Our culture hates fat people.  I could cite a million examples, but you already know what I’m talking about.  From bullying to mean-spirited jokes (somehow acceptable in the media) to weight loss program ads, our culture has made it abundantly clear that when we look at those who are overweight, we see something lacking, a character problem, someone unappealing.  This culture has decided that appearance is one of the most important (if not THE most important) aspect of a human being.  Falling short by not reaching that elusive ideal weight is a serious problem.  Instead of being honest about our body type fascination, it’s become easy for people to say that they abhor fatness because of the health problems associated with obesity.

I’m not denying the health problems.  Obesity has been studied to have some serious effects.  Fat shaming is weird though, because our culture also promotes a multitude of other unhealthy habits, including fast food, binge watching television, binge eating, binge drinking, and long work hours.  It’s only when these habits actually result in gaining weight that they are a problem that’s worth addressing.  Another strange thing is that generally if someone has an actual problem, people come along side to support and encourage.  Making fun of or teasing the issue is not normally socially acceptable in other cases.

Fat shaming is hypocritical.  We don’t judge skinny people who love to joke about how much junk they’re putting in their bodies or how they never have time to work out and hate exercise.  We don’t often judge thin people who smoke or binge drink.  We often say “Hey, they know the facts, they are young, they will grow out of it, it’s their decision.”  No one says “Hey, they’re lazy and are causing this horrible problem for themselves.”

The problem is we use health as an excuse to make fun of others and feel better about ourselves.  Of course health is important.  I’m a big proponent of eating healthy and exercising because of how great it makes me feel.  It’s not fair to judge other people from their outward appearance and make assumptions about their health and personal habits.  Some people are overweight for a variety of physical and mental health problems.  Some people who are overweight eat really healthy and exercise regularly and may have a different body type than you.  Some may want to change their lifestyles and need help and encouragement, rather than body shaming and negativity.

No one wants to encourage a lack of exercise or a bad diet.  But body shaming promotes the idea that how you look is the only reason for healthy habits.  It also shames some people who are too busy to exercise, can’t afford a healthy diet, or have legitimate reasons why they can’t be as skinny as we think they should be.  Who are we to decide what the ideal weight is for each individual?

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