I saw a post about “Fat, but fit” in a fitness community I follow and I wanted to write up a summary on how the “Healthy at Every Size” community (from which the “Fat, but fit” myth likely spawned from) and why it presents a danger to the fitness community, and the public at large.
The “Healthy at Every Size” (or “HAES”) community has all the elements of a movement that has good intentions: Promoting awareness that people have feelings and some people don’t like feeling ashamed for being obese, short, deformed, or tall, etc. But what’s wrong with this movement is that it was hijacked by the Identity Politics movement. Some people refer to them as “Social Justice Warriors”. Some call them “special snowflakes”. But no matter what you call them, at the root of the activism has become a circus of mental gymnastics, identity politics, and a victimhood state.
What these people have done, is taken the HAES movement to include a militant style of *”if you disagree with me, you’re a \*-phobic person. Therefor you’re disgusting and it gives me the right to verbally abuse you.”* The philosophy of the movement has now morphed itself into it’s own self-fullfilling prophecy, where if a person is morbidly obese, the world must accept them and conform to their own perceptions of health and beauty – and if the world does not, it only proves to them that their paradigm is correct: “People are inherently bigoted against [obese] people, therefor I need to remain diligent.”
It’s probably safe to assume that most of you are well aware of the in-fighting that happens within modern political activism groups. If you aren’t of a certain social status, race, or religion, for example, then you aren’t allowed to have an opinion about a socio-polital issue, or you aren’t awarded the same respect that another person might have. This has the same effect on the HAES community, where if you don’t list dozens of other afflictions, or identify a certain way, then you won’t be taken as seriously, or people might view you as a fraud. IMO this causes people to branch out as far as they can to become as unique as possible. Think “Level 5 Vegan”: https://youtu.be/RtuMIaOGRy8?t=14
It’s also safe to assume that most of you are aware of the meme about how “kids these days” are handed participation trophies and are coddled to avoid having any hurt feelings. There’s some truth to be found in these skin-deep perceptions about today’s youth. Some elements are found in these political activist groups, where as long as you cry victim, other people will listen to you. So if crying victim guarantees to yield an audience, then you’ll find fraudulent victims within activist groups to promote their political agenda. This might be the worst and most harmful elements of these kinds of activist groups, because the victimhood state creates a danger in delegitimizing *real* victims in the eyes of the public, causing real victims (e.g. people who suffer from depression or have an eating disorder, etc) to lose their audience, or causing real victims to feel like they aren’t worthy to seek help because they don’t have dozens of other afflictions or don’t identify a certain way.
I’d say, the best way to combat the “Fat, but fit” myth, is to stay diligent in showing people that will, exercise, and diet, are some of the best tools a person can use to get into a more healthy lifestyle, to link to peer-reviewed studies, and to show kindness and respect.