Stop using fat as a synonym for bad.

In news no one will find shocking Ashley Graham has said something problematic.

In a recent interview with People.com she is quoted as saying “There are some days I feel fat.”

Let me stop you there.

This kind of language is problematic for a number of reason, most notably that she’s framing this is a negative way. Framing fatness to equate to something negative is damaging and enforcing the narrative that fatness is bad. For someone who has happily ridden on the body positivity train to get where she is now this is NOT a body positive attitude. Plenty of people have been more than happy to sniff at me on Twitter: “but every body is a good body!” YES EXACTLY SO WHY IS SHE ASSOCIATING FATNESS WITH SOMETHING BAD THEN?

Ahem.

Her sickly platitudes about loving yourself as you are and then saying things like this merely reinforces my opinion that she isn’t body positive, or rather she perfectly represents the mess that body positivity has become now.

Throwing fat bodies under the bus is a huge problem in this movement, and a reason why I no longer associate with it.

So many people are quick to jump to her defence talking about how she’s helped them. That’s great, I’m glad you’re on your way to hopefully having a more loving and peaceful relationship with your body. But consider the fact that she’s only benefiting you. She’s not helping me, she’s not helping fat people who are the most marginalised by body policing. Calling Ashley Graham out for this is not for a second suggesting that thin people shouldn’t benefit from the BP movement, these issues affect all body types. But what it is doing is holding people accountable for continue to marginalise certain body types by associating them with negatively.

Put this way, Ashley may ‘sometimes’ feel fat; I AM fat. Every day. I can’t escape it, I can’t have fat days and none-fat days, and with that I can’t escape the abuse and oppression my body type suffers.

Not all of us wake up and hate our fat bodies. Stop using fatness as shorthand for your personal shortcomings.

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Why Should We Care About Fat Shaming From Brands?

I had intended on writing out some thoughts about the recent Lush debacle but right now I’m currently bed bound with a bad back and I’m more interested in getting on with playing Skyrim and weathering the stomach ache the concoction of painkillers is giving me. Amanda Apparel recently wrote one out that you should totally check out. Though I may write something in time.

 But I did want to talk a little about the issue as a whole.

Brands and advertising have been using our bodies and tapping into (or crushing) our self-esteem to sell products since the dawn of time. How else can they shift their wares if not to assure us there is a void within us that these products can fill, some fault it can repair?

But why should we care?

When brands start getting involved in the science, and unavoidable politics, of health it opens the gates for the public to feel validated in policing fat bodies, more so than they already do.

Fat people are already subject to a lot of scrutiny. When strangers make comments, like when Tess Holiday recently spoke about how her Uber driver was scrutinising her health and size, to fat people having things taken out of their baskets at supermarkets, waiting staff deliberately changing orders of fries to broccoli. Not to mention the unfathomable amount of hatred they receive online for simply existing.

When brands start to talk about health in relation to size it sets a dangerous precedent. Most notably, as Lush’s recent IG fuck up illustrates, the information they share is almost always inaccurate if not outright false. There’s never any source to the figures. The most common thing I saw in the comments (and I thoroughly suggest you don’t read them) is that Lush were simply “stating the facts” when they were, in fact, not.

It also shows how little humanity is afforded to fat people. Shock statements, with no consideration for how true they may be, simply serve to place the ‘blame’ at the feet of fat people, and I say ‘blame’ because really what do fat people have to feel guilty for?

I was almost tempted to write about all the fat myths that have been dispelled but honestly, right now, that’s a level of emotional labour I’m simply not prepared to give to people who don’t care. I cared enough to seek this information out for myself, so I could be educated and informed.

They don’t care that fatness doesn’t CAUSE these diseases, and that something increasing your risk of an illness doesn’t mean you’re the only one who’s likely to suffer it. They don’t care that the BMI scale is proven to be inaccurate and false. It’s seemingly escaped their notice that all the diseases that fatness is apparently responsible for are diseases that are also suffered by thin people.

Take the host and fitness trainer on ‘Biggest Loser, Bob Harper almost dying from a heart attack. No one’s examining that. No one’s looking at how that changes things. No one’s talking about how yo-yo diet culture is vastly more responsible for long term illness, mental health issues, and diseases.

It doesn’t fit the narrative that’s been cultivated for decades. The narrative that brands push, that thinness is the beauty ideal and fatness is undesirable. These hordes of commenters do not care about our health. It’s never about health because if they did care they’d do their own research.

When brands engage in this political commentary they validate the hatred already levelled at fat people.  They are just another thing that is against us. They don’t care about our health and they never will.

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