I had a great conversation today with a friend about the societal disapproval directed toward fat people and how to deal with it. I’m not well-read about the topic, so this conversation started with me asking about respectful ways to talk about it. It’s tricky, because just like homophobia and racism have been more in the past (and are still in some subcultures) it’s really widespread and accepted in our culture to treat fat people quite horribly and as sub-human.
Engage people in these conversations can be a big step in amending this negative situation. I think people don’t want to be perceived as insensitive jerks, so if we tackle these issues head on, a lot of people will seek out ways to talk and think about them respectfully, even if they haven’t done so before and even if they’ve been complicit in perpetuating the negative behavior.
One layer of fat-shaming which I think is interesting to highlight is the extra disapproval directed toward fat women. It reminds us that there’s a sexist assumption that the primary thing women should care about is their appearance to others.
Another interesting facet of this topic is that (it seems to me) more than with race or sexual orientation, fatness has a strong historical connection with traditionally and currently privileged classes. I wonder how that status can be used to de-institutionalize the poor treatment we direct toward fat people.
Two additional comments from searching for images for this post: I like the “health at every size” movement. Also, why are so many photos related to this of naked people? Surely body positivity isn’t just about being naked!
I would love to learn more about this and hear others talking about it in a respectful and productive way! It can be uncomfortable talking about things like this, but it feels great to do it when you do it respectfully!