Fat Preference Versus Real Acceptance

by

The risk with any kind of binary-thinking is that there is no real room for difference. You are one or the other. The U.S. loves its binaries: black or white, man or woman, gay or straight. Such thinking misses the complexities of people, limiting us all into narrow boxes. Perhaps nowhere is binary-thinking more obvious today than in what has been called the “fat acceptance movement.” Building on decades of legitimate concern about body image and the ways that women and girls are constantly taught that they are too heavy, the fat acceptance movement has promoted a swing of the pendulum that is equally dangerous. Websites like Upworthy and Huffington Post repeatedly feature pictures and videos of women who are exerting their right to have more ample bodies. Ad nauseam, such sites reveal photo-shopped women and their real, less toned, bodies, mothers of four who wear with pride their sagginess, or heavier women wearing bikinis to show that it is OK. These images and articles are then re-posted on Facebook, tweeted across the universe, and otherwise slammed in our faces. Of course it is OK to wear what you want despite your size! But that’s not the point, or at least it shouldn’t be. The goal of this fat acceptance movement, at least purportedly, is acceptance. To show that it should not be our bodies that determine our character. Yet too often these images and the dialogue that surrounds them say exactly that: that it is indeed your body that matters most, and if you happen to be thin you are simply not accepted. Being skinny and fit is equated with some deep flaw. You try too hard. You are too body conscious. You are weak and thus manipulated by the beauty industry. Blah, blah, blah. Take, for instance, the conversation surrounding Miss Indiana’s body in the 2014 Miss USA Pageant. Miss Indiana, MeKayla Diehl, who was widely praised for being “more curvy” than the other pageant contestants. She was described as having a “realistic body,” which resulted in a full-on explosion of the Twitter universe, as women denounced the 5’8”, size 4 Diehl as far from average, which they claim is 5’3” and a size 12. Enter the name-calling of skinny people, “twigs,” “toothpicks,” or “bag of bones.” And the divide continues, focusing on her body, on our bodies, and not on what we say or do. The discussion about whether Diehl is “normal” or “average” or whether a mother is healthier because she accepts her post-baby weight or works hard to lose it prevents us from moving to a place where we truly do not care, nor judge people, based on their height, weight or dress size. We can do better. Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman