Yesterday on Twitter, a fellow fluffy mutual of mine posted a beautiful body positive photo set, professing her love for her body. Another woman took it upon herself to lecture her on her health that was supposedly in jeopardy. This woman along with many others continued to lecture on about how a fat woman should not want to remain fat because that’s not healthy. What was also interesting about these same people was that, while they were expressing this “concern” about fat women’s health, they body shamed other fat women who came to my mutual’s defense and they made jokes about “BBW” Twitter’s health:
Clogged arteries Twitter is in my mentions right now.
Hmm. Interesting. You “care” about our health but you end up just mocking health ailments and making fun of fat women’s bodies? One would assume that it was never about fat women’s health to begin with. In fact, their concern was nothing but a guise to help mask their disgust and hatred for fat women and our bodies.
Fun fact about me: I’m fat if you haven’t noticed already. I’ve always been on the chubby side. I was born at 9 pounds, grew up into a chubby kid, and then blossomed into the chubby adult that I am today. All throughout my life I received blatant hatred regarding my body. I was always a victim of bullying and teasing. I’ve felt the sting of every fat joke in the book. Nothing at this point phases or surprises me.
One thing that was interesting, growing up, was people’s surprise at how healthy, energetic, and active I was. My mom always had me in some sort of sport. I played almost everything from soccer to basketball to cheerleading and guess what? I was good. It would always come as a surprise to my smaller teammates.
I use to love to step and dance as well. I was on the step team all throughout middle school and continued to step periodically throughout high school. People would always freak out about how well I could step. I would hear comments such as “I didn’t know you could move like that.” When I was in dance class, my classmates would be surprised at how fast and precise I was when it came to choreography. My teacher even chose me to perform in our recital and the crowd went crazy as I jumped and danced across the stage.
I’m a perceptive person. I knew even as a kid, people were surprised at my agility and athleticism because of my size. They assumed that because I was fat, I wasn’t healthy or I wouldn’t be able to keep up when in fact, it was the other way around: the skinny kids couldn’t keep up with me.
We live in a superficial world obviously. People’s appearances play a large part in determining their position in the societal hierarchy. The more someone meets physical and beauty standards, the more they are exalted and given visibility and representation. It is safe to say that in western society, the standard for women is to either be thin and/or be shaped like an hourglass. If you veer away from that mold, you are chastised, berated, and hated. Fat women who are round, have soft, full bellies, have rolls and love handles are nowhere in the ball park of that beauty standard therefore we are met with vitriol.
The most common way to spew this vitriol is through this pseudo-concern for fat people’s–but more specifically fat women’s health. One principle society preaches is “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I believe the reason why people use this approach is because outright telling a fat woman you hate her body would be considered disrespectful and rude so instead, the common person who is concerned about being seen as a “good” person, pretends to care about the fat woman’s health. They claim that is why they think a fat woman should lose weight–strictly for health reasons.
That’s cute but let me tell you why that’s a load of bullshit.
For one, how do you know the health status of someone you don’t even know? You are not a doctor. How do you assess someone’s health by simply looking at the size and shape of their body? This is why people are embarrassed when I disprove their assumptions about my physical capabilities. They assumed I wasn’t healthy because I’m full-figured. They wouldn’t have been embarrassed had they not think they could assume my health by simply looking at me. Not only are you not a doctor but someone’s health is none of your business. It is not your place to tell someone about their health, especially, when you don’t even know them. As humans we have boundaries: unsolicitedly advising someone about their health is disrespectful because it is patronizing and unwarranted.
When you use fat women as a platform to lecture about health, you’re also not considering our mental health as you’re doing so. It’s bad enough that I have to deal with people blatantly expressing their hatred for my body but to make it even worse, I have people who are not even sincerely concerned about my well-being, trying to make me a public example of “bad health.” Now you along with the outright fatphobes have sent me into a spiral of depression and you have tarnished my self-image and self-esteem. Before you want to “advise” me on my physical health, how bout consider how that will impact me mentally and emotionally? You know why people never consider this before lecturing fat women on our health? Because they never genuinely cared about our well-being in the first place.
This is all about looks. People find fat women and our bodies unattractive. It is as simple as that. Nothing more. Nothing less. They don’t want us to lose weight for health. They want us to lose weight for their comfort. Our fat bodies make them cringe so they retaliate with hatred and paternalism. This is about upholding beauty standards set for women–not to promote good health. Don’t believe me?
Ever notice how “being fat isn’t healthy” remarks are often thrown at fat women? Very rarely do you see people clocking the health of fat men. Of course people may make fun of his body but it is rarely to the severity as it is for fat women. If a fat man is confident, no one really cares. They just let him be. If the concern is genuinely about health, why is it that this “concern” is usually for fat women and not also for fat men?
The reason why the fat man isn’t met with as much hatred is because fatphobia often times crosses roads with misogyny. Fatphobia is a result of society’s dire need to have beauty standards be met. Misogyny kicks in because these beauty standards are usually set for women. So much of our existence and place in society is based off our looks because we are seen as a commodity. It stems from the patriarchal notion that women are objects for cishet men’s consumption and women have to look a certain way to be suitable for consumption. This is why women are mainly the ones expected to meet these beauty standards.
I knew this was about looks and not health when I saw people telling a fat woman she wasn’t healthy…. after she posted photos of her doing yoga…. I knew this was never about health but about looks when I receive comments from men about them wanting me to lose weight because they would consider me more attractive. I knew this wasn’t about health when I said my doctor said I was healthy and people responded with “Well, your doctor lied to your fat ass.”
It’s just funny to me to see the same people who glorify smoking, drinking lean, drinking excessively–the same people who do not eat healthy and work out themselves–try to tell me, someone they don’t know, I’m not healthy simply because of how I look.
People hate to see a fat woman love herself and her body because it makes them uncomfortable to see a woman not desire to meet a beauty standard. This is why people bolt to lecture a fat woman whenever she says she loves her body. People don’t want her to love her body because they hate her body and want it to look a certain way. It makes them uncomfortable. THEY need her to lose weight so they can sleep well at night. It’s as if people need women to exist within a standard to survive.
Do me and other fat women a favor. Let us exist in our bodies in peace. You can be blue in the face, trying to convince me that you are genuinely concerned about my health and I will still not believe you. You do not know me. You do not know where I stand in my health nor is that your business. It will never be your place to advise someone on their health unless you are a licensed doctor. Please stop with your “concern.” I see right past you. I was never fooled.