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Fat Acceptance

Posted Aug 19 2009 6:29pm
I stumbled upon the most interesting discussion today. It spans a couple of different blogs and is about something called "fat acceptance". One side feels that it’s wrong for people to accept their "fat" because fat people are "unhealthy and put burdens on their families, themselves and all of society". They say that they’re angry because fat people are lazy and in denial and emotionally damaged. They think that the Fat Acceptance people are enabling overweight men and women and impeding their ability to see themselves like everyone else sees them and ultimately doing something about it.

The other side calls this "fat hatred" and believe their opponents are influenced negatively by women in advertisement, weight loss programs such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers and weight loss products such as Avesil. They say that society is wrong and that people need to understand that not everyone who is overweight is that way because they’re emotionally damaged or just lazy. They see other reasons why someone may be overweight and try to impart this to the other side of the issue.

I didn’t realize that people were so staunch in their belief that everyone overweight is weak and lazy and could, with just a little bit of will power, just throw that extra weight off. There is a strong belief, in this age of the Internet and—especially—Google, that there are so many people who like to believe their informed but just refuse to see other sides of the issue.

I guess I’m personally invested because I’m one of those people that can’t just shed those extra pounds. I don’t have a lot of extra weight, but I am overweight. To be "healthy” I need to lose about 25 lbs. I’m only aiming for 10 right now. If I were to go back on my Elavil, as I was contemplating, I would immediately gain 20 more lbs. Not because I’d get extra, super hungry, but because the anti-depressants slow down metabolism and cause weight gain—it’s a common side effect, clearly marked on in the educational material. Lyrica, too, would cause me to gain more weight. Both of these medications could bring me some relief from my disease, but I don’t want to take them specifically because I’ll gain that weight. Why? I’d be “healthier” with that medicine. I’d be better off, probably, and so would my family. My concern about my weight is preventing me from making my life better because I would get heavier.

How many other people are there with those same fears of their medications? How many of those “fat” people are on the medications that cause weight gain, such as the anti-depressants and steroids (for Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, for instance)? They really can’t help it.

Now, beyond the medication, there’s always exercise, right? For those of us living with chronic pain conditions, it’s just sometimes not physically possible to get the needed exercise every day to lose that weight. There are millions of people living with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, RA, back injury etc, and those people sometimes can’t even walk from one end of their house to the other. And some conditions can actually be made worse by excessive physical exertion. For instance, I can be thrown into weeks (multiple) long flares from doing too much yard work. How am I supposed to just get up and lose that weight.

For some people, yes, food is an addiction and that needs to be addressed. And for some there are emotional reasons why they over eat. But for millions of people who live with chronic pain conditions there is our medications and our real, physical pain that inhibits our ability to do that moderate to vigorous exercise 30-60 minutes a day. For us it’s sometimes impossible for us to even lift our heads off the pillow. But we can’t stop eating. We have to have sustenance and fuel our bodies so that we’re able to cope with our illnesses. Unfortunately that means that we gain excess weight and we struggle with that—along with everything else with which we struggle. That doesn’t make us bad people or lazy or weak-willed. We have medical issues that cause us to gain weight and fail to lose it.

I have to take the side of those for “fat acceptance” because those of us that can’t just easily shed those “unwanted” pounds need to accept ourselves. We need to realize that we’re never going to be “normal” and that we’re never going to fit into that mold and, for some of us, we’re never again going to be completely “healthy”. We are what we are and we have to live with ourselves the best even if that means we’re not the perfect size for the haters.

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