God I’m tired of fat shaming. It’s ubiquitous and so disheartening. Am I fat? Well, yeah, a bit. I’m not obese on the BMI, but I am overweight. But I feel fat, and it’s the feeling that matters. Even when I was not overweight, I felt and perceived myself as not thin enough. Afterall, you can’t be too rich or too thin.
Besides, fat’s such an ugly word. I think some have tried to reclaim it as a simple adjective such as ‘she’s tall’ or ‘she has brown eyes’, but it doesn’t fall like that on the ear or consciousness. It cuts. Deep. It’s so laden with judgment. It pierces. It’s so loaded that when someone says thin, I hear fat. It’s just hanging around in the ether like Covid19.
Comments about weight, our own and others, serve no more than to regulate us to uphold a societal and cultural norm that being thin is to be superior. This in turn hurts the fat person and disconnects the person making the comments from others. BTWs: no fat person needs to be reminded that they are not thin.
fattist definition: 1. treating someone unfairly because they are fat
Very few of us escape the societal norm of wanting to be thin. The fact that Spanx even exist, and that people wear them, is a good indicator that we are willing to suffer in the quest. Of course this is nothing new. Remember the Playtex living girdle? The corset?
Thin porn has been around for decades. Hollywood, media and magazines bear responsibility for most of it. The ideal is thin. Thin is admired, respected and accepted. (Except when it comes to boobs. Somehow we’re supposed to be thin AND have big boobs. It’s a high bar!)
So…being fat is to be not admired, but pitied. Being fat is to be not respected, but judged. Being fat is not to be accepted, but not good enough. Here’s some of the language:
- It’s just what they put in their mouth.
- It’s just a lack of willpower.
- It’s just laziness.
Here is some of what is being said but not to your face:
- Sucks to be you.
- You are not like me (the ideal number on the BMI chart or dress tag). You should be like me.
- You are not in the club. You do not belong here. I need/want you to be different.
- You should be one of the disciplined, hard working, self-motivated, self-controlled, self-restrained, admired and respected people – like me!
They say, and we believe, only when you are thin will you be happy. They believe you cannot be happy as a fat person. And the main reason you will not be happy as a fat person is because they (including your friends and family), society, the media and strangers on the street, are going to constantly remind you of your deficit, your flaw, your failing.
I want you to stop doing it to others and I want you to stop doing it to yourself. I want to stop it too.
I understand that very few people will say these things directly to the face of a fat person. Though apparently mothers are among the worst offenders because after all, they’re saying it for your own good. No, what happens is the fattist comments are clothed in pro-thin vernacular.
When thinness is constantly praised, we know it means that fat is the enemy. Thin is the benchmark. Anything less than thin is just not trying. It’s just putting food in your mouth.
Am I just being overly sensitive? Am I the victim/prisoner of my interpretation of the ‘praising thin’ comments? If I push back, the people making the comments will say that I am too sensitive, or that they’re not talking about me. But even if they aren’t talking about me (and they probably are, I’m not a size 8 afterall) they could be talking about my friends, my family members, my children and the little fat girl who lives inside of me.
Then I began to wonder if the thin people are equally held captive by this zeitgeist of thinness? I’ve always thought ‘Ah, to be thin!’ I feel like it would be freedom. Freedom from judgment, embarrassment and shame! Freedom from restriction, discomfort and lack of confidence. But maybe thin people are prisoners too. Maybe they aren’t free but constantly thinking: Am I thin enough? Should I eat this? I wish I hadn’t eaten that. I’ll go for a run after. I won’t eat tomorrow. I’ll just have the fish (grilled) or the salad (no dressing) while inside screaming, I want the fucking french fries!
Maybe thin people look in the mirror and think, ‘not thin enough’ too. Maybe making pro-thin comments (in lieu of anti-fat ones) is a thin person seeking affirmation. Constantly seeking affirmation would kind of suck too.
Another thing about thinness is that’s it’s comparative: I’m thinner than her. She’s fatter than me. I win! She loses! I’m more. She’s less. I’m more disciplined. I don’t put food in my mouth. Sucks to be you.
Why is she fat? She puts food in her mouth.
Why is she thin? She does not put food in her mouth.
So fucking simple! Fucking hard to live in a culture where being overweight is directly analogous to being a lazy cunt.
Like a good racist who all have friends who are Black, same with the fattists. Of course they have fat friends and sadly (for them), they have fat people in their families. We tolerate the fat friends, we’re good and generous people after all (and they always share their french fries with us so there’s that). But the fat sister, niece or granddaughter kind of brings us all down. We’re too well bred and educated to call it out directly but the thinking is: Such a shame, she’d be much prettier if she lost a bit of weight. I wonder how we could support her to be thin? She should lose weight. She’d feel better if she were thinner. People might think I’m a bad mother.
In fact, it’s possible that her being overweight is making you uncomfortable because you believe it reflects on you. And, by the way, she can probably feel your judgment in her skin.
So instead of speaking the truth of our damaged selves and society, we flip it. We are pro-thin, not anti-fat. We are good and kind people. We have compassion and empathy. We know this because we don’t expect people of colour to be white, we don’t expect people in wheelchairs to get up and walk, and we don’t expect short people to suddenly become tall.
We say things like:
- You look so good*! Have you lost weight?
- He looks good*.
- She looks good*.
- Well* done.
- Good* on you.
- Bet you feel better*.
- How did you do it? (Even though they already know how you did it, you stopped putting fucking food in your mouth. It’s so easy.)
*Another word for ‘good’ in English is ‘thin’ BTWs.
So I know you feel enlightened because you’re not calling fat out to its face, but worshipping at the altar of thin and projecting that on to everyone around you is not kind. It’s keeping a good number of people in our community and family down and destroying your connection with them. So, please be kind to each other and keep your thin comments to yourself.
PS I love Lizzo.
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 07: Lizzo performs at O2 Academy Brixton on November 07, 2019 in London, … [+] GETTY IMAGES