Tag Archives: fat shaming

The Fat Pejorative

You really want to insult a woman? Make her feel like she’s nothing? Let her know that no matter what she’s accomplished in her life, the only thing that matters about her is her outward appearance?

It’s surprisingly easy. Just tell her she’s fat.

Here are a few other ways to cement the idea that she is fat, and therefore not really worthy of any other consideration in life:

  • Question her every time she eats -“Are you eating again?”  “Are you really going to eat that?”  “Should you really be eating that?”  “Try an apple instead.”
  • Giver her unsolicited food or exercise advice.
  • Talk to her only about her weight, the food she eats, whether or not she exercises, or her “health”.
  • Take pictures of her eating and put it on the internet with what you view as funny, albeit mean slogans.

What brought this on today, you ask?

An old high school friend of mine posted this picture of Michelle Obama on Facebook.

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Now, this is not a political blog, and I do not wish to delve into politics here. Certainly, anyone is free to disagree with the president or any politician of any persuasion at any time for any reason. That is a right that is protected by the constitution. This picture is also protected speech, however repugnant it may be.

That said, I was outraged by this picture. The politics of it are inconsequential. What has me angry is the message it sends about women, food, fat, and shame. It says that no matter what a woman has accomplished in her life, that her outward appearance matters more than anything.

She can’t be caught doing anything unattractive, certainly nothing as unattractive as eating. Heaven forbid. That is immediate grounds for mockery of the highest order.

This whole episode has started me thinking about the use of the word “fat” as a pejorative. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been called “fat” as an insult, even during times in my life when I was clearly not fat. And it has clearly had a deleterious effect on my life.

What bothers me now is not how being called fat or being mocked because of food affects me, because I’ve learned more constructive ways of dealing with that. I am worried about the message it sends to young girls. Young girls are bombarded with wildly inappropriate images of unattainable airbrushed beauty. They are sent contradictory messages from the food and diet industries…consume, diet, consume, diet. Eating disorders are on the rise. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels. All of this worries me.

I have a 6-year-old niece who seemingly knows nothing about food issues apart from her allergies. Here is what she knows. When she’s hungry, she eats. She does not worry about the number of calories in something. She doesn’t worry that it will make her fat. She just eats when she’s hungry. When she’s not, she doesn’t. Furthermore, as far as I can tell she has no self-esteem issues whatsoever. This is the kind of life and self-image I want for all girls.

I never want to see her change. In fact, I do not ever want any girl to ever go through what I have been through. It makes me sick to think that society will push her into obsessing over food, what she eats, how much and how often, and basing her value solely on her appearance.

I can assure you, it is no way to live. Mocking pictures like the one above, only perpetuates the notion that eating and being fat are the worst possible crimes a woman can commit.

Until we change that notion, being fat can and will always be used as a pejorative to bring and keep women down by people who are not smart enough to disagree with you more intelligently. We need to recognize that food is for nourishment and everybody eats. We need to recognize obesity as a medical condition and treat it as such. We need to recognize that women have value because they are people and as such deserve respect.

But mostly, We need to stop giving the trolls the power to control how we see ourselves by using fat as a pejorative. That is truly the only way things will change for young girls in the future.

An Open Letter to Fat-Shaming ND Woman

Dear Fat-Shaming ND Woman,

I understand your concern about the health of American children and childhood obesity.  I understand that you feel you need to take a stand on a holiday that is all about the candy.  Having struggled with obesity all of my life, I really wish that I had learned and appreciated the benefits of healthy eating and the dangers of fat, sugar, and salt earlier in my life.  I disagree, however, with your fat-shaming tactic.

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Handing out candy to some children, the thinner, and in your estimation, more deserving children while handing out fat-shaming letters to children you alone determine are carrying a bit too much weight, is absolutely disgraceful.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Does it make you feel better about yourself to pick on children you view as moderately obese?   What have they done to earn your ire?  I have to wonder what is wrong with a person who has to make themselves feel superior by picking on children?

I think it would be one thing if you refused to hand out candy to all of the children, but by choosing to hand it out to some and not to others because they are what you view as moderately obese, is wrong.  Are you a medical professional?  Are you a nutritionist?

It is people like you who have gone out of their way to make me feel bad about myself my entire life.  Don’t you think that overweight children feel badly enough about themselves without being singled out by you?

You do not know a particular child’s situation.  Maybe the child you view as obese has another medical problem and candy has nothing to do with it. Maybe they will simply grow out of it.  Maybe that child has recently lost weight and their parents are trying to teach them to be responsible about candy and other treats.  Having the treats around and learning eat them sparingly and in moderation is a good lesson to learn.  Who are you to try to supersede a decision a parent might make about their child?

There are many ways to attack childhood obesity without attacking the child or their family.  I will give you some positive suggestions that can encourage good food behavior instead of attacking children with your divisive fat-shaming letter.

  • Do not hand out candy at all.  Keep your door shut and do not give candy to any kids.
  • Work with a local farmers market to hand out a coupon for a piece of fruit.  You pay for the coupons and hand them out to kids in lieu of candy.
  • Hand out silly, cheap toys instead.  Buy a big bag of plastic spiders or something.
  • Hand out tiny boxes of raisins.
  • Hand out pencils.
  • Hand out erasers in fun shapes.
  • Hand out Playdoh.
  • Hand out glow in the dark sticks – kids love these!
  • Hand out balloons.
  • Hand out fun cards with puzzles or pictures that they can color in.
  • Hand out crayons.

You can do any number of things that does not involve handing out candy laden with sugar and fat, and does not include a fat-shaming letter.  You can then feel secure that you are doing your part to combat childhood obesity by not handing out fattening treats.  You will also have the added benefit of not being viewed as an evil, horrible, judgemental, self-righteous witch that the village now wants to burn at the stake.

Happy Halloween!

Sincerely,

The Skinny Girl Inside.

Shoe Frustration At DSW

So, I almost bitch-slapped the sales person at DSW Pentagon Row today.  First let’s start with the fact that all of the parking at Pentagon Row is metered.  It is also dreadfully difficult to find an open spot.  The only other alternative is to park in the garage and pay an a lot to park.  That already has me a little hot.

Then I spent about 20 minutes wandering around their store for shoes in my size.  As I have discussed in a previous post, I have wide feet.  I have always had wide feet, even as a child.  So, shopping for shoes is really a horrible experience for me.  I do not like to buy shoes online because they never fit.  I always end up sending them back.  I much prefer to go into the store and try them on.

Well, apparently, only girls with normal sized feet have that privilege at DSW.

After driving around looking for metered parking and then paying $2.00 to park in the garage, I get to DSW to have the snooty sales rep make a disgusted face at me and say, “Oh we only sell THOSE shoes online.”  And the look he had on his face made it seem as if I was asking for something so distasteful as to activate his gag reflex.

Seriously?

So, I said, “That’s discriminatory. What, you don’t think fat chicks wear shoes?”  I turned on my heel and walked right out of the store.

I am furious.  When I’m done blogging, I am going to their website and lodging a complaint.  I know it will get me nowhere, but still.  I am doing it.  I am so offended.  So, because I have wide feet, I have to pay for their shoes first and have them shipped to me before I try them on?  And if they don’t fit?  Do I then have to pay to ship them back to you and wait for you to give me my money back?

You know, I went out today with the intent to spend my money to do my share to keep the economy rolling.  If my money isn’t good enough to keep my size shoe in your store, I will shop somewhere else and keep that store in business. F#%k DSW.  Seriously.

I am tired of going to stores and finding either no plus sized clothing or one wall sparsely covered with the ugliest clothes I’ve ever seen.

I’m overweight, yes, but I still like to look nice.

I know I won’t be a plus size for very much longer, but I will still continue to be outraged by the sub par treatment larger women receive from clothing and shoes retailers.