Tag Archives: weight

Fat-Shaming is Pointless

image source

image source

The two images above explain exactly why fat-shaming is pointless. When people judge someone harshly based on their weight, insinuating that they’re lazy, disgusting, mentally slow/disturbed, etc., they are making all sorts of assumptions about them which have no basis in fact. The only thing fat-shamers are REALLY saying is “I don’t like how your body looks.”

I dealt with this a LOT during middle and high school, and I still get people occasionally who think that because of my size, I am something to pity or someone who needs “advice” on how to “live properly***.” I used to take people’s opinions of my body very seriously, because I thought they were telling me the truth about what I was–that I was disgusting and horrible and didn’t deserve to live.

But no more. Now my response to fat-shaming is: “WHO CARES?” Certainly not this big girl. If they don’t like my body, fine–it isn’t theirs to worry about.

***Note: Medical obesity IS a definable problem which keeps a person from being able to live normally because of body size. Recovery from obesity should be treated as seriously as any disease is treated, with the proper emotional support instead of just shaming the people who “ended up this way.” Why? Because there are usually multiple medical causes of obesity (thyroid problems, stress, hormonal imbalance, medicine reactions, lower body injury/instability, etc.). (And no, we don’t all sit on our couches going through boxes of Twinkies! If you think overeating is the sole cause of medical obesity, then please educate yourself.)

Medical obesity is not what I’m speaking of in this post; “fat-shaming” occurs mostly because a person’s body does not conform to current size standards of beauty, which are highly Photoshopped and thus unrealistic anyway.

Stop Shaming Others for Their Bodies!



What you see above are pictures of me–my belly (top left), and as full-body a picture as I could get (top right). These are unedited, not only because I have no skill with Photoshopping, but because this post is about real bodies–like yours, and like mine. My body, while not being society’s ideal, is still a real body, with its own story, its own weaknesses, and its own beauty. But many people, including me, are made to believe every day that they are abnormal, ugly, and abhorrent because of the reality of their bodies. I believe we in today’s society are still operating with a good bit of weight prejudice (the hatred, fear, and shaming of another’s body based on weight).

My Experience with Weight Gain and Weight Prejudice

As I have written about many times before (in October 2011 most notably), I have been a “big woman” since I turned 11 years old and puberty began in earnest. My body’s general shape has not changed much since then–my belly has been strangling itself against the waistline of all my pants for 16 years, and my hips and butt are still just as big as ever. It’s been hard to accept my body as being “good enough,” because I was made to feel horrible about myself, not only from advertisements but the kids I went to school with. For years, they hurled verbal and physical abuse, plus tried a few tactics that those in the military would probably call “hazing.”

Why “Fat-Shaming” and “Skinny-Shaming” Should Be Called “Weight Prejudice”

The horrible social treatment I endured, which still affects me to this day, is not the only form of weight-shaming that goes on, however. As I have grown older, I have seen how thinner women are shamed for their bodies, too–called out for their “chicken legs” and “mosquito-bite boobs” on occasion, but more often hated by bigger women because they are supposedly closer to society’s beauty ideal. Thinness carries with it its own set of health problems, too, especially if the thinness is brought on by anorexia or bulimia.

My question is: “WHY do we care so much what ANOTHER PERSON’S BODY looks like?”

Think about that for a minute. We don’t live in another person’s body. We don’t have to wash it, feed it, dress it, etc. We don’t even have to look at it if we don’t want to. So WHY is someone else’s appearance so darned important to us?

My answer: because almost all of society is infected with a prejudice about weight. We get mad when someone else’s body doesn’t look like ours, or doesn’t look like we think bodies should. Thus, we shame the person, to make sure they conform to society’s standard. It’s an old psychological trick, and it works every time, especially when the victim of such shaming is a child/adolescent or otherwise emotionally fragile.

This is the very definition of prejudice: judging someone else to be inferior because they look different. So why is weight prejudice so difficult to accept as fact? After all, it can even affect whether or not you can get a job, because employers sometimes view thin people as being “too flighty” and fat people as being “too lazy.” If that’s not discrimination, I don’t know what is.

Why This Has To STOP

Some people, by looking at my pictures, might just assume I’m another fat chick whining about being treated fairly, when what I really need to do is get off the couch and quit eating Twinkies. (This has actually been said to me, so I know people think idiotic stuff like this.) The truth is, we cannot tell much about another person’s lifestyle from their body shape. In some cases, weight packs on due to sedentary living; in other cases, weight packs on or stays on no matter how often you starve yourself or how often you exercise, because of genetics. (Skinny people can endure the same kind of frustration in reverse, not being able to gain weight no matter how much they eat.)

For those who claim they are “only concerned about someone else’s fitness” when they judge on weight: WEIGHT IS NOT THE ONLY MEASURE OF FITNESS! (Can I get an AMEN?!) Things like vital organ functions, muscle strength and flexibility, joint/tendon health, blood pressure, lymph node health, thyroid hormone levels, etc., all play into fitness. Being skinny does not mean you’re healthy, and being fat doesn’t mean you’re not healthy. (This is why shows like The Biggest Loser are so dangerous–they proclaim people “winners” for losing the most weight, when in truth “losing weight” is only one small part of the fitness process.)

We cannot keep hating on each other and judging each other when we don’t even know what other people are going through. If we do, we are simply arguing from ignorance, and we prove our social stupidity with every hateful thought and word. (I’m saying “we” here because I include myself; I have also been guilty of envying others–usually skinny women–based on their bodies.) Remember, all living bodies are in progress; you might think someone else is fat, but they might have just lost 60 pounds and be living better than they ever have. Would you want someone else to judge you like that, after having made such progress?

Bottom line: when you look at a stranger’s body, you are not seeing their medical history, and you are not their personal doctor. Thus, you have NO RIGHT to tell them that they should change their lifestyle just because you happen to be offended by their body. Fat, skinny, or in-between, there is NO REASON that we should shame each other because of weight. Quite simply, it’s not our business what someone else’s body looks like.

Further Reading

To explore the issue of weight prejudice further:

This is what a real yoga body looks like
Let’s Talk About Thin Privilege

The Pros of Being a Big Woman

“Wait, what?” you’re probably thinking. “There are PROS to being a big woman, in today’s society of ‘thin is in’ and size 0-2 being glorified in every clothing store?”

Yes, there are pros. As a big woman myself, it’s taken me many years to come to terms with my shape and size since I plumped up and began to gain my adult form at 11 years old. But I’ve finally reached a place where I am content with my body whatever shape it takes. And in this skinny-crazed society we live in, it’s important for all of us bigger ladies to stop hating and punishing ourselves because we don’t “look thin” or “weigh X amount.” There’s more to fitness than just weight, as I’ll discuss in a moment.

One Important Note Before We Begin: “Big” Does Not Always Equal “Fat/Obese”

Now, I am not saying that there are pros to having severe obesity which causes medical problems. Believe me, I began to suffer a painful pre-arthritic condition in several of my lower body joints about six years ago due to weight, and through exercise I am beginning to conquer it. Body size which compromises health is something that must be addressed medically (not just with fad diets and such), otherwise one’s quality of life will wither away–I experienced that firsthand.

Fitness is NOT Measured in Body Weight Alone

BUT! My body frame is just larger than what’s considered “thin/small enough,” and I would guess that I’m not the only woman built like this. (From shoulder to shoulder, I’m 17 inches wide; from hip bone to hip bone, I’m 25 inches wide.) My shoulders and hips are just wider than some girls’, and all of my bones are thicker than most. (Even doctors have marveled at the thickness/density of my bones on X-rays.) Because of my skeleton’s structure and density, I can carry more weight without it looking like I weigh that much. Most people who look at me cannot believe I’m 300 pounds (yep, I said it–it’s just a number!); most folks guess that I’m 200 pounds or so.

Too many people focus on just their weight number, thinking that fitness is solely based on how much you weigh, and it just isn’t. There are plenty more factors that go into fitness, such as muscle flexibility and strength, heart health, joint flexibility, lung capacity, ability to walk and move easily, etc. My doctor tells me my knees are stronger and my heart and lungs are performing better than they were six years ago, yet I’m the first to admit I’m not completely fit yet.

But even with all the exercise classes I take and healthy food I eat, I will never shrink down to be a smaller woman skeletally. I will never be dainty, petite, and tiny. I am a tall woman (5’8″) with broad shoulders and wide hips. This is something I must accept about myself, because it has to do with how my body is formed at the skeletal level, something that diet and exercise cannot change. I and other girls built like me will always be somewhat larger than “model” size.

And you know what? THAT IS OKAY. In fact, it’s more than okay to be big–sometimes, there are even advantages! Thus, the reason I came up with the following tongue-in-cheek yet accurate list:

Why It’s Great to Be a Big Woman

  • Our height and body structure makes us look more authoritative/confident
  • No breast augmentation surgery needed–large breasts usually come with the “big woman” package
  • More padding, so if you fall or bump into things, you won’t break a bone or damage internal organs
  • Halter tops look great on broad shoulders and large busts like ours
  • We can use our weight against potential attackers
  • Wringing out clothes is easy–just wrap the clothing in a towel and sit on it! LOL
  • Our figures can look more like the vintage “pinup girl” posters
  • There are good men out there who genuinely appreciate our bodies
  • We got hips that don’t lie (and that can shut car doors by themselves)
  • Carrying/delivering children is a little easier (especially with our wider hips)
  • We can pull off those lovely retro-style dresses and skirts
  • Since we can carry more weight on our frames, we can usually carry heavier things more easily
  • Who needs body pillows to snuggle with when you’ve got us? 😀

I Don’t CARE What the Scale Says–I’m Healthier and I Know It!

After nearly 10 months of doing Zumba classes, I have noticed a definite body change for the better. ^o^

I can FEEL the difference in my body, even though the mean ole scale tells me that I’ve only lost 7 pounds (currently weighing in around 290 pounds instead of 297-298). Despite being faced with a number I still don’t like–a number I’ve been socially PROGRAMMED not to like–I am happy with the results of my exercise routine thus far.

How Much Better AM I Doing?

  • I can walk up a set of stairs in several seconds, bouncing from foot to foot easily instead of clomping up one painful step at a time
  • There are two or three INCHES of room in the waistbands of most of my lower-body clothing (pants, shorts, skirts, and even underwear)
  • I don’t get quite as winded and wheezy when I move around
  • I can come down a set of stairs without having to cling desperately to the railing for balance
  • My left ankle doesn’t seem to turn over as easily, leading to less accidental twists
  • My waist is much more defined than it used to be
  • When I exercise, my heart gets into an “elevated but not overworked” pace, instead of going straight from “resting” heart rate to “OMG I’M BUSTING OUT OF YOUR CHEST LOL”

Not only are people noticing a difference in my looks, but I’m noticing a difference in the way my body functions and feels. I don’t feel quite as heavy and tired as I used to, even though I still look like an uncoordinated duck during most of the Zumba exercises. And even though I still wheeze a little during much of the class, I find that some of the moves that were impossible for me in June 2011 are now attainable and even fun.

Actually Seeing the Inches Lost, in Clothes

The clothing difference has been the most astonishing, for me. I’ve been used to squeezing my body into clothes, dancing and shaking myself into pants rather than just slipping them on (you know the “pants dance,” don’t lie :P). I’ve also been used to the unique pain and suffering brought on by a belly constrained too much by an unforgiving button and zipper.

Imagine, then, what I felt this past Christmas, when I easily put on a dress that had been too small in 2010. Where before the zipper would not even go up my back all the way, now the dress hung off me in becoming folds of fabric, especially around the waist. That was a measurable success–I remember crying in 2010 when I had brought out the dress to wear, only to find that I couldn’t even zip it up all the way. This Christmas, I wore it with pride.

I also have been getting back into other clothes, clothes I haven’t worn since late high school/early college (~2003/2004). I had retired a pair of jeans for being simply too small right after I went to college–the “freshman 15” was more like the “freshman 45” in my case–and in shame, I had packed them away in the laundry room. Upon discovering them in the laundry room about a month ago, I tried them on, more as a private joke to myself than anything. And they FIT. It wasn’t an “almost-kinda-sorta” squeeze-fit, either–they buttoned and zipped comfortably. :O What happened? Zumba happened. Moreover, a lifestyle change happened.

Why the Number of Pounds Does Not Matter

I purposely did not look at a scale for the first seven months I did Zumba, because I didn’t want to be disheartened. I, like most of the women in my extended family, have a very hard time losing pounds, and I refused to be a slave of the scale number. Instead, I focused on inches lost (currently, I have lost HALF A FOOT around my waist alone!), as well as body feeling. Only when I went to the doctor in early January and had to be weighed did I look at the scale.

I have to admit, I was disappointed at the small number of pounds lost. I’d never make it on “The Biggest Loser”, I know that. But my doctor was impressed with my heart rate; knowing the family history of heart attacks, he was worried that my fast and light pulse signaled problems down the road for me. Now, my heart beats slower but stronger–a healthier heart rate. He could also tell a difference in the way I was walking (not so gingerly and carefully anymore), because my left ankle is getting stronger. I count those two improvements as much more important than subtracting 10 from my scale number.


As much as I’ve worked to even get to 290 pounds, this number is not going to torment me. I know the difference in my body, and I know I’m doing better physically than I was before. I’m toning up, I’m losing inches, and I’m feeling better than I have in years, probably since before I became a “fat girl” in 1996.

So I’m not going to worry that my weight doesn’t match some magical number according to my age, height, socioeconomic status, etc. As long as I continue to feel and function better in my everyday life, I know that it’s a positive lifestyle change. Maybe if all us girls started focusing on how our bodies feel rather than how they look, we might just forget all this super-skinny-fashion mess…well, a girl can dream, can’t she?