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  • Writer's pictureLexy Spreitzer

Stop Health-Shaming People

[originally posted September 2 2019]

The body-positivity movement is liberating fat, disabled-bodied, and other socially unacceptable body types from suppression. For the first time in modern history, people with these body types have the opportunity to feel confident with their appearances.

As someone who identifies as 'fat,' I also support other 'fat' people when they post pictures of themselves online. If they are feeling cute, I'll support that! And, I'll give them respect without questions and "concerns." However, there are many people on the internet who like to fat-shame people when they post pictures of their fat selves on social media. They'll comment things such as:

  • "You're promoting obesity"

  • "You are encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle"

  • "I think you can look however you want, but you shouldn't be showing that you can be happy and unhealthy"

I have so much to say in reply to these uber-common, ignorant comments! Let me break it down for you all based upon each of these fat-shaming comments.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

"You're promoting obesity"

Just because someone is obese doesn't mean they're trying to make other people obese. That's absolutely ridiculous! A fat person posting a picture of themselves is merely that - it's simply a person posting a picture of themselves. It's just like a thin person posting a picture of themselves, except they have a different body type.

Some people post pictures in clothes from Forever 21. Are they promoting Forever 21 in the posts? If they tag the brand, then yes. If they don't ACTUALLY MENTION that they are wearing Forever 21, then they are not promoting the brand. If a fat person doesn't ACTUALLY SAY that they want to promote obesity to the masses, then how can you assume someone is promoting it? Being obese isn't necessarily a bad thing. And obesity actually doesn't seem as bad to me as promoting unethically-operated sweatshops and material waste from fast fashion.

I actually own one or two things from Forever 21. I'm not perfect and I don't try to pretend I am so that I can shame others for their. own. individual. lives.

Is obesity a bad thing? That's up for you to decide. It's also up to you to decide if you should shame people for being obese. I, personally, believe that all people deserve respect. But hey, you can totally shame people for being different than you. It's totally ignorant and selfish, but ya know *sips matcha*

"You are encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle" "You can't be happy and unhealthy"

Being fat or disabled doesn't mean you're unhealthy. You could be in a great state of health. In fact, you could be doing the absolute best for you and your unique circumstances. For example, I work out, eat a varied diet, and I'm fat. I have a history with my mental health struggles and have gained weight over the years. I shouldn't need to find an excuse for why I'm fat, because it's fine to be fat. Most people don't see it that way though.

Additionally, even if someone is posting about activities that correlate to unhealthiness, why should they be disrespected for doing so? People post about McDonald's french fries every Friday. People also post about their favorite Juul flavors. Why is it that some people aren't shamed for these actions? Because some people look socially acceptable, aka they're thin and conventionally attractive, they're able to get away with posting about unhealthy activities (without scrutiny).

People who ARE unhealthy shouldn't be disrespected. They deserve to be respected in their perhaps prolonged pursuit to find wellness (wellness being mental, emotional, or physical). But that doesn't mean that every fat person is looking to lose weight. Losing weight doesn't mean you're pursuing wellness. It means you're pursuing thinness, which can be an extremely unhealthy and unsafe pursuit.

Do people who have cancer deserve shame because they're unhealthy? What about people with a terminal illness? Nope. These people also deserve to find happiness. And people who are perhaps unhealthy because of their own choices deserve respect just as all people do. It's not your place to judge. It's simply fat-phobic to shame bigger people for their health. If you do so, you're essentially shaming any person with a health problem because you're utilizing poor health as a basis for shame.

Next time I see a comment about the relativity between health and fatness, I'm just going to have to excuse myself out. Me and my mental illness don't have any time or care for ignorance.

fat-phobia: ignorance and miseducation towards those who are fat or have more body fat than you do; similar to sexism, this phenomenon discriminates against others and generates a "'fear' of fat people or being fat"

Seek out material to learn more about yourself and about others to become less fat-phobic. xx

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