While some of size acceptance's ideals are sound, which include ending discrimination against fat people and advocating for their rights, the foundations of it are crumbling. Americans are getting fatter and corpulence is becoming more reviled. The love of and emphasis of the thin figure has only increased. The Size Acceptance movement as it stands now is failing.
Today's premier size acceptance groups are NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) and ISAA (International Size Acceptance Association.) NAAFA has 4,000 members as repeatedly mentioned online. However, recent scandals and change has lowered this "official membership" substantially. Some estimate their actual membership to be around 1000 people. ISAA is much smaller and numbers in the hundreds. There is little difference in the philosophies of these groups. Many groups focus on the social angle of size and others have sprung up from the NAAFA fountainhead. When I speak of Size Acceptance from now on, these groups and their associates are the target.
The first reason that Size Acceptance has not grown is it promotes fat rather than dealing with it as simply a physical characteristic. Sometime around 1980, NAAFA changed its name from National Association to Aid Fat Americans to National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. This was also a philosophical change not just a linguistical one.
Fat is great according to all the size acceptance minions and while the ideals of the equality of fat people deserving right and proper treatment are commendable, this belief flies in the face of scientific logic. Having fat people be happy is a positive thing, however having them smile their way through the pain of gasping for air climbing some stairs and in denial about a life limiting condition is not.
The big names in SA brush all health problems related to obesity right under the carpet. Anyone who surpasses the 400 lb. mark soon learns that the bikini parties with the "Padded Lilies" (an actual SA group consisting of fat, 300-400lb, synchronized swimmers), conventions and fat positive rhetoric soon rings hollow next to their scooter, sleep apnea machine and bottles of blood pressure pills. One is supposed to be healthy, happy, fat and fit. Marilyn Wann in her book Fatso points out how at 250 lbs she can climb mountains and dance for hours without exhaustion. Sadly this negates the experiences of heavier people who find even walking across a parking lot a exhausting challenge. Fat people can indeed be in better shape via exercise and decent food, but reality checks really are necessary.
SA publications all show fat women frolicking in swimming pools and doing aerobics. While this is good for the smaller fat person who has exceptionally good health, physical realities come crashing through for most who suffer obesity in its most severe and moderate forms.
Those who find their stamina crumbling usually are ironically told to exercise more but not to lose any weight. When the first health crises arise, many leave SA for the world of university hospital diet clinics and weight loss surgery. SA is just the flipside to the world of detested weight loss schemes.
Denying the fact that obesity is a disease or even disabling, size acceptance puts its head in the sand and closes the door on people who are not fat, fit and healthy. Tracy, a super-sized woman with PCOS an endocrine disorder and Ex-NAAFA member points out:
"I have in the past, held the concept of "size acceptance dear to my `heart, but at this stage, and with my health in the crisis that it is, I cannot, with a clear conscious, advocate or agree with any movement that does not address the reality of the negative health consequences of massive obesity."
No size acceptance organization supports a cure for obesity. After all, it's all about "acceptance" and not "aiding". The people speaking for the fat are as bad as those who wish to bilk them of their wallets for worthless liquid diets. Imagine a kidney disease foundation advocating for all kidney patients to accept their condition. Fat people are told essentially."This is your lot in life, accept it." This leaves the average fat person out in the cold in general between fad diet charlatans and size acceptance advocates who tell them there only other option is to make the best of it!
Logic itself is played with to relay the message. A NAAFA leader writes to a response online:
"It is my position and that of many in the movement that we need to focus on what we can do to make fat people healthy---not make fat people thin. Right now I believe that working toward making fat people healthy is a winnable battle-I do not believe making fat people thin is.
This shows that acceptance and promotion of fat has become the prevailing goal of size acceptance. Obesity is to be seen as something like tallness, a normal part of a person's makeup. I wonder how a 600lb person who can barely walk is supposed to take this information.
Out of fear and justified loathing of a diet industry that has caused more harm than good to fat people, SA has taken nothing more than a reactionary position, shoving its head into the sand. Repeating mantras of "Fat people are healthy!", even amid wheelchair and oxygen bound fat people, very few are buying into the lie.
The problem is the cost of demanding equal rights for fat people should not have as its price out and out lies and denial. Most Americans know of at least one friend or relative that has suffered not only social ramifications which are bad enough on their own, but also dire physical costs. After all, the public is privy to the sufferings of housebound fat people via the talk show. Many fat people outside of this world see SA as a group of extremists who have given up!
Science is discovering more facts on fat people's behalf, that many diseases "can cause" fat rather than the other way around, including PCOS, Cushings, Syndrome X and fat people have been correct about not eating like pigs. They have written research on the futility of dieting and the complex causes of obesity however, SA has walled themselves off from the scientific community!
NAAFA does not support obesity research and says of it that the assumptions of obesity researchers is indeed wrongly based.and shows its own biases by writing within their official stances.
"These assumptions run contrary to the experience of most fat people which is that permanent weight loss is impossible to achieve, that dieting makes them fatter, that many of them are healthy and that valuing thinness over fatness is a cultural biases"
Just the fact that some obesity researchers are invested in weight loss matters has led to this child-like refusal to even be open to dialogue.
NAAFA has nothing to offer those who become sick, or disabled from being overweight. Such negative PR is swept under the table. NAAFA would not want most Americans to know that thousands live disabled due to severe obesity. Endocrine sufferers (those who become fat due to health conditions such as those with PCOS, thyroid and glandular disorders) are often left to fend for themselves. NAAFA cannot threaten their position by ever admitting that fat can be related to a disease process.
SA, has a dark side that is unknown to the public. Some leaders are indeed involved with the selling of plus size erotica. Go to any SA site and you will find many fat women selling videos and nude photos of themselves to the proverbial "FA", fat admirer, defined as a man who is attracted to fat women.
Many of the policies of the so-called fat advocacy organizations center around pleasing the FA. In some regards, the integrity of SA has been circumvented by those with other interests. The FAs have taken over! FAs who are attracted to fat, do not want a person to lose it. In fact there is even far out segment of so called "feeders" involved in SA who seek to make their significant others fatter. This has led to an emphasis on the prevailing organizations as social clubs and single meat markets rather than leaders of true help.
Size Acceptance as it now stands is a failure. A new Fat Rights organization that supports the integrity and well being of its members is needed. This could be a movement of millions rather than of a few thousand. A real difference then could be made in the lives of 54% of Americans the percentages that are considered overweight.