I’ve been fat shamed so many times in my life, I’ve lost count. Whether it’s your own mother trying to get you to lose weight at 7 years old or that drunk boy during college spring break tell you at 19 there’s no way in hell he’d sleep with you because you’re fat, it hurts. Wishing every day that it would get easier somehow to not give in to cravings for whatever sounds good and then people telling you that it’s simple as will-power and exercising all day. The worse is when your own mother couldn’t tell you looked beautiful on your wedding day. Instead, she reminds you to keep your veil around your shoulders so that your fat arms are more covered.
And that’s just in my own life. There are literally groups of people and individuals devoted to fat shaming. There’s even one on Twitter with the name Fat Shamer declaring a war on bigger people, as if it is a great contribution to society. Here’s a gem he/she/it posted recently:
And celebrities are often the target of fat shaming, even when they’re pregnant!
And if that wasn’t enough, there are people dedicated to encourage larger people into self-hating, as to somehow drive people to lose weight and not be fat anymore. (Really?)
So when the waves of negativity come, what options do you have? Do you succumb to society’s messages that you aren’t worthy of time, kindness, attention, etc. like a normal or skinny person? Do you embrace who you are but take it to the next level on an extreme spectrum to push an agenda that few will support? I think there’s a good balance, to fight the good fight and be respectful while standing your ground. It’s not okay for people to rip others apart.
I love this article by XOJANE on how she deals with fat-shaming comments and “haters” on her blog. Here are a few snippets I want to share:
Fighting body shame can be intimidating and exhausting…While I know it’s not my job to explain my perspective to every troll, I think it’s a mistake to allow cruel people to invade any space that’s meant for positivity and support and to then spread poop and vitriol wherever they please. I think it’s important to be loud, to push back, and to show solidarity with other body love warriors, even though trolls can be vicious.
When it comes to speaking up online, I am very picky about my battles, but I continue to engage because I refuse to be silenced. I do it because of all the times I thought I was worthless and disgusting. I do it because of the emails I get from people thanking me for raising my voice and helping them find a new perspective.
Amen, amen, amen! I also really really like her use of the phrase “body love warriors” because women of all sizes are so subjectively negative about their own body image, it’s a downfall of being female, we are our own worst critics. That inner voice that reminds us that we can wear this or that, because we don’t have the “right figure” is an epidemic in our society.
There is hope for us, in people like XOJane, to show us that fat shaming is not helpful, not wanted and not productive for our society. To tell people to hate themselves and to strive to be someone else, to have a different body, does nothing but show those struggling with body image that bullies are alive and well, and winning. But to have strong, confident women stand up and encourage their peers is a big start. To tell each other we were never meant to be airbrush perfect and just as the world is full of different colors and textures, so are people. Variety is the spice of life; if we were all the same, how boring would that be?
So the words for myself today: be bold, be brave, be kind and fight the shame.