There is a massive problem plaguing our society, and it goes by the name of ‘fat-shaming’. It seems that for some inexplicable reason, some people believe that they get to have a say about other people’s bodies. Gone are the days where you can openly shame people for skin colour or disabilities, but it seems people have turned to weight instead.
This Morning recently ran a feature on their debate part of the program, after a woman on a plane had verbally abused two passengers, accusing them of taking up too much space. The debate then had a woman who believed that people ought to be weighed at check-in along with their baggage. This idea of treating people as a number on a scale is truly disgusting and is representative of a much wider issue.
Often disguised as a health concern, people who don’t fit into a perception of a ‘healthy weight’ are subject to public scrutiny and forced to defend the space that they take up in the world. However, if the concern is really about health, why don’t we publicly shame smokers? Or people who don’t go to get smear tested? Why don’t we lobby outside bars to warn people of the dangers of binge drinking? The main answer is that fat-shaming is so entrenched in our society that we don’t even realise how toxic it is.
First and foremost fat-shaming is a billion dollar industry. Starting with the obvious ones like gyms and diet companies (like Weight Watchers); the industry has diversified into beauty products that eliminate cellulite, tea designed to fight fat, and waist-trainers that physically mould your body into a desirable shape. All of these products capitalise on fat-shaming and reinforce the idea that any shape outside of perfect is not worth having.
As an individual who tries desperately hard to promote body confidence, it has been no easy journey and has been a process of consciously un-learning lessons that I never realised I had learnt. Including that we cannot put a cap on what is an ‘acceptable’ size. Many people will deem a size 16 okay but would say that a size 20 ‘is just unhealthy’. All bodies are beautiful, and that means ALL of them!
There are glimmers of hope out there in the form of body-positive activists. One of my favourites is Jameela Jamil (you may recognise her from The Good Place). She founded the social media account ‘i_weigh’ where people submit photos of themselves with text that details qualities that make up themselves. The idea is that we ought to weigh ourselves according to the experiences and qualities that we have instead of a number on the scale.
To allow ourselves the space we are supposed to take up and to focus our energy on who we are as people. The immense popularity of the page – currently at 338K followers and 2545 posts (the majority of which are submissions) – highlights how relatable the concept is. It’s high time we gave up fat-shaming and minded our own business. After all, one of the most rebellious things we can do is love ourselves.
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