Catchall term given to a series of theories and communities found online in the 2010s.
Activism is nothing new. The 1960s made just about everyone proud to fly their freak flag no matter what that was. Black power, Gay liberation, the hippies, the Hare Krishnas, just about everyone was being very open and very vocal about being non-mainstream, and that they were proud of it.
People being overweight is nothing new, either. But the scary thing is, a "fat lady" from a 1920s travelling freak show who could actually charge admission in terms of having a freakishly marketable obesity - wouldn't in any way stand out in a Wal-Mart in 2017.
In the 2010s, however, the culture of "everybody is equal in every way" and "my feelings matter more than empirical evidence" found in the millennial generation collided to produce what became known as "Health At Every Size". In a nutshell, the theory is this. Looking at someone doesn't tell you how healthy they are. A 275lb woman might just happen to have excellent heart rate and blood pressure readings and good blood sugar, whereas "skinny" Tom Hanks has diabetes. Guess who else is skinny? Cancer patients, people in the last stages of HIV and strung out meth-heads and junkies. So as far as they were concerned, you could take your disgust at the sight of them, wrapped up in holier than thou concern trolling and take a long walk off a short pier.
Because, they argue, at the end of the day, what this really is about is people's attitudes towards bodyweight. In sub-Saharan Africa an obese partner is considered extremely attractive. Reubens painted the small-breasted, piump women who were in vogue in his day. They argue that since it really is just down to culture and not some kind of innate idea of attractiveness - rather than bully women who have tried for years to lose weight and can't, we can simply change the societal rules, find women of all shapes beautiful, and let you love them for who they are.
All of this, for all intents and purposes - is fair and good. They do have a point in some of this.
Where the train leaves the tracks in an ugly fashion is that they then think and act in ways that run very much counter to that theory. When, for example, larger men suggest that this is great and wonderful and would you very much mind extending us the same treatment, they go "ugh, no. Why am I not entitled to standards?" Because you argued against "standards" just five minutes ago.
The other thing that kind of derails their theory is their own general insistence on body shaming skinny women in order to aggrandize themselves. "Eat a sandwich!" is a common refrain called out to a thin woman. The other one is "ugh, dogs prefer sticks, men prefer curves." They'll shame men, as well. "Maybe you don't have the
sizable enough penis equipment required to "handle" a "real woman". Speaking of "curves", the word "curvy" has been appropriated and changed by these folks- back in the day it meant a woman with a Tina Louise from Gilligan's Island style hourglass figure. Now it means a girl who resembles a beach ball with stumpy little toes. In fact, okCupid was so sick of seeing "curvy" in descriptions/tags that they banned the term, along with "artistic". But of course, nature finds a way - just as people put "artistical" (sic) in its place rather than "artistic", they put "curvee" rather than "curvy" to get around the filter. They eventually gave up, to the great pleasure of a lot of folks who were glad of the pre-emptive heads-up in terms of body size.
In fact, the "standards apply to everyone but me" resulted in a couple of very ugly viral incidents. The first was a Twitter post where a very chubby late teen/early 20something posted a picture of her face, cringing, with the caption "when his height starts with 5' " (implying six feet in height is the bare minimum). The troll account Meninist responded with "when your weight starts with two hundred" and that caught fire all over the Internet, resulting in her angrily slamming back at Meninist before deleting her account. The other was some kind of Tinder conversation where a girl asks a potential date for his height, and six feet is to her approval. When he asks her what her weight is, she angrily retorts that that doesn't matter in any way shape or form, and he's obviously a shallow sexist pig.
A major part of this argument is the idea of a "new model" of health, a "multidimensional" one in which "feelings" and "wellness" and "wellbeing" are on one axis, and boring blah blah scale numbers whatever are on another. Their take is that health isn't just about looking a certain way but how you feel. And if two 24 count boxes of chocolate glazed Krispy Kreme donuts make you feel good, that's just as relevant as "looking" good.
The other "trying to suck and blow at the same time" contradiction is their attempt to simultaneously have being fat seen as no big deal, no hindrance in any way - but also classified as disability and protected status in terms of discrimination suits. Nobody is suggesting that it is okay to taunt, harass, shame, insult or otherwise aggress people over a certain weight, but some policies, like paying for two airline seats if you cannot fit into one - are actually reasonable and no amount of "but you must accomodate me at the same price as skinny Minnies" because "my rights" isn't going to work. Nor is complaining that a size XXXXXXL T-shirt costs more than a size S. Something about more material, not able to make to scale, greater cost, higher price. Or the "why don't they design clothes that make obese women look as good as thin women." There's a joke somewhere, and a mean one, about "madam, it isn't the dress that makes you look fat".
Some have found some morbid humor in the fact that at least two presidents of the Society For Fat Acceptance have died well before their time because of fat-related ailments. But the biggest death blow may actually come from science itself. Scientists actually are starting to study the HAES assertion that good metabolic numbers trump scale weight, and initial findings show that simply isn't true. The people who say "eat less, move more" are RIGHT.