Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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The Rogue Priest Has Concerns with FA

March 1, 2012

My pal Drew over at The Rogue Priest is a very cool guy. I admire his goal of living a Heroic Life and quest to walk from Minnesota to Brazil to meet the gods. His latest post, however, centers on fat acceptance, and how it may or may not fit in with his world view. His concerns?

  • There are health problems associated with obesity. Some are exaggerated or imagined and advertisers definitely hit the button too hard, but I question whether people should be told to accept a higher-risk health condition.
  • I tend to favor self-development. There is a type of happiness to be found in accepting circumstance, but also a type of happiness in overcoming adversity or personal obstacles and achieving something hard.

He admits that he doesn't know a lot about FA and is looking for information and answers to some questions. There are a lot of comments already, a couple from me, and I'd say over half are positive towards FA and body acceptance. If you've got time, go peek!

I don't want to go over to the site (way too triggered today), so I just want to say here that there are many, many states of being that carry higher health risks, statistically (we can get into the statistical lie-averaging and correlation =/= causation some other time).

The thing is, being fat isn't a choice for the vast majority of people. It's not the same as saying, "Just accept being a smoker" or something like that. Being a woman carries higher risk than being a man of certain conditions, and vice versa. Being very tall carries health risks (most people don't know about this, but for certain cancers, heart problems, joint problems, deep vein thrombosis, and more). The failure in understanding here is where the myth of fat choice and behavior leading to fat (a behavior that then can and should be changed) is assumed.

If the only way to lose weight effectively was, say, to cut off one's arm, people would say, "Oh no, don't do that! It's obviously harmful." But dieting is harmful, it's just a kind of harm that doesn't happen all at once. And obviously WLS is harmful and is much closer to the cutting-off-arm analogy.

Anyway, in summary: Fat is not a choice for the vast majority of fat people. 'Fat acceptance' is much more about accepting that *fact*, not accepting the valueless fat on one's body.

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Oh hey! I didn't know that you know Drew. I was hoping his post would make it into the Fat O'sphere somehow. Thanks for boosting the signal!

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Rather like Big Liberty, I'm not in the mood for going to a strange blog and risking my mental health with posts and comments from people I don't know. So I hope you don't mind if I leave my comment here, and please feel free to share it with your friend however you see fit.

My argument/information/whatever you want to call it boils down to this: NOTHING gives any human being the right to treat another human with less respect or dignity. My fatness does not make me unworthy of the respect and dignity afforded to smaller individuals (yes I know thin people have problems too. As a group they also have massive amounts of privilege that people who look like me don't have). Nobody, not even a doctor, can tell how healthy or unhealthy I am just by looking at me*. Even if they could, my level of health does not give someone the right to treat me with anything less than the same dignity, respect, and acceptance due to any other human being. In my opinion that is the concept at the core of fat acceptance -- that all humans deserve the same level of respect, dignity, and acceptance of who they are regardless of the size, shape, or healthiness of their bodies.

As for his two specific points:
- I would LOVE to choose to not accept living with a high-risk health condition. The condition I speak of is not my fatness, but rather the social stigma attached to it. Since, you know, social stigma causes stress and stress has been linked to lots of horrible health consequences too. I strongly suspect that ending the social stigma against fat people would go a LONG way towards fixing a lot of weight-related health problems for a lot of people.
- My idea of self-development does not include attempting to do the impossible, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (despite any evidence that those different results will not materialize), or doing things that contribute to self-hate. In other words, weight loss -- something that much research shows is impossible for something like 95% of people who try it -- is not my idea of self-development. So what DO I count as self-development? Lots of things. One of the biggest on my radar right now is overcoming more than a decade of programming that tells me that exercise is miserable, food can be either tasty OR healthy, and that efforts towards exercising and healthy eating that don't result in weight loss are worthless. Hating myself and fighting against my body for over a decade has not brought me happiness or increased health. My hope is that overcoming the mental and emotional obstacles I currently have against exercising and eating a more healthy diet WILL bring me happiness and increased health. Is that not a worthwhile, self-developmental goal? Or is it only worthwhile if it causes my body to become more socially acceptable?

(*obvious health indicators like jaundice would be exceptions to this. Fatness is not an obvious health indicator.)

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Thank you so much, Big Liberty and T for your indepth comments. I'll point Drew this way and completely understand your reluctance to visit his site. Great job.

Colleen: Yeah, I started reading Rogue Priest a while back when a friend linked to his living in the wild post on FB and poked fun at him for it. I dug around a bit and like what I saw so I've been reading ever since.

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I actually know Drew (he was my priest for several years when he was still in Minneapolis). He's ... pretty true to what his blog sounds like, actually.

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