Fatphobia is nothing new. In terms of education, it may be otherwise. Fatphobia has shaped our society to believe that being slim is to be beautiful. Women especially, obsess over their looks and body images to the point of toxicity. In a society like this, women learn to hate themselves and feel that the only way to be beautiful is to change who they are. Fatphobia not only marginalizes those who don’t fit the narrative of thinness but also fuels hate and discrimination.
Virgie Tovar, an activist and the author of “You Have the Right to Remain Fat,” details years growing up as a big girl, constantly trying to lose weight. In her book, she explains people express fatphobia in different ways.
“Fatphobia is a form of bigotry that positions fat people as inferior and as objects of hatred and derision. Fatphobia targets and scapegoats fat people, but it ends up harming all people. Everyone ends up in one of two camps: they are either living the pointed reality of fatphobic bigotry or they are living in fear of becoming subject to it.”Virgie Tovar, “You Have the Right to Remain Fat”
In other words, you may not treat fat people differently, you may not hate them, but wanting to be nothing more than thin, is a form of fatphobia. Tovar argues that dieting is a fatphobic practice. You see it every day in your waking life. It’s a fear that probably lives deep inside of you. Because we know how our society treats fatness and fat people, we fear that treatment.
Dieting can be hard. It isn’t for everyone. Dieting can be unrealistic and very unhealthy.
I can’t tell you how many times I cringed when a family member or friend made a fatphobic comment about their body. “My arms look fat. I need to lose weight. I hate my love handles. I’m so fat.” Usually, individuals would pass these comments without a thought.
It increases the fear of being fat and further marginalizes fat people. When this happens, it makes me wonder if I should hate myself? It makes me wonder if they hate me? If they think they’re fat, what do they think of me?
These comments incept negative ideas of our own bodies into us. They can make us feel undesirable. Through my experiences, it’s always been a sensitive topic. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, a family member always scolds me that I won’t find love until I’m skinny. However, at this point, I am immune to their lectures.
Almost none of my friends are the prototypical idea of “slim”. Neither am I. Conversations about dieting are very common but our progress is slow. There are many times where I feel like we should just empower each other, rather than believe that there’s something wrong with us or like we need to change. No matter what happens, we all long to change something. We all still hate the little, big parts of ourselves.
“I realize now that all those times I had said, ‘I want to be thin,’ I actually meant: I want to be loved. That I want to be happy. I want to be seen. I want to be free.”Virgie Tovar, “You Have the Right to Remain Fat”
There are too many times where I remember being invisible. When I was a junior in college, I made a new friend. I soon found it really difficult to get close to his friends. I’m pretty social and I love meeting new people so I didn’t know why it was so hard. Turns out, they wanted nothing to do with me. Plainly said, these individuals didn’t associate themselves with “fat girls.” I was baffled. Before that, I had just learned to love myself. I was done with telling myself that I needed to change and then just like that, someone was telling me I was wrong.
“The years I spent being taught fatphobia by my peers growing up, and then by the media, destroyed my sense of self. By the time the boys at school were through teaching me that my greatest accomplishment in life would be to lose enough weight to date one of them, I had no idea what I actually needed or wanted.”Virgie Tovar, “You Have the Right to Remain Fat”
Yes, everyone has their own insecurities, but we must not forget that we are beautiful. We are enough. Our beauty is not something that should be determined by others.