Does The Fat Acceptance Movement Glamorize An Unhealthy Lifestyle?

What’s the antidote to a culture that tells women, in a multitude of ways, “thin is better?” Marianne Kirby, 31, and Gabrielle Gregg, 22, who were interviewed by ABC News, both have felt the pressure to be thin, but have become the faces of the “fat acceptance movement,” which seeks to assure women that your appearance has nothing to do with your self-worth. This is certainly an attitude I can get behind, especially because there are many negative and untrue stereotypes made about people who are overweight. However, just as there is an obviously negative side to celebrating thinness, I believe the same danger exists in telling people who are very overweight that “fat is beautiful.”Kirby, who authored the just released book Lessons From The Fatosphere and runs the blog The Rotund, is 319 pounds. She says her life is “so much better” since she stopped dieting and that she’s “100 pounds heavier, but 100,000 times happier!” Gregg runs the blog Young, Fat, and Fabulous and is 220 pounds. “I’m not necessarily curvy or chubby,” she told ABC News. “I’m fat.”

While I think it’s great that these women don’t associate their self-worth with their appearance or weight, I don’t think glamorizing being over 300 pounds is the way to respond to a culture and diet industry that says that weight means your “lazy,” “smelly” or unattractive. In general, I think most doctors would say that being over 300 pounds indicates a person has an unhealthy BMI, not to mention other health issues. People should embrace the body they have, but also recognize that they need to treat that body well in order to live a long, healthy life. When I read about “fat acceptance,” I can’t help but think about Star Jones, who for years as a co-host on “The View” insisted that “big was beautiful” and that there was nothing wrong with her weight, even as she wheezed audibly.

“There are a number of common health concerns associated with obesity, including high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and some cancers,” says Rebecca Puhl, a weight expert from Yale University, told ABC News.

That is not to say that all people who are “overweight” don’t lead healthy, active lifestyles. I have a very good friend who works out, in some way, everyday. She teaches pilates, runs, takes kick boxing, dance, and yoga classes, eats a vegetarian diet that’s low in carbs and high in vitamins, and she’s still not a thin person. In fact, she is far healthier in terms of diet and exercise than I am, but I happen to be genetically thinner.

Kirby and Gregg say that though they don’t diet, they have healthy eating habits and get plenty of exercise.

“Stopping dieting is not shunning a healthy lifestyle,” Kirby said. “I’ve started jogging, I’ve been relearning how to roller skate and do yoga and Pilates.”

Gregg told ABC that her “daily diet usually consists of a bowl of cereal for breakfast and a submarine sandwich for lunch” and that her current weight is where she’s stabilized. Personally, I don’t consider cereal (most of which have high sugar contents) and a foot long sub (typically on nutrition-less white bread) to be a balanced diet. Where are the fruits and vegetables? Sure, both their doctors have told them that their cholesterol and blood pressure levels are normal, but for many of their readers, a daily diet of Corn Pops and carbs won’t produce the same results.

In many ways, I love Gregg’s blog. Many women who are overweight have a hard time finding fashionable clothes that fit, and “Young, Fabulous, and Fat” aims to show women like Gregg where to get clothes that do, not to mention celebrate personal style that doesn’t come in size zero packaging. But telling people that all diets suck and being fat is fabulous is a bit of an extreme message to me — why can’t the message be “healthy is beautiful,” no matter what size it comes in? What do you all think? [ABC News]