Friday, 26 October 2012

Acceptance vs. Health

You know me, I love a controversial topic and a recent article got me thinking - can size acceptance be unhealthy? Now, I'm not going to refer to said article as I don't wish to appear to be attacking an individual which is NOT what this is about - I just wanted to share my views on the question that I've posed and, equally, hear your views too.

So, we're all (well, most of you reading this) up for this size acceptance/pro size lark, myself included...though I will admit I am fat, overweight, obese, whatever. I'm heavier than I should be (ignoring BMI as according to that I should be 13st, at which point I'd probably be dead) and borderline diabetic, though (as much as the doctors like to tell me otherwise) I have no health problems associated with my weight asides from being generally unfit. The point I'm trying to make is that if my weight was having a detrimental effect on my health I would not be pro size in my case, as whilst every body is beautiful I feel that health is paramount.

Now, I'm not a doctor or an health expert and perhaps part of this is me making presumptions about people's health based on their looks and statistics - however much I don't want to be the type of person that does that, I can't help but think there must be a point at which one's weight would have an effect on one's health with certainty, even if it's just mobility.

This is why I am asking if size acceptance can be unhealthy - is it right to promote acceptance of size if you fall into the above catagory, much the same as (it would appear) it isn't acceptable if you are underweight for whatever reason. At what point are we promoting size acceptance, or even obesity, at the risk of others - for example, if a 13 year old child weighed 20st, do we ignore the health implications in favour of size acceptance?

(If you like this post, you might also like my post on the C4 documentary 'My Big Fat Fetish'.)

Image © clarita (morgueFile).


  1. Apologies in advance if my response is a bit rambling......

    One of the main things that I have learned through engaging with fat acceptance and body politics is that you can tell nothing about a person's health by simply observing their size. I'm not saying that some people don't experience health concerns directly related to being fat but I think we need to view people as individuals.There are plenty of thin people who live on fast food and don't exercise but health professionals and the public at large never make assumptions about the health of these people because their bodies are socially acceptable.

    I am not suggesting that fat people never experience weight related health problems, and I know that if I go above a certain weight I do start to find every day tasks a bit more difficult, but making sweeping generalisations about the health of fat people doesn't help anybody.

    Also, when people discuss health they often forget about mental health. Hating your body is absolutely exhausting and I know that my mental health has improved immensely since I began actively working towards accepting my body the way it is now - obese.

    Much of the "evidence" featured in the news and on insensitive documentaries is spurious at best and a work of fiction at worst. A lot of the research we hear about in the news is sponsored by diet companies or people with a vested interest in the diet industry.

    However, for me, the most important thing to remember above anything else, is that another person's health status (whether perceived or actual) is none of my damned business. We should not judge bodies on how healthy we feel they are. We should not ascribe moral value to certain types of bodies over others.

    The part of body politics that I feel most passionate about is the idea that all bodies should be treated with respect, dignity and kindness. It is completely irrelevant whether a person has damaged their body through their own lifestyle "choices" as everybody has a right to be treated like a human being.

    A movement that has this principle at its core will never, ever be detrimental to the health of individuals.

    1. You're not rambling at all! You've made some very valid points, thank you for your input. I really wanted to discuss this with other people more than making a general point as I think it's an interesting question to pose.

      I feel slightly guilty as (I have to admit) that I have judged someone on face value in order to pose this question, though in context it was linked to the article (which I should probably describe as more of a 'submission', without wanting to give it away) I read a month or two ago.

      On the whole I agree with you and certainly size acceptance is a seperate entity to health. Perhaps there are no links to be made.

  2. Really interesting post.

    A couple of years ago, I would have been at the forefront of the fat activists. I liked to eat, I occasionally would exercise, and I ate what I wanted. I really never felt terribly unattractive being overweight.

    Then, in very fast order, I developed, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, pre-diabetes turning into type 2 diabetes. I've had my blood drawn so many times, the techs know me by name.

    I do believe in fat activism. I don't, however, any more that an unhealthy lifestyle is very smart. Believe me, it eventually catches up to (in my personal position) us.

    1. Hello, just noticed my 'reply' didn't post as a reply and I didn't want you to think I hadn't responded (if you're getting notification, of course)...so, here's my reply which will hopefully post properly this time:

      Thank you and thanks for sharing your story & input.

      I agree that health is extremely important and has a significant impact on our future - we need to look after our bodies for today as well as tomorrow and so forth. I certainly do not take as good care of myself as I should and this is something that I will be giving consideration to in the near future, though I will not be forced to be so narrow minded as to think that everything comes down to weight (as my GP would wish me to think).

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  4. Love your blog! and I think this is a really important issue you have raised - as I constantly battle with my weight, for me personally I know I can't accept myself at my previous 15st - which would have become my previous 16st etc.... and I think it's vital that we nourish our bodies as best we can, that we look after ourselves and aim for our own personal optimum healthy lifestyle - but I also believe that we should love and accept ourselves regardless of our weight but at the same time, we have to be responsible. I think as far as others are concerned - it has to be the choice of the individual - I can only speak for me!

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you like the blog :) I've just had a quick look at your site/blog and just wanted to say WOW, you're absolutely stunning! I love your photography, too.

      Reading your comments it sort of reminded me of the old fashioned scales, y'know the ones where you put the item on one and weights on the other...like acceptance and health is a careful balance, or at least it should be...I'm no role model in myself and rather unhealthy at the moment, in terms of what I eat at least!