Fat acceptance movement
The fat acceptance movement, also known as size acceptance, fat liberation, fat activism, or fativism, is a social movement that works to change attitudes towards fat people, be they people who are simply larger than the thin ideal typical of modern Western society, or people who are actually obese.
While advocating for realistic attitudes about body shape and size is not the same thing as addressing attitudes towards people who are obese, the two are often conflated.
Rejection of idealized body types
The first group of "fat activism" has more to do with issues of body image in the modern world. There is a strong push to define "healthy" and "at weight" as being extremely thin, especially when talking about women. These definitions do not account for a person being larger because they carry muscle mass, and often cast healthy, but larger people as "overweight" because their bodies do not conform to the maxim that one can never be too rich, nor too thin.
Further, what is a "healthy" weight is often debated, and affected by many other factors of a person's life. A person who is at 33% fat (which is defined by medical science as obese), but who exercises every day for 30 minutes can be just as healthy as a person who is at 22% body fat (normal for men, athletic for women) but who does not exercise daily. Though being overweight, even obese, increases your chances of developing health problems, it does not mean you have health problems or that you will necessarily develop them.
An added myth is that non-medical practitioners think one can diagnose health problems by looking at people's bodies. This is not the case; one cannot know if another person has liver damage, is dehydrated, has high cholesterol, etc., merely by looking at another person's body type. That would make diagnostics a lot easier. Combating these misconceptions is sensible. Though being over weight or obese warrants testing for a variety of conditions, being fat does not automatically mean you have any medical condition, so "sight" diagnoses, or even suggesting a person lose weight, is not necessarily warranted without symptoms of other illness.
Additionally, in some countries (most notably the United States,) body weight is also a classism issue. With current trends in the widening income gap between the upper and working class, lengthening hours, static wages, difficulty of access to safe exercise venues, increasingly limited time or money to buy or prepare healthful food, it may not be possible for many people to maintain the oft-idealized "healthy" weight. For many, poor health and obesity intersects heavily with poverty, food insecurity, and low-wage jobs.
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- Perceived Weight Discrimination and Obesity. Angelina R. Sutin, Antonio Terracciano. July 24, 2013. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070048
- Wider income gaps, wider waistbands? An ecological study of obesity and income inequality
- Why Low-Income and Food Insecure People are Vulnerable to Overweight and Obesity