Fat shaming is one of those subjects that no-one wants to touch in case they get accused of fat shaming. But highlighting a complex social issue should not be the reason to tear strips off someone. And it should not be confused with someone who is actually fat shaming. But the questions remain, what is fat shaming really and how do we deal with it?
Across the world there is a new culture that has emerged of fat versus thin. Lets be honest, this culture has always existed in some form but thanks to the internet it is now a widespread problem. Nobody can say anything about fitness, weight loss or health concerns without someone breaking out the pitchforks. And that is sad that people who are genuinely concerned about people’s health are being tarred with the fat shaming brush. If you do a google search on fat shaming, there are thousands of different things that pop up. One that was really interesting was the Urban Dictionary and its entries on the definition of fat shaming. According to them, fat shaming comes in two forms. People who are over weight hiding behind fat shaming as an excuse not to get healthy, or people who poke fun at fat people and make them feel ashamed about their weight. But the thing that these have in common is the fact that someone has said something to make another person feel bad about their weight. Whether it is concern or done in malice doesn’t seem to matter. If you say something about weight, then you are a fat shamer.
I was recently tarred with the fat shaming brush. I had bumped into a friend and was chatting to her when she started asking about how the site was going. I said Great! Lots of stuff happening. New beauty stuff, doing new style fitness stuff. And I’m doing a new shopping thingy. Her friend who was with her looked at me with complete horror and said Oh my God! You are one of those fat shamers!! Err…what? Because I had used the word fitness and do it on the internet, I was labelled a fat shamer by a woman that didn’t know me. First of all, I really don’t give a shit if you are fat or skinny, I care that you are healthy and happy. Fitness is something that I do for fun. And I share it on here. The whole idea behind Latte Lindsay is the concept of sitting down with a hot drink and having a gossip. I am here to gossip with my internet friends. Sure it is one sided but I like to think that when I put something up that you imagine I’m there, with my latte, telling you a little story. Just like you would with your other buddies. I am not a fitness guru so when I tell you about how something is going, it should be like a girlfriend giving you the good and bad details. So, because I do this, sit and imagine us having a coffee while we have a chat, and I bring up fitness, that makes me a fat shamer?
There is no denying that there is a culture online that thinks that it is ok to openly mock fat people. Nicole Arbour came under fire recently with her video “Dear Fat People”. Her response to the world was to tell everyone to get a sense of humour. Her idea of a joke might not be to everyone’s liking but it is certainly not the worst thing I have ever seen. John Burk came under fire for this video when he goes off on a rant about how disgusting fat people are. But these are only recent verbal attacks. Back in 2009 the BBC reported a story about attacks on fat people. Fat people have been subjected to abuse, both verbal and physical, for years but the culture of fat shaming is a recent label to help put the shame back on the shamer. And with this in mind, dealing with years of abuse, is it really surprising that those who are larger have started fighting back? Is fat shaming a way to stand up to the bullies and abusers?
The big question is how are we supposed to deal with this? We can’t go through life walking on eggshells in case we offend someone. If someone is being genuine with their concern about your weight and the impact that it has on your health, should they be punished for trying to be a good friend, or should they just shut their face? But the problem goes even deeper than this. Fitness instructors and doctors have come under fire for doing their jobs. Casey from Blogilates felt the need to post this video after she received a campaign of abuse on her channel for “being fat”. If you watch the video, she is clearly not fat. I’ve watched a few of her videos and she is the most upbeat person who loves exercise. She has also been accused of fat shaming, something that I have never seen her do.
There are two different fitness instructors I have talked about there. One who was accused of fat shaming and one that actually done it. How many fitness instructors are actually like John Burk? You know the type that I’m talking about. Instructors that scream bloody murder at you and push you to your limits. Bootcamps are becoming a widespread thing and many of the instructors are former military who have no fucks to give if you are sore or throwing up. Many people say that they are not fat shaming, they just have a zero level tolerance to bullshit. But here is the rub, John Burk is former military. Was he fat shaming or does he just not care about your bullshit?
Some people are clearly just mean. Some people really hate fat people. Seth McFarland came under fire for the Family Guy episode about the fat guy strangler. But I don’t think he done it to be mean. There is a condition, a fear of fat people. Cacomorphobia is a recognised phobia that some people have when they encounter a fat person. I’m actually not joking. This is a thing. That episode of Family Guy might have been a bit harsh but it did highlight that fact that a fat phobia does exist. I never would have thought of googling it unless I had seen that episode. But are these people fat shamers or are they just scared?
So many questions, so few answers. But I think it is safe to say that fat shaming is here to stay. Whether is it because of society pressuring everyone to be skinny or fat people are an easy target, until we shift our views on weight and body shape, this will continue to be an issue. But just remember, as long as you are healthy and love yourself, people will love you back.