Living with Body Image Issues in a Fat-phobic Society
Let me just start by saying this first, I am what the society I live in calls FAT. It’s not synonymous with ugly. It’s a body-type, just like Skinny, or Curvy. I’m okay with being called FAT unless it’s said in a derogatory way. But it’s always used in a derogatory way, isn’t it? In this article, I am going to call myself fat. It’s not because I’m insecure about my body or think I’m ugly. I don’t need your sympathies. So, deal with your discomfort with the word from here on.
Let me just tell you how early on I knew I was fat. I knew I was on the fatter side of the body before I knew how to spell my full name. I knew I was fat before I could memorize my home phone number. I knew I was fat before I knew what food I liked. That’s how early on. And along with fat, I was told I was ugly or not as beautiful as the other girls. Therefore, for a young girl, I took fat as a synonym to ugly. My body image issues don’t stem out of being fat, it stems out of thinking I’m ugly because I was fat. And it started before I knew most things about my body.
We live in a Fat-phobic society. For those of you who aren’t aware of the term, it refers to the pathological fear of or hatred/dislike towards fatness or fat people. It can be in the spectrum of feeling like you have the right to bully fat people to oppressing them out of their human rights.
Okay, now let’s move on to how a Fat-phobic society emits body image issues:
- The regular opinions of family members and relatives
Body image issues start from home. The way you speak to your children becomes the voice in their head. With parents and relatives constantly subjecting children to their comments on opinion on their bodies, you are making them fixate and obsess on the outer appearance and criticize their bodies.
In my case, I still remember a relative of mine telling me I got the uglier part of my parent’s gene-pool because I was fat. It happened when I was in fifth grade, and I still remember it verbatim.
- Portrayal of fat people in movies and television series.
How many fat people have you seen as a protagonist of a movie or a television series? I can count them on my fingers.
How many fat people have you seen made fun of for their weight on camera? Too many to start making them.
Pop culture is obsessed with showing thinner bodied people as their protagonist. Fat-bodied people are either the laughing stock of the movie or even if they have a layered charactering to them, they end up losing weight and finally being accepted by society.
Pop culture is fat-phobic and feeds off of this problematic scenario to drive forward their narrative.
Related Article: BODY POSITIVITY: HOW TO ACHIEVE IT?
- The school bullying.
Kids watch movies. Kids learn from their elders. We can’t blame kids for being mean to other kids for the way they look when that is all that is being taught to them.
Fat-bodied children get bullied for the way they look, are called names and are expected to be okay with the kind of behavior they are subjected to. This not just enforces the idea that fat means ugly but also creates a form of systemic oppression against fat people. Not to forget the psychological trauma these kids go through due to the bullying.
- Fat-phobic body transformative reality shows
Revenge Body by Khloe Kardashian, The Biggest Loser, Say Yes to the Dress, – all of these shows are flooded with fat-phobia so much so, I am surprised they haven’t bluntly stated yet that they hate fat people.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for losing weight and adopting a healthier lifestyle but insulting people and calling them a loser just because they are on the heavier side is inhumane and it’s atrocious that these people make so much money out of making people feel shitty about themselves.
- The clothing Industry
How many plus-size stores do you know? I live in Kathmandu and so far I know three places that genuinely sell plus size clothing. Whenever I go shopping, even though I am not a larger size like many other people are, I get body shamed every time. There are so many instances where the shop owner tells me they don’t sell my size in an insulting tone. I see a lot of non-straight sized people around me. It’s not like the world is filled with ‘ideal sized’ people with a few fat people. There are many heavier sized people who need proper clothing, who want to look stylish. However, the clothing industry reins over the oppression towards fat people with lesser choices available for them.
I know many people who don’t identify themselves as plus-sized or fat will say that they should lose weight and get healthy. I know it’s easy. But how easier would it be if losing weight was a choice and not a pressurized decision? How amazing would it be if ugly referred to a person’s character and not their appearance?
Body image issues is a legitimate problem that all body types deal with. Living in a fat-phobic society, it’s harder for fat people to accept themselves the way they are and love their bodies. This brings out many mental problems such as self-hate, depression, eating disorders, self-harm and many more. It might just be a comment, or an opinion to you but it is a lifetime of bullying experience for someone that gets triggered every time you decide to comment on a person just because they look a certain way.
Here’s my advice – cut it off and be respectful! It’s not that hard.