I recently read an interesting rebuttle to a blog post written by Carolyn Hall about her lack of understanding about the Fat Acceptance Movement. What’s ironic is that I bumped the blog post that I was going to post this week in order to discuss these articles instead. My blog post was going to be about my various states of health and weight, how I can’t quite figure out their exact relationship.
Before we go any further, please at least skim over The Militant Baker’s 6 THINGS THAT I UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE FAT ACCEPTANCE MOVEMENT. It’s long, so I understand if you don’t want to read the entire thing, but it is a good read. Also, it’s not about trying to make the masses like fat people more than skinny people. (That’s what Carolyn Hall wrongly thinks it’s about, though.)
If you know me and/or have read my blog at all, then you should already know that I’m fat and unhealthy. I will not lie and say that my weight has nothing to do with my health, or lack thereof. However, my health is not entirely dependent upon my weight, and neither is anyone else’s. My paternal grandmother and my mom have/had all of the health issues that I have and both are/were close to my height, but weigh/weighed 60 – 70 pounds less than me. As of the writing of this article, I am 5’1″ and 171 lbs. My BMI puts me at “obese”. I am trying to lose about 15 pounds so that I can get back into the “overweight” range. I’m not obsessing over calories or exercise, but I’m just trying to be aware of what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, and trying to get back into a regular workout routine. The weight I want to get down to is not completely arbitrary. I’ve just noticed that when I weigh 160 lbs or less, my health improves. My asthma and acid reflux don’t flare up as much, my joints aren’t as prone to hurting, and it’s a bit easier to exercise because I’m not trying to move quite as much mass with such a small frame. Also, my clothes are fitting pretty tightly and I’m too cheap and lazy to go shopping for more clothes. In my mind, t’s easier to just lose a few pounds and get a little healthier while I’m at it. As an added bonus, I don’t have to starve myself or workout for two hours a day to reach that weight. Staying in the 155 – 160 lbs area is manageable for me. I can eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts, etc. without feeling deprived. I calorie count to maintain the weight only so that I will be more mindful of what I’m eating and because I know that I have emotional triggers that lead me to binge eat past the point of enjoyment as a means of simultaneous comfort and punishment for whatever reason(s) I am choosing to beat myself up with at that specific moment in time.
Note that I still want to be at a weight that is considered unhealthy because I am healthier at that weight. For some people, 155 lbs would be too much weight and it would be too little weight for others. It’s a good weight for me, though. Like most people, this is what Carolyn Hall doesn’t seem to understand. Most popular weight loss and exercise guides work hard to encourage the one-size-fits-all attitude of weight, eating, and exercising. Livestrong.com is one of the most popular weight and exercise websites around (even after Lance Armstrong’s little legal setback awhile ago). An article published on the site last year entitled “Super Morbid Obesity & Body Mass Index” gives the example of a healthy person of 5’7″ weighing between 121 – 153 lbs. When I think of the people that I know who are 5’7″ and are at healthy weights for them, none of them weigh less than 150 pounds. I could be wrong, and that’s fine, but 121 lbs seems like it is far too little to be considered as part of the most average of healthy weights for someone who is 5’7″. Let’s not forget that for the sake of my health, I’m working to maintain a weight close to the weight of an obese person who is half a foot taller than me. So, I could be biased or I could be normal.
All of the arguments I had in my head when reading Carolyn Hall’s article were addressed in the Militant Baker’s post. My favorite line was, “The underlying issues include but are not limited to: economic inequality, mental illness, lack of education, a need for control, and other internal needs that may spur this coping mechanism.” Also of note, this is not a movement of the She-Ra Man Haters Club. These issues affect men, women, and children, which the Militant Baker also does a good job of addressing. The Fat Acceptance Movement isn’t a Hate Skinny People Movement either. The main point of the movement is just to say we should not judge ourselves and each other based on our weight. Weight should not determine whether we like people or ourselves because there are more important factors that determine our quality of person.