It’s interesting but I have an opposite impression. I have only recently discovered FA and I love, love, love HAES – it was almost like I finally got a permission to focus on my health and not worry about my weight so much. But the more I’ve been reading blogs on the fatosphere, the more I felt that fat acceptance is about the right to eat whatever you want pretty much without regard for your health. No food is bad is the new mantra. People take issues with writers such as Michael Pollan who advocates eating whole, local foods. Any studies that even broach the subject of weight are automatically attacked. The Fat Nutritionist tells you to each what and how much you want (and what if I want to eat a tub of lard every morning?). I’ve become increasingly dissapointed in the message being portrayed and I’m not surprised that Ms. Weiner had the same (maybe wrong) impression, that fat acceptance is not so much about health but about defending the right to eat junk. I know that’s a simplistic portrayal of the whole movement, but that’s just my impression after reading some of the blogs. I’m all for intuitive eating and HAES and taking care of your body and your right to do with it what you want, but let’s not pretend that all food is equal and its quality has no impact on your health. I’m not surprised that her perception of the FA movement is so unfair to it, I’ve been having a similar reaction to some of the posts. And I thought that some of the bloggers have not read Linda Bacon’s book either. And let’s not forget how fatties who do take care of their health are mockingly called “good fatties”. It seems that unless you want to eat whatever you are not part of FA.
I want to use Agnes’s comment here as a jumping off point. Because, obvs, there are people who do get this impression. I’m glad Agnes left her comment.
Here’s the thing: Fat Acceptance is not about prescriptive health. Whether or not you are healthy by some arbitrary standard has nothing to do with your worth as a person and your right to be treated like a human being. You CAN eat whatever you want, because you are an adult and you get to make your own decisions. Fat acceptance is NOT about health – it’s about accepting fat as just another body that is capable of doing many different things. It is about how bodies are not public property. It is about how doctors who see only a weight on a data sheet are actively harming their patients through lack of quality care. It’s about not being able to access clothes.
I’m not pretending when I say food has no moral value. And, really, that’s a simplified statement because I don’t think we should be mean to our food – that’s the morality by which *I* judge food. More accurate perhaps, would be: Food has no universal moral value. Cupcakes are not evil. Full-fat salad dressing is not inspired by whatever devil one might believe in. Jowl bacon is not personally out to get you and your family. Food has no inherent moral value of that nature.
ALL FOOD provides some form of nutrition to your body. So, you know what? If the option is no food or that tub of lard in the morning? I am going to support your choice to eat a tub of lard. I’m also going to suggest not twisting yourself up into knots over the tub of lard because food guilt about what we ate is such a waste of emotion and energy. It’s food. You need it to live. We need not be ascetics – self-denial is not a universal virtue.
I think it’s preposterous to claim that anyone is pretending some foods are not more healthful – but it’s also a) dependent on your notion of health and b) none of anyone else’s goddamn business what a person chooses to eat. So my notion of health, as I practice HAES, involves a hell of a lot of mental health because that’s come closer to killing me than anything else ever. If my mental health is improved by intuitive eating, which is it, I’m going to go that route. No one, including the fattest of fat people in the world, is required to eat only healthful foods. What I put in my mouth is not your business to judge.
Fat Acceptance isn’t pretending all foods have the same nutitive values. It’s saying you are allowed to eat, you are allowed to eat whatever you want, and that eating is better than starving yourself.
The whole good fatties/bad fatties… maybe I’m reading the wrong blogs but I have NEVER heard an actual fat acceptance blogger make any sort of claim in that direction even though it’s a straw fatty constantly raised by those who are “concerned” about how “unhealthy” fat acceptance is. I practice HAES and I love movement and I am just a plain old fatty. I try to constantly remind readers here that there is no imperative to do any of this stuff – you practice HAES because it makes you feel better, not because it makes you better than anyone else. And the reasons people choose not to practice HAES are infinite – just like the reasons people are fat in the first place.
My issue with Michael Pollan – which is something he himself raises in his books – is that his is an INCREDIBLY privileged way of eating that isn’t possible for everyone. That doesn’t change the value of his work. But he’s also beating that “cure for fat” drum a little harder with each publication and it’s disappointing. I think it’s totally valid to take issue with that since fat isn’t a disease. It need not be a swoon – one can critique his framework and still value his work. Just saying.
The message of fat acceptance is that fat bodies deserve just as much respect as any other body. It’s a surprisingly radical notion. Our diet culture has sunk its teeth into us so thoroughly that “you can eat whatever you want” is taken to be a BAD THING. Oh no! A philosophy that tells us to make our own choices and be responsible for them! Oh terrible! How dangerous to be in charge of our own bodies it must be!
Agnes, I’ve addressed the issue at large (heh) but let me comment specifically on something you said in your comment; that is: I know that’s a simplistic portrayal of the whole movement, but that’s just my impression after reading some of the blogs.
If you KNOW it is a simplistic portrayal, then I’d wager you already know that’s not what Fat Acceptance is about. If it’s what you’ve got from “some” of the blogs, then it certainly isn’t enough info to say anything about what fat acceptance as a whole is about anyway. It sounds like you are cherry picking and, yes, reading things too simplistically.
Yes, people can eat whatever they want. It’s way more radical than I realized when I first got involved in fat acceptance. Yes, fat people can be healthy – and thin people can be unhealthy – and all of them deserve to be treated well by doctors and not mocked on cheap sitcoms. We’re all people. We all deserve to be treated as such – regardless of health.
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