Fat Acceptance

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October 8, 1996 Rae4129: Our guest tonight is Cool Sue and our topic is Fat Acceptance. Sue, tell us a little about yourself, please. :)

CoolSue: Well, I was a member of the local chapter of NAAFA (the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) for a number of years and got involved in the size acceptance movement then. Actually, I jumped in with both feet when they asked me to be on a news special.

Rae4129: There are many myths about fat people. Why do you think that there is so much myth-making about fat?

CoolSue: I think it is easier for society to place stereotypes and prejudices on a group that shares common characteristics that make them uncomfortable. These beliefs are almost always grounded in myths. They are often used to justify treating fat people as second-class citizens and create a "blame the victims" mentality.

Rae4129: Most articles on fat say that if fat people wanted to lose the weight, they could. Is this really true, Sue?

CoolSue: No, this isn't true. 95-98% of all diets fail over 3 years. The dieting industry would like us to believe that when diets fail it is the fault of the dieter, however, it is the body's response to a very low calorie diet. A person's weight is determined by a number of factors including genetics, metabolism and dieting history. The body naturally stabilizes at a certain weight, dieting tends to raise this natural "point". This is because the body interprets a "diet" as a period of starvation. In response, the body slows down its metabolism, in order to conserve energy. When the dieter goes off the diet, the body converts the extra calories as fat in anticipation of the next period of "starvation".

P11184: I'm trying to lose weight, but finding it very difficult.

Rn to 37: I am 135 lbs. overweight and want to lose it, but can't seem to get a handle on eating.

EvaS: Sue, isn't it true that most indigenous populations, when in contact with western culture, tend to gain weight? Why is this?

CoolSue: Studies done cross-culturally in areas where fat is accepted, found that the rates of the so-called fat diseases were lower than the American average and indicate that it is the dieting and stress of being fat in a fat phobic society which causes many of our problems. I think any increase in obesity by these populations is from them adapting our fear of fat and therefor following our examples of yo-yo dieting.

Oaklimbo: I've only been on one successful "diet" in my life and that just means I lost some weight because I took to exercising. And I mean real exercise.

CoolSue: Oak, I think it is great if you have found a way to lose weight and keep it off. The dangers in dieting lie in the repeated gaining and losing of weight.

Rn to 37: Being overweight is bad for your health and so is dieting so, what do we do?

CoolSue: Rn, studies have shown that it is much healthier to remain at a high weight than to constantly try to lose and gain weight. It is possible to be at a high weight and still be healthy. The main health risks come in from the stress we put on our body when we keep trying to change it's natural body weight.

Lfic: I just sent an irate letter to Lane Bryant. Why are they still using small sized models to take large women's money? I asked them this a few weeks ago and they referred me to their advertising department who haven't responded. I am a large sized woman and wear LB and the Avenue clothing and I am just purely *angry* that they are continuing to ignore us and we pay good money to be treated better than this!

LisaSmall: ::applauding Lfic's question!!!!!::

CoolSue: Lfic, when I was involved with NAAFA, we did a letter writing campaign to ask them to use larger models in their catalogs. They said that they tried it and didn't sell as many clothes. We didn't believe them though.

P11184: How do you feel about RX to loose weight?

CoolSue: P11184, I think many of the diet drugs are dangerous and have very dangerous side effects. I personally think it is another way for companies to make money on the fear of being fat.

Lfic: How can fat people empower themselves? How can we get this across to everyone we meet? Thanks for answering and confirming a lot of my questions.

CoolSue: Lfic, that is a great question. One of the ways I see is by uniting in some of the groups across the country. The one I am most familiar with is NAAFA, but there are others. These groups do a lot of activism work as well as show us that we have a right to be out in public having fun.

P11184: What if, as a fat person, you are not happy with yourself? Being empowered is not an option.

CoolSue: P11184, my personal opinion is not popular among some people, but I think the first step with anything is to learn to like and accept yourself the way you are.

SinginRose: Sue, what about the myth that fat people are lazy?

CoolSue: Well, that is one of the ones that bugs me the most. What I think is funny is when I am shopping and see young skinny men and women leaving their carts all over the place, when I don't think it takes much effort at all to take it to the cart coral. That is nothing but a myth and part of the prejudice that society has placed on us as a group.

DIsaacs158: Well, this fat person works 3 JOBS!

EvaS: The worst myth is that fat is ugly, I think. I've known as many beautiful fat women as thin ones. This is just another way of discriminating against fat people, don't you think?

CoolSue: Culture dictates what beauty is and this changes over time. Leading sex symbols in the past would now be considered fat. Media, advertisers and diet industries can make a lot of money by selling us with dissatisfaction with our bodies. Marilyn Monroe and Lillian Russell...both were considered sex symbols in their time and in today's standards would be considered fat. This shows that it is culture that dictates what "beauty" is, but we don't have to buy into it.

SinginRose: Do you have any good comeback lines for people who make insulting remarks about weight?

CoolSue: I have a lot of them, depending on the situation. One situation was when a young black man made very rude remarks to me and I said to him, "You don't want me to judge you by the way you look so, why do you judge me by the way I look." Surprisingly enough, that young man came back a few minutes later and apologized to me.

SinginRose: Cool. :-)

CoolSue: If a kid says something like, "You're fat," I will usually respond with, "You know what? You're right!"

DIsaacs158: Me, too. That's what I say.

CoolSue: One time, in a fast food restaurant, a little girl said something to her mother about me and then the mom said something to her. I just went over and said, "Don't worry about it, she's just noticing that we are different sizes." Then I said to the little girl, "You don't think I'm bad because I'm fat, do you?" The little girl said, "No." I think that's where our education needs to begin.

EvaS: Great answers, Sue!!

P11184: Doesn't it hurt?

CoolSue: P11184, sometimes the comments hurt sure, but now that I have learned to like me for who I am and not for what others think I should look like, most of the time they don't. I know that many of the comments are coming from people's ignorance, fear, and lack of self esteem.

Pasn8Drmr: I am curious as to how you get to a point where you are accepting of who you are at whatever weight you are. It is a constant struggle.

CoolSue: Pasn, for me that took some time. The way I learned to accept myself the way I am was by being around positive, fat people with positive self images. They showed me that I am OK just the way I am. I am a good person and deserve to be treated with respect.

Lfic: What do you think about Overeaters Anonymous?

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