What is Fatphobia? Diet Culture, Social Stigma and Fat Shaming – Snag
What is Fatphobia? Diet Culture, Social Stigma and Fat Shaming

What is Fatphobia? Diet Culture, Social Stigma and Fat Shaming

What is Fatphobia? Diet Culture, Social Stigma and Fat Shaming

When people think of fatphobia, it seems like they just think of a really fat person being made fun of for being fat. But in reality, it is so much more than that.

What is the definition of fatphobia?

At a very basic level, fatphobia is the fear, hatred and social stigma of fat bodies. At a societal level, the worst thing you can possibly be is fat. Fat is bad. It's wrong. And fat people are just lazy, disgusting and undesirable. And their bodies are fair game for bullying and ridicule because they’ve done it to themselves

Sound horrific? Well unfortunately that is the reality for fat people, and they’ve been dealing with it for years and years. Snide looks, nasty comments, people giggling at you behind your back - it all turns into pure fear and anxiety whenever you have to leave the house. And you can’t really do anything about it either. You just have to take it and try to pretend you don’t care or it doesn’t affect you. It's still okay to make fun of fat people, particularly fat women. It's like the one free pass society still has when it comes to bullying. To be fat is to be the butt of everyone's jokes. And if you ever try and say something or stand up to it, you’re just told you should just lose weight if you have a problem with it. That it's all your fault for being fat.

Is fatphobia just fat shaming and fat jokes?

The thing is though that fatphobia goes deeper than just a really fat person getting called out or made fun of for being fat. It's a really strange phenomenon that's gone beyond jokes and jeers and has infiltrated every corner of society, whether that's in popular media or just through living our everyday lives.

Think about how TV and movies very rarely feature fat characters, and on the off chance that they do, they’re always the gross evil villain or the comedic sidekick. They never get to tell their stories as the main character, and they certainly don’t get their happily ever afters.

Or how about in healthcare, where the doctors (though not all of them) will tell you losing weight will solve all of your medical problems. How they refuse to listen to any of your symptoms, disregard any underlying issues and will prescribe you diet and exercise instead of the treatment you need.

It's in our media, with every magazine telling you the easy steps to lose a stone in 2 weeks, or how so and so a celebrity has let herself go because she's now a size 10 and looks awful in a bikini.

Its tiny seats in a theatre. The impossibility of finding a wedding dress in larger sizes. It's a skinny person being applauded for eating a whole pizza where a fat person would be shamed over a single slice

It's literally everywhere and you can’t escape it.

Is fatphobia related to the patriarchy?

And then, there's the relationship between fatphobia and the patriarchy. Because let's be honest, it's pretty much always women who are being shamed for their size. And that's regardless of whether they’re even fat. Women are conditioned to be hyper-aware of their appearance at all times, and god forbid they have even the tiniest amount of body fat on their bones. The “letting themselves go” narrative is alive and rampaging, and the beauty standards forced upon women all have their origins in how much they weigh.

Men on the other hand, while obviously, they can still be fat-shamed, the pressure is significantly less. Chunky “dad bods" are celebrated. They’re soft and round and very attractive to the masses. This isn’t to say there's anything wrong with a preference for a realistic body shape - it's great that guys don’t have as much pressure on themselves to look a certain way. But why don’t women have the same? On TV, fat men always have gorgeous thin wives, but why never the other way around? Why are men allowed to be different sizes, but women should all aspire to be the same tiny frame? It's enough to make you scream

Does it affect people who aren’t fat?

It doesn’t just affect people who are fat. Everyone, big, small, fat, thin, everyone is negatively affected by fatphobia.

The way fat people are treated has made everyone hate themselves, and live in fear that they will be treated the same way. So we’re all obsessed about our weight and how we look. You could be the skinniest person in the world and you’d still be concerned about the way you look and your body. And funny enough, fatphobia and fat-shaming do not cause thinness! The idea that being fat makes you unworthy doesn’t motivate you to be thin, it just makes you feel like shit about yourself. It just causes shame and self-hatred and everything else, but the one thing it doesn’t cause is thinness. People that think they’re being well-meaning and are “just concerned for your health” making little comments here and there aren’t helping you at all, they just make you feel worse. But try telling them that…

Is fatphobia a bad word?

To be honest, it’s all just horrifically cruel. Cruel towards the fat people that are the butt of the jokes and not much better to everyone else who has ever felt bad about their body. Beauty standards are crippling, and no one wins when everyone's bodies are up on the chopping block.

Until there is a real change in society, fatphobia and all its side effects should be a real concern for everybody

How do we fix fatphobia?

So how can you fight against it? Society needs to change. How to fight against it? Society needs to change, and while ther'es hope on the horizon, its been this long and things are still terrible, so can they really get better?

Nonetheless, if you’re sick of the fat shaming and stigma around larger bodies, here are some things you can do, fat or not, that can help turn the ide against fatphobia.

  1. Don’t comment on people's bodies - ever. Even your own!
  2. Don’t diet talk, keep your health advice to yourself and don’t comment on what someone is eating.
  3. If you hear someone fat shaming, call it out! Doesn’t matter if “they didn’t mean it like that” until people realise what their words can do someone needs to tell them.

It's time to break free from the cruel cycle of fatphobia. The pursuit of beauty should not come at the cost of our self-esteem or the well-being of others. Let's embrace diversity and challenge the toxic norms that perpetuate this harmful prejudice. Together, we can create a society that celebrates individuals for who they are, beyond their appearance. While progress may be slow, our collective efforts can pave the way for a more inclusive and compassionate world.

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