Fatphobia isn't dead

In the new age of seeing plus-sized models and people telling you “confidence looks great on you,” microaggressions still exist around us. It causes us plus-sized people to question why we hate our bodies if we haven’t been directly attacked or called “fat” in person.

The issue is that while the media may be trying to apologize for the years of “skinny models only,” they still have prominent people making body image slurs. And no matter who it’s directed at, it still reminds us that we are fat, and fat is looked down upon instead of being embraced.

The main example I think of is when George Takei tweeted, “Come on Donald, You need to give up. Just like you did with your casinos, your wives, your weight and Covid-19. Give up, already.” We also had Anderson Cooper call Donald Trump an “obese turtle,” which he came out and apologized for his choice of words once an uproar was heard.

Many of us were tweeting and judging Trump’s character and holding him accountable for the COVID-19 numbers and many of the civil unrest issues that broke out, but there is no reason to bring up anyone’s weight. Those of us who were on the side of fighting against Trump felt we were being attacked as well.

Comments like these are laughed at and brushed away without thoughts of how harmful they can be. It’s the same as a person saying, “ew, I look fat,” which then makes us think that we are gross because we are fat. They teach us that being fat is something worth being laughed at and we should be skinny.

In more recent news, Lizzo, our body confidence queen, spoke out about how negative comments about her body have been affecting her. She explained in a TikTok how she’d think about how maybe all those negative words and thoughts may be true.

People hiding behind screens taking shots at our cellulite and the media telling us we can’t wear things that have been deemed “skinny people only,” exists and is detrimental to our minds. We start to believe that if we lose weight, we’ll be happy, only to find we’re still not happy.

Over the years, we’ve been told by Victoria’s Secret that they don’t want us wearing their lingerie, Brandy Melville’s sizing being “regular fit” as if mid-size and plus-size bodies aren’t “regular” and places like Abercrombie & Fitch having a past of hiring only “pretty people” which excluded bigger-bodied people (which they claim to have stopped and now even sell clothing that goes up to XL).

Growing up, many people I know, and even I, dealt with ads for diets being thrown in our faces that later turned into eating disorders. Comments like, “you are so confident for wearing that” are actually backhanded because we all know those comments wouldn’t be said to people like Kendell Jenner when she wears a bikini. Many of our insecurities come from the media and what the media says about our body types, not from kids calling us ugly and fat (which can still have its own punch). Many of us are told to spend our first allowance on Spanx or to start making new years resolutions of losing 20 pounds at 12 years old.

Many questions come to mind that make me wonder how we can improve these stores and our media: As a lingerie store, why wouldn’t Victoria’s Secret want to sell to every body-type? It would make them more money and be monumental for a store as big as them to be selling inclusive sizes.

Why do stores like Brandy Melville that live in “one size fits most” worlds still exist? Again, wouldn’t it be better to be inclusive, both for capitalistic and moral purposes?

We should show more inclusive body sizes in children’s literature that doesn’t connect to being a glutton. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is always something that comes to mind with Agustas who wouldn’t stop eating sweets. He was a character we were happy to laugh at and were OK with Willy Wonka bullying. Characters like this made me feel insecure and wonder if anyone looked at me and compared me to Augustas Gloop when I was eight.

Teaching children that skinny doesn’t equal healthy is super important and would lessen the idea that bullying each other into eating disorders is “for their own good.” Studies show that it all leads back to what you’re eating: Many people and even children eat healthy but stay chubby; many people and children eat junk food but stay skinny. Showing skinny bodies only when showing happy children that eat their carrots isn’t helpful. We should show different body types that eat their fruits and veggies so children don’t keep equating skinny to healthy.

I applaud Abercrombie & Fitch for getting rid of their disgusting beauty standards and raising their sizes to XL, but why not extend them further? It’s 2021. We have so many different body types. We should be working towards having stores that are size inclusive across the board, not just sizes 10-26 stores and sizes 00-8 stores. We need more stores that will combine the two aspects.

Forever 21 and H&M are those stores that have inclusive sizing, and obviously they have a lot more to work on, but it definitely feels good when shopping with skinny friends to be able to shop at the same place. That being said, all Forever 21s and H&Ms should have their plus-size section, not just a few, but that’s a whole conversation for another day.

While we are moving forward towards a more body-inclusive future, we are letting some past ideals stick. If we don’t hold these companies, the education system and people with elevated voices accountable for what they say, we will never be able to move forward.

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