I believe that fat people are more than just the fat they carry. They are more than the stereotyped image of the fat person who is lazy and eats all day. They have lives and families. Yet they seem to be open targets for public shame and humiliation. It seems that so many people are all too willing to poke fun at someone who is fat because of some preconceived notion that all fat people choose to be that way. Just because fat is so obvious. It cannot be hidden. It can't be tucked away within ourselves or stuffed in a box and stored under the bed. It can never be a secret.
I'm pro-fat acceptance because I am pro-human rights. Fat people have a right to feel comfortable in their own skin. They have a right to leave their houses without shame or fear of being mocked. Other people do not have to like it, but they certainly do not have a right to make someone feel less than human because of it.
I just wanted to answer this question posed to me in response to a question asked of them, “Why should anyone extend any more than a basic level of respect to one who cannot respect themself?” I’m answering it here because I cannot possibly squeeze this into an ask box.
My answer: For the sake of my sanity I’m going to try to ignore the insinuation that fat people, as a whole, do not respect themselves, thus do not deserve anymore respect than the lowest baseline expected to be shown to all humans (including pedophiles, rapists and murderers).
The simplest way I can explain why I choose to extend respect to all people is because I know what it is like to hate myself and I know the pain that comes with that. I know what it feels like to be called names, treated like dirt, and humiliated (for me it was because of the size and shape of my body). It is hard to find a way to respect yourself when so many people tell you that you cant. I was depressed, I self-injured, I had to be hospitalized. I found hope and the ability to love myself despite my body over 11 years ago. I still was not at peace with my body. Over the past year, I have found permission to actually love myself the way I am and actually embrace the body I have. I’m a sexy beast (my husband agrees).
I cannot know any other human being’s struggles as astutely as the individual experiencing them. I’m not just talking about body size either. There are a lot of ways humans can struggle. I cannot tell anything about a person by looking at them, except perhaps the level of my own prejudice about the things that I observe about them (some really wise person said something to this effect but I can’t remember who).
I’m fat and I respect myself. I love me. The fat acceptance movement is about giving fat people the power and freedom to love and respect themselves and I suspect this is what really troubles people. I think people are threatened by the idea of people deciding to give popular societal notions the finger and living their life happy anyways.
I choose love. I choose acceptance. I choose respect…. and I do not demand qualifiers.
I hope I’ve made sense, I felt a bit rambly…
“Fat people, it is commonly held, should be punished because they offend our aesthetic sensibilities. They take up too much space on subways, buses, airplanes, and elevators. They consume more than they contribute to society. They become ill and need to be taken care of, or they die early and their families are left unsupported. The only way fat people can gain some acceptance and forgiveness for their crime of overeating is to at least try, or look like they are trying, to lose weight. They must never eat an ice cream cone in public, never be seen eating a normal sized portion of non-diet food!”
Albert Ellis, Michael Abrams, Lidia Dengelegi, The Art & Science of Rational Eating (via euphoricelixir)
It is laughable that this quote is actually being used the way I found it being used. The book being quoted actually argues things like:
“We will show that the actual evidence robustly points in another direction. It shows that there are many different types of people, all shapes, sizes, and styles, and obesity, rather than being symptom of neurosis, may say no more about a person than her height, hair color, or skin texture.”
“In this book we shall argue against these notions by showing that obesity stems more from genetic and biological than from neurotic roots, and that most personality traits “causing” obesity actually originate from people lambasting themselves for being fat. “
I was particularly fond of the following quote (even though I do not advocate dieting), because of its emphasis on the individual’s need for self love:
“Changing one’s weight or eating style has been shown to be a most difficult long-term behavioral goal. The obese individual has a far lesser chance of permanently becoming thin than the heroin addict has of becoming clean, the crack user becoming drug free, or the alcoholic staying dry. With such an imposing obstacle to clear, the dieter had better learn to accept himself as he is, prior to making a grand effort to become thin. A person prone to self-downing actually discourages himself from changing traits that he loathes. If one hates oneself, one tends to be particularly unmotivated to work at self-improvement. “If I am no good, how can ‘rotten me’ improve my rotten traits?” Rational-emotive therapy encourages self-acceptance, not merely self-efficacy, and not self-esteem. As noted above, both of those forms of self-rating work badly. To achieve self-esteem you have to perform well. To achieve self-efficacy you have to constantly do better than others. By definition then, self-esteem and self-efficacy require relative ratings. But self-acceptance means that you view yourself as a “worthy person” whether or not you have great accomplishments. You do not rate you, your personhood, and do not blame yourself for not being better than you are. Of course, you work to improve your acts and traits in order to enjoy yourself and increase your standing in life. But it is unreasonable to disparage yourself simply because you are not the way that you presumably should or must be. “
And those quotes are just what I read from Amazon’s book preview. I am now going to have to buy this book and read it. I have found a new appreciation for Dr. Albert Ellis. I think I shall give REBT a more serious look after today.