The truth behind fat shaming

A response to the controversial YouTube video that had everyone talking

Fat shaming contributes to a culture of negative body image.

Fat shaming, spawned from body shaming, is a controversial issue full of misconceptions and hurt. 

In her YouTube video “Dear Fat People”, online personality Nicole Arbour invalidates the idea of fat shaming by claiming that “it is not a thing”. Other quotable moments include, “you’re too fat and you should stop eating” and “if we offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m okay with that”. Besides being incredibly rude and condescending, Arbour’s video is a crash course in the misconceptions about fat people and fat shaming. 

The first problem with fat shaming is that it equates fat with bad. Fatness and beauty aren’t mutually exclusive; nor is fatness and intelligence, fatness and work ethic or fatness and a sense of self worth. Of course, it’s hard to address fat shaming when it is assumed to be non-existent. 

According to researchers at both Yale and the University of Florida, fat people are discriminated against on several grounds.

They’re less likely to be hired, less likely to receive equal pay for equal work, and more likely to be seen as lazy and incompetent in the workplace. When women are already paid less than men, larger women are paid even less than skinnier women. 

These are examples of fat shaming in the workplace: Can you imagine the kind of prejudice fat people face everywhere else? 

This shaming culture is hidden by the narrative that fat people are just lazy and have made “bad” choices, as opposed to everyone else who have made “good” life choices. The narrative is designed to make everyone else feel better about themselves and their health.  

This leads to a lot of misconceptions about a fat person’s well-being. 

Another issue with fat shaming is that people hide their biases behind health facts. 

“But we’re concerned about your health,” is a common retort.

The hypocrisy here is that conventionally attractive skinnier women can eat a cheeseburger without having to hear the same comments a fat person will. This raises the question of whether someone is actually concerned about their health, or if they’re more concerned by the fact that they find someone physically unattractive.

You can’t assess someone’s health by looking at them. If skinny really equated to healthy, then you’d think my doctor would have a lot less to say about my 

KD-and-ramen diet. But it’s not true. Skinny doesn’t necessarily equal healthy, and fat doesn’t necessarily equal unhealthy. You can’t make that judgment just by looking at a person. 

Unless you’re someone’s personal physician, you have no place telling s-omeone what you think about their appearance. That’s between them and their doctor.  

Fat shaming is a part of a larger problem: body shaming. The idea is rooted in ideas of conventional beauty, and linked to the lack of bodily autonomy most people feel — especially women. 

Bodily autonomy means no one has any control over your body but you. Bodily autonomy is hard to have when society as a whole tells you that your body is unacceptable. 

Understanding that fat activists are advocating for bodily autonomy, self-love and acceptance is important in understanding why fat shaming is an unacceptable form of prejudice. 

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