When you hear the term “fat shaming” what comes to mind?
I imagine that the majority of you envisioned a fat kid or teenager being either verbally or physically harassed at school, likely being subjected to unfortunate, but familiar taunts – “fatty” “fat bastard” “chubster” – yes?
That’s definitely fat shaming.
But what about clothing stores stocking up to size 14, only? What about individuals of “normal” body weight saying “Good job” or “Way to go” to individuals classified as overweight or obese at the gym (yes, it’s happened)? What about the silent judgements you (yes, you) make when you see a fat person eating an ice cream cone or burrito? What about when people say “You look great; have you lost weight?”
That’s fat shaming, too.
It has been suggested that fat shaming is the last culturally accepted form of discrimination. Many will disagree with this sentiment, as many other populations are still subject to various forms of discrimination (racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, etc.). However, it is important to point out that while such discrimination unfortunately exists, it is, for the most part considered unacceptable by the majority of Canadians (perhaps not the majority, but that is my naive hope).
“Fatphobia” as it has been colloquially coined, appears to be more acceptable than racial slurs or gay-bashing, but is it? What’s society’s reasoning for this acceptance? Is it because the individual has the power to make the change in terms of their weight, but not when it comes to their gender, ethnicity or orientation? Does that really make fat shaming more acceptable? And if, for some mind boggling reason that it does, does it work? Does fat shaming an already marginalized population work?
Alright, enough ranting.
If you’re interested in learning more about this subject, check out my blog this Monday. I will be posting my interview with Jenna Brady, a PhD Candidate at Queen’s University and former dietitian, who will discuss the etiology of her interest in fatness, what fat shaming is, why it’s still happening, and how we can get away from it.