Fat Acceptance, Fat Shaming, Big Fat Lies

There's a Fat Pride post up at Forever in Hell, and one of the articles linked to is this one. In the usual journalistic fashion seen nearly everywhere except possibly The New Yorker and the pre-Rupert Murdoch Wall Street Journal, the CNN article proceeds so that things are boiled down to the point where they aren't even true, just for a good sound bite. To wit:

"Although most people agree that promoting super-skinny models as the feminine (or masculine) ideal isn't healthy, will the opposite -- accepting that being overweight or obese is fine -- undermine the progress being made toward heart health?"

The entire article is based on this false dichotomy. The opposite of "promoting super-skinny models as the feminine (or masculine) ideal" is not "accepting that being overweight or obese is fine." If you're accepting something as "fine," then you are by definition NOT promoting it as the ideal. Fine does not equal ideal. In the above context, "fine" means "acceptable." End of story. The opposite of promoting extremely underweight models as the ideal would be promoting extremely overweight models as the ideal, not simply promoting the belief that being overweight might not be the most undesirable thing in the imaginable world. The article rattles off more sound bites (editors and PR professionals everywhere: "Yay!") from medical professionals all parroting the point that being fat is one of the worst things you can do to your body, when taking numerous risk factors and organ systems into account. CNN squeezes in a few nods to "fat doesn't necessarily mean unfit," but pulls the rug right out from under them with following paragraphs beginning with the ominous, "But is A really A?" formula that teenage essay writers the world over employ to make their thesis sound more intricate and deep than it really is.

This article and some of the comments over at Hell (and most of the comments at CNN) utterly miss the point. The idea behind the Fat Pride/Fat Acceptance movement isn't to give people an excuse to stay overweight or obese, as the CNN article blatantly suggests. The idea, which for some reason otherwise rational adults seem to have trouble understanding, is that accepting a chubby or overweight or obese person as just as human as an average weight or underweight or anorexic person is merely accepting the truth. For some reason, people haven't really made that leap yet. At least, not many people. Articles like this one and its false premises only serve to push some deep-seated button in many of us. We read about "healthy at any weight" and somehow it translates in our minds to, "Everyone's going to become fat because this will give them the excuse to sit on their asses and be lazy, and then I'll be surrounded by FAT PEOPLE! Or worse! I'll BE a fat person!" And then everyone runs around in distracted circles, screaming and waving their arms over their heads until they run into a fat person to scorn. Fat people aren't people, don't you know? They're lazy blobs.

Articles like this make sure people continue Not Getting It. They do such a huge disservice to our collective psyche and our cultural understanding of truth and logic.


  1. i'm pretty sure injecting meth is the worst thing you could do for your body. unless you read these articles, in which case dipping that biscuit in gravy will be the DEATH OF US ALL.


  2. Wonderful Column, CN. It seems that the simple distinction that people are people, irrespective of their BMI or other considerations, is largely lost on people, and especially the media. It is unfortunate that the media has largely replaced simple thought in modern times. It's easy to see with comments like those that the bias against people just because of their appearance is alive and well. I often find, though, that commentary about articles or various media pieces offers a frightening view into the readers' minds. :(

  3. Oh thank-you. I got embroiled in one of those Internet fights last week and this is EXACTLY the point I wish I had been eloquent enough to make.

  4. The "fat people aren't people" meme is nauseatingly ubiquitous on the InterBlogs. :P :P :P

    Feel free to cut and paste anything here that will help quash teh Stoopid.


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