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Who's Your Fatty? The Push Towards Fat Acceptance

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 4 7

Pudgy Proponent 

The word "fat" can be used several ways, for instance "Fat Cat" would refer to someone who is affluent (nowadays the fat cats are known as the 1%). Fat could also mean the best, as in the "fat of the land." In those two examples the word fat is not such a bad thing but when you use fat to describe a person physically, the connotation turns negative. There is a group trying to change the way we view overweight people and hoping to turn a negative into a positive. 

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) 

The non-profit organization, founded in 1969, is run by volunteers and is dedicated to protecting the rights of the heavy-set individual. By working to eliminate body size discrimination, providing tools for self-empowerment through advocacy, public education, and support, NAAFA seeks to improve the quality of life for oversized people. 

Their motto is "We Come in All Sizes . . . Understand it. Support it. Accept it." and their vision is "A society in which people of every size are accepted with dignity and equality in all aspects of life." Their mission is to "eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide

fat people with the tools for self-empowerment through public education, advocacy, and support." They also promise that "NAAFA will be a powerful force for positive social change. Using our collec­tive will, talents and resources, we will improve the world — not just for fat people, but for everyone." 

Big Bigotry 

NAAFA claims discrimination against fat individuals is “growing rapidly.” They cite reports showing discrimination complaints by adults in the US due to size were at 7% between 1995 and 1996, and grew to 12% by the year 2006. They claim heavy people are subject to discrimination in all aspects of their daily life, from employment to education, to access to public accommodations and adequate medical care. 

The organization is hoping to include weight in the Civil Rights Act or create separate federal anti-discrimination legislation based on weight. They are also hoping to include weight as a specific protected category and would like to see anti-discrimination policies of major corporations and institutions include weight. 

What about Diets? 

NAAFA says the evidence is clear that diets don’t work. They claim 95 to 98 percent of diets fail over five years and that the "$49 billion-a-year diet industry" has a "vested economic interest in perpetuating the discrimination against fat people." 

Who's Your Fatty? 

Almost everyone has heard the term "Who's your Daddy?" You may have even used it in a playful non-derogatory way, the statement is harmless and no one is offended by it. Perhaps, if people could begin to treat others with respect and dignity, and not look at their physical differences as negative, one day someone could say the sentence; "Who’s your fatty?" in the same lighthearted way, without offending anyone. After all, there are a lot more weighty issues in the world than a person's weight!

FAT!SO? : Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size
Amazon Price: $15.99 $7.83 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 20, 2013)

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Jan 3, 2013 6:41am
This is the greatest thorn in my side simply because this country is morbidly obese as compared to the rest of the world.

I've made it a crusade to embarrass us into doing better, making statements such as "You used to have to pay money to visit a circus side-show to see a morbidly obese person. Now, all you have to do is go to any Wal-Mart in America on any given day of the week and you can see dozens of them for free!"

When I was a kid in school, most of my classes had the ONE token "fat kid" -- NOW, it's the REGULAR size kids who are the "tokens", and driving past any school yard is disgusting to see these overweight kids well on their way to being overweight adults (with type II diabetes, heart, and respiratory problems).

I'll never say "who's your fatty?" of course (and I realize your intent here), and while there are already fetishists out there who "enjoy" the extra lard, I'll never be one of them. (Regular-sized women work for me).

I really do, however, think you nailed (as I've said a few times in my work) this last great prejudice in America against the obese. I think it's because most people view the obese as victims of only themselves and their poor self-control. For example, a person of African descent may be born with dark skin -- that is not in that person's direct control.

Being overweight, though, is almost always clinically the fault of the overeater and that's why we see them as a blight -- weak-willed. Though not always true, as I noted, fat people are fat because of things they did -- we are not born morbidly obese (as we might be born with Asian features or dark skin).

Good piece, though, and you know I love your work, but I hope for this country's sake we never "accept" obesity as a concern for Civil Rights violations actionable lawsuits. It's bad enough now that being fat can get you a monthly Social Security disability check (when the disability was brought on by oneself, same as people who smoke -- myself included -- and get emphysema should not be entitled to jack if we engage in harmful behaviors that lead to health issues).

A thumb's up. (And now for the fallout...)
Jan 3, 2013 10:08am
Hey VicD, thanks for taking the time to read and leave an impassioned comment. Addiction, whether it's food, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or something else, can be harmful. However, the food addict, unlike the rest, is easily identifiable due to their weight and therefore subject to discrimination. Why is the fat person who shops at Walmart any worse than a thin (drug-addicted or alcoholic) person who shops on Rodeo Drive? Why? Because the public can't see the thin person's addiction, they look "normal."

While I applaud the efforts of NAAFA to end fat discriminationr, I agree with you regarding fat as a protected class for Civil Rights actionable lawsuits. Thanks again my friend and Happy New Year!
Jan 3, 2013 11:05am
There was trouble a few years ago in the modelling world for its "heroin chic" look, if you remember that one. Also, I can spot a coke whore a mile away, and I hate them, too.

All of this stuff sends the wrong messages -- too thin, too fat, etc. "Healthy" should be what we do, but we don't (and I am as guilty as the next guy, I just won't be looking for a Civil Rights bail-out or a disability hand-out when the abuses I've heaped upon myself finally come to fruition.

And, yeah, the morbidly obese are easier to see, making them bigger targets for scorn; that doesn't mean the crackhead should go unnoticed, either, though (and I notice them, too). I can't give you another thumb's up, but I can imagine one for ya!
Jan 3, 2013 11:29am
And I will imagine a pony for you!
Jan 4, 2013 12:04am
Hi there,

Interesting discussion. Here's the deal from my perspective. We aren't supposed to look at drug addicts as "good people". Not to mention alcoholics, chronic gamblers, etc. If we are discussing obesity as a food addiction, then by all means we need to treat it the same way we treat other addictions - with contempt.

Just as you would expect from other addictions, there are negative side effects to being overweight. And once it gets to a certain point, it does start affecting the people around you.

When it comes down to lawsuits, we start opening the way for other people with addictions to follow suit. Imagine the government has to start paying out gamblers because they felt they've been financially discriminated against. Tolerance is one thing, but asking for special rights in this instance is another.

Having said that, I agree, this is a great article. Thanks so much for posting it!
Jan 4, 2013 9:51am
Gluttony is a sin that we've all been guilty of and yet not all of us suffer the consequences of being extremely overweight. The saying; "hate the sin not the sinner" describes how I feel about the subject. I agree with you that as a society we need to be more tolerant of the overweight, but that is not to say that they are entitled to more protection from the government, over and above the rest of us. Thanks so much for your comment, I appreciate it!
Jan 9, 2013 3:33pm
An important topic. If you look at the research, obesity is a class issue. Cheap fatty foods are marketed to the poor, who also tend to shop at certain chain stores. Poor people also tend to view food in different ways to the middle class, who have less anxiety about money and the availability of food. America has a very high level of obesity and is also a country of very rich and very poor. The rich are generally whippet thin.
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