06/07/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

It's Not the Weight: Why 'Fat is Beautiful' is Not the Answer

Not having a TV, I've never watched Jessica Simpson's show, The Price of Beauty. I decided, though, that I had to watch the latest episode online because I'd heard a few weeks before about their experience in Uganda and was intrigued. I wanted to see the episode because the idea of purposely fattening up, really fattening up because that's what the men wanted, seemed appealing to me. I'd joked about it with a few friends. "Really? They really want me to get fat? Fat? FAT? That's a good thing? When can I move to Uganda?"

The episode spent a lot of time featuring a woman who was getting married the next day. She had been in a fattening hut for two months, fattening herself up for her soon-to-be husband, leaving only to use the bathroom. Every day, she consumed gourds of milk so that she could gain weight. She had gained over 80 pounds in two months.

Jessica commented that the bride was so happy to be there and going through that process. It's considered a passage into womanhood. However, while she was smiling and laughing at different times, there were other times where she looked miserable--really miserable--as though the whole process of drinking gourd after gourd of milk was a little overbearing.

The more I watched it, the more it reinforced that changing out bodies for someone--whether it is to shrink or expand ourselves--does us a disservice.

If I had the choice of being around men who wanted me to fatten up for my wedding day or men who wanted me to slim down for our wedding day, I'd definitely choose the former. After all, my body has a proclivity toward curves, lumps and bumps, "aunties" (to quote Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies)--it proclaims, 'the more, the better.' The best scenario, though, would be someone who didn't want me to change anything for our wedding day, who was completely happy with how I looked at the moment. The optimal way for me to be with someone like that is to accept myself, curves, lumps, bumps, aunties, and all and not settle for anyone who didn't feel the same way.

A commenter, deeleigh, on Jezebel seemed to sum it up perfectly: "It's not fat acceptance. It's the mirror image of our culture's "you can't be beautiful unless you starve yourself" rule. Fat acceptance is about making peace with your body and specifically NOT about trying to force it to be something it isn't."

While I appreciate the culture's desire for larger women, I hope for a culture that appreciates women just as we are.