Should Fat Acceptance be Given a Platform?

plus size supermarket fashion

That is a trick question, because fat acceptance has always had a platform, so there is no need to ask. A more useful question would be, “Is it okay that acceptance is tolerated? How much acceptance should be extended, and in what ways?”

Maybe all airplane seats should be extra wide. If a large person’s comfort were a criterion, then lean travelers would enjoy extra space in their seats, and even in the latrines. Normal-weight people would be rewarded, but obese people would not be punished. Of course, all the planes would have to be rebuilt, at great expense. And each flight would hold fewer passengers, which would raise the average ticket price.

Maybe no one but CEOs and Oscar winners could afford to fly any more, but at least their seats would be wide. Just a minute—CEOs and Oscar winners already have their own planes, with seats as wide as they like. Also, they tend not to be obese. Maybe this is not such a good idea.

Where to Draw the Line Around Fat Acceptance?

Obviously, people with medical disabilities need extra consideration from the able-bodied, yet public opinion varies. Someone might be fine with granting pregnant women special parking privileges close to a store entrance yet bitterly begrudge an obese person the sticker identifying the vehicle of a handicapped person. Usually, the government defines the disabled, and individuals don’t always agree.

The government also defines the obese, as in public schools where parents receive “fat letters.” It also allows employers to define, and penalize, obesity. Childhood Obesity News examined the outrage some people feel about obesity, and the lengths to which they will go in an effort to make the world conform to their preferences.

Others commenters have different viewpoints, and do not object when the overweight hold a self-forgiving belief, as long as they keep it to themselves and don’t try to actively spread the Health at Every Size gospel. An example is this person-on-the-street reaction to “fat acceptance:”

Being fat is perfectly fine if you’re making a decision for yourself. But it’s absolutely not fine for you to try to influence others with your grotesque self-abusing logic. Destroy yourself, not society.

A person with the handle crazymcfattypants feels that tolerance ends when “they make their own fatness everybody else’s problem,” and imagines a dialogue:

Obese person: I like the way I look even though I’m 100 pounds overweight.
Tolerant person: No bother.
Obese person: I like the way I look 100 pounds overweight, and the rest of you are [naughty word] for not accepting me the way I am; it’s society’s fault I feel ugly.
Tolerant person: Put down the burger and get on the treadmill, fatty.

Granted, shaming and blaming don’t work. Also, they are not nice. But ought the concept of Fat Acceptance to be given any positive reinforcement? Writing for The New Yorker, Lizzie Widicombe warned that if the plus-size fashion industry reaches its goal of acceptance into the mainstream, “it risks losing some of its outsider energy and community.” But wouldn’t that be a good thing? Do we, as a society, want to reward big fashion entrepreneurs as avant-garde mavericks and stars? Is that for the greatest good?

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Dismantling fat logic makes me an ‘ignorant prick’,”, 09/23/14
Source: “The Plus Side,” 09/22/14
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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.
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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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