I'm fat. Not portly or chubby or ample or plump or big-boned or too short for my weight, just fat. Playing synonym substitution all day long won't change that fact.
I'm not fat because of genetics. It's not my parent's fault, nor are the makers of fast food to blame. I don't vilify advertisers for making their products look appealing. While some porkers claim that they gain weight no matter how much they reduce their consumption, I obey the second law of thermodynamics. I don't have a glandular problem, except for the saliva gland. No one ever held me down and forced me to eat fatty foods or drink beer. There is only one person responsible for my girth, and he's writing this article.
There are a few, very few, obese people who can honestly lay the blame on medical problems. Prader-Willi, a rare disease that causes several severe developmental problems, also causes the victim to always feel hungry, even if they finished a large meal moments ago. Some people, like those who have had organ transplants, have to take steroids that make them bulky and overweight. But the vast majority of us are fat for two reasons and two reasons only – we eat too much, and exercise too little.
I first came in contact with the Fat Acceptance (FA) movement several years ago, when a very large man-hating woman signed up on a multi-line BBS I owned. She insisted that she had a right to be considered attractive, so men who were turned off by her excessive flesh were violating her rights. Her rights were violated a lot.
The Fat Acceptance movement is not entirely without merit. It proclaims people should pay less attention to appearance and more to the inner person. That's great advice. Entirely contrary to human nature, but still great advice. First impressions are based largely on appearance, and if the appearance is largely large, assumptions based on that are a natural response. Yes, people should be better than that. No, they won't be anytime soon. FA says people should learn to be comfortable about their own appearance, and not base their self image on the perceptions of others. That's also good advice, and also difficult to do. And they also seek to make the general public less cruel and more accepting of fat people. Again, a good goal, and again, one unlikely to succeed. If their goals ended there, we might be able to support them. Of course, their agenda goes much further than that.
Rather than just trying to change the public's perceptions of fat people, FAA (Fat Acceptance Advocates, who are often the size of airplanes) have, naturally, tried to mandate special treatment, through both legislation and lawsuits. FAAs have sued restaurants that weren't able to accommodate them. I'm fat enough that booths are usually uncomfortable, so when I'm directed to one I just politely request a table. It has never been a problem. However, if I were so monstrously huge that I couldn't fit on any of the restaurant's chairs, I'd have to stop and wonder if maybe, just maybe, a restaurant was the best place for me to be. Perhaps a different form of entertainment would be more appropriate.
FAAs are now demanding landlords make special accommodations for them. The nature of these accommodations hasn't been specified, but I think an apartment owner's sole obligation should be to grease the doorways.
Everyone is good at fooling themselves, but FAAs have made it an art form. For instance, when they hold up Rubens as a great painter who found beauty in overweight women they miss two very important facts. First, Rubens stands out because chubby women (who only represented a fraction of his work) are so uncommon in the works of other great painters. More importantly, he painted women who were twenty, maybe thirty pounds overweight. A 400 pound woman insisting Rubens' taste was commendable is just sad.
FAAs also insist a lot of men (5-10% is an oft quoted number) prefer women who weigh more than the government says they should. That may be true, but most such men are looking for a little cushion, not a beanbag chair. The number of men attracted to morbidly obese women is so small it is considered a fetish.
I have my own personal fat acceptance policy. It doesn't involve lawsuits or imagined rights, nor does it demand anything from anyone else. It is simply this: If someone doesn't like me because I'm fat, I don't want to associate with them either. Not because of their bias, (everyone has some bias about something,) but because of their lack of imagination. There are so many, much better reasons to dislike me that anyone who rejects me for my girth is both unimaginative and unobservant. They'd be far too dull to hang around with.
A slightly updated version of this article is available as a podcast.
Think this billboard is funny? Me too, but not everyone is laughing.
This article has not been aproved by The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA)
© 2000 Dave Hitt