Friday, June 5, 2009

Hey Fatty Cover Up

image Now that June is here the warm weather is finally hitting the great white north, otherwise known as Canada.  That’s right, we’re trading in our igloos and snowshoes for (gasp )shorts and tank tops.  After wearing layers of clothing for months having the freedom of movement is liberating.  Feeling the warmth of the sun touch ones skin can be exhilarating, as thoughts turn to picnics, BBQ’s, swimming, and lazy afternoons.  Spring and summer are about play and rejuvenation, unless of course you happen to be F-A-T.

The really offensive F word these days is F-A-T because we have set unrealistic body standards.  We invest in the predatory diet industry or subject ourselves to surgeries in the desperate hope that somehow we can achieve a physical shape that will be visibly pleasing.  F-A-T shaming is big business and it is supported daily in our discourse.

Today as I watched a young girl walk by in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, the commentary regarding her size was fatphobic to say the least.

“Oh that is just disgusting”, said one person followed by “who wants to see that”?  Though his commentary was cruel, it is far to common.  Socially we exist with the idea that anyone who does not meet the idealized body standards should attempt to make themselves as invisible as possible, to avoid causing image disgust in a casual passerby.  If this requires a fat person to wear clothing that is not appropriate for the season then so be it.  Heaven forbid a roll or an ounce of cellulite be visible in a world that imagines that it is populated by Ken and Barbie dolls. Wake up skinny people, Barbie could not stand upright if she were human and neither of the two of them are anatomically correct; is this really what we want to be emulating?

What does one gain from fat shaming the casual passerby?  Why is it that we find disgust so easily in another human being?  Few will think twice as they loudly proclaim another unfit to socialize with simply because of their size.  Fatness is seen as obscene and therefore regardless of how it may effect the listener, loudly proclaiming someone repulsive, or pointing at them as though they are some sort of side show freak is deemed acceptable. 

Shaming is so strong that some women will give up eating in public, swimming, bike riding, or daring to have any kind of active life.  Commentary is often hidden under the guise of promoting a “healthy lifestyle,” while ignoring the fact that just because someone is slim does not make them healthy.  If a F-A-T person is outside living life and having fun, how does shaming them into retreat promote health and well being?  In the end, the “healthy lifestyle” discourse more often than not comes down to affirming our hierarchy of bodies.

It is far too easy to shame someone, forgetting that we all have our own so-called imperfections to deal with.   I am not going to beg you to show decency, I am going to demand it.  Remember what your mother told you as a child;  if you don’t have anything nice to say, shut the hell up.   Life is hard enough without have to negotiate the ignorance of another to have a good time.

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