Amy Schumer Isn’t Fat and Other Things That Don’t Matter

Actual SizeIn response to the ridiculous fat shaming that Amy Schumer’s mostly nude photo has wrought, one of the common defenses of Amy that I’ve been seeing is “she’s not even fat!”

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 suggesting is that there is a size at which they would deserve that treatment, and that’s just not true.

Also, while I agree that Amy Schumer probably doesn’t meet many people’s definition of fat, that definition can be relative.  When I first started training for triathlons I found out that there is a category called “Athena” for larger women athletes. A local race that I was looking at had an Athena category and the minimum weight was 140 pounds – at less than half my size women qualify for a special weight category and even in spaces created for Athena triathletes there is a lot of strife about body size and fatness. In Hollywood, Amy Schumer’s world, size 0 is the standard so a woman who is a size 4 or 6 may be considered “fat,” and women who are interested in becoming part of Hollywood are also judged by that standard.

Now, undeniably, there are different degrees of oppression and privilege that come at different weights.  Amy Schumer may be considered fat by some in Hollywood, but she never has to worry that a flight attendant will use their discretion to throw her off a plane for being too fat. Weight-based oppression increases with people’s size (and when someone possess multiple marginalized identities – Person of Color, Queer, Trans, Older, Disabled/Person with Disabilities and more.)

But there’s another layer here, one that was addressed beautifully in the comments that people left on my post yesterday. 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, and there’s nothing wrong with being fat.

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, stigma, or oppression, 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 fat people aren’t the problem, fat shamer, and fat -shaming, are.

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Published in: on December 5, 2015 at 2:28 pm  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Woot woot woot!

  2. Yes, this perfectly sums up all that I struggled with on this whole topic. Some people have said, Why is Amy brave? She’s thin (compared to the average American woman), white, blond – isn’t she the current beauty standard? But there are different standards for every facet of society and in her particular world – Hollywood – she does not fit into the standard. She even has a bit in her latest routine about this. And then the Steve Crowder BS – when any woman can be attacked that way, we all need to stand up and say, fat or not, this is not okay. Thanks for making sense of all this as usual!

  3. That’s what I was trying to get to in my hurried comment on your last blog–as usual you said it precisely and concisely!

  4. I just saw Amy do standup last week. She made fun of the idea of being called “brave” for the photos. She was very self-aware and commented on the ridiculousness of it.

    But yes, so many valid points here. I watched a video recently about a woman with two prosthetic legs. There’s a scene where she goes to the grocery store and someone stops her and calls her brave. She said something like “It’s almost insulting to be called brave…. for just being me.” People can be fat, have prosthetic legs, be bald, be anything. Why call someone brave for just being authentic to who they are and living in and loving their body?


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