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On Being Fat Shamed

Fat shaming

Have you ever been shamed for your weight or your body size? Have you ever had negative comments about your body not being good enough? I have, and I doubt I am alone in this with the society we have in the UK and other Western countries, where diet culture and thin beauty ideals dominate.

I was always a “healthy” body size (as we call it) growing up. This healthy body size grew into an overweight body size in my first year of university that saw me put on a lot of weight within a matter of months. However with knowing what I know now, it was clearly a result of previous teenage restriction, combined with far too much booze and eating my emotions…

Upon returning to my home town for the Christmas season, I was shamed for my size on a few different occasions. There were the talks and comments from family members which hurt. But worse, for me at the time, were comments from people who I was acquainted with on how “I’d let myself go” and how much weight I had put on.

These comments were what reignited a deep longing to be thin that was always there in my teenage years and slowly but surely I fell into an eating disorder. To my 19 year old self, it was as clear as day that my worth as a human was linked to my body size. The sick and twisted thing is that some of the same people who commented on me being too fat, commended me later on for losing all the weight and more. Little did they know that I was in the thick of an all encompassing eating disorder that had taken over my life. But that is kind of how our society is isn’t it? We commend people for their thinness when they could very well be in an eating disorder or disordered eating.

Of course there are those who are naturally thin and that is great, that is the natural body size they were created to have. But for the majority of people, a thin body or “toned body”, (whatever body is society’s favourite of the month), can only be found by engaging in disordered behaviours.

As a society, we are shaming people for being fat and we are promoting disordered eating behaviours by doing so. This is not ok! No matter how you dress it up (health, wellness, dieting…), it is all rooted in this disordered obsession of controlling our body sizes. We need to overcome our fear of fat as a collective and stop promoting behaviours that can be really damaging. We need to stop linking worth to our bodies and the amount of fat on them.

And this brings me to emphasising how wrong it is that we promote practices to people in larger bodies that are actually eating disorder behaviours and can lead to eating disorders.

At my biggest, I was overweight but I was not obese or in a very large body. Think of how awful it must be to be in a larger body and experience fat shaming from people and the disordered practices they can be promoted to do.

In the thick of my eating disorder and dropping 4-5 sizes, I was commended for my appearance by some. At a “healthy size”, nothing. And a larger size – shamed massively. This is insane, insane, insane.

My experience was awful, yet how awful must it be for people in larger bodies??? Shaming them and promoting habits that are like eating disorders is really just so wrong.

No one deserves to be shamed for the size of their body. No one deserves to feel less than because of the size of their body. We are all human beings with feelings and hearts and we all deserve equality, fairness and love.

I have felt the stigma as someone who has embodied a spectrum of body sizes from nearly underweight to being overweight and I am sure many other people have too. I will never know what it’s like to be in a obese body but I am passionate about fighting to make sure that people can live in whatever body size is best for them in body, mind and soul and that all people, are free to live without shame and oppression for their appearance.

Thoughts?

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