Is Fat Acceptance Making Americans Complacent About Unhealthy Eating?



By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder


This blog was not an easy one to write, because the fat acceptance movement is a highly sensitive, complex and controversial topic. If you support fat acceptance, some might say you support obesity and being unhealthy. If you are against it, some might call you fatphobic or a body shamer. If you are somewhere in the middle (and so many people are), how do you decipher how much fat is acceptable especially when there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight?

The history of the fat acceptance movement.

“The fat acceptance movement began in the 1960s; the first political event was a Central Park sit-in to protest size discrimination. The movement was formed to counter anti-fat discrimination as well as problematic societal ideals around beauty, dieting, and health,” reports Psychology Today.

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance was founded in 1969.

To be very clear, no one should be mistreated or shamed because of their weight. It is also critical to note that being thin or at a healthy weight does not always mean a healthy body composition. 

(pH must-read - How Being Skinny Fat Can Make You Lose Your Mind)

An unhealthy body composition, no matter what your size, can put you at risk for having poor metabolic health and major health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, depression and more. 

(pH must-read - Know Your Body Composition, Even If You are Thin)

For those of us who were around in the nineties, when waif-like models were the norm and thin was in, it’s almost hard to process where we are today. I, for one, am very happy to see different body types being represented now. I also believe beauty standards of the nineties caused a lot of eating disorders in young people, especially women. The fat acceptance movement has also provided a safe place for overweight people which is needed, but at what point is fat acceptance enabling unhealthy behaviors? How is this any different from enabling an alcoholic or drug addict? Addiction is addiction, and food addiction, particularly processed food addiction, appears to be a major problem in our country.

(pH must-read - Is Food Addiction Real?)

There is a fine line between celebrating all bodies and denying what is unhealthy and dangerous. I think our culture and the use of social media crossed this line in a major way that could hurt America’s youth and future generations if we are not proactive.

As we all know, social media provides its users with a huge platform readily available for the entire world to view. We all have a voice through the use of social media. Many popular voices call themselves fat activists or fat influencers. And one of the leading messages of fat influencers, many of whom qualify as being morbidly obese, is that there is nothing wrong with their weight and that it is also not unhealthy.

This is just not true, and, unfortunately, this is evident in the following extremely tragic stories:

Dr Caitlin (Cat) Pausé was a scholar of fat studies and a major activist in the fat acceptance movement. If you look at her X profile, it says in the bio, “Glorifying obesity since '09.” I don’t think it needs much explaining when I say that statements such as this one are extremely problematic. Obesity is killing way too many Americans, and sadly it appears that it took Pausé’s life at just 42-years-old. She suddenly died in her sleep. Although an exact cause of death has not been revealed, suspicions are that it has to do with cardiovascular disease.

Another fat influencer as well as TikTok star, who went by the name of Waffler69 and was known for his outrageous eating videos, reportedly died of a heart attack. He was only 33.

And yet in another extremely sad story, fat social media star Brittany Sauer expressed regret of her eating choices before her death.

“The final videos posted to Brittany Sauer's TikTok page make for upsetting viewing. Speaking tearfully to the camera, the 31-stone social media star, who often posted defiantly 'body-positive' content about how 'hot' she felt in certain outfits, admitted with shocking candour that she had 'ruined her life' with food and binge eating,” according to this report from Daily Mail about the deaths of multiple fat social media influencers who all died before the age of 45. 

Sauer suffered from type 2 diabetes and a skin infection due to her extremely excessive weight. At just 28-years-old, it is believed that her cause of death was due to heart problems from being very overweight.

The Obesity Myth? You can't believe everything you read.

As devastating as these stories are, there are still many social media influencers encouraging people to be fat if they want and claiming that there is nothing unhealthy about it. There is even a book out there called The Obesity Myth, which basically claims that there is no connection between someone being overweight and unhealthy. This book is written by a thin law professor, which makes me suspect that he is simply trying to profit off of the popularity of fat acceptance. These messages are dangerous, and may be causing many overweight Americans to feel as if their excessive weight is “not that bad.”

“The body-positive movement has prompted an advent of self-love and improved body satisfaction among women and men of all sizes, but new research suggests that what feeds the soul may endanger the body,” according to a 2018 article published by Newsweek.

“Wider plus-size acceptance might prevent overweight adults from recognizing the extent of their weight gain and promote unhealthy habits, says a study published recently in the journal Obesity.”

I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I like to say, “Comparison is the cause of complacency.” Think about it. We can all relate to being invited into someone’s messy home and then feeling relieved because our messy house is not nearly as bad. The list goes on. My financial problems are not as bad as my neighbors. My eating habits are not as bad as the person who weighs 400 or 600 pounds. Part of being proactive about your health is not comparing yourself to unhealthy people. You want to look to those who are healthy, set realistic goals and work hard. The work never ends as long as we are alive, and the goal should really be happy and healthy longevity- not how we look in a swimsuit or the number on the scale.

For tips on achieving a maintaining a healthy weight and body composition, check out these pH Labs blogs.

I strongly encourage undergoing a body composition test in addition to a comprehensive nutrient test. Most of us are not nutritionally balanced, and not having an adequate intake of all the vital vitamins and minerals can actually contribute to weight gain or make weight loss particularly challenging. If the test reveals you are not nutritionally balanced, a competent healthcare practitioner can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements if necessary.


Enjoy your healthy life!

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.                                    


The pH professional healthcare team includes recognized experts from a variety of healthcare and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.