One of the biggest challenges in trying to talk about fat acceptance is that it is so radical of a suggestion that most people just refuse to believe we're making it. They refuse to think we are actually disagreeing them, that we are actually challenging fat stigmatization. Indeed, many backers of fat shaming are so busy flattering their "good intentions", that they just cannot process someone disturbing this moral superiority.
I got this vibe very distinctly from Lindsay Beyerstein's article at Tapped responding to Paul Campos speaking out on the fat shaming in Michele Obama's anti-fat children campaign. Campos made the analogy to challenge some people to consider a different perspective on fatness, and Beyerstein's response seems to be "Yeah, but fat is bad, so that doesn't make sense".
That's kind of the point, though. Its not supposed to make sense if you think fat is bad. We're suggesting you stop thinking that. The analogy that Beyerstein counters with about short people misses the point Campos was making that you cannot divorce "obesity" shaming from shaming fat people any more than you can divorce "homosexuality" shaming from the shaming of gays and lesbians. Fat stigmatizers, like gay stigmatizers, want to think there is a difference. That they hate the sin, but not the sinner. For the "sinner", the effect is little different. Its still shaming them. That construction doesn't change the outcome for the target of the shame, it just makes the person shaming feel better about themselves and avoid responsibility for what they are doing.
Beyerstein is aggressively unaware of what fat stigmatization does and I feel this is a product of thin privilege. Her counter analogy about short people just reveals a lack of comprehension of how fat people are treated and how fat people are targeted in "anti-obesity" campaigns. Short people are stigmatized in a lot of the pointless ways fat people are, actually, so there could be a good analogy here. The one Beyerstein makes, though, seems to miss entirely how fat stigmatization operates and the standards it sets for success.
I wouldn't have a problem with a program to encourage good nutrition and moderate activity. Fat shaming apologists always like to think that's all they are defending. Its not. That's what we are trying to tell them. The problem with any "anti-obesity" campaign is precisely that it is an ANTI-"obesity" campaign. Even if does encourage good nutrition and moderate activity, those are not its goals and THAT is the problem. Instead, the goal is the elimination of fat people. A goal which OBVIOUSLY stigmatizes and shames fat people. Also a goal I will not support because it will achieve none of the gains supposedly desired and is unattainable anyway. That last bit is actually very crucial since it means an anti-fat people campaign that isn't destructive in its structure can actually be more harmful by creating a disincentive for good nutrition and moderate activity. If it doesn't make you thin, after all, what's the point? If there was an anti-short people campaign, I'd vigorously oppose that as well as it'd be just as wrong in focus and goal as anti-fat people campaigns are.
We need to move past shame and stigmatization if we really want to improve the health and well-being of fat people and fat children. The health needs of fat people aren't going to be met as long as policy is intended to eliminate or prevent fat people. Those are policies which are ineffective and completely ignore our health needs. I get that people want to think being well intentioned absolves them for responsibility for these failures, but the culture of "well intentioned" fat stigmatization has been hugely harmful for the physical and mental well-being of fat people and it needs to end. We have to get over the knee-jerk, "Yeah, but fat is bad". Its just not the case. Fat is. Trying to eliminate fatness and prevent fatness has a record of consistent abject failure. There is no moral high ground there. We need a change.