When it came to cutting weight, this is what I had all of my clients do (and what I also use myself.)

Go to Wal-Mart. Buy a stationary bike. Put it in front of the TV. First thing in the morning, chug (not sip) a cup of black coffee (add ice to cool it down.) Get on the bike for twenty five minutes while you watch TV/ movies/ video game/ read/ internet, etc. Much later in the day (6-10 hours) get back on the bike for another 15 minutes. Do this 6 days a week.

That's it.

Two sessions of cardio (no matter how long) has a synergistic effect, causing your metabolism to run higher during the day (i.e., you're burning more calories without doing anything.) I don't know what your level of fitness is, but the goal is for you to get to two 45 minute sessions each day. Sound extreme? It is...and it works. By the time you get to 45 minx2, you'll be shocked with how much weight is coming off of you. And that's the goal, right? Once your metabolism kicks in and learns what you are asking it to do (and for most people this takes about two weeks), don't be surprised if you are losing up to twenty pounds a month.

Don't worry too much about changing your diet (for right now.) "Abs are built in the kitchen" is a common saying, but diets break people faster than exercise. Try to eat clean (no soda, fried food, snacks, fast food, etc), but let the cardio do the work for you (once again, for right now)

Losing weight is much simpler than people think. In "scientific terms" you create a caloric deficit (burn more calories than you take in.) In reality, it's just being consistent. Doing the exact same thing every day.

Once again, good for you. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask.
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If I have five rules for maintaining healthy weight:

1. Don't drink your calories.

Don't drink milk, don't drink pop, don't drink juice. Drink water. Drink green tea. Drink water with a twist of lemon in it.

2. Don't eat sugar.

Get it out of the house. Learn where it lurks. It may be hiding in your bread. It's in milk and cheese. Lactose - anything that ends in ose is a sugar. Learn to say, "No, thank you." Repeat it a thousand times. This is what you say when someone offers you that piece of cake. No, thank you.

3. Eat well, mostly vegetables, not too much.

Take pride in your food preparation. Like the French say, eat five colors a day. Eating foods of different colors are an easy way to know you are getting a balanced nutrition.

4. Exercise daily

Very, very few people can lose weight only with exercise. 90% of everyone MUST change their diet. It doesn't mean starving yourself, it means making good choices. Exercise will help your body burn that good food.

5. Treat yourself once a week

When you have that craving, that temptation, tell yourself that your treat day is coming. Maybe it is Friday night. Plan it, make a big sundae. A plate of nachos with cheese. Pizza. A bottle of red with a loaf of bread. Whatever your poison is, let yourself have it once a week. When you are faced with temptation, you have that in your pocket. It gives you power to say no in the moment because you have the trade-off of your weekly treat.


We've inherited brains with hyper-active sugar detectors. We want sugar. It's got lots of energy, that's why we like it. We are biological machines who have a defense mechanism evolved against famine: fat storage. In North America, there is no famine. There is an overabundance of high calorie foods always within reach. This torments our brains. It's really unfair, but there's no point crying about it. You have to use some psychology on yourself. You can do it. One day at a time. Failure is the fuel of success. When you slip, you treat it as a lesson. How did you slip? What can you do to protect you from yourself? How can you ensure future success? What reactions can you train yourself to have? What tricks can you learn from this? Forget yesterday, focus on what you can do today to make you better today and plan how to be better tomorrow.
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A big part of the struggle for many overweight people is self-esteem. They feel so awful about themselves that it is difficult to get in the mental game to try to lose weight. If some of those people can internalize the message that they are beautiful at any size, it can help give them a little pride/dignity back and thus give them the boost they need to do the work. In that respect, I think it can be helpful for some.


A big part of the struggle for many overweight people is self-esteem. They feel so awful about themselves that it is difficult to get in the mental game to try to lose weight. If some of those people can internalize the message that they are beautiful at any size, it can help give them a little pride/dignity back and thus give them the boost they need to do the work. In that respect, I think it can be helpful for some.

I have sympathy for this. I know people close to me who "medicate" with comfort food. It's ultimately self-destructive behavior, but you can really get into a rut. It's hard.

But when we talk about social norms, those who fall prey to harmful norms are children. Adults can make decisions about what is normal in their lives. You can blame your parents, you can blame society, but ultimately it's your decision, hard as the execution may be. But children.. they inherit as their normal what we say is normal. If you are normal, there's no need to change.

Normal isn't necessarily good, it's simply what everyone around you is doing. We get in bad ways when we have damaging things in our normal.

It's like saying, there's no problem here people, this is all perfectly normal. That's rather Orwellian.


I'm not an advocacy of fat acceptance by any means - I'm obese and I know it's my own fault and that it's not good for me. But I feel like people should lose weight for the reasons Scribble and ndmellen have said - because it's unhealthy.

But that's not why most people throw themselves into diets, is it? They do it because people around them (society, media, heck - for some it's friends and family) make them feel like they are BAD people for being fat. Who wants to be treated and dismissed as grotesque just because of their size? And losing weight for THAT reason is just as unhealthy to me, because you aren't concerned with your health when you do that. You become desperate - you crash diet, you don't eat, you push yourself too hard and in the end you end up an emotional mess and bounce your waist size right back up with stress eating. Or worse, you end yourself up in the hospital.

I know the main point of your topic is that losing weight is healthy for you and I agree. My mother tried to lose weight for years because of her diabetes, her high blood pressure, and her lack of stamina. We all supported her because she wasn't concerned with people accepting her as a new person - she just wanted to be able to walk farther before being tired, to chase her grandson around without having to stop every five minutes for breath.

But that's not what the "fat acceptance" people are seeing. They're seeing the people that develop eating disorders in an effort to look "beautiful". Whether being fat makes you ugly, I don't know - beauty is subjective. But I can't say that I'm too attracted to my own face and body. But there is a terrible fact that on the whole, ugliness is equated with being lesser. And no one wants to feel lesser.

(Sorry if I offend anyone - but there are two sides to everything and I didn't see this side come out yet.)


Although I know they just want to sell soap, I do admire Dove's "campaign for real beauty". Creating unrealistic beauty ideals with extremely thin models and air-brushing is certainly harmful. That is creating an unrealistic ideal almost nobody can achieve.

I don't want to see anyone feel bad about their self-image. Self-acceptance is not easy when you fall outside the "standard" by which beauty is judged. I think we should do what we can to shift that "standard" away from anorexic-looking models, towards a "healthy" standard.

Yes, it's mixed up with body image, but if we take a soft hand on the issue because we don't want people to feel bad... that's pretty much lays out the greatest evils of political correctness. Killing with kindness?

To me, it always comes down to children because we have to deal with our own adult messes, but we need to consider what we are telling the ones to come. Are we going to say, ""Kids, it's just fine to be obese, you don't need to change. You can eat whatever you want and not exercise, and we are all okay with that."

The problem is that this condition of obesity is mixed up with self-esteem and body image. Nobody is feeling bad about their appearance for having hypertension. When we talk to people with high blood pressure, we tell them in no uncertain terms: don't eat sugar, don't drink booze, watch your cholesterol, avoid salt, fix your problem. We don't tell them, that it's fine to have high blood pressure, people should just accept you for the way you are. So what if you might have a stroke, nobody should judge you for that.

The problem is a bizarre food culture that has emerged in the American lifestyle. I went to Applebee's in the US and what they put on my plate was shocking. Our entire table of four could have eaten from just one plate. There must have been 7 potatoes worth of french fries on the plate.
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Scribble, in response to obesity being a primarily USA problem - Mexico has surpassed the United States as having the highest per capita obesity rates.

I don't think one should feel pressured to design their body based on averages or media/advertising. but I do agree that morbid obesity is a serious health risk and contributes greatly to the high cost of health care. There's an absurdly high cigarette tax for the same reason, but taxing weight is a difficult thing to pin down.

Take, for example, Native American peoples that have been forced from their traditional hunting and nomadic grounds and are therefore forced into living more sedentary lifestyles that involve eating junk food because it is cheap. Due to their genetic metabolic structures, some of them gain weight very easily.

Anyway, good luck with the weight loss Jabrosky. One tip off the top of my head would be to try and cut out as much wheat as possible; eliminating it altogether for a period isn't a bad idea either. I started eating a little wheat again recently and have gained 10 pounds because of it. Also, stay active. Walks are a great idea as you burn more fat that way than if you had run the same distance!


Scribble, in response to obesity being a primarily USA problem - Mexico has surpassed the United States as having the highest per capita obesity rates.
I read that as well. This has a lot to do with diet and some genetics as well.

I work with diabetes as a professional focus. The analogy I like to use concerning weight loss and the health benefits is this:

Genetics is a loaded gun. A bad lifestyle is your finger on the trigger.

A good diet takes effort and retraining. You have to alter ingrained behavior, which is difficult. You have to change how you cook, how you eat, even the way you shop. The easiest change to make is portion ratio. What I mean by this is how much of each food type resides on your plate each meal.

Think of your plate like a pie chart....
25% protein
25% carb (not piled high)
50% fresh vegetables (preferably steamed)

Start like that...if you can do that for 3 months, you'll be shocked in the change in health & appearance.

Next, don't constantly weigh yourself during this period. Do it only once a week, at the same time of day (for example, Sunday morning at 10am). This promotes consistent weight comparisons and will keep you from over/under estimations of weight loss (your weight will fluctuate naturally all the time). A weekly measurement is more accurate to assess gains and losses.

Hope that helps, and good luck.


I'm not obese, but I am fat, and I am definitely in favour of fat acceptance.

Your health is important! Being fit and eating well is important, and as a cook, I particularly focus on the latter. But while our culture has created an obesity epidemic, it's also created an epidemic of eating disorders. The obesity epidemic is not something that can be cured by telling people that fatness is ugly, that it's unhealthy and that you're killing your children. Because the epidemic isn't coming from the people who can change that by signing up for a gym membership and changing their diets, it's almost entirely the lower class that has skyrocketed the numbers up for obesity. Telling people that they are ugly and unhealthy? That doesn't kill obesity, that just contributes to the anorexia epidemic.

Further, fat acceptance is far less about saying 'let's all eat cake!' and more 'stop glaring at us like we're the god damn devil because we've got a couple of folds okay?'. It's about being discriminated against in the work place, despite the fact that - yes - many fat people do have physical disabilities that make it harder to lose weight. There are people who die because their doctors blame everything on their weight. This happened to my mother, who is also on the fat-but-not-quite-obese side of things. She went to a psychiatrist for her anxiety. It was genetic anxiety, passed down in our family, and it was clearly being triggered by my brother's teenage rebellion years. Every time he got suspended from school or got detention, she'd have a panic attack. The doctor took six months of therapy - six months - to acknowledge that it wasn't just depression because of her weight. That was six months where she wasn't being treated appropriately for her anxiety because the doctor took one look at her and assumed it was just because she was fat. And this happens all the time. I had a doctor assume I only wanted birth control pills to help with my acne until I pulled up a wedding photo on my phone to prove that yes, I do want them for their intended purpose, thanks.

Appropriate, cheap, long-term diets and a variety of accessible exercises should be taught in schools, reported on in the news, and spread to the lower class. Something permanent, and not a fad diet that you stick with for two weeks then go back to your usual Burger King selections. I've read articles about how we should, in essence, just let McDonald's take the charge and just make cheap, processed healthy foods instead of cheeseburgers and fries, but frankly, I don't trust McDonald's to do that. Here's an article that sort of meets in the middle on the poverty-obesity line, and though I've got some problems with his proposed solution, he does include the pun 'let them eat kale', so it gets a pass in my book.

Basically, I think it's important to stop shaming fat people for being fat. If for no other reason than the fact that it doesn't help people lose weight. It's important to look critically at the studies about obesity, because doctors are just as biased as any other human being. Remember that the BMI is utter nonsense. It's important to acknowledge that some people will always be fat. That obese and fat people have always existed, and it's just some modern phenomena. That some of those people may be better off in the long term if they stay fat than trying to lose too much weight. That these things are not black and white. Many Americans are obese, too fat for their genetics, but nine times out of ten, the problem isn't the fat person. It's the food we have available (food deserts, fast food), it's the time we have available (many lower class people work two jobs; try and fit an hour at the gym into that schedule), and it's what we're told by the media. We're told "go a month without eating hamburger buns!" and we lose the 10 lbs and then we go back to eating hamburger buns and gain 15lbs back in a week. It's a toxic culture we've built. Fat acceptance says blame the culture, blame the big diet industry, blame McDonald's, blame the media, but stop blaming fat people. Most of us were raised fat! We were those children you keep screaming about protecting. Y'all didn't manage to stop it then, and now you're blaming us for that?

Also, "become genuinely beautiful"? I have words for that which I can't use on this site due to the policy about cursing, but please know that I'm thinking them.


@ Ophiucha

I appreciate you clarifying the fat acceptance position for us and apologize for my mistaken characterization of it in my OP. I agree that healthy living is harder for some segments of society (e.g. the lower classes) than others, so I don't subscribe to the belief that overweight people should be demonized for their condition either. If that's what fat acceptance maintains, I agree with it.
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C Hollis

My sister-in-law is obese because of a medical condition that was only recently discovered (she's in her late 40's). The woman has never eaten a full meal, yet she is obese. Her problem is with her heart and arteries (too small), among other things. Things that weren't brought on because of weight, it is the other way around. So, I do take issue with people generalizing obese people.


I'm fat. Not what I consider obese, though the bogus BMI numbers say otherwise. Even at my "fighting weight", I am considered obese by BMI standards. But, without a doubt in my mind, I am fat.

Why am I fat? Because I like food and I have a primarily desk job. And I like food. I'm not fat because of my parents. I'm not fat because there is a McDonald's on every corner. I am fat because I like cheeseburgers, burritos, pizza, and steak. I'm not fat because there aren't healthier, inexpensive alternatives to the food I enjoy; there are. I am fat because I haven't been to the gym in a year. I am not fat because I can't afford a gym membership, or the equipment; there are ways to exercise without expensive equipment. I am fat because at some point in the last year, I got too lazy to stay in shape.

We live in a society that likes to blame others for our own problems. That is a fact, and it is also crap. I have nobody to blame but myself for the shape I am in.

But you won't find me passing judgement on others. My outlook is simple; until your house is clean, don't judge the condition of mine.


Thanks for weighing in (oh god, no pun intended, I swear...) on this, Ophiucha and C Hollis. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that feels this way about my weight. I do agree with both of your views - there are things that get in our path to staying health (I myself have only just found out of a medical condition which has helped lead to my "comfort eating"), but it's still up to us to overcome them - IF we want to.


Fiery Keeper of the Hat
The Wii fit puts me right over the line into obese. I couldn't care less about that, but I've recently been making changes to pick my energy levels up in a positive direction. The one that's helped the most was changing my breakfast. I googled about healthy breakfasts until I found something about "what nutritionists eat for breakfast," and I tried to adjust my breakfast based on what I read.

I used to eat: Plain bagel with cream cheese.
Now I eat: Whole wheat bagel. Half as a cheddar cheese sandwich. Half spread with peanut butter, a dripline of honey, and a sprinkle of craisins.

That made a much bigger difference than I was expecting it to. I feel fuller so I eat less later. I have more energy in the mornings. I've been losing weight - not rapidly, but some. And I genuinely look forward to my breakfast in the morning, so it helps me get out of bed (not that the kids jumping on me doesn't wake me right up...).

All that said, I've lived in the south, where obesity is pretty much everywhere, and I have to say: You can be obese and still be pretty healthy, have a ton of energy, and be absolutely happy with yourself, especially since they changed the weight labels a few years ago. I've known some pretty fat people to work 14 hour days on their feet without slowing down much.

So I'm going to advocate that people eat and live a little healthier, sure absolutely, but if someone wants to be happy with themselves, I say more power to them.


Humans imprint the foods that are "safe to eat" by about 5 years of age. Whatever you are fed in those years register as safe, comfort foods. Whatever is not in that list is immediately "yucky". It doesn't mean you can't learn to like them, but the older we get, the more difficult it seems to be. I don't think that is because of some resistance to change, but as we grow older, we develop more autonomy over our diets, Mom isn't forcing us to eat our Brussel sprouts.

This is a very good evolutionary adaptation. These berries are good, those are bad. These animals are safe to eat, if you cook them like this. These nuts are good, those are not. This is how humans learned to eat for millions of years.

The other adaptation we have is a high drive for sugar and starch. These are rare in nature. You have to eat a lot of strawberries to get the same sugar you can get in one Pepsi. You'd be stuffed with berries before you reached a quarter can's worth.

Our third adaptation is that we can store that energy as fat, in case of famine. For us, it's a famine that never comes.

Our current food culture is subverting our evolutionary advantages to make us sick. It's not a lifestyle, or a sub-culture. We are killing ourselves with over-eating. Calling it a lifestyle is like putting a bow on the coffin.

The costs of the rampant sickness that obesity causes taxes the nation heavily: heart attacks, diabetes, joint problems, back problems, and cancer.

I'm all for making people feel better about themselves, but this is a sinister thing going on. Fat acceptance = sickness acceptance.

I'm not saying anyone should be forced to be healthy, but calling the side-effect of eating habits that result in sickness and early death something we should support... it's absolutely insane.

Adults making themselves feel better about their obesity puts children on the happy treadmill to their own sickness. This is reprehensible and socially dangerous.

I regret if I insulted anyone with this, but as someone who has been obese, who has seen obesity kill and maim members of his family, who has children, I feel I would be adding to the problem by holding back my opinion.
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"Fat acceptance = sickness acceptance."
Nope, sorry Sribs, you've got it wrong. Fat acceptance talks more of the psychological impact of fat-hatred. It's not an excuse to send people into a self-pity trip. It's about teaching people that the fat people out there marring your scenery have every right to be out there, improving there lives, going to work without people being hateful to them. People can be ridiculously hateful to fat people, and this affects not only their body image, it trickles into their relationships, their work life, important life decisions, everything. It's bad enough that the end goal to health and overall wellness is often confused with physical beauty, ie., current beauty aesthetics. Also see skinny fat. I'm pretty sure several environmental factors contribute to the quality of our diet, hormones, antibiotics, carcinogens just to name a few.
I was a very physically active child and as soon as I matured people began to tease me about the way I was shaped it made me hide away, I became inactive and then the problem actually began. Now I see a lot of kids going through this. Fat-shaming PSAs are also bizarre, they villainize fat children when they should be promoting healthy eating and making parents more responsible for their children's diet. Also, the obvious problem is that people on the dollar-menu diets are obviously the ones suffering the most, commonly from diabetes. Like it or not, food and nutrition are a national economic, logistics and attitude problem. It is not the fat person's fault. My friend's kid gained a massive amount of weight over a couple of months because of the 'healthy' smoothies that were being aggressively marketed at their school cafeteria. Once they found out what the problem was, he dropped the kilos.
Fat people super comfortable with their bodies are rare but even that makes other people incredibly uncomfortable. They're active, eat healthy but this pisses off the fat-hating people who are looking at them. This is another the kind of hatred that fat-acceptance addresses, but I hope you get the idea now. There are a lot of factors, it isn't and shouldn't be about a lackadaisical approach to health, it's about stopping the hate.
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Fiery Keeper of the Hat
I'm all for making people feel better about themselves, but this is a sinister thing going on. Fat acceptance = sickness acceptance.

You realize that for many sicknesses, acceptance is the only treatment? I know that isn't true for obesity, but my point is that acceptance and adjustment are a treatment for illness. Taking that away from someone is taking away a healthy and important piece of the healthy-lifestyle puzzle. It's a way to make things worse.

I understand that you want everybody to be in panic-mode fighting their own obesity. But more likely, being stuck in panic-mode is why they became obese. Acceptance gets a person out of panic-mode, and into a healthier mindset. A healthier mindset makes healthier choices.

And that's the path forward.


Felis amatus
It seems to me it makes sense to distinguish based on the underlying causes. I just heard a report on state radio this morning about a genetic link tied to weight problems, and scientists are starting to figure out which genes they are, what proteins they code for, and how they work. That, to me, is distinct from someone who is at an unhealthy weight only because of lack or exercise and/or poor diet.

Of course, the difficulty is that you cannot distinguish the two by appearance, but I believe people should be treated respectfully regardless of appearances. This idea of acceptance versus non-acceptance seems to pertain to societal views as a whole, and in that case I think distinctions between various causes of obesity makes sense.

Advocating some kind of non-acceptance for someone who is overweight as a result of a medical condition makes no more sense that saying we shouldn't accept people who have lupus.


At my children's school, we have two policies that I stand behind:

There is no shaming or bullying permitted, for any reason.

The child must bring a healthy lunch, and a healthy snack (a fruit or vegetable). There is no junk food allowed. This includes granola bars.

If you try to send your kid to school with unhealthy food, you'll get a note from the teacher, and later a call from the principal. We're lucky, very lucky. Their school is in an affluent neighborhood, so that means many volunteer parents, people with flexible schedules, who are generally well educated and socially motivated. Parents who understand the balance of nutrition and exercise usually have children who follow suit.

That is what it takes: educated people volunteering to make a change for children. I don't think I've seen a single obese kid in the school, and no teachers either. Maybe one or two parents. But, maybe I don't have a good perspective. For me, it's not normal where I live to be obese. I went out for my lunch time walk downtown. I specifically looked around to see if I could identify any obese people. I didn't see any. I saw some people who were a bit overweight, but I didn't see fat people.

I was at the grocery store with my two girls, and in the next checkout was a family of two fat parents and two very fat children. The boy had large breasts. I was shocked by the junk they were pulling out of their cart. Pastry cakes, and crackers, and just piles of sugar and starch.

My girls, 6 and 8 have a good level of social awareness. Thankfully, she waited until we were at the car to ask me. She asked me why they were all so fat and if they were fat, why they were buying all the junk food. Our grocery was about $100 of vegetables and fruit, by comparison. I said the only thing I thought I could say, I said that probably the mom and dad grew up eating that sort of food, and that's all they know what to eat. It wasn't a great answer. I felt kind of awkward about it, but it was the only honest answer I could give her. They just didn't know what to eat to maintain health. It did not occur to me to say that they didn't care about health.

So, I teach my children to be be careful with words, not to hurt. But, whatever they say, under it all nobody is fooled. I would scold my child equally for being unkind to a child with Down syndrome or for being obese, but at the same time, everyone knows that it is avoidable, some rare genetic cases aside. In the case of the child, the fault of the parent, in the case of the adult, their own choice and responsibility.

When I think of communities where being fat is a norm, doing away with the pressure to become fit by making it "just A-Ok" to be fat, gives me the chills. When I was overweight, the best thing anyone said to me was "Dude, you really let yourself go." That was a moment that woke me up, and I realized how poor my health had gotten. Huffing and puffing at the second flight of stairs was not a good sign, but it was in the fresh mirror of other people that I understood my situation, so slow did it creep up on me.

I'm not saying I want anyone hurt, but I'm just not convinced this is the right way. In schools, certainly, there should be no shaming. Pretending in our society, dancing around a health epidemic... seems both disingenuous and potentially harmful. The message that people take is usually what they think benefits them, not what would most benefit them.
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