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Friday, May 10, 2013

What Body Acceptance Really Is by A101

There is an idea in the fat movement that body acceptance means simply saying ‘I’m fat, ah well, there’s nothing I can do, and there’s no point trying anyway’.

A more extreme example of this attitude is ‘I’m fat, there’s nothing I can do, and you can’t either. There’s no point trying, and if you do it means you hate yourself. And not only yourself but ALL fat people. If you don’t want to stay like us then you are bad, think we are bad and hate us. You are a sell-out. You are giving in to society’.

Well for a start body fat is not magic (you will find I write this a lot, simply because its true). It is not. It is created. And it is created from what we give it. Bodyfat is stored energy. Our bodies use energy to live, to function, to be. What is given to the body, but not needed is stored away for later.

Endomorphic body types have a tendency towards storing more bodyfat, but this doesn’t make obesity for this body type inevitable. It means that more effort needs to be put forward to watch weight gain.

But at the same time, there are far too many overweight people in todays world to be able to say ‘They are all just endomorphs’, just like there are too many to say ‘it’s all due to medical conditions/unlucky genes’ etc. And though small amounts of people have medical conditions that result in weight gain due to changes in the body, there is no shortage of overweight people all trying to lump themselves into this category.

But back to the issue of body acceptance.

I think that the fat movements view of what constitutes ‘body acceptance’ is very skewed.

Of course we should all accept our bodies and our body shapes. This is our body and the only one we are going to get, so yes!! Enjoy it.

Accepting your body means accepting that maybe ‘Hey I’ve got short legs, I’ll have to accept that, nothing is going to make them longer’, or ‘I have narrow shoulders/wider hips’ or things like ‘I notice I have a tendency to store body fat more easily, so I’ll be more careful with my nutritional choices', or ‘I see that I have a hard time putting on muscle, I’ll do some research on nutrition and sensible resistance training programmes to help’ etc.

Accepting your body is a good thing, and we are all different, with different features etc.
The problem with the fat acceptance movement however is that they also seem to believe that accepting your body means, you can’t then do anything to improve it.

Or to go deeper into it ‘You can do things to improve it……..just don’t you dare go losing bodyfat whilst you do!!’.

For instance if a person is overweight and they choose to exercise then ‘fine’ say the fat movement and ‘well done’. But that changes in a flash if they then find out that this persons goal is to lose bodyfat.

That is strictly not allowed.

By doing this, they see it as calling them bad, ugly or not as good, because surely a person couldn’t want to lose bodyfat if they think that fat people aren’t worth less then others.
But this is no different then someone saying ‘If you try to improve your education beyond us, then that means you think we aren’t as good. There is no way that you can want to become smarter if you don’t think that uneducated people are worth less’.

And its nonsense.

One of the main reasons this happens is because the fat movement do not believe that being overweight can cause problems (many don’t believe this no matter how overweight/obese the person is). So in their mind, the only reason a person could possibly want to lose weight is because this person doesn’t want to look like them. Therefore they must hate them (the word hate gets thrown around a lot in the fat movement, no matter what is said or how nicely its put. Any criticism at all seems to be deemed ‘hate speech’).

But lowering your bodyfat is self improvement, just like adding on muscle, improving your cardiovascular systems and heart functioning, and everything else that comes from a well rounded fitness programme.

What ‘body acceptance’ really means is accepting your basic shape and bone structure, whether you are an ectomorph, mesomorph, or endomorph (people are usually mixtures of these rather then just one, but they often lean towards one of these more then the others) and the basic things that make up you.

But it does NOT mean that you hate yourself if you decide to improve everything about yourself that you can.

Just like a person may have a learning disorder, and they will need to accept that. But that doesn’t mean that this person should also ‘accept’ that they will never know anything, and will never be academic or clever.

They may not become a super genius (just like people with their bodies don’t all get to become built like Greek gods) but they can still make great improvements in themselves.
And does improving your mind mean you ‘hate’ those who are less academic then you?
Does wanting to improve athletic ability mean you hate those without it?

Of course not. And wanting to lower your body fat is no different.

Another argument that the fat movement use is that by lowering bodyfat ‘you are conforming to societies idea of beauty’. But this statement is very unfair as it is basically implying that there is no way that you as a fully thinking adult, could possibly want this for yourself. You can only NOT want it, or be brainwashed into wanting it.

You can’t want to be trimmer, only be brainwashed to ‘conform’. And its not true anymore then saying ‘by studying for your exams you are conforming to societies idea of intelligence’, or ‘by taking up a popular sport you are conforming to society and its ideals because society likes sports’.

Couldn’t you also therefore say ‘by watching television you are conforming to societies idea of entertainment’? Does it therefore mean that there is no way you could possibly want to watch that popular t.v show? That you can only ‘conform’ to watching it?

By saying wanting to lose bodyfat shows ‘conformity’, that means that there is no such thing as preference.

Not everyone can look like a Greek god/goddess as mentioned, but that doesn’t mean that a person can’t want to make themselves in trimmer shape by their own choosing either, and it certainly doesn’t show ‘hate’ for others who don’t do it, or who have the body shape that they themselves are trying to change.

As mentioned above, wanting to change something doesn’t mean you hate those who will still have it, and it doesn’t mean at all that you think less of them, or that they are worth less. We all want different things from ourselves, and we all aspire to different things including certain looks.
Not everyone can achieve perfection, just like not everyone who takes up a sport can become an Olympian or an elite athlete, but our potentials are there to be discovered.

We are not born at our full potential, be it in body or mind. We either choose to seek out our potential, or we sit on the sidelines and forever be left wondering. Some people even tell themselves that they didn’t have any anyway. And that is no way to be thinking about yourself.
Wanting to lower bodyfat is not a sign of hate, of yourself or others. It is an improvement of yourself.

Fat movement members will take this as saying ‘oh so you think you are making yourself better then us’, but that is no different (as I already mentioned) then a person improving their education and others getting offended and saying ‘oh so you think your better then us because you are smarter!’.

There is no denying it, making yourself smarter is a self improvement. Should we therefore all get offended when others seek higher education then us?

Body acceptance means accepting the parts you can’t change (like you can’t make your legs longer for example), but also improving what you CAN.

That is not only body acceptance, but total body love and respect.

But whilst the fat movement see body fat as some magic entity that we have no say in at all, and harp on with their ‘wanting to change something can only mean you hate yourself’ (again, no different then saying wanting to improve education/gain education means you first have to hate your mind), that body acceptance means ‘not changing anything physically about your size at all’ (some even say you shouldn’t even if it is for health reasons, whilst others hold tight to beliefs that there is no health concern no matter how large the weight gain) and that if you change yourself it means you hate those who have what you decided to change, then this will continue.

The great part though is that you can take it into your own hands.

For many large weight gains cause many problems from health to everyday difficulties with even simple tasks, or general activity.

The fat movement members size’s are their own business, but this is also a movement which will berate others for calling them names, or making them feel bad or guilty for being so big, whilst seeing nothing wrong in belittling their own if they admit to even feelings/thoughts or considerations of lowering bodyfat.

Telling a person they can’t lose weight if they believe in fat acceptance (fat acceptance in this term I mean as ‘leaving overweight people alone, not bullying them etc) is no different then non academics saying ‘we want everyone to stop calling us names, and making us feel bad and calling us dumb because we don’t have the education that others have’, then turning around and belittling a member who has decided they want to improve on their own education.

It is definitely a strange movement full of extremes, and calling itself ‘fat acceptance’ (which sounds like it means and encourages ‘don’t bully fat people’ ideas, which are absolutely fine) but really has a whole host of increasingly far fetched ideas doesn‘t help.

As when people find out the other things besides the ‘don’t bully overweight people‘ parts, they then say ‘I don’t agree with fat acceptance‘, causing others to go off on immediate tirades of ‘oh so you hate fat people’ etc, when really they mean they don’t agree with the far fetched ideas.

Acceptance (in all things and situations) means accepting what you have got, but also making the most and very best of it.

And losing bodyfat makes a whole host of things more accessible to a person. Nobody should be made to feel they HAVE to be/look a certain way, but this works both ways,. And on the other hand, nobody should be made to feel they can’t change something for fear of ridicule from their own numbers either.

If you are happy overweight, then fine be happy. But there are others in the same position who won’t be, and they have as much right to change as you do of staying the same.

But simply saying ‘I’m overweight, oh well, what can you do’ isn’t body acceptance. That’s simply body submission.

A101 is a contributer to the My Fat Spouse Forum. He originally posted this piece on his blog, Delving into the World of Pro-Fat

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