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Fat and Happy

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In "Fat and Happy: In Defense of Fat Acceptance", author Mary Ray Worley discusses the horrible emotional toll that social fat-shaming can have on overweight people. "Our society", according to Worley, "believes that thinness signals self-discipline and self-respect, whereas fatness signals self-contempt and lack of resolve". Regardless of society's opinion on being overweight, Worley's essay attacks societal views and the social stigma regarding being overweight as being lazy, having a lack of self-respect and self-control, and being all-together unhealthy. In her essay, Worley uncovers the vicious dieting cycle, fad diets, and other harsh dieting methods that not only affect physical health, but also put a strain on mental health.

In the August of 2000, Worley attends the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance conference in San Diego, California. During her stay at the NAAFA, Worley discovers just how badly her negative view of her body affected her life. She describes the conference as being on a "different planet", much unlike the world she lives in on a daily basis. This new and different planet offers an abundance of beautiful, stylish clothing made for plus-sized people, and beautiful, confident plus-sized people wearing the stylish clothing.

During the conference, Worley sings in the talent show, and is followed by a group of voluptuous belly-dancing women called the Fatimas. Although Worley initially expects the women's dancing to be a joke, she is surprised to find that the women are not only serious, but they are also excellent dancers. The women, all overweight, are scantily clad, graceful, and beautiful. It is in this moment that a paradigm shift occurs in Worley's thoughts. After witnessing the beauty of the dancers, she rids herself of her assumptions about heavier women, and discovers that she can have fun and be beautiful in her own body.

During the convention, Dr. Diane Budd lectures about the medical and science community's view on obesity. Budd discussed recent studies, which have shown that body size is majorly predetermined by genetics. Although this discovery has shed some light on the issue of obesity and why so many people struggle to lose weight, Worley concludes that researchers are so wrapped up in their assumptions regarding weight loss that they have a hard time combining both their recommendations and their research. These prejudices, according to Worley, extend much farther than the medical community. Public taunting and pressure from friends and family members to lose weight create the body hate that leads to self-loathing, harsh dieting techniques, and overall health decline. Social criticism of obese people often causes them to feel out of place while in public, concludes Worley.

"Fat people need to be active and strong enough to carry their body weight comfortably, but they may feel ill at ease exercising



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