Friday, April 1, 2011

Guest Post: Ariel Speaks Out Against Fat Shaming

This is a guest post from our friend and teammate Ariel.

Hello there, internet! I’m Ariel, and I’m a white, cis undergrad student who, not coincidentally, also plays roller derby.

Since about a week ago, when Jess suggested I contribute a guest post, I’ve been turning over ideas about what to write. After all, internet debuts are serious stuff! (Un)luckily, the topic of this post was essentially chosen for me by the reaction I saw to a comment my professor made today. As he told the class about his time spent studying in France, he noted that the remarkable difference he saw between France and the U.S. was the number of obese people walking around in the U.S. He followed that up by saying that there are, of course, obese people in France but “they don’t tend to go outside during daylight hours” because it’s socially unacceptable to be heavy there. If that statement wasn’t enough to make you cringe, the subsequent laughter of the majority of the 40+ students in that class sure would have been.

Now, I can’t comment on whether or not what this professor said is true, having never been to France myself (one day!), but that isn’t particularly relevant. What IS relevant is that most of the people in an upper-level university psychology course find the idea of human beings shamed into not leaving their homes because of their size funny. They find it perfectly appropriate, even humorous, to literally remove fat people from the public sphere.

Maybe the students who laughed wouldn’t openly announce that they hate fat people (though I suspect at least a couple of them would), but clearly, they all have internalized that same message. Fat hatred is societally condoned, from the constant weight-loss ads we’re bombarded with to the standard media portrayal of fat people as struggling/failed dieters (Mike and Molly, anyone?). This has created an environment in which discrimination and self-hatred are the norm, and hardly anyone in a classroom full of educated adults bats an eye at the idea of subhuman treatment of a person based on their size. And to put it simply, that shit is not okay.

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