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Can I drop a bit of truth on you real quick? I was a chubby kid. Seriously, it’s true! And for a long time, I wasn’t really super aware of it, but I think I was always cognizant of it… at least to a certain extent. I don’t think it really negatively impacted me (although I could be suppressing something there, fair warning), but I would commend my parents in that they did a pretty decent job of helping to bolster my other positive attributes so that when I did experience fat shaming, it didn’t really sink in.
But that’s not to say that I didn’t escape childhood unscathed with nary a trace of fat shaming. Heavens, no! Like most chubby kids, I definitely experienced some fat shaming. I can distinctly remember walking to my table from the lunch line in 5th grade and hearing the not so subtle whispers of some of my classmates: Oh God, think of all those calories.
Which, in hindsight, may have been more about them than it was about me? Possibly. Let’s put a pin on that one.
I wish that I could say that scars weren’t left, but that would be a lie. As I got older, I started to associate my size with my worth. At times, I definitely felt that if I were smaller, I would be more worthy (whatever that means). And to get to that point, I did some really unhealthy and stupid things: “fasted” or ate next to nothing; did the Master Cleanse; exercised for 1-2 hours a day (but never strength training because I had convinced myself that muscle weighed more and I needed that scale to be as low as possible).
Y’all, I was fat shaming myself.
But what exactly is fat shaming? A person engages in fat shaming when they humiliate another person that they have deemed to be fat or overweight, typically by making mocking, biting, critical, or rude comments about the other person’s size.
However, fat shaming is not one size fits all.
Fat shaming comes in the form of microaggression and intentional bullying. It’s sideways glances or not-so-subtle whispers. It’s living in the shame and projecting that hurt onto others while fat shaming ourselves.
Personally, it’s a conversation that interests me. Greatly. I hear this cacophony of catcalls and criticism, and with intense social media pressure that’s available 24/7, I worry about how I will teach my children the resiliency skills to ignore such denigrating talk. I mean, I already see a little of it in some of the princesses shows that we watch where the protagonist has an impossibly tiny waist. I worry about the day that my daughter comes home and asks Mommy, am I fat?
But what does it look like? What does it sound like when it’s not obvious? My friend, Tami, over at Unicorns in My Coffee has these great examples about fat shaming that I want to share with you.
Fat Shaming Example 1: I am so fat.
Why is this fat shaming?? Well, when I am a size 22 and someone smaller than me says I am so fat in response to their own body in a way that is negative and self-shaming, it makes me wonder what they see when they look at me, someone who is obviously double their weight. This comment can send people into a spiral of self-loathing. Also, who cares if you are fat… fat is NOT a bad thing!
I would personally interject after this example the well-intentioned reply to I am so fat of But you’re so beautiful! We had some conversation around this in one of my Facebook groups, and it’s a little baffling! At no point did the person who said I am so fat say I am so ugly… but that’s exactly what was implied. I will raise my hand and say that I have done it, and I have never had ill-intent in doing so… but it’s a little curious that I made that assumption about another person when they didn’t say it. At all.
Fat Shaming Example 2: You should stop eating…
Hey, we talked about this on my Unicorn Frappuccino review — what I put in my body is my business. And just because I am fat does not mean you get to tell me what I eat. Body autonomy means that I have the power to put in my body what makes me feel good, strong or whatever. I will never tell you that you should or should not eat something and I expect the same in return. Things I have heard in my life are shouldn’t you order a salad instead of the burger and you should stop eating that because it has some much sugar/fat/calories and that will give you a heart attack/diabetes/some other disease.
Hi, 5th-grade girls that called me out for getting ice cream with lunch?
Fat Shaming Example 3: Plus Size People Should NEVER wear…
This has been improving as plus size bloggers show the world we can wear whatever we want, but we still hear from people like Tim Gunn who say things like box pleats and plus size are not good combos (my favorite dress has box pleats in it and I look sexy in that dress so…).
Right now, I’m still learning about the best way to equip my children with the tools to navigate these waters. I definitely want them to know that their bodies are healthy, worthy, and strong. While I work on that, Tami has some great comebacks when faced with fat shaming in the rest of her post, and I invite you to read more about it there. I would also invite you to pick up some awesome leggings in her Unicorn Squad group.
Tami lives in Boise, Idaho and loves it… she’s been there since she was 9! She works for the local university, and in her spare time, slings a little LuLaRoe on the side. Being with LuLaRoe awoke the fashionista inside, and she loves helping people style their wardrobes and find new pieces that they love! She has two amazing teenagers and a truck driver husband who’s touring around the PacNW in his 16 wheeler.