What is fatphobia?
Why are we bringing it up today? Because we need to break the taboo and freely discuss the matter. Fatphobia is the fear and hatred for fat bodies or for people who have fat bodies. It is used to describe several negative reactions people get just because their bodies don’t conform to what society calls a slim, fit and healthy body.
It’s not just an extra weight we are dealing with. We are talking about the rejection, the negative self-image, the stigma and shame people bear all day every day just because of the way other people see their bodies. Which is something out of their control. Self-image is built over time and solely about the person’s habits and daily movements. It is a sensed imagination built from within. But apparently, people still refuse to believe so and choose to hold on to blame culture that shames people for having weight on their bodies and glorifies those who have a body that is accordingly “flawless” for such mentality. So blaming people for their weight, looks and pretty much anything else we can find that makes us feel uncomfortable is what blame culture is all about.
In addition, being overweight is also seen as inferior or not as beautiful and healthy as a non-overweight body. Bluntly, perceiving overweight bodies as inferior physically, morally and intellectually. Because the stereotype roots for overweight people to be lazy and unproductive, which evolved into discrimination.
For instance, women who don’t have overweight bodies earn more money. And are more likely employed to work in higher quality jobs than women who have overweight bodies. Ironically enough, higher weight people are not only less paid but assigned to jobs that require more physical effort and exhaustion.
There is also social control and the belief that you will control how long you live if you diet and exercise properly. Which of course is not true and is difficult for people to accept. We can’t control how long we will live, nor can we control our body size. Society and diet culture implicitly perpetuate the idea that people with weight control issues are not taking control of their bodies or taking care of themselves. It’s their fault they’re fat. And are viewed as a burden to society because they don’t do their part in claiming control over their bodies and standing up for their health and wellness. The misinformation diet culture feeds to society has become unspeakable.
What makes things worse is the bigotry formed which allows people to think that those who are failing to control their body size are unworthy or irresponsible. Furthermore, the group is allowed to punish the individual for not fulfilling what they’ve been taught about how their bodies should look. Yet scientifically speaking people don’t choose their body type, figure or size. And people with bodies that are not overweight are not necessarily healthy either nor is their well-being.
The harms of fatphobia
It doesn’t end here. Fatphobia is a threat for people with larger bodies. It is more dangerous to women. Aside from having extra weight on her body, think about women of color. They face a triple threat daily, can be attacked not only because of their gender but also their race and weight which is just merciless. It doesn’t get easier for anybody but is more obnoxious.
Another point we need to tackle is the fact that scientifically you can’t know or accurately evaluate someone’s health condition just by fixating on their body size. I know right! Unbelievable! However, there is also another handful of harm as a result of fatphobia.
Depression and anxiety are associated with body shaming, commenting on someone’s body that gained weight never helps. It’s also linked to stress that leads to more unwellness and disrupts our immune system. Given the psychological attack, people are constantly prone to. And lastly, nothing truly changes for the better, people feel pressured ,ashamed and less motivated to exercise or approach their eating disorders effectively. 79% of women reported they eat more as a coping mechanism to weight stigma. Yet unfortunately, nothing has changed that much so far. People still struggle and society still implicitly favors those who don’t struggle with their body size.
Ways to fight fatphobia
1- ENOUGH WITH THE DIET TALK
We need to stop talking about diets whenever we’re bonding with someone. The diet culture is so uprooted that anytime people come together, they would always start talking about dieting, how much weight they need to lose or gain. we need to STOP this now. The talk is always revolving around the idea that having a larger body is bad. Even people with thin bodies get triggered, although you might think that they are not affected by fatphobia. Guess what? They actually are and another talk about body shapes and weight, while they’re struggling with their bodies, won’t make them feel better. And actually yes, thin people struggle with their bodies as well.
2-KEEP THE WEIGHT LOSS ADVICE TO YOURSELF
It never helps anyone, it does harm and no good. People get hurt and you don’t tell them anything they don’t already know. If someone has gained weight, you think they don’t know it. Are they waiting for you to actually tell them? It’s mean and rude to tell people they need to lose weight. And you are not in their shoes. This brings us next to.
3- NO COMMENT ON PEOPLE’S BODIES
Whether it’s positive or negative, it doesn’t help. Telling someone they lost weight which is something they already also know is not gonna encourage them. Sure being supportive is beautiful. But why don’t you try to focus on the effort they’re making and what a great job they are doing, instead of just stating how much their bodies shape has changed which is something they are very conscious about. Let them focus on how strong and beautiful they are from the inside and that you support them in anything they want.
4-POSITIVE SELF TALK
Women suffered for ages from how unworthy and unwanted they can be if they gain weight and these thoughts are instilled deep inside. This is exactly what we need to discuss and start talking to ourselves positively in a strong, good and kind manner that talks back to the negative messages and thoughts installed long ago. To actually heal and cure the hurt we are subjected to because of body shape.
5-PEOPLE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THIN
People are supposed to be themselves. we are allowed to be different and versatile. So we need to stop harshly seeing ourselves. It is not doing us any good anymore. The more we give love and support to ourselves the more we’ll receive that love from within. The same thing goes with people. We will be supportive and helpful to those who need us to be. We will respect each other’s feelings and boundaries. And when people invite us in or when we let someone in we will also respect our own feelings and boundaries as much as we do for others.
This article is also available in Arabic, press here to check.