Hey, feeling like you want to be a decent person? Awesome! Let’s talk about fatphobia.
This list is going to break me a second time, isn’t it?
Yes, I’m talking to you, my non-fat friends. I’m inviting you to educate yourself about the experiences of fat people as we move through the world, and to challenge you to be our ally in creating a utopia of fat acceptance.
I’m not usually a fan of identitarians. But I would be more than welcoming to any gay, black woman in a wheelchair who wants to roll on up and tell Dani Beckett off for co-opting and appropriating the rhetoric used by actual marginalized groups to talk about how hard it is to be fat. Can somebody do this, please?
Sure, maybe you don’t directly ridicule fat people and you really like Melissa McCarthy. That must be enough, right? Wrong. Fatphobia is fundamentally built into our societal structures and sits on a foundation of racism and colonization that’s the perfect base for privileging thinness.
Fatphobia is racist, guys. FATPHOBIA IS RACIST.
Fatphobia is built into our day-to-day lives—the clothes we wear; the healthcare we receive; the TV shows we watch—and it’s going to take all of us unlearning our preconceptions, behaviors, and language to make space for all bodies in our world. Here’s 51 easy ways to start.
1. Learn to cope with the word “fat.” We fatties refer to ourselves in lots of different ways. Some people prefer “plus-size,” “bigger,” “curvy,” or “person of size,” but plenty of us describe ourselves as “fat”—and it’s not self-deprecating.
So . . . someone else describing you as “fat” is a-okay, then? I could have sworn the last list you made had a point about it being unacceptable for people to comment on women’s bodies at all, but I guess commenting on bodies is fine as long as it’s your own?
2. If someone refers to themselves as “fat,” don’t fall over yourself trying to correct them. Instead, ask yourself why you’ve attached a negative value to the word.
There Dani goes again, ignoring social context entirely in order to make grand, sweeping claims about how people should behave. I’m pretty sure most people can read social cues well enough to know if someone is fishing for praise/condolence or if they don’t require the fanfare. I know plenty of people who refer to themselves as “fat” because they want someone to say, “Oh, no you’re not honey.” You can pretend they don’t exist all you want, but they do, and it’s generally easy to tell who they are.
3. Consider that we might actually like our bodies. Yes, really. Imagine that.
Sure. Though I have a hard time believing that anyone who writes a 50+ point list about how the world needs to change to make their life better and give them higher self-esteem is also someone brimming with self-confidence. It kind of gives me the opposite impression, to be honest.
4. Understand that diets don’t work and are the evil child of capitalism and body-shaming culture. Over 95 percent of people who lose weight through dieting put the weight back on within five years. If diets worked, the diet industry would be financially unsustainable.
They do, though? Yeah, the diet plans you see advertised on late-night television don’t tend to work because, as Dani points out, a successful TV-diet is a quickly failing business. It’s an exploitative racket that relies on the failure of its consumer base. But the general concept of regulating the amount of food you eat and the kinds of food you eat to avoid any excess sugar usually works unless you have a metabolism or glandular issue. If you stop drinking soda and only eat desert once a week, you’ll probably lose a few pounds. That’s not a named diet, but it’s technically diet. Are you seriously saying that keeping track of the food you eat has nothing to do with weight loss/gain?
5. Learn about the damage that yo-yo dieting does to the body. Here’s the CliffsNotes version: It does much more damage than happily staying the size you are.
I agree. That’s not an argument against dieting. That’s an argument against shitty dieting, just like the last point was an argument against shitty dieting.
6. STOP TALKING ABOUT YOUR DIET. If you want to lose weight, fine, you do you. But understand how damaging it is for us to constantly hear how unwanted and unacceptable fat bodies are.
Low self-esteem? What?! I don’t have low self-esteem! I love myself how I am right now! That’s why I don’t even want to listen to other people trying to get their body into a size they’re happy with, because the size they would be happy with is smaller than me!
Seriously though, for a “movement” all about self-love, the fat acceptance crowd sure does fucking hate it whenever someone feels they would personally be more comfortable if they lost some weight.
7. More specifically, stop talking about your diet at meal times. It can take years to detach the feeling of shame from food, and hearing people talk about “syns,” “cheating,” and “naughty” food while we’re literally trying to eat can be massively triggering.
Once again. Not a fan of identitarians. But if a feminist rape survivor wants to stroll on in and tell Dani off for co-opting language used to talk about traumatic experiences to refer to how hard it is to be fat, I’d welcome that right about now. Also–no self-esteem issues here, folks! That’s why I can’t even listen to someone talk about dieting during a meal without feeling bad!
Note: I recognize the possibility that someone might actually have abuse-related trauma attached to their weight. People with eating disorders, or people who were horribly bullied or abused for their appearance, etc. But Dani Beckett isn’t talking about those cases, she’s just superimposing trauma onto fat people as a whole, as though fat people as a whole can be universally “triggered,” which is not the case.
8. Refrain from giving a fat person unsolicited advice about weight loss. Even if it totally worked for you, even if you think you’re being helpful, even if that person is related to you. STOP THIS.
Sure. Unsolicited advice is generally annoying, no matter what it is about. Though there is a ceiling. Like, if someone is obviously being self-destructive, unsolicited advice is going to be the only advice they get, and that advice is necessary. If Bob is 400 pounds because he eats nothing but McDonald’s fries and Coke floats, give all the unsolicited advice about weight loss you want.
9. Don’t call yourself fat if you’re widely considered to be slim or ‘average’-sized by most people. “I feel so fat today” is not equal to living in a fat body every day.
Once again, again–I’m not an identitarian, but if someone struggling with bi-polar personality disorder wants to show up and tell Dani off for co-opting language used by mental health advocates to talk about how hard it is to be fat, go right on ahead!
I though we were supposed to be comfortable with the word “fat,” Dani?
10. If you want to compliment a fat person on what they’re wearing, avoid saying it’s “flattering.” “Flattering” means, “Your clothes are hiding the bit of your body that society doesn’t like.” Just tell them they look great!
You realize “flattering” can also mean, “Your clothes are showing off the bits of your body that look good,” right? Someone could actually just be complimenting you. Fat people can have attractive features just like anyone else, and those features can be emphasized in a manner that could be described as “flattering.” What’s with this weird glass-half-empty view of compliments? [Insert the 100th joke about how Dani Beckett has poorly concealed low self-esteem here.]
11. Watch out for pity in your response to fat people. We don’t need your pity. We need your acceptance and your action to help other thin people get there, too.
We don’t need pity. That’s why I wrote a 51 point long list about all the things that make our lives hard, in a way that invokes . . . pity. Yeah, this was a poorly thought out argument.
12. Stop fetishizing fat bodies. Don’t expect fat folk to be grateful because you deem them fuckable. We’re people.
If you find [insert demographic feature] unattractive, you are _____phobic/___ist, and brainwashed by the discriminatory standards of beauty beat into you by society. If you find [insert same demographic feature here] attractive, that is a fetish and a sign of you contributing to a ______phobic/_____ist society.
Repeat this point on every SJW list about literally any topic until you perish. It is the one constant of the universe.
13. Don’t desexualize us, either. Fat people are plenty hot and are having great sex, thank you very much. All shapes and sizes of people have sex—there’s nothing you can do about that, and it’s weird and telling if you’re put out by it.
You know what’s also weird and telling, Dani? You being really defensive about the fact that you have sex. That above statement sounded like a closeted gay guy unconvincingly bragging about all the girls he’s totally banged.
Other people’s thought crimes about whether or not you have a sex life shouldn’t bother you. Their opinion about your sex life should be just as irrelevant as your opinion of theirs. This is not Dani Beckett asking for acceptance and for people to stop judging her. She just wants them to stop judging her negatively. Positive judgement about how she must be totally having great sex all the time is perfectly fine, apparently.
14. Understand that fat women get harassed and assaulted, too. Even if fat bodies don’t do it for you, remember that sexual assault is about power, not attraction. The fear of being ridiculed or disbelieved for speaking out about assault is often heightened for fat women.
Yeah, I’m gonna need a better citation than an unreferenced article from a failing Jezebel-style feminist rag if you’re going to make sweeping factual claims about rape statistics. I’m not saying this isn’t true. But you’re not doing a great job at getting that truth across, if that’s the case.
15. Remember that eating disorders affect fat people, too.
Isn’t that the stereotype? Whatever.
I highly doubt Dani Beckett’s screed against the concept of dieting and aversion towards the very notion of someone wanting to lose weight for any reason makes her the best person to go to if you have an eating disorder. See a therapist, kids, don’t go to Vice.
16. Understand that “fat” and “unhealthy” are not the same thing.
Sure. “Skinny” and “healthy” aren’t the same thing either. Can you stop condescendingly talking down to me like I’m a bad person who needs to be taught about the Good Book now?
17. Stop commenting on others’ weight under the guise of “concern” about their medical health. Are you my doctor? No? Your opinion isn’t necessary here.
Why does Dani Beckett hate context? Seriously. If someone is having health problems that have been very clearly linked to being overweight, commenting on that isn’t operating under the guise of concern. It’s actual concern, Dani. People can actually be nice and well-intentioned some of the time, you know? If you’re having knee problems and you’re 300 pounds, your friend being concerned that your weight is adversely affecting your knees isn’t trolling you to make you feel bad.
Remember one point ago when you said that “unhealthy” isn’t the same thing as “fat”? Well, they’re also capable of overlapping. Shock of all shocks. Totally excluding the influence of weight as it intersects with overall physical health is goddamn stupid. And these “Fat Acceptance” people know it.
18. Never ever, ever, ever pressure your partner to lose weight. Believing in bodily autonomy for your partner extends to supporting them in the choices they make about their body, shape, and size.
Since when did “bodily autonomy” mean never commenting on someone’s physical appearance ever? Telling your boyfriend that he might want to hit the gym isn’t the same thing as spiking his morning coffee with laxatives. This is, once again, contextual, and Dani Beckett is totally discounting the idea that a couple can sit down and have a genuine, welcomed conversation about whether one or both of them should lose weight. That doesn’t happen, I guess. It’s just all abusive patriarchal husbands telling their wives and gay partners to lose weight because they look like a fat cow.
19. If you care that much about what other people eat, donate your time and money to organizations that campaign for affordable, nutritional food in poor communities.
I thought eating nutritional food had nothing to do with weight and didn’t work?
This point is fine. One of the cyclical issues of poverty is lack of access to healthy food stuffs and then over reliance on expensive, debt-inducing reactive medical intervention for health problems that a shitty diet contributed greatly to. We’re one for nineteen, folks!
20. Critically examine the information you’re given about fatness. Investigate who is sharing the material and question what they might have to gain from it.
Can I critically examine the information I’m given about “body acceptance” too?
21. Erase the words “obesity epidemic” from your vocabulary. Demonization of fat bodies is a classic scapegoating tool employed by governments. When they talk about the “obesity epidemic,” they’re using coded language to get you to blame systematic societal problems (poverty, crime, climate change) on poor communities and communities of color. You’re smarter than that.
Well, that sentence made me barf in my mouth a little bit. It’s referred to as an obesity epidemic because we’re seeing a huge influx in obesity-related health issues and early, preventable deaths, Dani. Referring to it that way is how we’re trying to fix that whole “systemic poverty and lack of healthy resources” thing you brought up two fucking points ago. This is like saying the “AIDS epidemic” was called that because we hated the gays and not because people were dying disproportionately.
22. Learn about how the medical community treats fat bodies. As one example of very many, fat people are routinely denied kidney transplants unless they lose weight, even though they experience the same level of success with a donor kidneys as thin people do. We are consistently disbelieved and misdiagnosed because doctors cannot see past our fatness. We are often denied health insurance.
Well, I think universal health care should be a thing, so the general idea of someone being denied insurance is one I disagree with fundamentally. That being said, in our current system, people are denied insurance if they are a liability. People who smoke are denied insurance too, based on the assumption that they’re ultimately going to cost more to cover than they put in–you don’t see smokers making a group comparing their trials and tribulations to the fucking Civil Rights movement, though. If you want to talk about how fucked up the medical system is and how often it denies people care for bottom-line profits, go right on ahead. But this continued insistence that doctors have no reason to attach any poor health assumptions onto any fat person ever is getting you NOWHERE.
Worse, this continued insistence that eating healthy and exercising are exploitative myths created by racist, sexists colonialists is one of the things making universal health care in the United States an impossible fucking dream. Universal health care only works if you have a citizenry that does what it can to be proactive and negate the need for medical intervention. A country full of people with high blood pressure, poor circulation, and cholesterol-coated hearts going around insisting that “losing weight is a scam and anyone telling them to go jogging occasionally and eat healthier is discriminating against them” is not a country where universal health care works. Fuck you, Dani Beckett, for being a part of the problem is the point I’m making here.
23. While you’re at it, read up on how BMI has been widely debunked as an inaccurate and misleading measure for health.
God, I hate this argument. Because it’s technically right, and nothing stokes the unnecessary victim complex of an SJW more than technically being right. The Body Mass Index is a very flawed measurement of health because it attempts to apply a hyper-generalized universality to something that’s affected by multiple factors. All the BMI takes into account is height and weight, and it doesn’t distinguish between different kinds of weight or different body types.
If you’re someone who has packed on a lot of muscle, the BMI would list you as “overweight.” If you’re someone with an ectomorph body type (ie, naturally very tall and thin), the BMI would list you as being “underweight” even if you have a healthy weight distribution for your body type. The BMI is also pretty bad at letting anyone know what health problems a person who is “overweight” actually has because that depends, once again, on how body fat is actually distributed. A woman with a pear-shaped frame and wide hips isn’t going to have very many health problems if her extra fat is mainly in the thigh-area because her body type can handle that. Someone with an A-frame body type carrying a lot of extra weight in the stomach, though, is going to have issues. This may be giving Dani a little too much credit, though, seeing as how most people, regardless of base body type, carry excess fat in their lower abdomen, i.e., the worst place for it in terms of health risks.
So, sure, the BMI isn’t that great of a measurement. The moral of that story isn’t, “See, being fat is totally okay and anyone who says it causes health problems is a liar!” The moral of the story is that “too much body fat” and what the averse affects of that will be varies due to a myriad of factors that the BMI doesn’t address.
24. If you are a doctor, stop prescribing weight loss as a remedy. Got depression? Try losing some weight. Heartburn? Go on a diet. Broken toe? Maybe cut down on the takeout. Come on—this is ridiculous. Do your job better.
It’s not the doctor’s job to prevent you from being unhealthy, Dani.
A.) Exercise actually does help depression for many people. Physical activity leads to a release of neurochemicals that would otherwise be blocked off. Exercising releases dopamine, for instance. And if you’re a depressed person not getting enough dopamine from your normal interactions, using that alternate channel of physical activity can be a way of “tricking” your brain into releasing dopamine by using a different stimuli/trigger that isn’t affected by depression. Fuck you for utterly dismissing an actually helpful technique for contended with depression because it makes you insecure.
25. Learn to criticize people without referencing their weight. There are enough things to criticize Trump for without bringing his body into it. Making jokes about his weight doesn’t hurt him—it hurts the nice, everyday fat person just trying to get on with their life.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT. A stereotypical internet liberal just said we shouldn’t criticize Donald Trump about something.
What a racist. I bet she hates immigrants.
26. Make sure your allyship extends to all fat people, not just small fat folks, not just white fat folks, and not just able-bodied fat folks.
I’m really done with this list. Why do fat people need an Oppression Olympics too?
27. Know that skinny-shaming is not a thing. Ridiculing someone for being “too” slim is unacceptable, but it comes from a very different place than fatphobia. Thinness is seen as desirable by society and people, particularly women, are attacked only when their size begins to shine a light on the toxic fetishization of thinness. Fat people, however, are shamed for any deviation from the “acceptable” size and, more often than not, held in contempt for being that size. Concern trolling exists in the lives of thin people too, but discrimination against fat people is systematic and pervasive and damaging to entire communities.
Good to know that fat people have their own version of “black people can’t be racist.” Go tell the plus-size model that dropped a few sizes and who was subsequently attacked for it by “fat acceptance” activists that skinny shaming doesn’t exists. Is “Real Women Have Curves” not skinny shaming? Double standards get you nowhere. Either bodyshaming is universally wrong, or it’s not. You can’t talk about it like it’s a systematic issue then deny the impact is has on everyone who isn’t you.
28. Understand the link between capitalism and fatphobia. For instance, the companies that profit from the hard marketing of indulgent food at Christmas are often the same ones selling diet products in the New Year.
Companies exist to make money?! WHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAA. Hey, Dani, Dove markets itself as being all about body positivity even though the same company that owns Dove sells makeup. I hope you weren’t one of the people fawning all over that Body Acceptance campaign.
29. Sometimes, you’re going to sit next to a fat person on a plane. You’ll cope. I can guarantee that person is far more physically uncomfortable than you are.
I thought people above a certain weight had to buy two seats to avoid the whole “suffocating the person sitting next to you” problem. Also, way to be a total asshole about someone being uncomfortable. It’s not my fault that having some stranger’s love handles roll onto my lap is unappealing. I have social anxiety. I don’t like being touched by skinny people. Way to be ableist in your assumptions that everyone can cope with that, Dani.
30. Find out about the physical pain endured by not only fat people on planes, but on rollercoasters, in theater seats, on massage tables, and other size-specific areas. Then, contact your airline to ask them why they scrimp on their seat sizes. Leave positive TripAdvisor reviews for restaurants with sturdy chairs. Encourage your office manager to purchase accessible seats for your workplace (no arm rests, please). We need you to be doing this labor, too.
HOLD UP. Rollercoasters?! You realize those seats are the size they are because people would fall out of them and die if they weren’t, right? That is literally the least logical thing to insist should be made for fat people. Also, all of those trials and tribulations are also faced by unusually tall people, and unusually short people. Guys also would like a little more seating space to make room for their physical attributes, but you called that man-spreading, by the way. So clearly you don’t care about providing people with the space they need for all parties. There’s a reason the ADA laughed “fat acceptance” people out of the fucking building. “Fat” is not a disability. It is not something that people should be legally required to accommodate for.
31. Also, make sure your guest towels are the biggest size they have in the shop. Don’t make me scoot around your house in a towel that leaves me half naked.
It is not my fucking job to cater to you. It is my house. You are providing an example where you go to someone else’s house and tell them what to do, and you’re painting yourself as the non-annoying person in that situation. How demanding are you? I don’t go to your house and judge your linens.
33. Learn about the pay gap and employment bias faced by fat people. Yes, this is a very real thing.
If this lady proposes affirmative action for fat people, I am going to quit. There’s not even going to be an outro. I’ll just be done.
34. Stop assuming that fat people are lazy. Catch yourself when that bias creeps into your mind.
People can assume whatever they want. This list is nothing but Dani Beckett making assumptions about other people and what they think and do. It’s only fair that you allow them that same capacity.
35. Put your money into art that showcases fat people as romantic leads. Hamilton in London, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and the upcoming remake of Little Shop of Horrors have managed it, and many more should take their lead—and be supported by audiences when they do.
Are we getting into yet another round of “Dani Beckett looks down her nose at me and tells me what art I am and am not allowed to like”?
36. Call out your favorite authors when they only write about fat characters as a shortcut to make you dislike them. (I’m looking at you, J.K. Rowling.)
But . . . there are fat characters in Harry Potter who you’re supposed to like as well. What, Dudley and all the fat jokes surrounding him exist, so I’m just supposed to forget that characters like Neville, Slughorn, Professor Sprout, and Hagrid are described as overweight and are likable? What about the fact that J. K. Rowling also uses thinness as an indication that you’re not supposed to like someone (Aunt Petunia, Snape, Malfoy, fucking Voldemort)? I’ve focused on this point way too long.
37. Call out your favorite comedian when they resort to fatphobic jokes.
38. And actors wearing fat suits for comedy effect? Absolutely nope.
Well, I guess I agree that this is shitty comedy. Way to go.
39. Read critical thinking about fatness by fat writers: Cat Pausé, Kivan Bay, Roxane Gay, Sofie Hagen. These people, and loads more, do great work pulling apart the common misconceptions about fatness. They’re not just doing that work for fat folks. Thin people need to read it, too.
There is nothing I would want to do less than sit down and take time out of my life to read a pop sociology book about fatness. I would rather do math homework.
Note: You are not a welcoming and accepting movement when you require your members and allies to have done high-brow, esoteric academic readings before associating with you. This point is the epitome of the snooty, college-educated liberal elitist stereotype.
40. Fund critical analysis through Patreon, crowdfunding sites, and direct donations to research institutes. There’s hardly any cash in fat research…I wonder why.
They’re asking for money. What a surprise.
41. Never forget that fatphobia has its roots in racism and white supremacy. In the early 1800s, colonialist “scientists” used fatness as one of the markers for social hierarchies, with fatness as one of the “uncivilized” characteristics attributed to the Black and indigenous people placed at the bottom of this scale.
Well, Dani Beckett is at least proudly continuing the grand tradition of privileged, white armchair anthropologists being problematic as fuck.
42. If you have children, be cognizant of how you talk about food around them. Many women, in particular, cite comments from their mothers as instigating factors in their shame around food. Teach your kids that their, and others’, bodies aren’t something to apologize for.
Don’t be an insecure housewife who’s constant onslaught of passive aggression turns my daughter into an anorexic. Got it. “Stop projecting your own ideas and insecurities onto your children” is good advice, but I highly doubt that an ideologue like Dani consistently applies this rule. Her daughter’s gonna be a feminist, doncha know?
43. Understand that there are different kinds of fat bodies. Not all fat people have hourglass figures or carry their weight in societally acceptable places.
And those different kinds of fat bodies are prime pickin’ for the Fat Oppression Olympics. Don’t be skinny-fat, ladies! The importance of your opinion in this movement is directly related to the size of your waistline! Size larges get to the back of the fucking line. XXX-large is where it’s at!
44. Listen to the stories of fat people. We will experience problems in our daily lives that you won’t know anything about. Some of this may sound alien or unlikely to you, but believe these stories and let them inform how you treat people.
Nothing says “take me seriously” like co-opting language used when we talk about rape.
45. And telling us, “Well you could just lose weight” is not ok. Heard of victim blaming? Yeah, this is it.
Nothing says “take me seriously” like co-opting language used when we talk about rape: Part II, Electric Bugaloo.
46. Call out your friends, family members, and co-workers when they fat-shame people in front of you. Remember that your silence gives them permission to keep doing this.
Fat-shaming isn’t okay for the same reason that bullying and generally being an asshole are not okay. I’d be inclined to agree with this point if it weren’t for the fact that it has been made very clear that any mention of weight or weight loss whatsoever, regardless of context, is considered “fat shaming,” apparently.
47. Don’t expect every fat person to respond the same way to harassment. Fat positivity is complex. It involves years of undoing internalized shame and, often, the misogyny, racism, classism, and ableism that’s linked to that, too. Some days, your fat friend will be angry and ready to take on the world, other days, she’ll feel shit and sad about it.
I like how it’s “fat positivity” now. “Body positivity” included those skinny bitches, and we can’t have that. Dani Beckett is the last person you want to go to for how not to be classist or ableist, by the way. This list, combined with her previous entry in the Vice listicle genre, are more than enough proof to me that she is incredibly socioeconomically elitist and incredibly insensitive towards disabilities, particularly of the mental/emotional health variety. Also the fact that she’s so ready–right out of the gate–to co-opt language used by rape victims and people struggling with systemic racism gives me the impression that she’s not much of a source of wisdom when it comes to misogyny or racism either.
48. Don’t leave it to fat folk to call out fat-shaming—the emotional labor of defending yourself is exhausting. We need you to also send the message that it’s unacceptable.
It is not other people’s job to make you feel good. If you expect the world to shoulder the burden of your insecurities for you, you are going to be sorely disappointed.
49. Report fatphobia on online platforms. More of us need to do this if we want Facebook and Twitter to take it seriously.
Yes. Do encourage more incompetent community policing from the already stunningly incompetent social media platforms. There’s no way that can go wrong!
50. Okay, sometimes you’re going to accidentally assume that someone is pregnant. You probably shouldn’t go around pointing out (or, fucking hell, touching) every pregnant belly you see, but, once in a while, you might mistakenly offer your seat to someone who isn’t pregnant, and is just carrying weight on their stomach. There’s no perfect way to respond to this, but please remember that, in this situation, your feelings do not matter. Take your lead from the person you’ve affected, and don’t make it their job to make you feel better on top of their having to process it to begin with.
This happened to one of my friends once. She thought it was funny. Are we allowed to think these kinds of situations are funny, Dani, or must we all have the same cynical, the-world-is-out-to-get-me, perpetually indignant reaction that you seem to have?
51. And lastly, never forget that if you’re not advocating for fat women and non-binary people, then your feminism isn’t intersectional. Because—and say it with me now: Fat-shaming and diet culture are tools of the patriarchy!