I’ve spent a lot of my time recently trolling through Instagram trying to diversify my feed. Making my way through all the body positive hashtags. Like #allbodiesaregoodbodies and #haes (health at every size) my aim was to fill my social media feeds up with bodies of different size and shape. Including disabled bodies, bald bodies, hairy bodies, bodies missing limbs, bodies missing boobs, freckled bodies, Black bodies, white bodies and all the other bodies that I can’t actually think of right now because I haven’t slept for more than four hours at a time in the last six months.
Objective: neutralise any internalised fatphobia i have left.
fatphobia is literally exactly what it sounds like. The irrational fear and dislike of fat people, which results in their oppression. And I am for sure guilty of having possessed it by the bucket load. To which I was originally going to say that I hang my head in shame over, but actually I don’t 🤷♀️ my brain has been absorbing fatphobic messages since day dot, so I wouldn’t expect there to not be any internalised fatphobia left over. It’s not as though I actively seek to hurl discrimination at people in bigger bodies either so there is definitely no shame here.
Not always as obvious as somebody yelling ‘RUN FATBOY RUN!’ out of their car window at a nearby jogger, it’s often hidden more subtly in everyday things. The prescription of weight loss as a cure to non-obese related health issues, immovable armrests on cinema seats, new looks fat tax, stores not selling plusier plus sizes, plus size swimwear having a skirt rather than pants, the guy at the church bbq who asks if you really want a bun with your hotdog because carbs you know. (Firstly yes I want a damn bun, I asked for a hot dog not a sausage, secondly no, carbs don’t make you fat, thirdly, I JUST made a public announcement outing my eating disorder that I KNOW you read, so what are you even doing right now?) Its honestly everywhere.
I have definitely spent the most part of my life judging people on their body which is ridiculous considering my body itself is so far from the ideal, but You know who my own internalised fatphobia has affected most? Myself. Obviously. From the clothes I wouldn’t wear to karma sutra pages I skipped, all my decisions have been influenced by how I believe fat people should be. Now that I am breaking free from this oppression it’s easier to see it in other people and i have no doubt that even you are harbouring certain irrational beliefs toward fat people, but fear not because I’ve made a list. (Naturally, i love lists) a list of things that you can do (should you want to) to neutralise your fatphobic tendencies;
1- social media
Do what I said at the beginning and mix it up. If your constantly looking at the same athletic physiques then it’s going to be hard for you to comprehend that other types of bodies even exist let alone love and not discriminate against them.
2- reclaim ‘fat’
There is no doubt that we have been conditioned to believe that calling somebody fat is an insult. I know people that have been more offended for being called fat than selfish. Like whaaaat? But it’s just an adjective. Now I don’t recommend that you start going around calling everybody fat because not many people have taken the negative connotations away from the word. But if you are fat, start by accepting that that’s what you are. Not chubby, soft or fluffy. Fat. You wouldn’t stress over saying ‘I am tall.’ So don’t stress over saying ‘I am fat’ IT. IS. NOT. A. BAD. WORD.
3- call people out
I’ve had people in my life that are more than happy to send me a message just to let me know that somebody has gained weight. Which naturally triggers a conversation of gossipy fat shaming. Not cool. So stop it. When somebody talks in a fat phobic way around you, call them out on it. If you don’t feel up to going the full hog and telling them to stop, just tell them that you will no longer be participating in such conversations. I can think of so many more appealing conversations than somebody’s weight gain. Change the conversation.
4- food shame
Stop commenting on the things that people are eating. It is literally no concern of yours what other people are eating. Fat people have every right to eat KFC as thin people. Eating salads is not a requirement of being fat. And while we are at it, let’s not pretend that the reason for your comments is concern for their health okay.
5- don’t give back handed compliments
‘You look amazing! Did you lose weight?!’ No. Not a compliment. Your simply saying that they look better in a smaller body. You don’t have to even comment on people’s appearance to compliment them, tell them they are strong or inspiring. Don’t say things like that to yourself either your just reinforcing that fat is bad which goes against step 2. If you want to comment on a fat persons appearance a simple ‘damn girl you is fine’ will do nicely.
And speaking of fine, here’s a selfie for the road. Hannah out 🙌🏼