I recently did a post called What is Toxic Masculinity where I explain the basics of what toxic masculinity means and just touch upon it. Originally, it was written just to link to people who don’t understand what toxic masculinity means but I received a lot of great feedback from that post on Twitter and wanted to make another one. I’ve already made one of these posts before I was as active on Twitter but I’ve been educated even further since then.
So, what is fatphobia/fatmisia?
Fatphobia is ablest due to the term “phobic/phobia” as being fatphobic or homophobic is not a fear of queer or fat people, it’s being hateful towards them or using normalized behaviors in society that is harmful to them. Therefore, in this blog post, I will be switching between the two so that people can try and keep a grasp on what I’m saying who have never been introduced to the word fatmisia before but are familar with the word fatphobic.
Well, fatphobia is a lot of things. To people being abusive in public transport, to clothing stores not carrying bigger sizes, to getting glares at in the street. Much like with anything concerning social justice, the roots expand and there is a lot more to it then I could possibly explain in one post. Here, I’m just going to give the bare minimum so people new to the term can grasp the concept a bit easier.
As a disclaimer, I do not want to hear about your negative opinions on weight. I do not care that you think glorifying obesity is dangerous. I do not care if you view people who are overweight, obese or morbidly obese as disgusting or unattractive. I do not want to hear any of this. I do want a single comment about weight loss, about you “educating” me or readers of this post. You are not special, I have heard what you are about to say many a time before and I am not repeating the argument again. Sorry if you wish to discuss it, but I don’t. Your comment will not be approved. It won’t be responded to. This is not a space for you to vent your hate speech. If you want to do that, then I suggest you take it to your own blog. Thank you.
I’m going to start with a big one. This one is spoken about the most on Twitter and in the fat community because it’s one of the worst things, in my opinion, that we have to deal with. Fat people are less likely to receive proper medical care. Everything is pegged down to your weight. Bad joints? Weight. Stomach pains? Weight. Bleeding? Weight. Migraines? Weight. Everything and anything will be pegged onto your size. Not every fat person has this experience. Although I have met some unfortunate doctors, my medical care has mostly been excellent, but for many this is not the case. This can lead to fat people not visiting their doctor, even when they know they need to, for months or years through fear they will get a doctor who will see them for their size and that’s about it.
Fat people can’t have anyone attracted to them without it being called a fetish. For example, on porn websites you have the “normal” categories with skinny, small women and, despite the men being hairy and with a tubby belly, they don’t have their own category. However, fat women? They’re put into the “BBW” section. People who like women with fat are called “chubby chasers”. Being attracted to people, especially women, who are fat is something people see as completely abnormal. This is basically calling fat people ugly and undesirable and is completely normalized in today’s society.
Fat people, daily in most environments, are assaulted physically and verbally because of their size. Again, this is completely normalized in society. You even have people in power, such as teachers or your boss at work, siding with the abuser. People in power are commonly the abuser themselves.
(a trigger warning for eating disorders for this paragraph) Eating disorders are encouraged when you are overweight, obese or morbidly obese (especially if you fall into obese/morbidly obese). Fat people are encouraged to starve themselves or go onto weightloss diets under 1000 calories (something that is extremely dangerous, no matter your size, to do). Fat people are encouraged to do activities that skinny people can’t do unless they are very fit and regularly do exercise. This puts a strain on your muscles and, most importantly, your heart. This would not be encouraged in skinny people because we acknowledge it’s unhealthy and destructive. Fat people regularly develop eating disorders, especially binge eating disorder and bulimia.
The world is very obviously made for skinny people. It’s not often anything happens with fat people in mind. The world wants to eliminate fat people. When a company does cater towards fat people, they can receive a lot of hateful comments from people that this is promoting unhealthy diets. Assuming all fat people are unhealthy is, in itself, fatmisia.
Companies make money from promoting diet culture (and yes, I will in future be making another What Is post on what diet culture is, because it’s a really big topic as well and it’s something more people need to be aware of) and if the world didn’t see being fat as bad, they would lose money.
There’s also something that not many people like to talk about. I read an article in an issue of National Geographic not too long ago – and I give you permission to ask what month and year that issue was if you want to take a look at that article yourself, I will go look for it for you if you’re curious – about how being poor meant you were more likely to be fat, as it costs money to be healthy and active. For a lot of people, they don’t even understand that some people are too poor to save up for a pair of £10 shoes and just buying some vegetables is not cheaper and will not last as long as buying cans of food. This is especially apparent in families as they need more food to last just as long on an extremely low income.
It’s normal to make comments that are fatphobic, as well, like not seeing your fat friend as truly fat but if you make fun of one fat person, you make fun of all of us. There’s also the very insulting “but you’re not fat”, which implies that you think being fat is bad and you need to insert another word there that means the same or similar but you view as less insulting. There’s making a big deal over what size your clothing is next to a fat friend, who is several sizes bigger than you, and complaining about “feeling” fat or gaining weight next to your fat friend is implying that the way you view them is negative and you don’t think they’re attractive.
I am not saying it’s not okay for skinny people to feel bad about themselves or their weight. What I am saying here is that society is unfair to all people, skinny or fat, and I am specifically talking about how skinny/smaller people can be contributing to fatmisia/hurt feelings in your fat friend
In media, fat people are usually looked at as the villains. For example, the Dursley’s in Harry Potter, Matilda’s dad and son in Matilda, Ursula in The Little Mermaid, and more. When they are not cast as a villain, they are made into the joke. They are usually jolly, or eating a lot of generally unhealthy food almost constantly. This further strengthens existing stereotypes and promotes the nasty treatment of fat people who actually exist in real life. Note: a lot of these characters are also greedy, which wasn’t done by coincidence.
People also assume that fat people do not want to be fat. That just because you think we are ugly or enforce that we are unattractive or undesirable does not mean under any circumstances we think the same about ourselves, even if we do struggle from self-esteem issues that aren’t even directly because of our own issues with our body but because of what society tells us about our bodies and how they can make us feel and think.
There’s a stereotype that fat people are lazy, s*upid, and don’t want to look after themselves or that we must be depressed or unhappy because we “don’t look after ourselves”. People can be extremely patronizing and condescending when speaking to us about diet and nutrition, like this is something we don’t already know. They refuse to believe that people can be educated and make their own choices about their own bodies that don’t line up with yours.
There’s also how the Internet makes memes and daily jokes everyday about fat people. This is what comes up when you search “fat people” on Google images:
And yet people think this is okay? Where are the people defending them? I don’t see it anywhere.
Fat people are completely dehumanized in society, and it only gets worse the bigger you are. I’m barely scratching the surface here and there’s a lot I haven’t touched on – how gender, or lack of, plays a part in this, how disability can come into this, how fat people themselves can sometimes be the most fatphobic, how our weight manages to affect everything. This is all something that I’m going to touch upon in future, although for topics about gender (or lack of) I might need to guest post it but I doubt that’s going to happen as I don’t have the funds to pay someone for that, so that one might have to be excluded away from the discussion for now.
Below, I will list some of my favourite fat activists below that you can go and check out if you want to learn about fatmisia and how fat people are treated in society in more detail.
These educational posts are also harder to do, especially emotionally, and take a lot more time than my usual posts so if you could consider supporting me by liking/commenting/sharing, that would be awesome, or buy me a book from my book wishlist. Thank you very much.
Until next time, Lorna.
Who to follow
Your Fat Friend, Twitter | @yrfatfriend
Kiva, Twitter | @KivaBay
Mean Fat Girl, Twitter | @Artists_Ali
Ok2BeFat, Twitter | @Ok2BeFat
Megan Jayne Crabbe, Instagram: @bodyposipanda (same for Twitter)
Allie, Insta | @allisonkimmey
If you are a fat activist and would like me to promote your handle in my future posts about fatmisia, you can comment or private DM me on Twitter.