Body Shaming

I recently got a lot of abuse on Twitter for discussing the issue of body shaming, fat shaming,  skinny privilege, and feminism. I was called a fucking moron and stupid, and told I must be fat and ugly otherwise I wouldn’t get offended by fat shaming and skinny privilege doesn’t exist. My notifications went from occasional to a sudden flood I could barely keep up with, mainly people arguing and giving me abuse.

1) IS FAT SHAMING SOMETHING THAT ONLY BOTHERS FAT PEOPLE?

Whilst I don’t believe my body size or shape has any relevence to anything I am saying, I am my words and my mind not my body, I will put this one to rest right now. I am not fat. I am 5″7 (172cm) and weigh 8st11 (123lbs) which gives me a BMI of 19.3. I didn’t argue this point on Twitter because I firmly believe in don’t feed the troll and that it is none of their business, but just in case anyone reading this does believe that, please put it out of your head.

2) DOES FAT SHAMING HELP THE OBESE LOSE WEIGHT?

It was argued most aggressively that obese people need help to lose weight, and doing so requires shame over their weight. I am not saying I believe we should tell people obesity is healthy, nor am I saying we should tell people obesity is the best. What I am saying is if someone is obese a) it’s not the duty of the public to change that and b) shame is not the way forward. Obesity is a medical condition which often comes with far more mental conditions than just over eating. It may be caused by depression or anxiety, and neither of those things will benefit from cruetly and abuse. If someone is obese and wants to seek help to get healthy, they need support, encouragement and love. Not mocking, cruelty and shaming. And especially not by Twitter trolls who hide behind their computers spitting vile abuse at anyone who doesn’t fit into their view of what a body should look like.

3) ARE ONLY OBESE PEOPLE FAT SHAMED?

Saying fat shaming is okay because obesity needs to be stopped is implying that only people who are abuse are fat shamed. It is simply not true, and it is naive to suggest it is. The fact I was fat shamed when I’m not even overweight, just for siding against it in the first place, proves it. Any woman who does not conform to the standards society is putting forwards about what an ideal body looks like receives shame. Celebrities get it constantly, they gain weight and stop being what is often clinically underweight and become a more average body shape and suddenly they’re abused. That abuse is seen constantly by women and girls who then feel disgusted by their own perfectly healthy and beautiful bodies.

4) IS SKINNY SHAMING JUST AS BAD?

I was accused of skinny shaming for criticising adverts for their use of very slim women all the time. I have been skinny shamed. I have been accused of being bulimic when eating a big piece of cake and anorexic when eating a salad. I have been told I’d be sexy if I had bigger boobs and a bigger bum. I’ve been told “real women have curves” (apparently being slender makes me a robot or some sort of sub human). I have been shamed and you know what, it sucks. I am insecure a lot of the time and abuse I receive for my body shape only makes that worse. Skinny shaming is vile. All body shaming is vile. But skinny privilege DOES exist. Fat privilege doesn’t.

5) IS SKINNY PRIVILEGE A REAL THING?

So many of the Twitter users don’t believe skinny privilege is a real thing. But it is. I know because I benefit from it.

I do not need to look far in the media to find myself represented. Models, whilst slimmer than me most of the time, are my body shape. They’re slim with long legs and small boobs. Singers, actresses, everyone out there looks like me. If seeing someone who looked like me was rare I imagine I’d feel alienated from society, as though I mattered less because I wasn’t represented.

Shopping for clothes is easy. I can buy cheap clothes on eBay or in charity shops, I can buy designer clothes in high end shops, and I know I’ll be able to find my size. Not only will I find my size, but most clothes are designed AROUND my size. Mannequins and models for clothes are my shape, clothes are designed to fit them, then just made larger for a larger body shape.

Studies have shown that in the workplace, overweight people are routinely discriminated against, more likely to be fired, and less likely to be hired in the first place. They’re less likely to be promoted and paid less for the job they’re doing anyway. All because of their bodies. Not because of their work standard, not because of their abilities, intelligence, or personality. Not because of their minds or their words, just because of their bodies.

6) DOES BODY SHAMING NEED A LABEL?

This was an odd criticism. I was told labelling body shaming, fat shaming, and skinny privilege is pointless and ridiculous, and things don’t need labelling. Once you start labelling people get outraged over nothing, if there was no label, nobody would care…

Whether this person realised the labels were created BECAUSE people care I’m not sure. That the labels help us talk about shaming directly, allowing us to quickly get to the point, and (in the age of Twitter) in fewer characters.

7) IS BODY SHAMING OUTRAGE JUST FEMINISTS BEING WHINGEY?

I was informed that feminists are whinging about body shaming but nobody else cares… and that feminists are all to blame for skinny shaming anyway.

Here’s the thing, body shaming is not top of feminsts agendas. Equality is. Respect is. Feminism is not a movement designed around making women feel bad about themselves for their bodies and their looks, and to suggest it is shows a complete lack of understanding about what feminists want.

The outrage is because we are sick of being told what to do with our bodies. We are sick of being told our bodies are our soul value. We are sick of being treated like inferior beings for not conforming to a beauty standard created by an industry designed to sell us things by making us feel bad about ourselves. We are sick of men dictating how we should look, feel, be.

So this was my response to the barrage of abuse I recevied on Twitter for standing up and saying no to body shaming, no to fat shaming, and no to abuse received for how our bodies look.

STOP BODY SHAMING. IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHAT MY BODY LOOKS LIKE.

What matters is who we are, how we feel, what we want, and what we do.

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About J.J. Barnes

Author of The Lilly Prospero Series Writer and Podcaster at www.SirenStories.co.uk Blogger at Rose And Mum And More Contributor to The Huffington Post
This entry was posted in Body Image and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Body Shaming

  1. jodiebloomer says:

    Bloody well said. When will it change?

  2. I’m sorry the trolls were attacking for you having an opinion. However, I’m very glad to see that they didn’t silence you.

  3. V says:

    It’s ridiculous how some people act when you call them out for bullying!

  4. Amanda says:

    That was a powerful message I enjoyed reading this article 100%. I believe body shaming should be stopped! because everyone of every weight is affected. Keep fighting for what you believe in! -From a young girl you’ve inspired.

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