Shannon Russell trying to change society's perception of overweight people

4:08 PM, Jun 20, 2012   |    comments
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By Art Holliday

St. Louis (KSDK) - When you think of fit and healthy you probably think of people sweating in the gym or slim and trim celebrities like Cameron Diaz.

NewsChannel 5's Art Holliday met a man trying to change that perception.

His name is Shannon Russell. He writes a blog called "Fierce Free-Thinking Fatties." He has a lot to say about the way society views overweight people and what big people can do to get healthy.

Russell is a big man, weighing 260 pounds.

"What is really offensive about being fat except to other people who think I shouldn't be fat," said Russell.

So if you want to call him fat, bring it.

"Once I call myself a fattie when other people say you're fat, I'm like, I know I have a website it says I'm fat right at the top," said Russell.

The website is, where Russell blogs about fat acceptance.

"Society is telling you you have to lose weight and we're telling you, no, just do the things that you can do to make yourself healthier and everything else will fall in the right place," said Russell.

Russell says he's part of the health at every size movement which emphasizes making healthy choices about food and exercising and focusing less on body composition and weight loss. Some call it a peace movement for fat acceptance.

"It's making peace with your body. It's making peace with food. It's making peace with the culture that is emphasizing weight loss over health," said Russell.

He says he's tired of patronizing attitudes and hopes that his blog and health at every size will change minds.

"They see us as lazy, undisciplined, no will power, we're not taking care of ourselves, we need people to point it out to us and tell us what to do right," said Russell.

He goes to the gym a couple of times a week and walks every day. He wants other big people to get up, get moving, and get healthy.

"Try to do the things you know you're supposed to do for health but don't do it because you think you're going to lose 50 pounds and look like a movie star. Don't do it because you want to get real thin. Do it because these behaviors make you healthy," he said.

Russell says what big people need is understanding and compassion, because the issue is far more complicated than calories in, calories out. He believes whether you're fat, skinny, or in-between, we all need to take the emphasis off weight and put it on healthy behavior.



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