Where did you first encounter fat acceptance?

I first encountered research on

  • Diets only working short-term
  • Yo-yo dieting leading to weight gain
  • Eating well and exercising improving your health, even if you don’t lose weight

… in the pages of the 1980s BBW magazine, along with the general idea that you don’t have to be thin to live a happy life.  I even went to a BBW-magazine sponsored fashion show at the Seattle Bon Marche (since rebranded Macy’s) in 1990 or 1991 and got to meet the editor, Carole Shaw, who coined the term BBW.

It was also in 1990 I got my first job in software and discovered UseNet, including the alt.support.big-folks community.  It was through asb-f that I learned of:

(This may also lead you to believe that I’m over 40.  This is correct! :)

How about you?  When did you learn about fat acceptance?

30 thoughts on “Where did you first encounter fat acceptance?

  1. I ran across an issue of BBW in the free magazines box at the library and decide to subscribe. For years I thought that I was going to be BBW for life, just less big than I am now. Finally I quit doing the cognitive dissonance balancing act and stopped dieting. I am wrestling with my real food issues now–which have nothing to do with the size of my butt.

    I miss BBW. All those gorgeously photographed, beautifully dressed fat women inspired me to care about my own clothes and wear things that actually flattered me!

  2. Didn’t you mean “yo-yo dieting leading to weigh GAIN?” (rather than loss)? (feel free to delete this comment if you need to fix that)

  3. Oh, and I discovered the fat acceptance community back in 1992 (I think) when I randomly decided to search the usenet newsgroups for the word “fat” and found soc_support_fat_acceptance and alt_support_big_folks. But, I’d already written a university English paper on anti-fat bias, back in 1988 and had been thinking about it as a social justice issue since high school. I just didn’t know if there was anyone else out there thinking the same things. And yeah, I’m over 40 too.

  4. I learned about it last year, when I was in hospital surfing the net. I’d lost a lot of weight because of illness and it actually had a weird effect on me. I started getting obsessed with losing more and more, even though at that stage it was putting my health in serious jeopardy. Late one night I stumbled onto Shapely Prose and read my way through the archives. I was riveted.

  5. I saw a lady from what I think was called The London Fat Women’s Group interviewed on daytime TV in the early 90′s and I liked the idea but I was still very busy dieting at the time. Later I found a lovely book in Norwegian called “Motvektboka Fett Nok” but I still wasn’t ready to give up the dream of being thin and it took another decade before a friend introduced me to the Fatosphere a year or so ago. This time the message sank in and I can really say it has changed my whole outlook on life! Now my weight is stable for the first time in my life and my self-confidence has gained pounds and pounds!

  6. My first exposure was BBW magazine in 1980, although in retrospect I certainly do not consider BBW a heavy hitter in fat acceptance, centering so heavily as it did on ‘beauty’ & ‘fashion’ & ‘big girls can get a man too”, always avoiding the use of the word ‘fat’, & often (I read, I think, every print issue ever published) suggesting that self-acceptance & non-dieting only worked or were acceptable for people up to size 22 or 24 or so. However, it got my foot in the door & I searched for & read anything I could find over the years that was about acceptance or a non-dieting life. Some of what I found in those years was pretty bad, like the book called “Making It Big”, by I think Sherry Suib Cohen, published around 1983, which was supposedly about non-dieting, ‘confident’ ‘big girls’, but which included such gems as ‘wear dark colors’, ‘don’t wear a belt’, ‘don’t tuck in your shirt’, &, in the section on the importance of good dental hygiene (which I am personally a fanatic about’, the lovely phrase ‘people who eat a lot…’ because, of course, fat people eat all the time, unlike thin people, so I guess it is okay if thin people hardly ever brush or floss.

    I have found a lot more over the years as it became available…books like “The Dieter’s Dilemma” (my first non-dieting book, I think), resources of NAAFA, other books like “Big Fat Lies”, Fat!So? (the ‘zine first, the website, for many years the Gabcafe bulletin board, the book) & much more in the past 13 years since I started using computers.Probably the biggest single influence for me has been the writings of the Fat Underground, dating from 1970 on, & having a chance to exchange ideas & support with one of the original members. I am very glad that I keep finding more support & more information, more good sense such as Junkfoodscience, since the fat hatred, the attempts to wipe us off the face of the earth, have become much more intense over the past 31 years. And, for the record, I will be 62 years old in September.

  7. For me too it was BBW magazine. I literally cried when I saw in those pages models who looked like me, models in bathing suits and lingerie. Probably the most influential magazine in my life and I was very sad to see it and Mode and any others like it fold.

  8. for me i found shapely prose from an eating disorder website. i was struggling with my recovery from ED, trhying to stop actively bingeing and purging. I was looking for ways to introduce dieting back into my life without triggering the binge purge cycle. THey showed me studies to back up what i knew through my own body….that diets dont work for most people, that i wsnt evil because i was fat.

  9. It was FAT!SO? online, in the late 90s, and I think I followed a mocking link there. You know, of the “lol lol lol fat women are HILARZ” persuasion. But it really impacted my life in a monumentally positive way, so… thanks, internet trolls.

  10. I was at a friend’s house talking about how I could get my meals down to about 150 calories each! (i was eating less than 700 calories a day at that point- obviously) and instead of giving me the whole “you need to eat more” speech (which runs contrary to every “you need to eat less” speech I’ve heard since I got fat in third grade) which was something I would have ignored, she simply said “I have a book I want you to read” and handed me Lessons From the Fat O Sphere. It changed my life.. she changed my life. This was in Sept. of 2010 and my life has been so much better since. Started my own blog, mod for a couple fat acceptance forums on reddit (r/bodyacceptance and r/fatandproud if anyone’s on reddit and wants to join- fatandproud is a private group so message hlkolaya or gl77 for approval), and i’ve found that it even helps control my bipolar depressive episodes (i can’t dig myself a deeper depressive hole if I don’t hate myself.. it was so easy before to just focus on how fat and hideous I was).

  11. About 2 years ago a trans friend of mine posted a link to Shapely Prose saying that it had helped him a lot with his body issues. It took a while for me to get it (for a while was angry at FA for “destroying hope” by saying diets don’t work) but I think I get it now. I’m eating healthier and exercising more now that I’ve given up dieting!

  12. I was following a weight loss blog, and totally had the author on a pedestal. At that time, I was totally consumed by the fantasy of being thin, and was on my 4th or 5th round of a commercial weight loss program, maybe the name was FatWatchers? I was also stuck in a cycle of blaming myself for my failed attempts at dieting. It so happened that the blogger I had on a very shiny pedestal became part of a group blog (We are the Real Deal) and through there, I heard about terms like FA, HAES, and ultimately, a link to Shapely Prose. Next I started reading everything I could get my hands on, The Obesity Myth, Fat-so!, HAES, and countless other blogs.
    I am so, so happy that my curiosity made me want to find out what all the terminology and abbreviations meant!

  13. …Found FAT!SO? in a library when I was in junior high. Thought that Fat Acceptance was a good idea for other people but not for me…until I was fifteen and passed out for a second time. Then I revisited the idea and wondered if it could apply to me.

    Rediscovered it when I found Shapely Prose and Big Fat Blog via a link from…somewhere, I forget. The idea stuck.

  14. If you’re planning a survey, I too am from the BBW magazine era. I agree with a previous poster that it wasn’t great, but it definitely was the start of it, and I used to just eat up the few and far between articles that were FA rather than fashion related.

  15. BBW was the gateway, in the late ’80s, followed by Radiance magazine in the mid-’90s, the issue with Carnie Wilson on the cover, ironically enough. Oh, I loved Radiance. It was so helpful, and often showed up in the mailbox just when I needed it. I think some of the articles are still available online.

    • Oh, yeah, I LOVED Radience. Much less glossy than BBW. Bill Fabrey’s “Fabrey Files” column was incredibly useful and helpful. Not to mention women wearing clothes bigger than Lane Bryant’s! :)

      • Radiance was an AWESOME magazine, very professionally produced and filled with intelligently written articles (fashion doesn’t interest me that much, but Radiance did offer some fashion spreads and information on plus-size clothing resources). I still have almost all the issues, and I actually occasionally re-read a feature or two. I have yet to find anything published either online or in hard copy that compares in quality to that quarterly publication. And yes, many articles are still available online, at http://www.radiancemagazine.com. I often wonder what happened to the founder/publisher, Alice Ansfield, and some of the other regular writers. As with many people in the publishing field, I’m sure they didn’t get rich from that labour of love.

        BTW, I really enjoy your blog. I’ve been a lurker for quite a while now.

  16. Oddly enough, I think it was in a New York Times article a few years ago. I think there were a couple different articles (I’m not sure that both were NYT; the other one might have been Slate). The first one linked to blogs that criticized movie portrayals of fat (Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda were both mentioned, I believe, so I guess that would be ~2008) which I wasn’t as interested in. The second one linked to Shapely Prose, which hooked me.

    When I say I wasn’t as interested in the first one, this is partly due to me being already predisposed to accept FA, so some of the stuff seemed obvious*. My mom has been unambiguously fat (although still a fairly small fat) since her second pregnancy, when I was 3. She was on both Weight Watchers and Nutritisystem when I was a child. I remember her telling me that most diets fail when I was looking at some Weight Watchers “before and after” pictures as a child. (Granted, that was in the context of, “it’s hard to lose weight once you get fat, so it’s better to never gain weight,” but still.) So even before encountering any FA, I thought it should obvious to any thoughtful person that fat people deserved to be treated with respect, and knew that losing weight permanently was hard.

    *Since I’ve gotten more into FA, I’ve gotten a more extensive understanding of the problems with our culture, and this type of thing has become more interesting.

  17. I found Shapely Prose about 3 years ago – I honestly don’t remember how – and I spent about 4 hours in a row without getting up (while at work, shhhh) just voraciously reading as much as I could. My mind was blown, suffice to say. The rest, as they say, is history!

  18. I’m 35 and thin-privileged. The first place I ever heard of fat acceptance was about 15 years ago, when I was in college and Nomy Lamm gave a presentation on my campus (I think maybe sponsored by the campus feminist group?). What she had to say was so radical– and so different from anything I had ever heard before– that I kind of didn’t know what to make of it at the time. But I kept the zine she handed out (I’m So F-in’ Beautiful).

    Fast-forward to maybe two or three years ago and a series of Fat Acceptance “click” moments. My brother, who grew up thin-privileged, went through a metabolism shift for reasons neither of us know, and all of a sudden, he starts getting fat-shamed and engaging in some really negative self-talk. (click) And all of a sudden I start to notice that my mother, who is an in-betweenie, has been battling some low-grade internalized fat hatred for years now. (click) And all of a sudden I notice that my dad is treating my thinness like it’s both some secret that needs investigating and some virtue that needs celebrating, and talking about my brother to me behind his back. (click, click, click) And I think, Something is really messed up here.

    I went looking for some 101 on Fat Acceptance, because I love my brother and my mom, and because I don’t think they always love themselves very much. After a little muddling, I found Shapely Prose, and from there, the FA feed. I’m grateful to Nomy Lamm for letting me know that there was something to go looking for.

  19. The first place I ever heard about Fat Acceptance was on the blog, “Big Fat Delicious” perhaps a year ago. I believe I got there from a Google search for something, but I have no idea what it was. Ironically, it was probably a search for something diet or recipe related, or perhaps a link from another blog. I was brought up short by her little “Anti-Diet, Anti-WLS, No Diet Talk, This is a Fat Acceptance Blog” warning. Fat Acceptance? What is this “Fat Acceptance” of which you speak? In what universe could it possibly be “acceptable” to be “fat”? Oh. Mine. Got it. And thank you.

  20. Oddly enough my finding fat acceptance was via researching anorexia- I found the idea tht anorexics believe that controlling thier diets/losing x amount of weight will lead to improvements in thier lives quite separate from thier weight loss and to “The fantasy of being thin” on shapely prose. Read the whole blog and it was a big click moment. Another was watching my best friend since age about 11 steadily diet herself heavier. and seeing that this couldnt be the right way for things to be. She was perfect at 14st and is perfect at 20st but it was such a waste of her time effort and energy (notwithstanding the “ill get a boyfriend when Im thin shite..)

  21. I think it was on Tumblr for me. I followed Frances’ from Corpulent Blog on Tumblr way before I found anything else on fat acceptance. She would occasionally link to articles and from there, my world opened up.

  22. Hmmm, it’s a hard one. I think it was actually Fat is a Feminist Issue, which has rightly gotten a lot of flak from the FA community… but it was the first thing I’d seen that said dieting was bad, you should eat exactly what you want to eat and enjoy it; and it teases out the various ways in which the appearance of fat is used to judge people’s character, and how often there are various reasons why a woman might *want* to be fat, based on the way they are judged (for instance, as a way of warding off the attention of certain heterosexual men)… But it’s also focused on the idea that fat is always to do with compulsive eating and still seems to view fat as the enemy, even if the book does encourage women to lose weight by readjusting attitudes and eating only when hungry, rather than by following a calorie plan…

    It’s not the perfect book, in short, but it caused me to question and to think, and when I started using the Internet, I liked websites like Adios Barbie and Vipe.org… and some years later, Joy Nash’s Fat Rant, which prompted me to see if I could find FA blogs. Shapely Prose and Big Fat Deal were my faves.

  23. I was on the Weight Watchers “100+ pounds to lose” community bulletin board. The sister of Kate Harding was on there and posted a link to Shapely Prose.. specifically a post about Kate’s “Yogaversary” in which she was showing off what she could do after one year of doing yoga (her sister was so proud of her, and that’s why she posted it). Well, Kate’s writing intrigued me and I started following Shapely Prose, and it opened my eyes as she started posting more and more about FA and HAES. I walked away from Weight Watchers and never looked back.

  24. I have a lot of birth junkie friends, and one of them linked to The Well Rounded Mama’s blog….and her recommended reading list led me all over the place….So yay for all my mommy friends!

  25. I found FA through NAAFA in the mid 80s. I lived in Chicago where there was a local chapter. It changed my life. I’m thrilled to watch how the internet has led to a true grass roots insurgency of size acceptance.

  26. I’ve mostly encountered it here online over the past year in doing a search for “Size Acceptance.” Attempting to lose weight for the ten billionth time has not worked for me and I wanted to instead work on being healthy without worrying about weight loss. I think I discovered fiercefatties.com and then Dances With Fat. Somewhere along the way I also discovered you.
    I’m learning to be more matter of fact and less defensive when people make derogatory comments about fat people. I confront them with their attitudes without getting my “I’m going to bite your effing head off” face. Well most of the time anyway!

  27. I remember hearing about Fat?So! when I was in elementary school, and that the message was that not-fat people shouldn’t make fun of fat people. That made sense to me, since no one should make fun of each other. Anyway, fast forward about 12 years (I was 19) and I found “The Beauty Myth” in our second hand shop in the Marshall Islands (where I lived from 14 to 20). I read that and was enthralled. Though Naomi Wolf has regressed on many feminist issues in the last year or so, I’m still thankful for having found that book. Fast forward to university, and I “stumble-upon”‘d a post in Shapely Prose, and I was hooked. Now, I’m fairly active in the Shakesville community, but Shapely Prose was the first blog I participated in. I’m so glad that there are positive spaces to be found online, in the midst of fat-shaming and celebrity worship. Thank you for being a part of it.

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