Dear Body Shamers: A woman’s weight is not indicative of her health

Daphne pointing at a woman through a TV screen
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In a society that privileges toxic, Eurocentric ideals of thin bodies, women—particularly women of colour—suffer.

Society likes to equate health with weight. Yet that toxic logic is what allows eating disorders, particularly in larger body types, to go overlooked. When women lose weight, they’re praised—even when that weight is lost in an unhealthy way.

Diet culture contributes heavily to this ideology. Society privileges numbers on a scale over healthy eating and exercise. Fatphobia is so deeply saturated in our society that it affects the medical attention women receive; women who weigh more often receive inferior treatment by healthcare professionals and are more likely to be misdiagnosed. Instead of taking women’s health concerns seriously, doctors too often shrug off symptoms as resulting from one’s weight—even when this isn’t the case.

The beauty standards at Queen’s aren’t much different. Being thin and white is privileged among our mostly white student body, a Western ideal that pressures women to conform. That pressure is exaggerated for non-white women who naturally have bigger bodies.

Queen’s culture expects BIPOC students to both act and look a certain way to fit in, encouraging students to internalize toxic beauty standards. Instead of fitting women of colour into a box, we should be embracing differences and diversity within the student body.

Fatphobia in media also plays a large part in this. Television shows feature thin characters on default, cementing thinness as an ideal. While side characters can be larger, oftentimes they’re the butt of a joke or merely there to support the main characters. Going forward, we need to normalize plus-size heroines who are unapologetic about taking up space in their bodies.

Fans and paparazzi alike are obsessed with documenting celebrities’ weights online. Lizzo in particular has had to repeatedly defend her body and diet from fat-shamers time and time again. Last year, she posted a TikTok calling out her fat-shamers. In the post, she stated she’d been exercising regularly for years—a direct response to fans who body shame her out of self-proclaimed “concern” for her health.

Body shaming has never been about promoting a healthy lifestyle; it’s a way to police women’s bodies, especially women of colour. A person’s weight is their own business, and not something anyone else should be commenting on.

Changing our discourse about health and realizing that weight is no indicator of someone’s health is a first step to challenging fatphobic, Eurocentric beauty standards that have pervaded our culture for far too long.

Women—regardless of their weight—have a right to take up space. Let them.

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