First of all, let me tell you a little something about body shaming. It’s not equal. Fat shaming is an institutionalized, society-encouraged movement that has gone on for decades and the evidence of it surrounds us. How many fat actresses, positive fat actresses, can you name? How many clothing stores carry affordable plus-size options? How many fat girls do you know love their bodies and aren’t afraid to let people know it? Now, flip that around for straight sized people. Your numbers go up, don’t they?
If the worst thing that someone can say about your body is that it’s too skinny, congratulations. I’m sorry that someone felt insecure enough about themselves to make you feel insecure. It should never happen. I’m not defending skinny shaming, here. But I AM saying that they are not equal. Not by a long shot. Fat people are discriminated against in the workplace, in the media, and in public. Fat bodies aren’t just fat. To the world, fat bodies are lazy; they’re grotesque. Fat people are stupid. They don’t know any better. Why don’t they just get off the couch and exercise? And it goes on. It has been proven that people associate the word ‘fat’ with words like stupid, ugly, and lazy. This article published by the Daily Mail reports on a study by Bowling Green State University and North Carolina University that asked average sized people to rate both thin and fat people and to judge them for their personalities. On nine out of fifteen qualities, fat people were perceived to be “lazy, less happy, less emotionally stable, having lower self-esteem, more socially awkward, less clean, less disciplined, less healthy, and less successful”. That’s what the average stranger thinks of when they see my body, and people with bodies like my body. Now, flip it around for the straight sized people, and they were rated to be “friendly, kind, independent, intelligent and likable” but without the negative associations of being lazy, unhappy, etc.
I can’t be clearer here. If you’re a thin person, I’m sorry that someone ridiculed your body. As a person who has experienced body ridicule first hand, I know what you feel like. But darlings, here’s the thing… when you go shopping, you probably don’t have to search the whole mall for a store that carries your size. You don’t have to research beforehand to see if there even are any plus size stores in that area. You don’t have to do the majority of your clothes shopping online. You can eat seconds in public without people staring at you! You can drink a diet soda without people side-eyeing you, and you know they’re thinking, ‘Well, what good is that going to do?’ You can dance freely. You don’t have to worry if you’ll fit in the seat at the amusement park. Someone told you to eat a cheeseburger. I get the sneer from the Alpha-mom in line at McDonald’s.
And to the people that say: ‘just exercise! If you don’t like your body, do something about it!’ NO. This is my body, and I am going to unapologetically live in it! This is the body that I was born with. Why is the body that I was born with unacceptable, but the body that you were born with [and did nothing to change] adored? There's nothing wrong with your body the way it is. There's nothing wrong with my body the way it is. Skinny people have the upper hand here. They are where change starts. Fat people skinny shame out of bitterness. If fat people and skinny people were equal in terms of resource and opportunity, body shaming of every kind would decrease.
Skinny people, I love you. You’re kind, and sweet, and funny, and intelligent. But so am I. I don’t deserve to be thought of as lazy or less successful or less clean because of my body. I don’t deserve to have to wade through this ocean of crap when I step out the door because of my body. When you compare your shame experience to mine, mine gets lost. We are just now starting to defend the bodies of fat people. It’s something so new, and so wonderful, to start to see people that don’t look like us defend us when people that look like them start to hurl rocks. We’ve always had to defend ourselves, and now people are starting to help. All of this boils down to the fact that if we could just band together as humans trying to survive in this life, and if we truly loved our neighbors as ourselves, we wouldn’t have problems like body shaming. The next time you see someone skinny shame, recognize that it is a result of bitterness from inequity. It has nothing to do with you. God made us all unique and beautiful. Tell the women in your life that they are wonderfully and fearfully made today. God bless.