Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Yes, TMZ, we have a right to be accepted.

March 16, 2010 by  
Filed under HAES

TMZ posted a blurb today that started out as such:

Gabourey Sidibe might have a weight problem, but it doesn’t mean she’s unhealthy … this according to the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). Yes, that’s a real group.

Sigh. The blurb goes on to explain NAAFA’s position that “You cannot tell by looking at a person if they are healthy. Fat does not equal disease and thin does not equal healthy” and “Achievements come in all sizes.”

I hate that this is still difficult for people to comprehend or accept.  We may have varied opinions about the FA movement here on WATRD, but I believe we all believe that achievements come in all sizes and we know that someone’s external appearance cannot tell you everything about their internal health.

I’m glad TMZ posted these quotes from NAAFA but what I hate the most is that they had to add, “Yes, that’s a real group.”  Maybe it’s because I grew up fat, but I’ve known of NAAFA for maybe 15 years now.  The implied snide tone behind “Yes, that’s a real group” just really got under my skin.

TMZ: I know you function out of Hollywood, where being anything above a size 6 is considered a crime.  But it shouldn’t be a stretch to think that all human beings are capable of health and achievement.

Comments

60 Responses to “Yes, TMZ, we have a right to be accepted.”
  1. You go, Candice. Speaking out is the only way we’ll ever help people comprehend or accept the notion that our body sizes don’t define us.

  2. Mike in Philly says:

    No one thinks large people are not accepted. It’s about the country trying to not accept obesity. It’s a real epidemic. And obesity should never be accepted.

    • atchka says:

      First of all, “no one thinks large people are not accepted”… are you kidding? Really? Are you a large person yourself? If so, where do you live because me and about 100,000,000 obese Americans would like to move there.

      Second, “trying not to accept obesity”? How do you do that? You’ve got 1/3 of the nation already obese and almost every expert in the field admitting that permanent weight loss is nearly impossible to attain. Obesity is here to stay, so “accepting” it isn’t really an option at this point. To not accept obesity is to remain in denial.

      Third, “It’s a real epidemic.” No, it’s not. For the past decade, our weight has not increased on average among women and children, and for the past five years it hasn’t increased on average among men. So, what, this epidemic is on hiatus?

      And finally, “obesity should never be accepted.” No, you’re wrong. What shouldn’t be accepted is an environment that makes processed foods more affordable and convenient than whole foods, and a national obsession with obesity rather than health.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • CandiceBP says:

        Great reply.

        “What shouldn’t be accepted is an environment that makes processed foods more affordable and convenient than whole foods, and a national obsession with obesity rather than health.”

        That’s probably my biggest sticking point. I think everyone needs to question more strongly what’s in the food they eat and in the containers it’s stored in.

        I, too, would like to move to that place where large people are accepted.

    • wriggles says:

      It’s about the country trying to not accept obesity. It’s a real epidemic. And obesity should never be accepted.

      Well jeez make up your mind. If you’re saying it’s real then you are accepting it.

      People like you are saying that it shouldn’t be accepted-and that’s been noted by fat people- then you’re contradicting your first sentence.

      • Mike in Philly says:

        You obviously don’t know how to read or can’t comprehend. Large people are actual PEOPLE. OBESITY is a problem. People should be accepted but the problem should not be accepted. Seems you have not passed 3rd grade reading Wriggles.

  3. 1noelle says:

    Big applause! That was awesome!

    The thing that is really ironic is that we could find many examples of those that are ‘thin’ that are very unhealthy and die young due to being unhealthy. But somehow it is assumed that because they are thin they are healthy. mmmmmmmm

    • CandiceBP says:

      Exactly. It goes both ways. We worry about people who are doing everything they can to be in good health and ignore people who “look fine” even though they could have terrible health habits or other issues of concern.

      I don’t ever want to be the health police, though – we’re all entitled to live how we want to live as long as we’re not harming others… but a big part of that is accepting others as they are.

  4. lissa10279 says:

    I think it goes both ways … being seriously overweight OR seriously underweight have severe health ramifications.

    And I’m sure I’ll get flamed on for this, but I think I see a glimmer of Mike’s point … not that obese people shouldn’t be accepted as people (we’re all human!), but that we shouldn’t (or I wouldn’t want to, maybe is better phrasing) settle for accepting it’s OK to be obese esp. if no efforts are being made to lose weight/get healthier. Shouldn’t we want to, as a society, help each other get healthier so we live longer? Shouldn’t we say, we’re going to stop buying X products that are marketed to us? Shouldn’t we fight? Don’t we have a collective social responsibility to uphold?

    Like someone commented in my post yesterday –First Lady Michelle Obama announced the launch of the ‘Let’s Move’ campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States, an epidemic she said is costly and a threat to national security….

    Quote
    “This isn’t like a disease where we’re still waiting for a cure to be discovered – we know the cure for this,” Obama said. “This isn’t like putting a man on the moon or inventing the Internet. It doesn’t take some stroke of genius or feat of technology.

    “We have everything we need, right now, to help our kids lead healthy lives,” Obama said.

    I *wish* we lived in a world where these extremes didn’t exist … but I don’t think obesity should be “accepted” as “hey it’s OK to live this way, even if you’re hurting yourself” any more than I think anorexia should — both are extremes.

    JMO …

    • Lissa,

      The issue gets down to whether people are obese because they are just made that way (genetics) or whether something is causing it (lifestyle, environment, something else). I think most experts in the field might agree that a large percentage of people today are obese for reasons other than genetics. But for those who are just designed to be larger, and are very healthy, “not accepting” obesity is like saying we don’t accept shortness (another physical trait that is considered less than ideal in today’s society). Clearly, we can’t do anything about shortness, and in people who are genetically (and healthfully) obese, we can’t really do anything there either except put them through regimens that end up making them unhealthy in the futile pursuit of a smaller size.

      Further, focusing on the obesity doesn’t help those who are obese for reasons other than genetics. It stigmatizes and also many times assumes the obese person is “doing it to herself or himself.” It’s much more complicated than that, however. The most effective way to help people is to focus on what the real cause is — which can take a lot of effort to discover.

      What we shouldn’t be accepting is the focus on size instead of on the causes of ill health. If we addressed things from a health perspective, we might see much more success in helping those who need it.

      • Gina says:

        Sorry, but I don’t buy the “genetic obesity” argument. Sure, your genes may predispose you to weight gain – mine certainly do, as do my father’s – but a predisposition to obesity is not the same as resigning yourself to a lifetime of obesity. There’s a big difference.

        People like us have to work a lot harder to maintain a normal weight, or “fight our genes” as some would have it, but to suggest that such a thing is impossible is doing obese people a huge disservice.

        • Why is it resigning yourself to obesity if you are perfectly healthy and just happen to be a larger size than the societal ideal? That’s the whole issue right there in a nutshell — the supposition that obesity is somehow inherently undesirable. The only two reasons it is undesirable is IF it is connected to ill health (which it sometimes is) and/or it is societally unacceptable (which is always is in this society anyway).

          It is not doing people a disservice to save them from a lifetime of struggling to be what they are not, even when they “do everything right.” There are obese people out there who do take wonderful care of themselves and are wonderfully healthy. Who are we to say they should be otherwise?

          • Gina says:

            The only two reasons it is undesirable is IF it is connected to ill health (which it sometimes is) and/or it is societally unacceptable (which is always is in this society anyway)

            You’ve answered your own question right there.

          • But those two reasons don’t make it inherently undesirable.The first isn’t about obesity but about health. Re the second, society has been wrong before.

          • lissa10279 says:

            I see what you’re saying Marsha (and look forward to meeting later this week in person to talk more!) but I don’t 100% believe the genetic argument … I think yes, some of us are not ever going to be a size X and that is perfectly OK … but I also think that accepting obesity as is, on its face, is a matter of not accepting personal responsibility — to take care of ourselves.

            Someone carrying 20 “extra” pounds is not what I’m talking about; I’m talking about people who are morbidly obese … I just don’t think we can/should accept that/settle for it! And I don’t think genetics are the reason — maybe it plays a role re: propensity … sure … but I do know that we CAN change our ways … if we want it bad enough/have the tools to do it. I know tons of women on the WW message boards who lost 50, 60, 100, 200 lbs and have kept it off ….women who had been heavy their whole lives, women who before would have said “it’s in my DNA to be obese.” For some, maybe it is impossible to lose weight and maybe our standards in the U.S. are ridiculous — not disputing that — but I also can’t imagine that someone 5’0 weighing 300 lbs is “healthy,” for example.

            Gina, I agree with you here: “but a predisposition to obesity is not the same as resigning yourself to a lifetime of obesity. There’s a big difference. People like us have to work a lot harder to maintain a normal weight, or “fight our genes” as some would have it, but to suggest that such a thing is impossible is doing obese people a huge disservice.”

            Like you said, I struggle to maintain my weight (my lowest was not maintainable and I accept that), and even now I am 10-15 lbs heavier than I’d like to be … but going for a 5-run last night, I *felt* that weight gain slowing me down, literally. It’s not about vanity; it’s about health.

            And I will never be 120 lbs and a size 2 … but that’s OK, I am not trying to and don’t think others should, either. I’m just trying to be the best me I can be … and that me wouldn’t accept being obese … even if I thought genetics worked against me. Again, that could be the Type A perfectionist speaking … I dunno.

            It’s such a difficult subject, but thank you for sharing and I will definitely take your words to heart.

          • Gina says:

            Thanks for getting it, Lissa. 🙂

          • I look forward to meeting you, too, Lissa! And I see what you are saying. I think perhaps we’re talking a little bit about different things. I’ll just leave it at this point by saying that I encourage a focus on health and not worrying about the size we are. If we are healthy and engaged in healthy behaviors, our bodies will seek whatever is the right size for each of us individually.

            I think it’s also time to end this thread because this column is getting very small and I can’t see half my message as I type it. lol

          • lissa10279 says:

            LOL — me neither! 😉 Not sure why that happens?!

            I guess our stance (from what I see) is that no one’s body is actually designed to be as obese as, say the woman we featured yesterday — the woman who is going out of her way to gain weight.

            But yes, maybe it’s time to let it go and agree to disagree.

            I think at the root, we’re saying the same thing — that not everyone will settle at a weight some people think is acceptable … I just don’t see how morbid obesity is “natural”…

          • Just want to point out that the conversation went from “obese” to “morbidly obese.” There’s a difference, and I’m not sure where the science is on the health of someone who is morbidly obese.

          • lissa10279 says:

            Exactly — I can’t imagine someone who is morbidly obese is “healthy” whereas someone with an “extra” 20 lbs might be perfectly healthy and even fitter than someone much smaller with no muscle mass.

            So we def. agree on that, that there is a difference.

          • atchka says:

            The role genetics play in weight is not simply in predisposition. Genes determine a person’s hunger, satiety, appetite… according to Eric Oliver in “Fat Politics” there are over 70 genes that influence a person’s weight.

            The people who you call morbidly obese have more of the deck stacked against them than people who are moderately obese or just overweight. They have more physiological barriers to overcome their size, overcome their eat habits, overcome their desires. If you are not feeding your body the amount that you are genetically conditioned to require, then your body will register that restriction as famine and your brain will react accordingly. It will store fat more readily and trigger semi-starvation neurosis. This causes you to think about food constantly in a way that most people don’t have to deal with.

            Many people who are now obese were also lifetime weight cyclers, fighting their bodies in order to achieve social desirability. In doing so, they have damaged their natural homeostatic system and made it even more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

            Peace,
            Shannon

          • Really important and relevant insight, Shannon. Thanks!

          • Gina says:

            Your answer doesn’t make any sense. Why would anyone choose a way of living that is societally unacceptable? Sure, society has been wrong before, but I don’t think societal views towards obesity will change in our lifetime, do you?

            I would rather focus on maintaining a healthy weight than remain obese and wait for science to find a “cure”, or wait for societal views to change.

          • What if a healthy weight for someone is obese?

          • Gina says:

            What if a healthy weight for someone is obese?

            Sorry, I’m not buying it.

          • atchka says:

            That’s the problem. You don’t think it is possible to be fat and fit. If you can’t accept that, there’s very little else to agree on.

            Peace,
            Shannon

          • Meems says:

            I find it more than vaguely offensive that you seem to think you know my body better than I do or my doctor does.

          • Gina says:

            Just in case it’s not clear, my comment was addressed to Marsha (above) when she said But those two reasons don’t make [obesity] inherently undesirable.The first isn’t about obesity but about health. Re the second, society has been wrong before.

          • Lori says:

            I would rather focus on maintaining a healthy weight than remain obese and wait for science to find a “cure”, or wait for societal views to change.

            I’d rather focus on maintaining healthy habits than worrying about what size my body is. I’m not looking for my size to be “cured” or for societal views to change (and, honestly, as somebody who is on the overweight/obese border, I really don’t feel marginalized or like I’m not accepted by society).

    • CandiceBP says:

      Fair points (definitely not flame-worthy, imo), except I think the problem is that we don’t know the cure exactly. It’s not just calories in/calories out and move more. Studies have shown that someone who has been 150lbs her whole life has to do a lot less to maintain that weight than someone who was 285lbs and dieted and exercised down to 150lbs – like along the lines of 30 mins of exercise per day versus 3 hours of exercise per day, plus a lower calorie intake.

      The other point I differ on is that I don’t really see it as my place to tell anyone else they/we need to get in shape/be healthier if their life is not in danger. Yes, I might think they should try to be healthier, but I don’t see it as an obligation. I believe we’re obligated to provide people the option to do so if they would like to, and should suggest it, but not push it.

      Obesity is a pretty broad category, too. There’s a broad range of people who are “obese” but perfectly healthy. I don’t believe the same can be said of anorexia.

      Where our opinions come together is that we definitely do NOT give people the option to get healthy if they want to. People aren’t educated enough about what goes into their food and how what they eat affects them beyond their weight and vital stats. Stuff we’re eating is quite possibly causing genetic changes that take generations to undo. THAT knowledge (or pending knowledge – it’s fairly new stuff) IS something I believe should be forced on people. Plus, it truly is difficult to find time to be active. Society needs to put a higher value on personal wellness time.

      I’m all for making informed decisions about one’s own health… the problem is it’s hard to see who’s adequately informed these days. As Mrs. Obama said, we do have what we need to help kids lead healthy lives. We do have enough information for it. I’m just not convinced it’s pushed and packaged as effectively as it could be. And, in the meantime, we’re still shaming people who are just trying to live their lives.

      • lissa10279 says:

        Beautifully said, Candice … I like that we might not always agree, but that we can always learn from each other and I’ve learned a lot from your words here at WATRD — thank you, sincerely.

        You’re right, it’s not JUST cals in vs cals out, there is a lot more to it than just science. But I think a lot of people just give up and settle without trying, and maybe it’s the over-achiever/perfectionist in me that is speaking here but I guess deep down I DO wish everyone felt it was their personal responsibility to be healthy and wanted it for themselves as much as I want it for them … if that makes any sense. But while we surely can’t force others to lose weight; that much is true — we can and should, as we both noted, put more emphasis on giving people the option to get healthier …

        I feel blessed my employer has a great wellness plan where we get a slush fund of $$ to invest in health — gym memberships, trainers, nutritionist counseling, yoga, you name it — there’s a vested interest … but I know not all companies share that outlook.

        And we have to admit, too, there are people out there who — even armed with all the knowledge and tools in the world — will still struggle with their weight … so it’s much bigger than just the cals in/cals out — a LOT is emotional too.

        I might not be obese, but I am definitely someone who struggles with emotional eating and left unchecked … it could be really bad.

        • CandiceBP says:

          “I like that we might not always agree, but that we can always learn from each other.” Agreed. 🙂

          I also agree that the issue/”problem” is complex. Having known plenty of morbidly obese people, I’ve seen them try really hard and fail. These are people who are self-admittedly suffering b/c of their size. You can believe they’re doing the best they can, but losing weight when you have hundreds of pounds to lose is monumentally difficult and involves a complex approach that is mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional. The same plan doesn’t work for everyone and I think we need more research to individualize what the severely obese need.

          Btw, your employer sounds really great.

          • lissa10279 says:

            🙂

            I am sure it is not an easy feat — losing 30 lbs was difficult, and I gained back about half and seemed to settle here — so I know it’s a challenge on a small scale and can’t even imagine fathom having to lose 100 or 200 or so lbs … it has to be emotionally and physically draining.

            Yes, my employer is honestly wonderful … I know I’m very lucky. When other companies are cutting benefits, ours was adding them. But they believe in it, and know healthy employees tend to be happier employees … and then we’re out sick less, etc. It’s an upfront expense but the ROI is there.

      • Gina says:

        Studies have shown that someone who has been 150lbs her whole life has to do a lot less to maintain that weight than someone who was 285lbs and dieted and exercised down to 150lbs – like along the lines of 30 mins of exercise per day versus 3 hours of exercise per day, plus a lower calorie intake.

        Do you have a link to these studies? I accept that it takes a lot more work to maintain a normal weight for someone who has never been overweight than for someone who has dieted their way down, but 3 hours of exercise a day seems excessive.

          • Gina says:

            I thought I posted a comment about the Rudy Leibel study earlier (?).

            Re his finding that a formerly fat person may need about 15% fewer calories to maintain their weight than someone of the same weight who has never been overweight, I wanted to point out that’s well within the range of normal variation between individuals.

            If you check out any of the many sites which estimate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, you will probably find a disclaimer that the estimate will vary by as much as 20% either way for an individual.

        • CandiceBP says:

          The 3 hour figure comes from a documentary I saw a few years ago about people who had lost 100lbs or more. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the channel or name. It stuck in my mind because at the time, in order to maintain a size 12/14, I was exercising 3 hrs a day, 4-5 days a week. I recognize it might not be the norm, but that’s the reason I always remembered the clip.

          The study was in the NY Times recently (if I remember correctly) and is related to material I’ve been reading lately (Dr. Oz) about pregnancy health and how there is a developing theory that human behavior does modify genes, so it is possible to both negatively and positively alter/impact one’s genes. In particular, the piece was saying that someone who is obese, whose parents were obese, does not need to have a child who’s obese if they maintain certain healthy habits – most of which, if I remember correctly, involved avoiding processed foods and food containers with harmful chemicals (BPA, etc).

          I will try to find links.

          • Meems says:

            Candice, I tried to link to a NY Times article that references the study, but my comment seems to have been held up in moderation, perhaps because of the links. The researcher quoted, who works at Columbia University, is named Rudolph Leibel.

          • CandiceBP says:

            Thanks for the heads up and the link. I approved the comment.

    • wriggles says:

      I’m sorry but as most people cannot become ‘unobese’ they have to accept it, along with everyone else, whether they or you or anyone else does or doesn’t like it.

      What cannot effectively be changed has to be accepted, until it can.

      If people are so desperate for fat people to become thin, advocate for research into finding a healthy way to achieve that.

      Or you are accepting it, no matter what you say.

    • Jana says:

      I think that the important part for you to remember is that for some of us obesity isn’t an extreme. It is our lives. I can say for me that the only time I *ever* dropped below “overweight” was when I was in high school, exercising an hour a day, and eating so little that I frequently got dizzy when I stood up and that process messed up my metabolism for years.

      Getting kids more active and to eat healthier is a great idea–I just wish it wasn’t all couched in terms of fighting teh fatz. Then you have a situation where fat kids may just give up on those good behaviors because what’s the use, they’re not working anyway. Not to mention ignoring thin kids who may eat badly and do nothing but play video games because they are thin.

      Obesity itself is not a disease and accepting that other people may have a different experience or different priorities doesn’t mean endorsing bad behaviors. I found it pretty offensive that you assume obese people are “hurting themselves.” Some of us who have chosen to stop trying to force our bodies into a shape that other people deem acceptable are for the first time being kind to ourselves rather than beating ourselves up for not being able to fit into a mold. YOU may feel better being a gym rat, but not everyone will and that isn’t a problem, it’s human variation.

      Every body is different, as is every person. The fact that people’s bodies are different should not doom them to calorie restriction or putting in extra hours at the gym. Especially if they don’t like the gym..we’re all allowed to have preferences after all. Yes, everyone should eat right an exercise for health. BUT the obese are under no special obligations to live a less enjoyable (if they do not enjoy these things) life so that other people can be happy with their bodies. We each have our own lives to live and I don’t see why the obese should have you intruding into their lives more than anyone else.

      • Meems says:

        Yes, everyone should eat right an exercise for health. BUT the obese are under no special obligations to live a less enjoyable (if they do not enjoy these things) life so that other people can be happy with their bodies. We each have our own lives to live and I don’t see why the obese should have you intruding into their lives more than anyone else.

        Not to mention that eating well and exercising don’t necessarily result in weight loss or thinness.

      • Liz says:

        Jana said it very eloquently and better than I could have but I just have a few things to add

        As women, we’ve long fought against people telling us what we can and cannot do with our bodies. Why is being obese any different?

        I shouldn’t have to advertise that “I’m obese but I go to the gym and I eat a balanced diet” to make others feel better about me. I do these things for myself, not for the rest of the world. If i feel good about my health, than people need to get over it!

        I have PCOS which does effect my weight but again why does it matter? Why do I have to worry if other people are ok with my weight? Why do I have lose weight to make other people feel good? Why can’t people live their own lives and please let me live my life as I see fit.

  5. Just read this piece in New York Times on fat prejudice. It’s a good review of a lot of the problems that arise from a focus on size instead of health. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/health/16essa.html

  6. Mike in Philly says:

    Overweight people should watch Food inc. It’s documentary on food and food production in the US of A. Very insightful.

    • Meems says:

      Perhaps, rather than singling out “overweight” people, you should suggest that all people watch the film. People who are fat, obese, overweight (whatever term you prefer) aren’t any stupider or smarter than those who are thin.

      • vitty10 says:

        I was just about to say the same thing. That’s why I don’t buy it when people say that they are concerned about the health of fat people. If it really was about health they would be concerned about everybody, not just fat people. I’ve known thin people who had heart attacks, thin people with diabetes and high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But they don’t get the help that they need because we are so “concerned” about heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in fat people.

  7. Meghan says:

    While I think it’s great that Gabourey is so confident and proud of her body, which is wonderful, especially in Hollywood, I’ve heard quite a few publications referring to her as a “role model”, and I have to take issue with that. I think everyone should be as confident as she is, but it is really obvious that at around 300 pounds, she isn’t healthy at all. The health issues associated with being that obese are really no more serious than the health issues associated with being anorexic or close to that. Hollwood has presented us with two extremes, and neither are particularily healthy.

    • CandiceBP says:

      I would tend to think they’re not referring to her as a role model for health purposes, but more for that wonderful confidence she has and how she hasn’t let all the hateful talk about her bring her down (publicly at least – who knows what she thinks, feels, and says in private). That’s my assumption, anyway.

  8. living400lbs says:

    I don’t know about a “right” to be accepted. I know a lot of people don’t accept my weight and feel it’s important* to tell me that it’s not OK to be fat.

    When I was dating women I’d have coworkers tell me that dating a woman was immoral, or wrong, or not a good thing for children to see.

    I also know that people at the fundie church I attended in college told me it was unacceptable to major in computer science because “that’s a demanding career and your husband** is going to want you to focus on the home”. I was urged to get a degree in early childhood education and work with children as preparation for marriage.

    I’m not unaware of the negative affects of stress and weight bias. I support Naafa’s work. I don’t want society to become more weight-segregated. But I also know that if I waited until I was generally deemed “acceptable” I wouldn’t ever get anything DONE.

    *Important to them.
    **No, I wasn’t married at the time.

    • CandiceBP says:

      I’m sorry you had to experience all that small-mindedness. I do think we have a right to be accepted as we are. I certainly don’t live my life waiting for it either, but I believe in pushing the idea.

  9. mamaV says:

    Hi gang: No time to follow along here, so let me know if this l convo gets out of hand and you feel any commenters should be moderated.

    realdealgirls@gmail.com

    Thanks!
    mV

  10. Meems says:

    @Lissa,I’d also like to point out that if someone in only 20 lbs. above the top of the “normal” BMI range, that person would still be solidly “overweight” and not “obese.”

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