They say “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but this seems not to be possible when you are a fat person or in general when you have a non-conforming body. If you have that body it’s easy for people to judge you, no matter what is happening in your life. “Be yourself” they tell you, but how can you be yourself when having a “different” body means being an easy target for “jokes”? Or that anyone can feel entitled to give you advice on how you should be?
It becomes difficult to talk about your body. Not because you don’t want to, but because it’s hard seeing that your body is not similar to the one of your peers, except who receive judgments, insults, recommendations and lectures about their body. And so you prefer to stand aside, making your body as invisible as possible.
The importance of an inclusive representation of all the bodies
Yet even though you have different body, you have the right to speak about it without fear or shame. And it can help to find positive role models who look alike and who expose themselves by talking about their own body. This is why it’s important to have a wider and more inclusive representation of all the bodies: people will be able to find role models that can ispire them by searching among those that are most similar to them. So they can understand that there are a variety of bodies and that all are worthy of being shown and stories.
What can we do
Prejudice, stigma and discrimination on the body can have various negative consequences on the physical and mental health of those who suffer them. We need to demystify weight bias: when we talk about people let’s do it in a positive, respectful and non-stereotypical way because of their bodies. Let’s stop focusing on weight and talk more about people’s general health, both physical and mental. Because all bodies deserve to exist as they are and all people have the right to be, regardless of the body they live in.
Being fat doesn’t mean that you are automatically lazy, unaware of your body, obsessed with food and unattractive just like being thin doesn’t necessarily mean that you are vain and superficial or that your thinness comes from not enjoying food. Bodies talk about us, but they don’t define us as people: we just have to let people be free to simply be themselves, as they want or feel or are, naturally and spontaneously.