Rejecting Fat Logic

Serenity Prayer

“Acceptance” is a word that conjures up visions of maturity, tolerance, and compassion. On the most basic level, fat acceptance is necessary for everyone. An obese person has to learn to love her/himself in order to care enough to make positive physical changes. The first step toward love is acceptance. It’s very important to accept a friend or family member who is overweight, because people can’t change until they are accepted in their present state, whatever it may be. Acceptance is a beautiful, healing quality. What could possibly be wrong with fat acceptance?

Quite a lot, actually. When we put capital letters on the words and talk about Fat Acceptance, we start down the proverbial slippery slope. “Accept” is a key word in one of the world’s most widely known prayers. A person asks for the grace to accept things that cannot be changed. Trouble starts when intelligence is misused, to engage in the mental gymnastics necessary to convince oneself that obesity is unavoidable and inevitable.

Thanks to Reddit contributors Queefing_Peanuts and CarolineJohnsonChildhood Obesity News has identified some of the more common rationalizations and justifications that people use to (supposedly, allegedly) prove to themselves and others that obesity is one of those things that — sorry! — just can’t be changed.

Excuses ‘R’ Us

The “big-boned” trope has been around forever, since long before the childhood obesity epidemic began. Family members will also convince themselves that a baby or child should eat without limits, and the resulting pudgy little person is not suffering from childhood obesity, and pretty soon a “growth spurt” will come along and take care of everything. A variation is “It’s all muscle,” which can apply to either sex, and another variation just for women is “Don’t you wish you had these curves!” People who are too invested in the Fat Acceptance notion also tend to use the terms “real man” or “real woman.”

One of the hardest obstacles to work around is some people’s refusal to see that their weight is in any way related to their eating habits or their (lack of) exercise habits. They will not believe any doctor who says otherwise, will react angrily to the doctor’s suggestion that they need to lose weight, and will accuse the doctor of fat-shaming or of being unable to “see past the weight.”

On the other hand, some people will “over-believe” a doctor, and purposely misinterpret anything they hear from a medic as evidence that they had better take it easy and not deprive themselves of nourishment, even if it’s thousands of calories per day.

My condishun

Among the obese, there are apparently quite a number of people who claim an inability to bring their weight under control because of a “condition,” which is sometimes interpreted broadly enough to include even a hangnail. The human tendency to cop out on some vague medical grounds is so widespread that Reddit contributors mock it by using, for any transparent excuse, the word “condishun.”

A few medical problems cause outrageous weight gain, and they are often connected with mental disability, so you’re not likely to run into the affected individuals in everyday life. Many other medical situations, including the taking of certain prescription drugs, can make a person put on pounds, but with proper management they don’t cause morbid obesity. In short, there are not nearly enough legitimate medical causes to account for all the people who declare themselves the victims of “condishuns.”

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Twenty-Two Towering Tenets of Fatlogic,”, 2013
Source: “you might be a hamplanet if…,”, 03/10/14
Image by Stephanie Clifford

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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