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Pro: Accepting your size is first step toward healthier living

By APRILL BRANDON
Nov. 21, 2010 at 5:21 a.m.


The issue:On Oct. 25, Marie Claire magazine blogger Maura Kelly started an online frenzy when she wrote derogatory comments about the TV sitcom "Mike and Molly," which features two obese characters as the main stars.

The backlash that resulted brought the discussion of size discrimination to the forefront of public discourse.

The Size Acceptance Movement, also known as the Fat Acceptance Movement, has been fighting size discrimination and advocating size acceptance since the 1960s. The main debate over this movement is whether it is good for our health.

For Katy Long, of Victoria, variety is the spice of life.

This is also why she supports the Size Acceptance Movement.

"While taking into consideration that fluffiness can be a significant health issue, the bottom line is all people are different and thank God for that," Long, who works at Victoria College, said. "This tendency to hold ourselves to the same standards as a handful of genetically blessed people, whose livelihoods depend on and whose lives revolve around the way they look, is not only an exercise in futility, but profoundly detrimental to both physical and mental well being."

The movement primarily focuses on social justice by trying to end size discrimination. In recent years organizations behind the movement, such as the International Size Acceptance Association, have also started promoting the idea of health at every size.

"There are lots of misunderstandings about what we do and we've worked hard to introduce concepts that are not necessarily associated with the movement, such as using fitness not to lose weight but to feel good and healthy and making good food choices," said Allen Steadham, of Austin, who is the founder and director of the size association. "We advocate against weight loss surgery and that if you can't be the thin ideal, you can at least be healthy."

Deidre Miller, a longtime supporter of the movement, has been medically obese since she was a child. Now at 41, she has yet to have any obesity-correlated health problems, she said. Her blood pressure and blood sugar are normal and she has no trouble keeping up with thin friends and relatives while hiking, backpacking, dancing, skiing and other activities. When it comes to critics of the movement, Miller said, that they make unfounded assumptions about size acceptance.

"One of the biggest misconceptions is that we've given up on ourselves. In reality, when you love and respect your body, you reconnect with it and you want to take good care of it. For many people, including me, getting involved in fat acceptance inspires healthier habits and a stronger mind-body connection," Miller said.

That's exactly the idea behind the International Size Acceptance Association's "Respect, Fitness, Health Initiative," which was started to address concerns critics had of the movement, such as it encourages people to get fat and the idea that you can't be overweight and healthy, Steadham said. The initiative states that you must respect yourself in order to succeed, people of all sizes can become more fit and everyone could benefit from healthier food choices.

"The initiative is backing up the philosophy that the organization has. The heart of us is ending discrimination and raising self-esteem. But we're also all for quality of life," he added. "Once you have self-respect, you can do more. We all have to respect ourselves to treat our bodies well."

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