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.