Fat wasn’t my fate: Body-acceptance movement wrongly tells you to accept what you can change

tess holliday people“Many decry her body-acceptance movement as encouraging obesity.” The words of People magazine about its plus-size cover model, Tess Holliday, a size-22, who describes her modeling career as an effort to “help other women feel confident and comfortable in their bodies, regardless of their size or what society tells them is beautiful.”

As a former plus-sizer myself, I lean more to the characterization of this body-acceptance movement as encouraging obesity than helping people feel confident in their bodies.

For years, I decided that weighing 275 pounds and being a size-42 (men’s sizes are less forgiving than women’s) was just my own reality.

But then in 2014, I began the new year with a resolution to lose 50 pounds, which would get me to within 10 pounds of the weight that I’d been at when I graduated high school 25 years ago. To get there, I set myself on a course that was anything but draconian. I simply cut back my caloric intake to 2,000 calories a day, and altered my fitness routine from basic weight training to include more cardio.

Within three months, I’d lost the 50 pounds that had been my goal, and decided that I wasn’t yet done. I took up running, which I hadn’t been able to do at 275, for lots of obvious reasons, and by the six-month mark, I’d lost 95 pounds, from 275 to 180.

I now wear size 29 pants, small shirts (down from XXL). My asthma is completely gone. I no longer have to suck down three to four Excedrins to get through a day headache-free.

A year ago, I couldn’t run a mile; now I run 35 miles a week, with no pain despite a sports-related torn ACL suffered in high school.

I understand the motivations behind the feel-good-in-your-body movement. I also know from personal experience that it’s a cop-out.

No matter who you are, where you are in life, what size you are, you can do things today to make you a better person today and a better person tomorrow.

Never settle; that’s my message, counter to what Holliday would have you believe, which is that you just need to accept a fate that isn’t actually pre-ordained and do the best with it.

– Column by Chris Graham