Fat Acceptance v Body Acceptance

This was prompted by my niece asking for advice about a workshop she was going to give. At first the workshop was supposed to be on fat acceptance, but then they changed it to be on body acceptance.

The thing is, these are two very different subjects. Body acceptance has to do with your own perception of your body and whether or not that perception is realistic.

Fat acceptance, on one level is body acceptance, except you are (most often) also dealing with society’s perception of your body.

Changing your own perception of your body can be a lot of work, but it is something you have control over and you can change. Changing the perception of society is something you can work on, but it is, on the whole, beyond your ability to change. Yes, you can work on changing your personal environment and the people you deal with and try to educate them about fat acceptance. But for the most part, this is something that is beyond your control — all you can control is how you, personally, deal with it.

Body acceptance may or may not have anything to do with other people. Fat acceptance has a lot to do with other people.

Both are important issues, but they are not interchangeable; and I think that people need to realize the difference.

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2 thoughts on “Fat Acceptance v Body Acceptance

  1. They’re really intertwined. If you’ve come from an environment of fat acceptance, body acceptance should be easier. The world most of us live in, where fatness is not accepted, forces us to either give in to the prevailing meme or start from within to develop our body acceptance and general self acceptance (another flavor of acceptance).

    And we need to get past mere acceptance and onward to pride! (But acceptance is a necessary step.)

  2. Fascinating perspective, Terri. I’ve never thought of it in these terms. I tend to (predictably, I know) approach these two topics from a traditional, feminist academic perspective: body acceptance as a topic tends to encompass eating disorders, unrealistic body ideals in ads, and pro-body diversity (at least in theory), whereas I see fat acceptance as targeting bodies and body sizes as sites for discrimination.

    Perhaps this is just my experience, but I tend to see body image stuff as being a sub-category of feminism, whereas fat rights is a movement unto itself. Both are political movements that often overlap, and sometimes their proponents are one and the same. In my mind, at least, fat rights at its finest encompasses and promotes body acceptance (or body image or whatever).

    In short (yeah, like I’m ever brief), I see body image/body acceptance stuff as most often hooking onto feminism and promoting a hazy, “love your body” kind of message. The fat pride movement, IMO, is this message made political; I see it as equally ideological and practical. Also, and just as importantly, the fat pride movement, while advocating for peeps of size, also ensures a safe and empowering space for us in a way that I’ve never experienced anywhere else.

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