Reading about Fat Acceptance is a topic that has left me with several conflicting feelings. After the readings I thought about my ideas of what my body is supposed to look like and wondered how this intertwines with what I make it look like. I also thought about how I am constantly dieting and working out to see how lean I can get, returning to what I presume to be my natural body. I wondered if I were to “let myself go” as Tisdale did, would I too become fat and could I accept it?
Kent’s essay made me think critically about what being a “fat” woman signifies to one self and to our culture. She writes, “Little in late-twentieth-century U.S. culture has given any inkling that it might be possible to live as a fat woman.” This idea of naturally being a fat woman is something I hadn’t really considered, as strange as that may seem. Although I obviously know that everyone has different body types, being obese has always signified subconsciously to me more of a condition rather than a choice. According to Kent, “Here the fat person, usually a fat woman, is represented not as a person but as something encasing a person, something from which a person must escape, something that person must cast off.” I feel that this comment can probably be accepted by most people in American culture.
When I think about weight, I consider that it is an aspect of our appearance that is understood as something that can be altered. It is not as static as race or height, insinuating that it is a choice—which these readings show it is not. As Tisdale writes, “Fat is now a symbol not of the personality but of the soul – the cluttered, neurotic, immature soul.” Thus, furthering the idea that this is somehow a condition and not a natural state. I then thought of all of the plus-sized models and how they can be accepted as beautiful even though they are considered overweight by media standards. My conclusion is that their acceptance of their body symbolizes a choice to be “big and beautiful”, which makes it easier for people to accept. Bergmann’s story made it clear that in pretty much all other circumstances being a woman and being overweight is not something that society reacts positively to.
I guess my complexity of this issue comes from the fact that it is hard to determine what the correct body type is for each person and how far is too far in slimness or fatness?