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Why it’s okay to be fat. No, really, it’s okay!

Dan LeRoy | Fulcrum Staff

WE’RE ALL FAT. At least that’s what mainstream media would like us to believe, bombarding us with images of size two models or men with ripped eight-packs in commercials asking us to pay for a gym membership.

But was it always this way?

The fat acceptance movement actually began in the 1960’s, just as so many other acceptance movements during that time took steam.  In recent years, the idea of “fat studies” as a sociological and political problem has emerged in campuses across Canada, and it seems, by a confluence of articles on the topic, that it won’t just whittle away, no matter how hard we try to diet.

But before you ditch that treadmill for a bag of Cheetos, we should look into whether this movement is even healthy—and not just for our waistlines. From a political and moral standpoint, I would think that most would embrace this movement.  Through my own experience, I haven’t known many women who have not worried about their weight, or believed that the size of their waist doesn’t impact the image they  portray to the world. Men aren’t to be left out, either; increasingly, males are affected with the same eating disorders that used be only associated with women. Society’s response?  A whopping one per cent of the population suffer from either bulimia—the number for anorexia is slightly below this—according to Statistics Canada’s most recent numbers.  And these are only the people who are affected to such a severe state that they are put into treatment by friends or family.  There are likely more, similarly affected, which bolster Canada’s 20 per cent yearly mental illness rate. How can taking the stigma out of different body shapes be unhealthy?

The counter-argument is one that believes if we accept bigger people—maybe even to the point of obesity—then we could be hurting them by our very act of acceptance.  This is evidenced from the negative health implications of over-eating.  Whereas this train of thought is not completely bogus, its limitations are stark.  First, there are people who are heavier due to a genetic disposition, whereby no matter how much “will-power” or hours spent on the Stairmaster, they still remain the same weight.  Moreover, the idea that in “accepting diversity in body weight” we’re doing more harm than good can be used far too easily as a cover for condemnation to those with a higher body mass index.

The nature of a social movement is just that: social. Most people in society act differently with their closest of friends than with their acquaintances and less-intimate friends.  By this logic, it would seem that it shouldn’t be difficult for us to accept all those regardless of physical or mental predisposition. While encouraging those closest to us to aspire to the healthiest physical and mental is all good, most of the time being bigger shouldn’t be a big, fat deal.