Embracing Fat: The Word, The Body



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6 April 2012

While the topic of weight is certainly a delicate subject that requires light treading, a new “love fat” movement insists that embracing the word, and the bodies the word describes, is key in body and weight acceptance.

Lesley Kinzel is a leader in the fat acceptance movement who maintains the blog-turned-book, “Two Whole Cakes“. She says that fat-shaming (causing people to feel anxiety, self-hatred, stress or in any way negative about themselves because they are overweight) is prevalent, even engrained, in our society.

Most people would probably agree that’s true. After all, study after study reports that larger people are often treated more poorly than those within “normal” BMI range. It’s not always as blatant as that, though. Fat shaming comes in the form of eyeing someone for ordering dessert or suggesting that they go on a walk or that they shouldn’t wear that particular dress. Even if intentions are positive, fat acceptance bloggers, such as Kinzel, argue that others have no right infringing on the choices another person makes.”Standing against fat-shaming ensures that everyone gets to make private decisions about the state of their body, and that everyone gets to have those decisions respected, whether they decide to lose weight, or to be contentedly fat, or to dye their hair green, or to get lots of piercings or tattoos — other people’s bodies are none of your business, not to touch, to judge, or to publicly comment upon,” writes Kinzel in an XOJane.com article titled “What’s Wrong With Fat Shaming?
Betty's mother-in-law lecturing her on 'the problem'  Mad Men Season 5. on AMC.
Betty’s mother-in-law lecturing her on “the problem”
Mad Men Season 5. on AMC. amctv.com

So what’s one way to diffuse the fat-hatred? According to fat movement leaders and supporters, we should strive to eliminate the negative connotation associated with the word fat. To do this, they suggest using the term more frequently as a non-loaded, basic descriptor and nothing more. For example, “That fat girl is totally rocking those wedges!”

I love the word “fat”precisely because my candid and positive use of it often shocks people,” says Kinzel on CNN. “It means everyone who hears the word ‘fat’ from me is having to take a moment to think about what I mean by it, and to resist the knee-jerk assumption that I must mean something bad.”Clearly, most agree that shaming anyone about anything is pointless. It’s hurtful and, at its worst, a destructive force that tears people down and makes them feel less than human.

With that said, there is a fine line between accepting your body — at any size — and neglecting your body. After all, health and nutrition often plays a key role in happiness.

Personally, I contend we should all love and appreciate our bodies, but to not forget that doing so requires us to take care of them to the best of our ability. Whether dangerously skinny or fat, being unhealthy is precisely that: being unhealthy.

The point that fat-positive bloggers have, though, is that you shouldn’t worry about another person’s healthiness because you don’t know them at all. Maybe that 300 pound woman does yoga everyday and decided to treat herself to a venti frappe for the first time in a year. Or maybe that 250 pound man has already lost 100 pounds.

Instead of worrying about others, focus on loving — and accepting — yourself. At its core, that’s what the fat acceptance movement is about.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, and I’m sure you have a strong opinion either way, why do you think that weight is such a segregating topic in our society, and in particular, the fashion world? Why do so many feel offended or upset by another person’s number on the scale?

By Wendy Rose Gould


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Posted by Wendy Rose Gould at 09:01 AM
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