Revisiting: Dieting and Fat Acceptance

Once again, it seems the discussion on the Fatosphere has reached the part of the cycle where it is questioned why, exactly, is the Fatosphere a ‘No Diet Talk’ space. Isn’t that, like, discrimination or something? Can’t we be Fat Accepting and talk about dieting?

In my opinion, no we can’t. I’ve written about this at length before and recommend that you check it out if only to decide whether you agree or disagree. Discuss away…

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17 Responses to “Revisiting: Dieting and Fat Acceptance”


  1. 1 Bstu Tuesday, 19 January 2010 at 5:30 pm

    On the Venn Diagram, I’d suggest that “Size Acceptance” should be renamed somehow. The term Size Acceptance was coined by fat activists and was synonymous with fat acceptance, not oppositional to it. I realize that some trying to oppose fat acceptance and quite tepidly disapprove of fat discrimination have tried to usurp the term, but I’ve never agreed with this appropriation of fat acceptance’s internal vocabulary.

    • 2 Miriam Heddy Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 1:28 am

      I’d agree with you, especially in that the description of “Size Acceptance” sounds like mainstream opinion of self-identified liberals, which tends to boil down to, “Fat people should try to be slim, but of course it’s wrong to discriminate against anyone.” (Though this sentiment is usually followed by, “Does discrimination against fat people really happen?” and is often mediated by a series of examples where maybe a little discrimination is okay, if it’s in the interest of [insert rationalization here].) This sort of thinking is exemplified in the blog “We Are the Real Deal,” and echoes the talk in a lot of women’s magazines that say, “Accept yourself. Here’s how to change!”

    • 3 Fatadelic Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 7:02 pm

      I agree that Size Acceptance was coined as an inclusive term – but more often than not these days it is used as a ‘softer’ option, i.e. accepting of people of size, but only up to a point. I feel that my diagram above reflects current usage.

    • 4 Fatadelic Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 7:04 pm

      Miriam – exactly. It’s the “don’t discriminate, fight for your rights, but be a good fatty and diet” message that cheeses me off.

  2. 5 Deeleigh Tuesday, 19 January 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Agreed. Size acceptance is simply a broader term; it includes all sizes, not just fat. For example, a size acceptance activist would also be against height discrimination.

    • 6 Fatadelic Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 7:09 pm

      Deeleigh – Perhaps SA is intended as a more inclusive term, but in my experience, it is often used to exclude larger fat people. I can certainly understand that the term Fat Acceptance can be off-putting to slim or inbetween individuals – but I don’t think Fat Activism is about excluding smaller sized people, either. Certainly, my own viewpoint is that we should each learn to love the body we are in, in its current state.

  3. 7 buffPuff Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 8:15 am

    I interpret Size Acceptance to mean that people of all shapes and sizes should strive to accept the bodies they inhabit – and I’m highly in favour of that. In fact I doubt FA will ever catch on to the degree it needs to without the world coming around to the idea of Size Acceptance first.

    Mass rejection of the pressure to conform to one arbitrary, highly atypical physical ideal would result in less lashing out at/ putting down anyone who doesn’t happen to physically resemble you.

    So no cranky, bitter, “say 500 hail Mary’s for every bite of chocolate you guiltily allow yourself to eat” types hating on FA advocates for granting themselves freedom from dieting and obsessing about their weight. And no oppressed fat people lashing out at the “skinny bitches” whose image is actively used to make them feel like crap about themselves. Without the hierarchy of size no one feels the need to be morally superior.

    • 8 Fatadelic Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 7:27 pm

      And no oppressed fat people lashing out at the “skinny bitches” whose image is actively used to make them feel like crap about themselves.

      I’m always hearing about fat people who lash out hatred at skinny people, but I’ve very rarely – if ever – seen it. I think this one is 99% a straw fatty.

    • 9 Fatadelic Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 7:28 pm

      Without the hierarchy of size no one feels the need to be morally superior.

      Definitely.

  4. 10 Alexandra Lynch Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I’m still working on accepting my body as it is, but it’s got nothing to do with the pounds I carry or don’t. But I’ve got a series of chronic conditions, and accepting that without diligent monitoring and balancing I will be in excruciating pain is taking quite a lot of getting used to.

    • 11 Fatadelic Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 7:22 pm

      Alexandra, illness and chronic conditions certainly complicate things. I can’t talk from direct experience (since I am able-bodied), but I have seen the kind of balancing and monitoring of a chronic condition at close quarters. And I know that seeing the effects of a chronic condition in someone and experiencing the condition first hand are in no way similar, but I think caring for my partner has given me a small insight. John has kidney disease and has had both a fistula created in his wrist and a catheter tube inserted in his abdomen for dialysis. The tube, the use of dialysis machines and medications for life support and the constant need to balance the various ongoing complications and effects of his illness, nutritional needs and medications (which alleviate one symptom and cause 5 more) certainly complicates his lived experience. I know he struggles with body acceptance and acceptance of his limitations at times because of this – and that’s a natural thing to be going through. I hope I’m not coming across preachy or anything like that – I’m just trying to say that in a very small way, I understand that medical conditions complicate the issue of body acceptance.

  5. 12 Cassi Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 4:30 am

    “I’m always hearing about fat people who lash out hatred at skinny people, but I’ve very rarely – if ever – seen it. I think this one is 99% a straw fatty.”

    Perhaps, but I’m be leery simply because I know a lot of thin people who will say the same about fat hatred… they don’t experience it, so they don’t see it, therefore it doesn’t exist. I want people to take me at my word when I say I feel hated for being fat, so if thin people tell me that they get called skinny bitches I’ve got to assume they do.

  6. 13 buffPuff Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 7:04 am

    Alas, no straw fatty I’m afraid, especially not outside the fatosphere. I’ve heard the “skinny bitches” thing myriad times – and not just from fat women either; often from average-sized and even slim women who don’t feel their bodies/looks make the grade either.

    Unless one happens to be or look like the waif-du-jour, we’re all oppressed by constant exposure to her. Even now I fight against my social conditioning that “real women” have “proper” tits and arses. Others might bolster their trampled self esteem with the thought that well, at least they’re smart – because everybody knows that models are “too stupid to get a proper job”.

    This brainwashed tit-for-tat bitchery is nothing new. There’s just a lot more of it now and its ill-effects are cloaked in a load of old shite about health. What is new is that the physical ideal is getting progressively thinner while the general populace is not. And some women will cling to their right to be oppressed with their last dying breath. They claim they find these images of unattainable beauty uplifting and aspirational, just like the fashion industry swears they do. This masochism is exemplified daily in the Sanity Points draining forum posts that inevitably follow a mainstream media piece about the fatosphere. “I don’t want to see someone who looks like me in a fashion magazine!” they say, “I want fantasy!” Yet magazines that encourage their readers to mock and find physical fault with the same celebrities they lauded the previous week sell by the shelf-load. They are entirely founded on the profound resentment women feel towards other women for receiving elevated status on the grounds of their looks.

    Size Acceptance may have become co-opted by the likes of WATRD to mean, “girls who only think they’re fat should learn to love their bodies but obviously actual fat girls shouldn’t because eeeuw! – I mean – unhealthy!” But that’s not what it’s really about. It’s about accepting your body whatever kind of body you have. It’s primarily about mental health and I’m hoping it will take root because, without that, FA is too radical a concept for those who are still mired in oppression.

    It doesn’t help the process at all that dieting is seen by the vast majority as healthy behaviour. (Because anything, no matter how tedious, faddish or eating-disorder-inspiring is seen as preferable to being fat). Unfortunately unless society starts viewing things differently the WATRD model of Size Acceptance will prevail. Personally I don’t think dieting and FA make fabulous bedfellows, but I do think those who diet can still support FA.

  7. 14 Synna Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 11:46 am

    Buffpuff –

    “Personally I don’t think dieting and FA make fabulous bedfellows, but I do think those who diet can still support FA.”

    Absolutely. But – the fatosphere is not the place to talk about the latest greatest magical diet.There are a million places to do that. Specifically the feeds IMO should be free of the bad fatty/good fatty false dichotomy, and about accepting people (or challenging the societal status quo).

    I banged my head long and hard over at WATRD, but I’ve concluded that it takes too many sanity points to continue.

  8. 15 buffPuff Friday, 22 January 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Oh, absolutely agreed, Synna. And WATRD totally does my head in.

  9. 16 Synna Saturday, 23 January 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I did a bad,bad thing and just went to that website that shall not be named.

    consider my head done in for the next week.

  10. 17 Trent Monday, 25 January 2010 at 12:53 am

    Just stumbled in.

    You probably haven’t heard fat people lash out at skinny people because you don’t hang out with the kind of woman who does that.

    Some women with self esteem issues will call thin attractive women much worse things than “skinny bitch”.


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