Since a recent GMB interview an individual has been plastered all over social media for encouraging fat shaming because apparently it makes fat people “close their mouths and encourages weight loss.” I’m probably paraphrasing a little bit but I’m not giving this person air time with what she said but why fat shaming is never the answer.
I mean most of us know this right? We know that shaming another person because of their body is not really how we should behave? I mean it’s 2019 I would have thought as adults we might be changing from this type of behaviour but then again I don’t have a lot of faith in many people because of the shambles we are in with our politics and planet.
Here are some reasons people fat shame
Jealousy – seems a bit farfetched really doesn’t it? It’s not because of a jealousy of wanting to be fat but a jealousy of a movement that has given fat people a platform to speak out against bullies. So it comes from a place of not feeling confident enough to speak out or seeing positive qualities such as confidence in fat people but not seeing those qualities in themselves. It’s very juvenile and comes from comparing situations.
Don’t believe in “glorifying obeseity” – as a fat person neither do I! But that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the same respect when I go to the doctors, when I was pregnant, when I’m in public, when I go to a job interview, when I go swimming, if I join a gym, when I’m simply walking down the road. I do not need to hear derogatory comments about how you feel about my weight because, shock horror, I’m not fucking you. My fatness is nothing to do with you and if the site of me offends your eyes so much then you can simply look away. I’m not so wide that I will take up the entireity of your peripheral vision.
Thinks it “cures fatness” – it doesn’t. I’ll get into that more later
Are seeking power and control over a vulnerability they believe you should have – particularly a thing for domestic violence but with social media it comes into cyber bullying because those individuals that seek power and control over another person can contact anyone and feel they have the right to belittle them. Because they want to know that they made you cry over their comments. They want you to know that you disgust them because you are fat and that they are better than you.
They are concerned about your individual health – can I put it for those in the back please “Thin doesn’t equal healthy” because health is complex and relative. Health is not defined by weight. You can be thin and have the worst diet and inner health, you can have a high BMI but be incredibly healthy and strong. BMI in itself will never, ever be an accurate representation of health. It’s so frustrating when you’re met with the argument that thin means healthy when it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that fat means healthy, it means health at every size (a book everyone should read). Individuals that say they are concerned about your health often overlook a lot of other factors too.
Now, lets think of what fat shaming actually does and why it’s never the answer
Causes eating disorders and not just binge eating. It can cause bulemia, anorexia, disordered eating and all sorts of unhealthy relationships with foods.
Causes unneccessary guilt and shame
Causes over eating, emotional eating.
Stops fat people doing movement and activity they enjoy.
Stops fat people wanting to go to the gym, swimming and walking even if they enjoy it.
Ignores all medical reasons why a person might be fat.
Ignores poverty and becomes an issue of class.
Promotes toxic diet culture because you’re only allowed to be fat in society if you are constantly and activiely looking to lose weight all the time and always on a diet
Massively causes weight gain because of the extra emotional eating, anxiety, stress, guilt and shame
Causes self harm
Causes individuals to undergo surgery to fit in with a bullies idea of beauty and acceptance in society
Causes women to stop going to the doctors for cervical screenings and other simple procedures and check ups because they are constantly met with “if you lose weight…” from doctors who don’t have an expertise in nutrition and use weight stigma as a guide for health
Why is it a class issue?
Fatness is a class issue, but it’s not the only reason why some people are fat. In my case, growing up poor with restriction on food and having to steal from the dining room at lunch time or my friend to bring in extra lunch for me was the issue. Being made fun of because I had big boobs but my mum never took me bra shopping for a good fitting sports bra lead to my fatness and hatred of movement. Being told I was fat as a teenager, even though I wasn’t but because kids don’t have a concept of fatness. Being surrounded by thin women in magazines, on tv, in movies as being the diserable one but that not being me so constantly feeling guilt and shame over my own body.
It’s a class issue because those families that are poor, both financially and time poor, often can’t afford to cook from scratch every night for their families. Cheap processed food drives cravings for more high fat, high sugar content and therefore the circle continues. Being deprived of foods friends get to have make us crave them and when we earn our own money we can buy those things and they are often bought in excess.
Education is an issue
At school we are not taught enough about nutrition at all. It should be a core subject. Parents can only do so much by giving their children a balanced diet and making a variety of foods available to their children. Encouraging cooking from scratch is great but with so many families working longer hours there isn’t really all that much time to cook together. If schools and families worked together in a more productive way then we wouldn’t have thousands of children turning to diet culture in their early teenage years trying to acheive a standard of beauty that doesn’t exist in the real world.
Instead we should stop demonising sugar and fat but show how the body uses what we eat. We should show kids what types of foods do and that moderation is really important. We should teach kids that sometimes its okay to eat your feelings but sometimes before eating thing about why and if there’s something you can do to fufill your feelings rather than eating. We should teach kids that our bodies need fuel because our bodies love moving and if we feed them right they will help us move in the best way possible. We should show our kids a variety of ways of moving.
Most of all, we should stop fat shaming. We should stop weighing kids when they arrive at school because BMI tells us nothing. We all need to do better to stop bullying and to stop fat shaming. Perhaps if we did and we focused on ditching diet culture and teaching our kids about being kind to themselves, loving their bodies, proper nutrition then maybe we might stand a chance. Maybe then we might avoid so many eating disorders and disordered eating. Maybe if we focused on moving more and being kind to our bodies, respecting them, we’d all be a little happier.
Fat Shaming will never be the answer to avoid a fatphobic society that places beauty and health in thinness. If you are so afraid of the voices of fat people then ask yourself why?