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Why the fat acceptance movement cannot be accepted

Health & BodyTrendsOpinions

Fat is not fabulous. Fat can be dangerous.

I have been noticing a peculiar trend on social media. Whilst scrolling through my Twitter timeline, I saw people celebrating obese models for challenging conventional beauty standards, praising them for "normalising" obesity.

International publications such as Reader's Digest, VICE and The Telegraph have chimed in on the discussion of fat acceptance as well.

The fat acceptance movement aims to eliminate discrimination based on body size, and provide empowerment to fat people. It encourages society to accord equal respect to fat people.

The movement's origins can be traced back to 1967, when 500 people protested an anti-fat bias in New York's Central Park.

While the movement is helpful in encouraging people of various body sizes to embrace their sizes, it may cause some followers to misinterpret its empowering messages as an "excuse" to neglect their health.

 
The fat acceptance movement may be masquerading bad habits and self-delusion under the guise of self-confidence. 
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/MARK ONG

Don't get me wrong. I agree that obese people should be treated with equal dignity and respect as other people. But I disagree with a movement that seeks to normalise obesity, instead of encouraging able bodied people to take control of their life and make a conscious effort to be fit and healthy.

Unless there is a pre-existing medical condition or a physical limitation that causes you to be obese, I think there should be no excuse to neglect your health.

I am in no way vehemently opposed to fat people, nor am I saying fat people cannot love themselves. I believe that everyone should love themselves, and for me, loving myself includes taking good care of my health.

Women shouldn't try to "reach for an unattainable and oppressive idea of perfection." Really?

I am concerned about the messages advocated by the fat acceptance movement, which may make obese people feel like there is nothing wrong with their unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Self-affirming messages like how "diets do not work" and "only freaks of nature can keep the weight off for more than 5 years" could be detrimental to any hopefuls looking to lose weight.

Furthermore, values like "empowerment" and "self-love" pushed by the movement are a travesty. Telling obese people that becoming healthy is unattainable and that they shouldn't be pressured to live up to society's "oppressive idea of perfection" does not empower them.

It tricks them into believing there is nothing they can do to help themselves.

If the fat acceptance movement truly preached these values, the community should be a supportive environment where obese people are encouraged to be concerned about their health. Followers of this movement should help each other along the journey to better health.

Regaining fitness from a state of obesity takes time, but it is not unattainable.

For instance, 22-year-old YouTuber John David Glaude used to be morbidly obese at 163kg. After exercising and controlling his diet, he managed to lose 77kg over two years.


YouTuber John Glaude now shares his successful journey
on his YouTube channel with over 370,000 subscribers. 
PHOTO CREDIT: BODYBUILDING.COM

Being overweight or obese results in serious health consequences, such as cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer – all of which can cause long term suffering and disabilities.

Obese people should acknowledge and be aware of these facts. By all means, love yourself, but not at the expense of your health.

The World Health Organisation estimates that global adulthood obesity figures have more than doubled from 1980 to 2014. About 13 per cent of the world's adult population is obese.

Closer to home, Singapore's last National Health Survey, conducted in 2010, revealed that 11 per cent of Singaporean adults aged between 18 and 69 were obese.  A whopping 1.7 million Singaporeans are at risk of developing obesity-related diseases.

With statistics like these, I cannot sincerely look an obese friend in the eye and tell him that it is fine to be obese and embrace his size with him. If I really cared for such a friend, I would be concerned. I would even encourage him to join me at the gym and help him get into the groove of living a healthier lifestyle.

It is great to advocate acceptance of each other, but maybe we should be more careful about the movements we support and do our due diligence before jumping on the bandwagon. Just remember that blindly supporting movements you don't know much about may have undesirable effects in the long run.

BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTH.SG/MARK ONG