What is Size Acceptance? (April 2019)
We live in a culture that looks down on people if they do not look a certain way. Some parts of the world are more accepting of various shapes, sizes, genders and religions and others are critical of these various topics.
Growing up in Los Angeles, CA (to be more exact Beverly Hills, CA), I have seen the judgement and stigma that has evolved from diet culture. Certainly, Hollywood and the media have played significant roles in the unrealistic expectations that people have pertaining to their bodies. People forget that our genetics, age, gender, and dieting history all contribute to the body shape that we have.
It is more and more apparent to me that this is a conversation that we need to have. Little girls starting at the age of 10 want to go on a diet, due to being told they are not perfect or something is wrong with them. The fear of being “fat” is so real that kids are worrying about their weight instead of getting to be kids. When I was 10 years old, I was a competitive tennis player and all I remember being nervous about was playing older kids in tennis matches. The idea of diets, food rules, or changing my body was a thought that never entered my mind as a little girl.
Size acceptance is being able to accept that we all have a specific body shape. As I mentioned above, there are various factors that contribute to how our body will evolve as we become adults. Sadly, many people are not satisfied with the way their body has turned out and this has resulted in various diets, disordered eating, food rules and unhappiness in their body. Research shows that the more we “diet” and “weight cycle,” (having our weight go up-and-down) the more weight we gain.
Have you considered accepting your body?
I know that sounds like a scary thought but it isn’t as impossible as it may sound. Many people have learned to accept their bodies, especially when they have developed a peaceful relationship with food and movement.
Notice, I use the word “accept.” A person does not have to love their body, but, being able to recognize and accept all the wonderful things your body is capable of doing goes a long way toward acceptance. It’s normal to have days that we do not feel confident in our body or like our body, but, learning how to accept it and the size that you are genetically and gaining appreciation for the things your body can do for you is important in learning how to have a positive relationship with your whole self.
When it comes to body size, there are so many areas in which the size acceptance movement overlaps with other movements meant to empower those who have been marginalized. I recognize that I come from a place of being a cis-gender Caucasian female with thin privilege. I have not lived the experiences that many of my clients, friends and peers have. Even so, I strive to offer support and a safe space to share one’s feelings about their body in a judgment-free environment.
Regardless of race or ethnicity, everyone is impacted by size discrimination and experiencing weight stigma though not only diet culture but professionals in the medical community do not help.
Let’s start by forgetting the stigma around the word “fat” altogether. Some people may be genetically fat, just as others may be genetically thin. There is nothing wrong with either. Being fat is nothing to be feared and, in pushing people to fear fat; our society keeps people in their disorders.
Claim your own size and call yourself fat in a loving way
I strive to help clients learn how to accept their bodies, no matter what size they are. When people speak from a place of judgment that is when we feel poorly about ourselves. Have you ever considered that?
Lose the judgment, of others and yourself, and instead embrace acceptance.
For more information on size acceptance I would recommend reading Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, Ph.D. (https://lindabaconspeaks.com/) and going onto the website Association for Size Diversity (ASDAH) www.sizedivesityandhealth.org
- Cooper, Charlotte. Fat Activism A Radical Social Movement. Bristol, England: Hammeron Press 2016
- Taylor, Sonya. The Body is Not an Apology. Berrett- Kohler Publishers., Inc. Oakland, CA 2018.
- Taylor, Sonya. Celebrate Your Body and It’s Changes Too! Rockridge Press, Berkeley, CA 2018.
- Bacon and Aphramor; BioMed Central Ltd. 2011 “Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift” Nutrition Journal, January (2011) 1475-2891.