Systematic fatphobia runs rampant around the world and presents itself in different ways. And as body positivity has become increasingly commercial over the years, the real message behind the movement has lost its relevancy.
The term body positivity originated in the 1970s as a derivative term for fat acceptance. But this essence has not only become convoluted but is just a capitalist facade for “one-size-fits-all” branding. For most of us, self-love and body positivity are interchangeable terms, but it also raises the question, “Does self-love save fat people from experiencing fatphobia?”
People around the globe place the “crisis” label on fatness. However, a fat body is far from being a crisis. The way our society treats fat people is the real crisis.
Concerning the skinny shaming vs. fat-shaming debates, it is true that no body type is free from society’s scrutiny and toxic body standards. But one cannot compare the different levels of oppression these bodies face. Each must be analysed at two separate forms of discrimination.
In general, the conversation around weight discrimination is centred around thin white people’s bodies, and most of the time this conversation is in the mainstream credit to celebrities. And while celebrity status drives the popular narrative, the lack of plus-size advocates (mainly black or brown plus size women) has diluted the meaning of body positivity.
While body-shaming may sting at a personal level, we must realise that systematic fatphobia isn’t a personal issue; it transcends to society. And self-love has become so perplexing that most people believe that fat people should feel empowered to lose inches and “better themselves”.
Often, the experiences of fat people are downplayed as fatness is seen as a failure. But fatness isn’t something that can be easily changed through hard work or determination.
Society still largely uplifts thinness, as fat bodies are exiled. That is the cause we should be fighting for when we advance the body positivity debate. Body shaming anyone is unacceptable, but undeniably, fatphobia is on a different playing field.
While it is inspiring to see thin celebrities speak out about their body image issues, it must be noted that fat discrimination in the workplace is legal in 48 states in America. Sadly, obesity is weaponised against fat people.
There is still a lot to be realised; however, the first step must be to stop comparing the experiences of skinny people with fat people.