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the fatosphere, women and feminism

A bunch of people (including myself) were interviewed for a paper that has recently been published by Monash University. Titled, The Role of the Fatosphere in Fat Adults’ Responses to the Obesity Stigma: A Model of Empowerment Without a Focus on Weight Loss, it is a qualitative study, focused not on the statistics surrounding obesity, but the human faces and stories behind fat bodies and how they feel about stigma and obesity.

I was more than happy to answer the questions that were given to me, because it was the first proposed paper I’d noticed that had a primary focus on what fat people had to say, their opinions and their experiences, rather than the usual types of statistics and studies, talk about fat people, but not to them. Not how to “solve” the fat people “problem”, but with a focus entirely removed from weight loss.

The group of people interviewed largely identified as women. Women do tend to dominate the fatosphere. I’m not entirely sure why that is. However, I think personally that fat and feminism are closely linked – women and women identified bodies are often talked about, but not to; women and women identified bodies are often seen as public figures, fair game. Fat bodies are the same – the amount of times I’ve witnessed someone commenting on another person’s fat body is disheartening. Just the other week, I was in a local café waiting for a takeaway coffee and noticed a young woman talking to her companion about the “huge” woman who had been sitting at the café earlier. She didn’t care that she could have been overheard, in fact, she was speaking about this “huge” woman and making judgements on her body like it was a completely normal thing to do.

The sad thing is, it is considered a normal thing to do. I’ve spoken about the false female bonding in the form of diet talk before – even complete strangers do it. Yesterday I was in a clothing store and the sales assistant recommended the black pants instead of the rust coloured pants, because black was more flattering and hides the cellulite better and you know, all females want to hide that, am I right?

This is why I think this study was so important. We need to combat this sort of talk, this sort of judgement against women and women-identified bodies, fat or thin. We need to constantly raise awareness about it, in order to make people realise that this stigma is not okay.

(Image Credit)

4 thoughts on “the fatosphere, women and feminism

  1. Pingback: Down Under Feminists’ Carnival XL: bigger, better, more punnage « Ideologically Impure

  2. Women are fsm’s (fat storage machines) and hb’s (hormone bombs). That’s what we men have to deal with. It’s ok. We deserve it. We actually like it and need it. Don’t ask us to admit it. As Clark Gable said in ‘All Through the Night’, “All women are beautiful!” Strangely, in an earlier scene, Allan Hale Sr.(the Skipper’s father) sang, “Young people in love, make me very…hungry. So what’s it all about, Alfie? P.S Combating talk is not the way to go. From a male identified body

  3. Honestly, I’m not being rude, but being externally beautiful and internally are two different things right? Every woman CAN be beautiful in both ways, some in one and some in neither. Being beautiful inside and out takes work from a woman (or a man) so why should every woman be judged as equally beautiful when some put in that extra effort to feel good about themselves or portray a beautiful image.
    Unfortunately, the way nature (not the media, they just enhanced it) has made all people, is to find fat unattractive to look at. Being fat is a sign that you are more than likely: eating way too much bad food, physically unfit, unmotivated and have a low self-esteem/self respect. (please note: ‘more than likely’)
    The fat ‘problem’ wouldn’t be a problem if being fat was not accepted at all as a decent thing to be. If everyone exercised everyday and ate a well balanced diet, there would be no need for any forced mental change on our natural thoughts. It would also separate the ‘chosen fat people’ (people who are too lazy to work hard to maintain a healthy weight) from the ‘medically fat people’ (with diseases that stop or hinder weight loss or promote weight gain) which would, in turn, change society’s perspective on bigger women and would cut the judgemental behaviour by more than half!

    If you respond, please respond maturely. I think I’ve done a good job of keeping this comment mature and if not, I apologise.

  4. I don’t particularly appreciate being told to react. This is very personal to me. We’re discussing bodies that are like my own and I cannot distance myself from my feelings. I also do not appreciate being talked down to.

    Bodies are just bodies. There is no inherent “good” or “bad”, nor do I wish to judge someone’s self esteem and self worth from what their body looks like. I don’t know their life or what they’ve dealt with.

    I won’t be reading any future comments and if that is considered immature, well, quite frankly, I don’t care.

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