23 September 2014

Unconscious Fat Shaming

I said that I would not be posting on the blog for a little while given circumstances at home; but today I want to think about something that isn't sadness, worry and hospitals so I went looking for something to pique my interest.

I ended up on the Women's Rights Page on Facebook reading this post about a lady called Brittany Miles who runs a blog on Tumblr called Full Bodied Lovin She tells her story of overcoming depression and anorexia and her journey to finding self acceptance. She describes her blog as "a place to nurture my own self love, and help create a culture of acceptance for others".

Now, whilst I am rapidly discovering that the Women's Rights Page isn't all it is cracked up to be, with many many adverts, strange off topic statuses and mixed messages; I read this post as the lady in question sounded inspirational, and she was.

The comments however soon began to make my blood boil and I needed an outlet for my thoughts, which is why this post is coming to you now.

Remembering that this was a woman who had overcome fat shaming, who had gotten through anorexia and depression as a result and brought herself out at the other end; wanting to share her story and inspire and encourage others, some of the comments were in my view harmful.

It wasn't so much the troll type comments of which there actually were few, it was the misguided ones that really bothered me.  The "she isn't fat, she's lovely", the "she isn't fat, she's gorgeous" the "you're not fat by the way, you're beautiful!"  The last comment was directly in reply to her own personal comment on the page thanking them for sharing her story.

All of these messages I know came, in the commenter's eyes, from a good place.  An encouraging place.  But that therein is the problem.  What they are actually saying is "It is ok, you are not fat now.  You are good enough".

Do you not understand how harmless and dangerous it is to saying that to someone who is recovering from an eating disorder?????

I questioned one of the said commenters saying "Why can she not be both fat and lovely" and someone else responded with:
"I think because fat has a negative connation to it"
The word fat only has a negative vibe to it if you allow it to.  If you call someone fat as an insult, that says more about you as a person than it does anything else.   

In my opinion using phrases like "You are not fat, you are beautiful" is just a sugar coated version of saying that fat is bad, you shouldn't be fat, but it is ok because I don't think you are so that is alright.  It isn't the classic version of fat shaming, but it isn't too many steps away from that.  It is unconscious fat shaming.

I believe that we need to tell people when we hear this happening, whether the comment is coming from a place of malice or a genuinely wanting to be nice.  I know when someone says something like that to me it really rattles my cage.  I am fat.  I am not shying away from that.  Those people trying to sugar coat your weight  in an attempt to what they think will make you feel "better" are actually trying to justify your weight to themselves.

To understand why you could be happy at a certain size when they could not.

The lady in question is a US size 12-14 now and is happy and body confident.  This is so amazing and she inspires me so much.  What worries me however are the people who didn't read her Tumblr page as clearly many didn't.  What would they have said to her if they knew what her dress size was?  Would the sugar coating have been dropped and replaced with venom?

I am aware that a lot of my anger and frustration in writing this post is as much about what has been occurring (unrelated) in my personal life as the comments on the Women's Rights post. With that said, I am curious as to what anyone else's views are on this topic.  What do you think about unconscious fat shaming?

3 comments:

  1. I saw the article in question and also the comments, in the end I had to turn it off as I got so annoyed. I saw someone say something along the lines of no-one wants to be fat and who wouldn't want to be thin and lovely as that is healthy! I admire the author as she has overcome so much but I agree with you that people are still entrenched in these back handed compliments and don't fully realise the power of their words. x

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