I have been reading a fat acceptance blog lately. It is called Dances With Fat. One of my Facebook friends, someone I went to junior high with, often posts articles from this blog on Facebook and I've found them really interesting. They make me question some of my own biases and bring awareness to how acceptable it is in our society to discriminate against people who are overweight.
I believe that each of deserve to be treated with kindness and should be able to live free of discrimination in all areas of life, regardless of size, age, religion, gender, gender identity, race, sexuality or any other status. I work very hard to be aware of my own biases and I try very hard to be kind at all times, even when people are not kind to me. I think that discrimination against fat people is insidiously ingrained into our communal psyche and even fat people are guilty of it.
I also believe that fat people are just as smart, worthy, valuable and healthy as their thin counterparts. They deserve the same access to health care. They deserve the same career opportunities. They should be portrayed in the media as complete and vibrant human beings.
I realize that I, and many of you guys, are the exception to the experience most people who are overweight have with weight loss. I used to weigh 280 lbs. and now I weigh 150 lbs. But most people, myself included at one point, who are overweight are not successful when they diet to lose weight. It is not just the majority of dieters who fail to reach a normal weight and maintain the weight loss for any length of time, it is a super-majority. Only a very small percentage, perhaps as few as 2 in 100, lose weight weight and keep the weight off (1).
This sad statistic should signal that there is a problem with the whole diet-weight loss plan when it comes to treating obesity. What is even more troubling is that most people who lose weight on a diet will re-gain the weight and then gain additional weight as well. I suspect that it is this process of losing, re-gaining and gaining more over and over that is a main cause of obesity.
But instead of viewing the dismal failures of diets as a sign that they do not work and a signal that more research should be done into obesity treatment, our society blames the dieter for the failure. They may be viewed as medically non-compliant by medically professionals, which can effect the type of treatment that they receive.
Having said all of that, I still want to be thin. I want to be viewed in a certain way by society: as attractive, fit, healthy, competent. I want to like what I see when I look in the mirror and I don't think that I could like myself fat. I sure didn't before. I did not create the impossible standards by which society judges one another and I try not to perpetuate them toward others, but they still exist in my mind.
I recognize that my unique set of circumstances that took me from obese to "normal" is a path few others would be able to follow. Even if they did things exactly as I did, they would probably not experience the same results. Not because I am exceptional, but because our own individual experiences are just that: individual. What works for me may not work for you.
So I am curious what you guys think about this. How can we reconcile the seemingly contradictory ideas about loving ourselves as we are with trying to be the very best version of ourselves that we can be?
(1) Goodrick GK, Foreyt JP. Why treatments for obesity don't last.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1991;91:1243-1247.