A recent discussion with a friend led me into a spiral of thoughts about how the world perceives the idea of being “fat”. While some are explicit about their fatphobia, others display subtle fatphobic behavior in their daily habits. What I personally find most concerning is how deeply-rooted this issue of fatphobia is and how it is becoming normalized in our society.
When it comes to appearances, people fail to understand that being healthy doesn’t look the same in everyone. People with some “fat” are not always unhealthy and not all “skinny” people are necessarily healthy. Yet, why does society continue to obsess over looking a certain way and create a false illusion where fat is equated with being unhealthy? This is a question that truly perplexes me especially when science and medicine exist to help us understand how the human body operates and differs in people while still being functional.
Unfortunately, this issue of fatphobia in our society comes with many consequences. The unrealistic expectations cause people to physically deprive their bodies of the fuel it receives from food by counting calories, reducing meal quantity and frequency, and starving the body from nutrients it should be receiving. Additionally, the amount of people who over exercise to compensate for feeding the body is slowly killing our bodies. I have repeatedly witnessed my nearest and dearest justifying an unhealthy lifestyle with fatphobic explanations.
When we begin to deduce where the idea of fatphobia stems from, especially amongst perfectly healthy individuals, we can see how superficial, egoistic, and vanity-oriented this issue is. In her blog The Harmful and Insidious Effects of Fatphobia, by Stephanie Dolgoff, she explores the evolution of how fat was perceived by humans throughout history. Dolgoff discusses how at one point in time, when food was scarce, having some extra weight on the body was a representation of wealth and upper class status as they were able to afford it. It’s ironic how humans now discriminate against people with extra weight by stereotyping them with unhealthiness, lower class, and lower morality. Dolgoff states upper class is now associated with lean appearances as they are able to afford cleaner food options while lower class resolves to processed food for being readily accessible and affordable.
This revelation was truly a wake up call for me to understand the appalling nature of fatphobia. Fatphobia exists because of superficial illusion humans created on the basis of ego, wealth, and vanity! For godsake, we don’t need to look a certain way to eat what we want, to exercise the way we want, to wear what we want, and exist the way we want! In the process of trying to achieve the “perfect body” that society projects, people are losing true insight on what truly matters – to feel good and be mentally and physically healthy. As long as we are healthy, why are we discriminating against appearences? Let’s wake up as a society and reject this toxicity! We don’t need to lose or put on some extra pounds! We are truly perfect the way we are!