Fat Shaming Versus Fat Discrimination

Recently it seems like more and more people have become aware of the fat acceptance/activism movement.  I believe that's a mainly positive development, because I believe there are fat people out there who really need to hear what fat activists have to say.

I believe there are some drawbacks though, and as more people hear about and want to join the movement, we are in danger of diluting some of the more radical elements of what fat activism is or can be.  (Or is to me, at any rate.)

So maybe now is a good time to think about defining terms and stating goals and talking about tactics. 

I am planning some posts around what I see as basic principles and basic tactics- all with the understanding that I am not the queen of fat acceptance, that FA existed before I was even born and continues to be an evolving topic of discussion among many many people. 

I'm figuring these things out as I go, like we all are. 

Today, I want to tackle the phrase "fat shaming". 

It's kind of weird to me, that this phrase has somewhat entered public consciousness. It seemed like no one gave a damn about fat people's feelings for as long as I can remember. It seemed like being fat meant you weren't supposed to even HAVE feelings. 

So I suppose, in a way, that people are even talking about fat shaming is a good thing. 

But the thing that inevitably happens, the surest bet in the world, is as soon as anyone says "fat shaming", someone will pipe up with "thin people get shamed too".  *Sigh* 

I have serious problems with this, which I've gone into in great detail in the past, but what I will say about "skinny shaming" in brief is- it's a derailing tactic.  I never hear about the epidemic of thin shaming until a fat person tries to speak. And I somehow never see the defenders of thinness ever defending fat people (especially women) from the ever constant attacks we endure. 

And as a derailing tactic, it works. I've seen it work. And I have been thinking about it and I wonder if the phrase "fat shaming" is a bad tactic. 

I mean, it's accurate. Our culture is certainly pushing down the idea that fat people should be ashamed. But I feel like it evokes a sense that what we're talking about is simple name-calling. 

And yeah, it sucks to be called names. I don't like it. None of us like it, I'm sure. But we all know what we're really talking about is way more than simply being called a name. 

I am trying to use the phrase "fat discrimination" or "fat stigma" instead of fat shaming. Because what I'm really fighting here is the discrimination.

I want to fight the discrimination that occurs in a medical context where the conduct of medical personnel would be recognized as shockingly unethical if only the patient was thin.

I am concerned about so-called "wellness" programs in schools that promote eating disorders in children.

I want to fight our culture's terror that a child would grow up to look like me- a thought so terrifying that it leads to people condoning the abuse and harassment of fat children.

I am concerned that fat people make less money and are more likely to be fired. 

I want people to know that dress codes are weaponized and used against fat people. 

Our children can be taken away. Juries are less likely to believe us. And the narrative that fat people don't deserve love keeps people in abusive relationships. 

It is time to call this what it is-- discrimination. It's not just shaming. It's not just name calling.  

This is life and death shit. Let's not diminish it.