the lip crew on fat shaming
Fat shaming is a thing.
“Women’s rights. LGBT rights. Racial rights. Fat rights? ‘Fat’ and ‘feminism’ are becoming buzzwords quicker than we can say, “pass the pancakes.” The fact that we are suffering from collective body dysmorphia – where size 0 models still rule supreme and we go to great extents to get the perfect, largely unattainable (read: Photo shopped) body – cannot be denied. Here at Lip we are strong believers in body diversity and are fed up with (most of) the media portraying one type of female body. However, with more celebrities and self-made social media stars embracing different body shapes along with the growth of the “plus-size” fashion industry, could weight-based discrimination – even to a small extent – be diminishing? Our TV screens are no longer flooded with only size 0 actresses; we have the likes of Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling, and Amy Schumer who are although not ‘fat’ by any stretch of the word, are representative of the more ‘normal’ female body – lumps, bumps, and all. The cast of Orange is the New Black has every body shape on the spectrum. And singers such as Kelly Clarkson and Adele are also providing young girls with more positive body image icons. I personally am proud of the direction that the media is taking in representing a diverse range of beautiful women, and in turn, providing young boys and girls with a body positivity that has been lacking for so log. But as always, we can never be too content.” – Eden Faithfull, Writer
“Fat shaming is a feminist issue because it disproportionately affects women. Labelling it a feminist issue does not mean it exclusively impacts women – intolerance of bodies that don’t meet conventional standards of beauty can be experienced by anyone. However, fat shaming does intersect with the ever-present, explicit and hostile policing of women’s bodies. Fat shaming is a part of the cultural dismissal of women who cannot be contained as sexual objects. It is another function of the pervasive sense of entitlement to comment on female bodies. Fat shaming is also a racial issue. The “waifish” aesthetic has often excluded women of colour, in particular African-American women, whose bodies often do not match the aesthetic’s requirements.
The concern that body positivity will encourage obesity or unhealthy choices seems overblown and I think conflating the two issues is misguided. The small – but increasing – number of campaigns and programs aimed at celebrating bigger bodies are not the cause of the obesity epidemic. They do not facilitate the rise in numbers of people who are overweight, just as the daily barrage of judgement and intolerance that people who are overweight face does not change the rate of obesity. People who are overweight deal with daily micro-aggressions, presumptuous behaviour, barriers to access and general public distaste. None of this prevents obesity because obesity will exist with or without societal permission.
Obesity is a product of poor education, poverty, genetics and addiction. Encouraging self-confidence or determining worth outside of physical characteristics is not going to change this. Combatting obesity involves recognising its systemic roots. Combatting fat-shaming involves recognising its gendered nature.” – Arabella Close, Writer
“I didn’t watch Nicole Arbour’s viral fat shaming video. I didn’t need to since, as many have pointed out in the reaction to it, there is nothing anyone can say about anyone’s body that hasn’t already been said – especially if to someone who does not fit the ideal. And I’m not particularly optimistic about the swift and loud condemnation of it because, soon enough, the memory of it will fade. What I’ve come to realise though is that fat shaming, whether it’s overt disgust or disguised as concern, is almost always about fear. Thinness is just one piece of the privilege pie and it depends on so many factors out of our control (genetics, age, class, the lucky chance that one goes their entire life without a serious accident or illness that makes ‘working out’ a struggle if not impossible). I don’t know if the knowledge of that will illicit any more compassion from people, especially the vocal few who love to talk about ‘discipline’ and ‘control.’ But I do hope that more people will continue to condemn fat-phobic displays like That Video and, more importantly, shut down the more insidious ones.” – Shannon Clarke, Writer
“As a woman, taking up space in the world is difficult enough without being fat. Being fat makes you especially visible. It’s not something you can hide from people, and it creates this entitlement for other people to tell you what’s wrong with you and what you should be doing to ‘get better’. As if being a woman didn’t already give people a sense of entitlement over your body and what you should be doing with it. How dare a woman be fat in public? It’s as if fat women didn’t get the memo that their mere existence was upsetting the balance.
One of the most insidious forms of fat shaming is unwanted health advice. People genuinely believe that they are helping. After all, that person is fat, so they must be unhealthy and in need of advice in order to lose weight right? It may not come from a bad place. But the problem is the assumptions behind it. Firstly, that the person is unhealthy. While there are plenty of health risks associated with being overweight, you can’t tell by looking at a person what their health is like. Secondly, that the person wants your advice. Nobody appreciates unsolicited advice that they didn’t ask for, and even if that person might want some advice, don’t assume that you have the right to give it.” – Ruth Scott, Writer
“When I was young, I was skinny. My mother and her friends would call me “Skinny Minnie” and my friends would tell me (with what I now realise was more than a hint of jealousy) how lucky I was that I could wear whatever I wanted. My mother, who was not skinny, would complain about having to shop in the fat ladies’ section of Target and about how doctors were always rude to her. But with my youthful lack of empathy, my weight never really mattered to me. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
As I grow older, and my metabolism slows, and my dress size increases, and my waistline expands; as it becomes harder and harder to find jeans that fit me or tops that don’t make me feel disgusting, I find myself understanding a little more about why Fat is an identity, or a part of one, in parts of today’s feminist discourse.
Fat is an identity, and Fat is a feminist issue, because Women Being Fat is the point at which society’s beauty standard bullshit comes into full force. Fat women – even slightly-less-than-perfectly-sized women – are constantly defending themselves against the opinions of others: others who are sometimes well-intentioned, others who sometimes deliberately cruel. Fat people face all kinds of discrimination: at work, from their health professionals, in social situations. They are fair game in the media (fat bodies being fair game for fat jokes). Their bodies are portrayed as foul, as stand-in symbols for corruption and evil. They are told they are unlovable, that they must change.
Fat people end up having to justify their bodies: I’m trying to lose weight, I have a medical condition. These are reasons are perfectly valid, but if we as a society didn’t care so much about the size and shape of women’s bodies, women wouldn’t have to have these lines ready to go. No woman should be called upon to justify her body in a public space.” – Lauren Strickland, Film Editor