Fat Acceptance, are we ready?

The first time I went on a diet, I was nine. Of course it didn’t last long, I was nine years old after all. That was only the beginning of my dieting career. I’ve tried every diet under the sun, from Weight Watchers, to Tony Ferguson even to the cabbage soup diet. Nothing worked. A couple of years ago I managed to lose nearly half my body weight. Despite my loss, up until a year ago I still thought my body wasn’t slim enough.As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised that losing weight wasn’t the point of my dieting. Instead, I realised that I needed to diet because being fat is just socially unacceptable

Hatred of fat is everywhere. For example, in my high school PE class I was taught that being obese would eventually lead to organ failure and type-two diabetes. Imagine being the fattest kid in class and hearing that. You can imagine all eyes were on me. Wonderful.

The same message is hammered home in popular culture. Watching The Biggest Loser, I remember trainer Tiffiny Hall saying  that there was no way her overweight contestants could possibly be happy at their starting weight. They were simply lying if they were. Just for the record, Tiffiny Hall has never been overweight nor is she a qualified psychiatrist.

According to the World Health Organisation, 64.7 per cent of Australian’s are considered overweight. Surely we as a country want to try and decrease that number. Who could possibly be happy being overweight? Right?

I believed the link between health equals thin and that, fat equals unhappy to be true until I stumbled upon fat acceptance. Fat acceptance is a movement to change society’s views on overweight and obese people. The movement argues that overweight people are targets of hatred and discrimination. These boys and girls want to change the stigma behind the word Fat and make it into a positive word. Yeah, they’re fat. So what?

Being fat doesn’t make you less of a person. Being fat doesn’t mean you are less attractive or not as smart as someone with a healthy BMI. The fat acceptance movement wants to remind society that fat people do love their bodies and it is not OK to discriminate against them because of what their body size is or what the number on the scale says.

For the fat acceptance movement, you can be happy and healthy at any weight.

The fat acceptance movement argues for Health at Every Size (HAES). HAES is a behavioural system, which focuses on intuitive eating and pleasurable activity rather than dieting and weight loss. HAES isn’t about pursuing a particular body weight. Simply put, you can be overweight but still be fit and healthy.

Some of the biggest voices in the fat acceptance movement are here in Australia. Fat Heffalump, for example, is a popular fat activism blog run by Kath. Fat Heffalump receives hundreds of comments from women all around the world thanking Kath for making her begin to love their bodies for the way they are.

But even as I read about fat acceptance, a little voice boomed at the back of my head telling me that being overweight was bad for your health. I have spent my entire life trying to change my body because I felt that I needed to do it to fit into society. I spent my awkward teenage years hating my body and wanting to hide it away from the world, refusing to go out on weekends because I was humiliated of myself.

The Health At Every Size has taught me that it’s OK to love your body and that your body doesn’t make you who you are. Fat acceptance demands that all bodies be treated with respect and dignity.

Whether you’re fat or thin, I hope that  this is a vision of a society that we can all agree with.

Beginnings

It’s almost unheard of to hit rock bottom in your teenage years but for me, I sunk hard. When I was 18, I weighed over close to 145 kilos and was a size 26 (I had jeans that were a size 30). So while my clothing size was hitting a huge high my self esteem and confidence was at an all time low.  I barely went out, refusing to go to clubs with my friends.

My lightbulb moment came to me in a Marketing class at University. While ignoring the lecturer, I was flicking through CLEO magazine and came across an article about “gym etiquette.” While I had never set foot in a gym before in my life, I read on with interest, trying to picture all the scenarios readers had sent in to the magazine. Then I thought about it, surely a gym couldn’t be that scary? They all did it on the Biggest Loser (awful, I know) and if they could do it, surely, I could. So I did. I signed up at Fernwood Fitness in 2007 and started to finally love my body. Within years I had lost weight and finally fit into “normal clothing stores” at a size 16.

So welcome to my blog, Fitness and Twenties. The name is pretty much self explanatory, I’ll be blogging about all things fitness related as I continue into my mid to late twenties. Whether this be my anger at fad diets that are taking the world by storm, awesome gym clothes that I (and my readers, I’m sure..) must get and also just plain old stories about the gym. Stay with me for the read and happy reading.