Here are some answers to questions that I often get about Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance. Remember these are just my answers and I can only speak for myself. If you have other questions that you would like me to answer and add to this blog just leave them in the comments and I”ll get on it! (This is a re-post by request. )
Aren’t Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size the same thing?
Nope! Not at all. Size Acceptance is a civil rights movement built around the fact that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent, which is to say that fat people have the right to exist in fat bodies without shame, stigma, bullying or oppression and it doesn\t matter why we are fat, what being fat means or if we could/want to become thin by some means. Health at Every Size is an approach to personal and public health where the focus is put on behavior rather than body size, with the understanding that health is not a obligation, barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed regardless of behavior. A full explanation is here.
Isn’t being fat unhealthy?
No. Weight and health are two separate things – there are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes. Health is multi-dimensional, not entirely within our control, and not a barometer of worthiness. The confusion of weight and health does a disservice to fat people because people (often including doctors) think that they can look at us and determine our health, it also does a dangerous disservice to thin people who are told that they are healthy simply because of their weight and that isn’t what the evidence shows. In fact, the evidence shows that people’s habits are a much better determinant of health than their size is. Body size is not a diagnosis. I call this a Galileo issue – “everybody knew” that the sun revolved around the Earth and so Galileo’s statement that the evidence showed that the Earth revolved around the sun was considered heresy. Now “everybody knows” that fat is unhealthy and so statements to the contrary, even though they are fully supported by evidence, are considered heresy. That doesn’t make them any less true. Even if fat was unhealthy, there are plenty of things that people do to prioritize their health that we don’t police (not getting enough sleep, not looking both ways before crossing the street, extreme sports etc.) The idea that public health means making fat people’s health the public’s business is just thinly veiled fat bigotry. Kate Harding has a fantastic post about this as well.
Isn’t Health at Every Size just giving up?
Health at Every Size is a choice to focus on healthy habits as a path to health rather than focusing on manipulating body size as a path to health. Studies on long term dieting show that the vast majority of people regain their weight after 5 years, many regaining more weight than they lost – dieting does not meet the criteria for evidence based healthcare. To me Health at Every Size is about opting out of a social construct, perpetuated by a 60 Billion dollar a year diet industry, that takes our money to solve a problem that nobody has proven is valid with a solution that nobody has proven is effective or even possible for most people. Health at Every Size does involve giving up on some things, including the hope of getting the societal approval that comes with being thin. But the cure for social stigma isn’t weight loss, the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma. Health is a very personal thing – each person gets to choose how highly they want to prioritize their health and the path that they take to get there, and there are no guarantees. For me it’s about the best I can do with the amazing and unique body I have which just happens to be a fat body.
How is it fair that my tax dollars pay for the healthcare of fat people?
Tax dollars pay for all kinds of things and unless someone has a list of everything that their tax dollars pay for broken down by what they do and do not want to pay for, then this is just about prejudice against fat people. Even if you believe that fat people cost more, this is a very slippery slope – should those of us who don’t drink get to opt out of our tax dollars paying for any alcohol-related health problems? Should vegans get to opt out of their tax dollars paying for the healthcare of non-vegans? Should people who choose the Atkins diet get to opt out of their tax dollars paying for health problems of people who don’t eat low carb? This whole argument collapes under even a bit of scrutiny. Also, just to bring some facts to the table, the Congressional Budget Office, and anyone who has actually looked at the number,s has concluded that fat people are barely a blip on the healthcare cost radar.
How can you say it’s ok to be fat?
Because nobody needs anyone else’s permission or approval to live in, and be happy with, their body. Fat people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that includes the right to live life in the bodies we have without our government waging war on us or having other people tell us that we need to do what they think we should do in the hopes that we will look the way they think we should look. It is absolutely, positively, completely ok to be fat.
Remember in addition to any of the comments you might have, if you have questions that you would like me to answer, you can leave them in the comments as well! Answers to additional questions can be found on the official FAQ page:
Like the blog? Here’s more of my stuff:
Become a member: Keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details
The Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
Dance Class DVDs: Buy the Dance Class DVDs – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details