One of the things that I see a lot when someone is fat shamed is the response “But she’s not even that fat.” Other (direct quote) versions of this are “They treated me terribly and it’s not like I’m horribly fat” or “I don’t think she’s fat at all.” I absolutely understand why it happens, not only are fat people routinely shamed for our body size, but the fear of being, or being called, fat is used to control people of all sizes.
The thing is that if someone is being shamed, stigmatized, bullied etc. for being fat, and we say “they aren’t fat” or “they aren’t even that fat” in their defense, what we are also saying is that there is a size at which they would deserve that treatment, and that’s just not true.
Countering fat shaming by denying fatness says that the person doesn’t deserve poor treatment (which is true) but at the expense of reinforcing the incorrect idea that they would deserve it if they were fat (or some greater degree of fat), or that being called fat is an insult. There is no size at which people deserve to be treated poorly.
We can answer fat shaming without further stigmatizing fat people with responses like:
- I wish we lived in a world where people of all sizes were respected
- Body shaming is never ok
- So what? or So what if she is fat?
- Fat isn’t an insult, it’s just a body size.
It doesn’t matter how fat someone is, or why they are that fat, or what the outcomes of being that fat may or may not be. They deserve to be treated with respect and it is completely ok for them to be that size. Yes, even if they weigh 2000 pounds. Yes even if you think their weight is “their fault.” Yes, even if you would never ever want to be that fat. Yes, even if you can’t understand how they live. Yes, even if they have problems that can be correlated with being fat. Yes, even if they have problems that can be causally related to being fat. Yes, even if studies show that they cost society more. Yes, even if they actually cost society more. It is totally, completely 100% ok for someone to be fat. Nobody needs anyone’s encouragement, justification, or permission to live in their body. Period. This is true whether or not people are able to achieve permanent weight loss. Fat people have the right to exist without bullying, shaming, or stigma period.
Assigning value to bodies based on their size is just wrong. Yes, it is ok to be fat. Bodies come in lots of different sizes for lots of different reasons and instead of jumping to the defense of someone being fat-shamed by insisting that they aren’t fat, we have the opportunity to make things better for everyone by pointing out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with fat bodies, or bodies of any size.
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