Society commonly tells us that fatness is synonymous with greed, overindulgence, gluttony and laziness. We have created a climate where “fat-shaming” (the discrimination and negative portrayal of overweight people) is a normal and socially acceptable phenomena.
While such prejudice as racism and ableism are generally looked down upon and are legally-prohibited, a lot of people see nothing wrong with being discriminatory against someone who is overweight.
According to The Obesity Action Coalition, weight stigma has the potential to show up in all facets of an overweight person’s life. According to studies conducted by The Obesity Action Coalition, people who are considered overweight and obese face negative bias in employment, schooling, and healthcare.
They are pegged as greedy, lazy, and lesser than their lower-weight peers when the only difference between the two groups is their body shape. Much like racism, the roots of perceived inferiority are not based on scientific evidence but on a person’s outward appearance. While some people at a heavier weight may be unhealthy, for the most part there is little to no medical danger associated with being overweight. Even unhealthy people shouldn’t have to face everyday discrimination.
An example of fat-shaming in the media includes an infamous tweet by Geoffrey Miller, a professor at the University of New Mexico: “Dear obese PhD applicants: if you didn’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation #truth.”
Fat-shaming is also heralded by The Strong For Life Campaign. This Georgia movement ran a series of fat-shaming ads featuring the word “WARNING” emblazoned in bright red across pictures of young overweight children and a snappy fat-shaming statement such as: “Chubby kids may not outlive their parents” and “Big bones don’t make me this way. Big meals did.”
The culture of weight discrimination and fat-shaming is a reality we should not accept or ignore. We need to stand up for our overweight and obese peers and say something whenever we hear someone using the word “fat” or “overweight” as a synonym for “bad.”
The next time someone makes a rude or offensive comment directly or indirectly about someone who is overweight, explain to them about why they are being offensive. Ask the fat-shamer if they believe the person they are shaming is truly inferior, and explain to them why fatness is not a bad thing.
Read Kendall Anderson’s earlier blog post: BLOG | Body Positivity: Standing Up Against Rape Culture.
Anderson is the founder and co-leader of Mills Body Positivity Group and a regular contributor for The Campanil‘s health blog section. Check out the Body Positivity Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/555588184475032/.