“Hey, queen. I just want you to remind that you are not fat. You’re so beautiful. That little roll on your belly is normal! It’s natural, it’s just extra skin. And, that little pudge you have right there – that’s your uterus. You’re not fat, you’re so beautiful,” that’s how most body positivity movement goes. And, it’s misleading. Usually, I’d see it lead by skinny women and women who exist in a body that is not necessarily skin nor fat. Admittedly, as a body positivity advocate myself, I need to do better. Although these kinds of messages come with good intentions, it does not do what you think it should. It’s just reassuring non-fat women that they’re not fat. You’re just pacifying them saying, “You’re not fat. You don’t have anything to worry about.”
What is so wrong with being fat? Fatphobia is something that we have to unlearn
You’re not fat, you’re beautiful. As if they couldn’t be both? As if impossibly beautiful fat women like Lizzo, Loey Bug, Queen Latifah, and my most favorite out of all Maddie Cruz hadn’t long since shown us the power of fat beauty. They proved, again and again, that their size never had any bearing on beauty. You’re not fat. As if naming their body would call it into being, like chanting Bloody Mary into a mirror. As if acknowledging the size of their body would somehow shatter the fragile, precious illusion that others might somehow mistake them for a thin person. You’re beautiful. As if the fleeting privilege of beauty defined their worth as a person, or ought to shape their self-esteem. As if beauty had been their goal.
Meanwhile, Village Pipol publishes weight loss content and endeavors to do so in a responsible, science-backed way. We think it remains important to present a broad perspective that allows for a fuller understanding of the complex thinking about health and body weight. The goal does not include telling you how to think, eat, or live. It also does not include passing judgment on how you choose to nourish your body. However, we would rather start a conversation about diet culture, its impact, and how we might challenge the messages we receive about what makes us attractive, successful, and healthy.
Talking to Maddie Cruz about fatphobia.
Since I am not fat, I didn’t think that I have the right to talk about experiencing fatphobia. So, I talked to a friend of mine. Maddie had to rethink how she talks about and how she represents body positivity. Also, at the same time, she acknowledges that there are people who will go through lengths just to sugarcoat fatphobia. They will start dramatizing obesity, objectification, and commoditization of fat people. Then, she concludes that these people aren’t just comfortable seeing fat people living their life.
“Body positivity is being framed as glamourizing obesity. When in reality, body positivity is simply encouraging women to embrace who they are and accept who they are. That way, they could love their bodies. And, hopefully, make better decisions for themselves. Because, in reality, it’s hard to make good decisions for your body when you’re coming from a place of hate… [When a fat girl eats in public or enjoying life], does that mean you have to resent yourself – that you have to hate yourself? Just because you’re currently not at your best? Is it a requirement to hate yourself? Just because you don’t look like your best? Can’t you enjoy life where you are? Then, try and continue and making better decisions?”
“For example, if a girl particularly someone who’s overweight or fat, posts a photo of herself eating or enjoying her life as it is. Suddenly, everyone wants to talk about health. Everyone wants to talk about the importance of having a healthy diet. And yet, regular-sized people talk about drugs, staying up late, and drinking alcohol excessively all the fucking time. Nobody bats an eye! So, if the only time you want to talk about health is when you see a fat person enjoying their life and not feeling guilty for what she looks like, you’re not really concerned about health. You’re just downright fatphobic.”
Fatphobia isn’t necessarily mean, and is instead cloaked in concern for the “fat” person.
Sometimes, it’s an aunt sending you articles about how being at a higher weight causes worse COVID-19 complications. Or, it looks like unsolicited suggestions to exercise or subtle weight-loss advice. Sometimes, it’s a relative dramatically putting their fork down and exclaim, “Oh, I’m so full. Can you believe the portions here?” in an obvious attempt at modeling healthy habits. Or, sometimes it would include the classic microaggression, “You have such a pretty face. The rest of you? Not so much.”
Fatphobia and fat-shaming are so automatic – the salesperson crown that a certain dress look so “flattering,” adding that “it gives you a waist,” or a waitress pointing out the “lite” options on a menu – that the behavior might not even consciously register to the person engaging in it. But, it likely registers with the person on the receiving end, and it sends a message to anyone within earshot. That being in a larger body is something to be ashamed of, and it’s okay for other people to police it.
There’s this belief that if you go on a diet or you eat a certain way, you can control your health and that you can control how long you are going to live.
Even though there’s more and more evidence that we are largely not in control of our body size, people see higher-weight people as refusing to take care of themselves. That refusal to ‘step up’ and claim control over your body and health is considered really negative. When people see someone who they believe isn’t taking charge of their health as they “fail” to control their body size – it becomes a betrayal of everything they’ve been taught. Therefore, it offends. And, they punish the individual. It’s nonsensical and anti-scientific. That’s the thing about bigotry. It’s not logical.
All in all, fatphobia has harmful effects – a constant for people in larger bodies. Lately, it has become more intense against women. Aside from that, we are more likely to see positive examples of high-weight men than women in the media. Like, hello? Where is the positive equivalent of “dad bod” for women?
Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.