…So “Fat Acceptance” is OK to Say, but “Overweight” is Bad?!

This is a cross-post I wrote at WeAretheRealDeal. Click here to read it, or check it out after the jump. Forgive me for sounding naïve here (and I realize I might get flamed for my “naïveté”) but why is the term “fat acceptance” an established and regarded expression, but yet the word “overweight” upsets so many in the movement?

There are very few words in the English language that rile me up as much as “fat”; I hate it. It just sounds cruel and judgmental and downright mean.

I believe no one should be discriminated against for their weight (or race, religion, sexuality, etc).

I also understand that those in the Fat Acceptance (FA) movement want to take the stigma out of the word, so that “fat” isn’t a bad word … but it makes no sense to me.

Granted, I come at this quizzically, from the disordered eating recovery/Weight Watcher paradigm (full disclosure: I honestly only learned about the fat acceptance movement from blogging here with Kate Harding) …

But still … I just don’t see the appeal of the word “fat” — in any situation.

How is that word supposed to make someone feel good about themselves? I admit, I just don’t get it.

To me, “overweight” (while not exactly pleasant, either) is far less harsh than “fat,” which is part of the name of the movement.That said, I also understand Fat’NSassy’s comment in my “Tackling ‘Triggers’ in the Blogosphere” post, where she said:
“Overweight?” Over what weight????? Many of us in the size acceptance movement really hate that term because it implies there is one correct weight for everyone. I am 220lbs but would never call myself overweight because I am at the weight Mother Nature intended me to be. There is no one acceptable weight and if there was, the CDC who is in the back pocket of pharma would be the last to find it!”

Well said, Fat’NSassy. I respect her words, and I also noted that she used the words “size acceptance movement,” which sounds more to me like the Health At Every Size (HAES) movement, which I can understand much more easily. I think most of us can understand/relate to that; not everyone is meant to be a certain size. We’re all built differently, and that’s OK.

Truthfully, I really wish Kate Harding was still blogging with us, because I’d love some of her insight … insight  from her, or any of our readers in the fat acceptance movement, as to why “overweight” is so irksome … but keeping the word “fat” in the name of the movement is OK.

I’m asking these questions because I really want to know; I think it’s important–if we’re going to talk about triggers and triggering words, I think it’s only appropriate to ask.

Because really, shouldn’t the movement only be called the Size Acceptance movement? Why does the word “fat” have to come into play at all? Why make the distinction at all?

I look forward to reading all the comments tonight!


9 thoughts on “…So “Fat Acceptance” is OK to Say, but “Overweight” is Bad?!

  1. Size acceptance sounds much better to me. The word “overweight” does have negative connotations like the commenter you quoted in your post noted.

  2. I appreciate the size accceptance name instead of fat. Its always is negative.

    Overweight is difficult because I’m still technically “overweight” by government standards but I have a high percentage of muscle which puts me in this category. I’m actually a heatlhy weight!

  3. I am glad you guys agree with me that having the word “fat” in the name is offensive. I still don’t get how they don’t see it that way … even after reading all the comments!

  4. I think it’s pretty brave of you to post this at WATRD, knowing people will disagree with you, but as much as you don’t get the appeal of the word “fat’, I really, truly don’t get what’s wrong with it. It’s only offensive if you think fat is a bad thing to be; which is the opposite of Fat Acceptance.
    I don’t get the sense that you are judgemental or bigoted in that way — not at all. So we may have to saw off at, well, we disagree.

  5. Thanks, Lori–as I said on Facebook today, I can take the heat so I’ll stay in the kitchen 🙂 I’m enjoying being a little bit of a pot-stirrer, since it’s so NOT me!! 🙂

    I don’t subscribe to fat acceptance and honestly, truthfully … I don’t think it’s ok to be obese; it’s unhealthy– but the reality is, many people are obese, and I can’t control that. I can only control myself. But I still don’t think “fat acceptance” is a good name.

  6. It may be true that obesity is an unhealthy condition — I see some other folks have offered some cogent thoughts on that in ther other thread — but smoking is unhealthy, but “smoker” is not an insult word.
    This might be too personal a question to ask on a blog; if so, no hard feelings if you want to just delete it. But do you think your strong feelings about fat are causally related in either direction to your disordered relationship with food?

  7. Fat is a descriptive word and is only insulting because of the cultural context.

    For example;in our culture people usually would take it as a compliment if you say that a certain outfit makes them look skinny. Because our culture values thinness.

    Reclaiming the word fat takes the power out of it. Much like calling some one gay was once an insult but is now just a description. Unless it is said in a mean way.

    Your saying you don’t ascribe to “fat acceptance’ because it is an unhealthy condition is completely ridiculous. People can be fat and healthy, but even if they couldn’t since when does someones health dictate how we treat them?!?

    Lots of skinny people binge eat and then starvation diet which is much less healthy than simply being fat and at a stable weight.

    People who skydive are living dangerously should we disapprove of them?

  8. Thanks for this post. I really get what you’re saying here because I have a lot of these questions myself. I feel really uncomfortable with the word fat–but get why others would want to embrace or reclaim the word, so to speak. That said, I have had a hard time completely embracing the FA movement for a lot of reasons, one being that to me, personally (and I can’t emphasize the “personally” enough, I dont think that it makes everyone feel this way or is attempting too) the word fat is just used in such an overwhelming way. I don’t want to be “fat”, for a lot of reasons, most of them having to do with knowing that my bulimia has at times flipped the coin to compulsive eating and the times where I have actually been “fat” were not healthy for me. However I do know that I need to reset what the word fat even means to me and that has meant removing the word from my vocabulary for now. And I am ok with using the term overweight to describe my own level of health. Not to make it all about me but I think its a good example of how this can be confusing. I do want to embrace how ever other people want to use the words for themselves, though.

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