14 February 2013
Fat-Acceptance: From The 1960s And On
I read a Time article recently called, "A Brief History of the Fat Acceptance Movement." I was surprised to see that a publication as prestigious as Time magazine covered a story on fat acceptance back in 2009 and made an effort to detail the past and present of the movement. It seems to me that no publication has really done so before or since -- and those that have have put a negative spin onto the whole idea. The Time story was wonderfully un-bias; it was a simple news story. It told us the facts and left opinion out of it -- yes, it mentioned the counter-arguments to weight acceptance; no it did not support them.
As I was reading, I became increasingly agitated, however. Not at the writer -- Dan Fletcher did his journalistic duty of filling readers in on the subject. I was agitated at the knowledge that fat acceptance has been a movement since the 1960s -- and in comparison to the causes and revolutions surrounding that decade (from sex to war to race to feminism) it seems weight acceptance got shoved aside and buried.
It was a smaller movement -- one that climaxed when fat activists staged an event at Central Park, "Fat-In", and ate ice cream while burning posters of Twiggy, but which otherwise didn't see much of a rise at all. Organizations like "Fat Underground" came about supporting the cause, and dozens of others which were just as short-lived. Ultimately the only one that has survived is NAAFA: the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. I can't help but feel a little sad -- a little sad that the movement has been around for over 50 years and not only is there only one primary organization fighting for it, but in those 50 years it's barely received any acceptance or acknowledgment. The recognition it does receive is usually in the form of chuckles and snorts at the thought that anyone would be proud of being fat -- or would even perhaps enjoy being fat.
I think we're at a point where it is safe to say that the other causes surrounding the 60s have seen radical changes and advancement. Whether in race or gender, equality has been on the rise and diversity much more accepted, even sought out. But what about fat acceptance? What about "pro-plus-size?"
The fact that in the past few years there have been a record number of eating disorders leads me to believe fat acceptance is nowhere near the level of acceptance it should be after a 50 year battle. Then again, as I've said before, we are seeing a rise in plus-size celebrities, bloggers, activists and models in the past three years or so. But I can't help but feel it's still not "ok." People still find it odd to hear a man or woman admit to liking being big -- or to hear someone say they like those who are big. People find it odd to hear of BBW models who are proud enough of the fat on their bodies to pose nude or even want to gain more weight. It's simply not at the level the other revolutions of the 60s are at today. And I wonder...how long until it is? And what will it take for it to reach that level? I really don't know what it would take. I find myself thinking about the large role that music played in the 60s, however, and my silly, overly optimistic, side is telling me what we need is a theme song to fat acceptance -- some incredibly talented folk musician strumming the acoustic guitar and singing for the cause. Well, one can only hope.