"I'm being good."
"Just two chips."
"I feel fat."
"Make good choices."
"I ate badly over the weekend, I need to go to the gym, lose 10 pounds, I feel so fat, doing a cleaning."
You've probably heard these phrases before. You've probably already told a few of them, no matter their size or relationship to your body.
They may seem harmless, but what you're saying to your fat friend, colleague or family member is: I'm doing my best not to be like you.
Moving around the world in a fat body is not an easy task.
Discrimination and structural barriers are still a reality for those of us who inhabit a body that society tells us should not exist.
With the help of fat activists, the positivity of the body and the acceptance movements of fat, the world is slowly starting to become more receptive to the fatty bodies. Change is helped – for better or for worse – by brands that begin to embrace and display various bodies.
But there is an incredibly long way to go.
How do you deal with the fat phobia when you come across it? Share your tips by sending us an email [email protected]
If you do not move around the world in a fat body, how can you stand up and fight alongside fat people as a true ally?
If you're reading this, it's probably past the thought that fat jokes are funny. Maybe you follow Tess Holliday on Instagram. You do not directly embarrass fat people, and you know that the stigma of fat is real.
But do you understand the subtle ways in which you may be perpetuating the phobia?
Are you prepared to put the work to examine your prejudices and call others?
Fat activists can fight, write and be visible, and advocate for ourselves and others. But we can not create real social change.
Watch your language and call others
People often tell me about their new diets, or tell me with pride how close they are to their weight goals.
I have not yet found the tools to end these kinds of conversations, but I always ask myself: have they chosen to share this with me because they think I can relate or are they trying to remind me that I should be starving? also?
Realizing my fat body is good enough
Despite my disdain for most of the activities in which I am not immediately good, I have spent the last decade learning and relearning that my body is sufficient.
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Attributing moral value to food and bodies is harmful to all of us – except for the multibillion dollar weight loss industry.
So, check it yourself. Whether you are changing the way you eat, or examining your relationship with your own body, or started doing crossfit 27 times a week for the sole purpose of losing weight, that's fine. But be aware of how or if you talk about it.
And if you listen to others using those words or phrases and feel that you can challenge them safely, do so.
It can be as simple as writing your words to them as a question: what does "being good" really mean? How can fat & # 39; be a feeling?
Make your search
One of the first steps to being a good ally in any space is to do the homework.
Making your Instagram feed positive for the body
There is a lot of falsehood and bad advice in social media, but if you follow a different type of user, your feed may be full of people, photos, and ideas that develop it.
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Take time to learn about the ubiquity of the diet culture, and the many ways it affects all of us, particularly when it comes to the "wellness" movement.
Read about the "obesity crisis" and how diets driven by appearance can destroy the natural signs of our body.
Delve into the positivity of the body and read about the descent of a once radical and intersectional movement into easy fodder for non-inclusive marks and fat phobia.
Learn about the significant barriers to proper health that fat people face and the way that public health campaigns can be incredibly harmful.
Discover the & # 39; size ceiling & # 39; that fat people – particularly women – experiment in the workplace. Learn about the microaggressions we fear or exhaust daily.
Recognizing the barriers of society
In the last decade, numerous academic studies have shown that fat people face significant systemic, structural, and institutional barriers.
In 2017, the University of Pennsylvania launched Fat Shaming is linked to greater health risks, an article discussing the spread of stereotypes, including laziness, incompetence and lack of willpower. Several studies have focused on the workplace, where people with larger bodies are less likely to be hired, work longer, and receive less. When it comes to customer service, academics have shown that fat people also lose money out there.
In 2018, Dr. Angela Meadows, a University of Birmingham stigma researcher, wrote that discrimination against fat people is so endemic that it is difficult for many to recognize that this is happening, even among those who are targeted.
Do not make assumptions, challenge your prejudices
A little taller for those on the back: fat bodies are none of your business and we're not expecting to be skinny.
Of course, all fat people are different and most people – fat or not – have complex relationships with their bodies.
Applications Promising a Perfect Instagram Body & # 39;
Photo editing applications can reduce the waistline and enlarge the breasts in just seconds. But these touches can have a cost.
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But the assumption that fat people want to lose weight, who are or should be dieting, hating their bodies or feeling uncomfortable with themselves is incredibly damaging and perpetuates the self-loathing that fat people are taught to feel.
Do not assume that a fat person in your life wants to change your body, and most of all, do not assume they want advice about it.
Most of us have spent large parts of our lives being told about what to eat, when to eat, how to exercise, why our bodies are wrong.
Many of us are dealing with eating disorders or their consequences. While I will never dieting again, I can still tell you the approximate amount of calories that almost any food contains, and I still feel anxious to eat alone in public.
Society teaches fat people that our lives will not really begin until we lose weight, that our weight is directly linked to health, that we just feel ashamed.
How would you feel if someone in your life tried to give you unsolicited advice about your weight, the food you eat, the way you move around the world? Challenge these messages.
Appear, enjoy and do the job
Fat people face a unique challenge in society: we are both hyper-visible and completely invisible.
We are seen and judged by our bodies, dehumanized by institutions and the media, and simultaneously made invisible by popular culture and the world around us.
How Parents Can Help Create Positive Children for the Body
Men are as influential as women when it comes to helping their sons and daughters feel confident in their own skin.
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While the positive portrayal of fat in popular culture is slowly improving, until recently the only time we've ever seen each other on television was at shows like The Biggest Loser – where fat people are exploited, shamed and pushed to fight their own bodies for the entertainment of the nation . .
So, see us. Fill your Instagram feed with incredible fat bodies and fashions, and force yourself to become more comfortable with the physicality and complexities of being fat.
Roxane Gay, Lindy West, Bethany Rutter, Her Fat Friend, Sofie Hagen, She's All Fat, Abbey Mag, Cat Break, Fiona Willer, Marquis Neal, Ashlee Bennett, Ally Garrett, Katie Parrott, Kelli Jean Drinkwater Health in all sizes.
Tell us when you like our clothes, ask us to be in the photo, tell us if a brand you liked has recently increased the size range. Ask us to speak on the panels – and not just like the 'Diversity' card.
Think of the ways you can share emotional work with your fat friends. Choose restaurants or bars that have seating options beyond the seats and are not difficult to navigate.
Remember that your fat friends rarely find clothes in physical stores and start asking store owners if they would be stocking more sizes in the future.
Listen to the podcast
The women of the ABC podcast, Need to Talk, take a look at how fat talks about their own body may be making other women feel lousy.
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Above all, listen to us and ask what we need.
The conversation will not always be comfortable and the work is not easy, but it is necessary.
Although fat people should lead the fat acceptance and radical positivity of the body, we need allies who have the privilege of using their power for good.
We need allies to find out what it's like to be a fat person in the world, to unpack their own feelings about fat people, to embrace the nuisance and to be vulnerable – and to fight – on our side.
Are you with us?
Chloe Papas is a writer and activist from Melbourne.