In a world where toned muscles, big butts, flat stomachs and nice skin reign like royalty in the beauty industry; many individuals are becoming blind from a certain category of prejudice, known as fat prejudice aka “fat shaming.”
Fat prejudice? Is that really a thing? The answer is YES and we would be denying it otherwise if we would say no. How does fat shaming coincide with prejudice? Well first, let’s define the word “Prejudice.” The word “Prejudice” means: to have an unfavorable opinion towards someone without any prior knowledge of the individual.
If we look back of the history of the United States, we can see that there was prejudice against skin color back in the 60’s, prejudice against the Jews and Japanese back in World War 2 and prejudice against different sexualities in the most current history of the United States. Now, wouldn’t you think that people shaming a person because of their weight, would fall into these categories of prejudice? After all, doesn’t the components of religion, weight, skin color, sexuality and ethnicity, all make up an individual? Why yes, it does! But yet, many people don’t think that judging someone for their weight is considered being prejudice.
I recently, graduated with my associates degree back in the Spring of 2017. During my last year of Junior college, I did my final research paper for my English 2010 class about Fat Prejudice. Of course, while doing this, I had to research the facts to support my claim that Fat Prejudice exists. While doing this, I came across a well researched article done by Deborah Rhodes. Deborah Rhodes is a Law Professor at Standford University and she wrote an article for the Washington Post about how our looks are the last bastion of discrimination. In her article she states, “In the early 19th century, many cities in America would ban those who looked a little unsightly, to make a public appearance.” (Rhodes, pg. 1). Did you read that? People were actually banned to make public appearances just because of what they looked like. Crazy right?
Now, there aren’t any American cities banning people for their looks today, but there are workplaces that are definitely discriminating against potential and current employees for their weight. Many overweight employees, both men and women, have lost their jobs due to their weight. Not their work ethic, skills or previous work history, just their weight. Have you ever questioned why no job ever has weight listed as a discrimintory option? Employers claim they can’t discriminate against race, religion or sexualilty background, but not once, do you see weight fall into the catergory of discrimination, but it happens. Rhode’s states in her article that, “16% of workers reported being victims of appearance discrimination, back in 2005.” (Rhodes, pg. 2). 16% since 2005? I would imagine that percent has increased as we are becoming a more thin-obsessed society today.
We have all heard stories like news anchor Jennifer Livingston, who received a letter from a male viewer telling her to lose weight. We have all heard stories about overweight people who have been kicked off public transportation and commercial airline flights because they were “too big” for the seats, but yet we don’t do anything about it. We don’t start enough conversation to help those who fall victim to fat discrimination. I think it’s interesting how our society today has become so culturally sensitive towards racial, sexual and religious discrimination, but yet fails to acknowledge one of the biggest types of prejudice out there, which is fat shaming. In my opinion, race discrimination and weight discrimination can go hand in hand because both discriminations are based on false perceptions of individuals. Not to mention, there are government agendas that have been enforced to prevent individuals to become “Fat.” Does the school lunch change from former first lady Michelle Obama, ring a bell to anyone? I would also imagine in the near future, there to be stricter medical rules for overweight individuals and much more.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important for kids and adults to be healthy, but we can’t have the mindset that being “Fat” is literally the worst thing a person can be. There are more vile characteristics out there that are worse than being fat. Instead of fat shaming, society as a whole needs to step up and start being kinder and more respectful towards those who don’t have the perfect body figure, the nicest hair, or whatever. I can’t tell you how many times I have fallen victim towards fat prejudices. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been stared at, laughed at, whispered about, judged at, for not being skinny on my own two hands. I can’t even tell you how many times, I’ve warned potential daters about the fact they are going on a date with a bigger woman, just because I needed to know whether it was going to be an issue or not. I can’t tell you how many times where I experienced moments of depression because of what my body looks like. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard skinner girls say they look fat in front of me because all of this happens almost daily.
To say that fat prejudice doesn’t exist, would be a dagger to my heart because I 100% know of its reality and so do many men and women across the world too. My hope one day, is that we start a discussion to end fat prejudice once and for all. I hope for the day there becomes anti-discrimination laws to end fat shaming. If we can create laws to end racial discrimination legally and allow laws for those to express their sexuality freely, we can surely create laws for those to be accepted based on their appearance in the workplace and other places as well. But for now, we just need to recognize fat prejudice and start a conversation and that’s exactly what I’m doing with this post. May we all start treating each other more kind and with more respect for our appearances and maybe then the world can be just a little bit better.
May God Bless!
Also, if you’re interested in reading Deborah Rhode’s article, here is the link!
Rhode, Deborah L. “Why Looks are the Last Bastion of Discrimination.” Washington Post. Washington Post, 23 May 2010.
Featured Image Cred: Shape Magazine (Google Images)