The Fat Shaming Epidemic
I’ve been thinking a lot about body shaming and fat shaming.
It’s all over the media lately. And although kids being teased for their weight is nothing new, the power of the internet takes it to an entirely new level.
Carleigh O’Connell, a 14 year old girl from New Jersey, became a viral sensation and anti-fat shaming advocate when she posted a photograph of herself in a swimsuit in response to a graffiti message spray painted in her home town. Carleigh was recently a guest blogger on the site called Mighty Girl. She states:
What I now know…
I have realized that so many people, kids and adults, have faced and can relate to this type of negativity.
I have realized that sometimes you have to stare cruelty in the face and not drop your head.
I have realized that owning who you are and how you are made is much better than feeling ashamed or bad about yourself.
I have realized that is okay to not have everyone agree with you and your actions, because sometimes negativity can bring bigger and better things.
What happened to Carleigh is awful. No one should have to feel objectified like that. But Carleigh took the bullying and turned it around. She refused to be shamed. Because of her courage she has become a role model and hero to many.
There are many websites that exist for the sole purpose of fat shaming; websites that post pictures of overweight people and make degrading and cruel remarks about them. Sadly, some bloggers and writers believe that fat shaming helps people lose weight.
Fat shaming does absolutely no good and causes significant harm. If you’re a person who has experienced fat shaming, you know that being made fun of or mocked for your weight does not help you loose any pounds.
Despite what proponents of fat shaming want to believe, when people are humiliated due to their size, they gain even more weight.
Being overweight means that according to the medical establishment, you are carrying more weight on your body than is considered normal or healthy for a given height.
Being overweight does not mean that you are lazy. Being fat does not mean that you have poor hygiene, or that you can’t control your impulses. A large size doesn’t mean that you’re dumb or worthless.
You know those nasty comments on photos that spread online? There is not much you can do about them. You can’t control what people say to you or think about you.
Shaming does not make fat people thin. It doesn’t make racist people accepting or hateful people loving. It doesn’t turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
I don’t see an end to fat shaming. So what can be done?
For moms and dads: teens who grow up with moms who have poor body images can end up with body image issues themselves, even if the kids are active and healthy. However parents, especially moms, who can love themselves, set the foundation for children to know that they are more than their size.
And moms, listen to your children when they say you are beautiful. Your body has nurtured them, your arms have hugged them.
You are more than your dress size, more than your cellulite and more than your sagging chin. Let your body be a home for your spirit and your energy. Work to keep it healthy because it is the only one you have, not because you feel ashamed.
Photo from Shutterstock
Harmon, J. (2014). The Fat Shaming Epidemic. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/your-life/2014/07/the-fat-shaming-epidemic/