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Young, Fat, and Fabulous… or maybe not?

Date: June 19, 2009 | Posted By:

Take a look at this segment that aired on Good Morning America on June 15th. The piece is called “Young, Fat, and Fabulous,” and it seems to advocate for women to have a healthy self-image at any size, but the message may not be so clear…

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Did you notice the uneven general tone of this segment? Is it positive or negative?

This segment seems to flip-flop between supporting women who are happy and healthy at any size and then in a negative tone also highlights all the dangers the show’s producers believe are associated with obesity. Although these women have a clear bill of health from their doctors, at the end of the segment, Diane Sawyer tries to emphasize that they will have health complications later on… but if you listen carefully, the response is that these health risks increase due to age, not due to weight.

The piece talks about yo-yo dieting while at the same time sending a yo-yo message.

The first half of this segment is dedicated to telling viewers that being fat is OK and that these particular women are happier and healthier than they’ve ever been. Then the last half sends the opposite message — that being overweight leads to deadly health problems. Yet then they go on to say that yo-yo dieting is bad because it can also lead to terrible health complications.

I think this is reflective of our society’s overall indecisiveness about weight and health, and represents the tension that exists between wanting to be thin and wanting to be healthy and happy and love ourselves as we are.

Is it OK to be fat and fabulous? Can you be overweight and be healthy?

According to the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH), health is measured by many factors, including the right to be peaceful in one’s body. ASDAH has also done research that shows that the amount of fat on a body is a weak indicator of life expectancy and overall health.

Despite its mixed message, once you sort through the confusion, this piece does have some healthy points to take home:

Health comes in different sizes.

Acceptance of one’s body type can ultimately prove beneficial, especially when that acceptance is paired with a healthy lifestyle.

As Gabrielle mentions, the most important thing is to stay active, eat a balanced diet, and accept your weight where it stabilizes.

I think it’s fabulous that Marianne loves what she sees when she looks in the mirror. How many women of any weight and body type can actually say they love how they look? I hope that one day every woman will love herself as she is. No woman’s self worth should be determined by the scale or the size of her pants.

So I commend Marianne for telling the world that:

The good in accepting being large far outweighs the bad.

and

The only thing I’ve let go is the self-hatred that I felt.

Shouldn’t we all try to feel that way?

-Jaimie

[By the way, everyone, the fat activist movement is not a new grassroots movement. Fat activism has been alive and well for at least 15 years. Check out this site, Fat!So? for more. -Jennifer]




What Do You Think?

2 Responses to Young, Fat, and Fabulous… or maybe not?

  1. HeatherB on 06-21-2009

    I'm so glad you blogged about this! I've been struggling to organize my thoughts on this segment since it aired, and you did a fabulous job of cutting right to the heart of its inconsistencies. To dub the piece "Young, Fat, and Fabulous" and then describe Marianne right off the bat as "tipping the scales at 319 pounds" is confusing, if not downright insulting. While I'm glad to see some national Fat Acceptance coverage, I'm disturbed that it's tinged with such a sideshow quality: Come one, come all to behold the HAPPY FAT LADY! Yes, that's right! She's FAT and she REFUSES to DIET! Let's not treat size acceptance as the exception, eh?
  2. Jennifer on 06-30-2009

    Exactly -- she is sort of portrayed as a sideshow. There's definitely an incredulous tone there. This clip is a perfect sample of the way our society really is torn about the fit/fat issue.