Three Philadelphia women have taken the contemporary wave of authenticity a notch higher by organizing FatCon, a conference tailor-made for people with a higher-than-average body mass index. As per reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer, this first-of-its-kind conference aims to communicate that a significant number of Philadelphians are comfortable with their body size and are proud of it.
Philadelphia, with its reputation for indulgent food items like cheesesteaks, hoagies, roast pork sandwiches, scrapple, and pizza, already attracts attention for its contribution to the gastronomical landscape. It's reported that 68% of adults in Philadelphia are overweight or obese, as are 41% of youth between the ages of 6 and 17.
FatCon Is Philadelphia's First Convention Celebrating Obesity
Donnelle Jageman, Adrienne Ray, and Kenyetta Harris are pioneering a movement that supposedly celebrates body diversity with Philly FatCon, a unique convention scheduled for October at Temple University. The convention is meant to go beyond buzzwords like "body positivity" and "body neutrality" to promote an atmosphere where individuals can celebrate their bodies without apology.
The organizers aspire to make FatCon a judgment-free zone, fostering community spirit among individuals who often feel overlooked due to their size. The event aims to provide an alternative perspective to navigate a world fraught with so-called fatphobia. With panel discussions on fashion, coping with fatphobia, and social media influencing, topped off with a keynote address by "The Fat Sex Therapist," the conference seems to be more inclined towards self-expression and acceptance rather than focusing on health, exercise, and weight loss. There is a fat-friendly fitness class, though. The convention will conclude with a Plus Swap + Shop event, providing attendees the opportunity to acquire plus-size clothing items.
The idea for this three-part convention was born after the second annual Plus Swap, Philadelphia's largest plus-size clothing swap, founded by Jageman in 2021. Realizing the need for a larger, inclusive event, Jageman, Ray, and Harris, who run plus-size businesses, began planning in November 2022 and officially announced FatCon in March.
“That phrase [body positivity] has become bogged down with relating to body image,” Ray said. “What people in larger bodies need is to step away from constantly talking about body image, because that can be very triggering for folks who have disabilities, chronic illness, have been dieting on and off all their lives and developed eating disorders because of it.”
She also said that “people just want to be able to be themselves," which is why there's a "dire need" for FatCon. “Some people are not in love with their body every day, but this is the body that they exist in,” she added.
While there's certainly no need to be cruel and unkind to people who are struggling with obesity, far too many people in our society have misunderstood what true compassion means. Lying to obese individuals and telling them that they should just accept themselves the way they are, because the real problem is the beauty standards, rather than giving them concrete ways to cure their metabolic disorder only leads to more destruction and illness.
We are currently in the middle of a public health crisis. 70% of Americans are overweight, and more than 40% are obese. Six out of every 10 Americans suffer from a chronic illness and four out of every 10 have two or more chronic illnesses. Obesity is a leading contributor to common causes of death such as heart disease, stroke, many cancers, type 2 diabetes, etc. While the three organizers of this event may have good intentions, they are simply enabling a whole demographic of people to continue making poor lifestyle choices. Their time and energy (and money) would be much better spent creating a convention that offers solutions to obesity—nutrition seminars, workshops with holistic practitioners, cooking and meal prep classes, etc. But instead, they are spending their time making fat people feel good about themselves.
Obesity is completely reversible and curable. We have all the tools we need to solve this obesity crisis, but our culture is far too concerned with virtue signaling and patting ourselves on the back for being "compassionate" to people who are extremely overweight. But the ironic thing is, this is the opposite of compassion. Real compassion is telling the truth, and that is most certainly not going to happen at FatCon.
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