Have you ever heard of “fatphobia”? What about the term “fat shaming”? These two are very common terms among many people and although it might not seem as intimidating terms, they can cause more harm than you’d think. These two terms have twisted their intensity and entered dangerous grounds. So, allow me to briefly explain them in this article.
What do they mean?
Fatphobia, as obviously understood from its own name, consist in the fear of fat, whether we talk about being fat, eating fats or being around fat people. Fat shaming on the other hand represents the act of insulting, socially isolating or discriminating against more or less overweight people. Okay, we understood these terms, but let’s see their real life effect.
The weight stigma, fatphobia and fat shaming can harm and change a person’s character completely. Especially in the early 2000s the TV, magazines, advertisements and internet was full of thin or extremely skinny people. It was a trend since the late 80s to early 90s to be as skinny as possible and anyone that was a bit “chubby”, man or woman, was perceived as unattractive and excluded from many social groups. Things have changed a bit and heavier figures have appeared in the media and have been accepted by the public, more or less.
And a new problem arises. These heavier figures are neither realistic nor common. From women with tiny waists, flat stomachs, wide hips and bottoms to “slim thick” men that have a wider and heavier frame, but consist in a high percentage of muscles, they are a little bit far from what the average person looks like. And this is where plus-size models come. Much more popular with women, very rarely with men, there are stores, sections, commercials, movie companies etc. that hire plus-size models.
All nice and dandy, so why the stress?
Well, now there are even more tensions. From people that try to normalize obesity (which is different from being “chubby” and has a ton of health complications), to those to try to imitate the “slim thick” body image, to those who are “skinny shaming” others, tensions arise. Many individuals were falsely accusing of fatphobia and fat shaming, or discriminating slim people and sometimes, people went berserk from both sides.
Many think that obese people are judged because they are not considered attractive, but it’s a bit more complex than this. Extremely overweight people have health problems and risks (most of these killing many people slowly) and as species, humans (and not only them) tend to choose healthier looking mates subconsciously and thus, usually perceiving obese people less “attractive”.
But going from an extreme to another one is still harmful. Making fun of slim people is as bad as making fun of “chubby” people and portraying extremely underweight or obese people as healthy will bring huge misconceptions. These remarks and false claims mold risky and dangerous ideas about body image. All this mess cause body dysmorphia, shaming, extremely unhealthy diets (either for losing or gaining weight), social exclusion and aggression, low self esteem or even a “run away” from reality and responsibilities. And of course, this can easily become dangerous for many individuals.
Well, this whole turmoil with fatphobia and fat shaming, together with skinny shaming and reaching extreme ideas is hard to be solved. Especially since many are either stubborn and do not accept the doctor’s advice. I’ve seen with my own eyes how violent people can get, saying that it’s “better than being a lifeless stick” or that “whales aren’t supposed to walk”. You should never bring insults to anyone. And especially when you can see others making effort on being healthy.
However, this does not mean the mass should accept skinny shaming, fatphobia, fat shaming or unhealthy habits (eating too much junk food, eating too little food, sedentary life-styles or extremely draining ones). Always consult a doctor when it comes to health matters, try to rationalize and avoid violent conflicts and never poke fun at others. Just because you are a little bit heavier or skinnier than the average does not mean you should be ashamed!