Fat shaming: what it is and why it is so serious for those who suffer it
Being a victim of fat shaming means being hurt by being overweight. It is a discriminatory and fat-phobic attitude that causes a strong sense of shame in the person who is the victim. It creates stigma and insecurity, fueling the possibility of suffering from an eating disorder. Feeling good in your body is the first step in fighting body shaming, you can take inspiration from the video below to understand how to do it.
Fat shaming discriminates the body of women and men
With the term fat shaming we mean a whole series of discriminations and offenses against fat people, or considered as such by society. It is a word invented in the United States, where the movement for body positivity is definitely ahead of Italy. Although boys can also suffer it, it is above all the body of women to be accused: too fat or too thin, but always the victim of an extremely guilty body shaming attitude. The weight of the woman becomes the subject of derision, mockery and heavy jokes that push those who suffer this pressure towards a profound insecurity that can last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, in recent years the phenomenon has literally exploded on social networks and the media and even famous people of the caliber of Adele and Britney Spears have experienced on their skin all the violence of this attitude of blame towards a body considered "fat" by "common opinion.
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According to Dr. Simona Calugi, president of AIDAP (Italian Association of Eating and Weight Disorders), people who become protagonists of fat shaming, or fat phobia, to use an Italian term, express a strongly negative opinion in against those who are deemed "guilty" of having a body that goes beyond the standards of thinness imposed by the Western world.
There is a substantial difference concerning the term "shaming" between "Italian and" English: as rightly specified by linguists, in our language the word shaming must not be understood literally as a "shame" (of one's own fat or of a imperfect body, in this case), but as a real stigma. The person affected by this stigma carried on by a part of society, is thus derided, marginalized and blamed until, dangerously tried on a psychological level, can go to meet to serious problems in the relationship with his body and eating disorders.
From shame to psychological disorders: this is what those who undergo body shaming feel
This situation of extreme fragility can also have serious repercussions in the relationship with food: often women victims of body shaming do everything to adhere to an ideal of perfection that jeopardizes their health.
People who are hurt by a fat body experience a feeling of profound malaise. They feel guilty because they fail to respect the beauty standards imposed by Western society and suffer a strong lowering of self-esteem. In the most serious cases, individuals strongly discriminated against by the group, come to establish a pathological relationship with food, dominated as they are. from the unrealistic goal of entering a size 38. At the basis of the stigma against fat there is the widespread idea that an overweight person is weak and has little willpower, as unable to have the control over your body.
A long list of negative characteristics are associated with the obese and those who are heavily overweight and it is not uncommon for those who are victims of a fat-phobic attitude to be, in the long run, led to isolate themselves and disappear from social life. These sensations are well known to the writer Amy Erdman Farrell, author of an essay released in Italy at the end of 2020 and entitled "Fat Shame. The stigma of the fat body". In her book Amy Erdman Farrell analyzes the history of the stigma of fat by relating it to other types of prejudices, starting with racial ones, with the aim of demonstrating how much the physical appearance (of women, in particular) has served to support a certain idea of a patriarchal society.
Unfortunately, even in America, where the culture of body positivity was born, there are many people (even famous ones) who have stained themselves with fat shaming. According to the New York Times, even Joe Biden and Oprah Winfrey. However, in response to these fat-phobic and discriminatory behaviors, the new generation celebrities respond to the rhymes.
How to fight fat shaming
Like Gigi Hadid who, from her Instagram profile, claims to be proud of her body, or Rihanna, the emblem of a new female model focused on self-determination.
Something is changing, however, also in Italy, as regards the vision of this problem. Filippo Sensi, in an intervention in Parliament, asked for a structural law intervention against all types of bullying, even that aimed at fat people. That something is changing is evident not only in the positions taken by politics or by famous people, but also by the "emergence of a new awareness among health professionals.
In fact, doctors are increasingly convinced that "obesity is a real pathology with complex causes, difficult to solve with diet and exercise. To support the need for a broader vision that does not discriminate against overweight individuals" she is also professor Geltrude Mingrone, director of the UOC of Obesity Pathology of the Gemelli University Hospital Foundation. The doctor has drawn up an important commitment document aimed at combating the stigma of fat published in the prestigious journal Nature Medicine.
Another symbol of the fight against body shaming is the petition, launched in 2018, against the TV series Insatiable produced by Netflix. The show tells the story of an American girl who, having undergone body shaming due to her fat body, decides to take revenge against those who had mocked her. The true protagonist of the story had a serious problem with eating disorders and this is one of the reasons why the series was cut short in the bud; it seems, in fact, that, under the pretext of talking about the theme of fat shaming, the series instigated an imbalance in eating behavior.
Those who find themselves experiencing discrimination against their physical appearance every day will forever associate happiness with a sick ideal of bodily perfection. The only way not to fall into this trap is to know that being fat or thin does not determine our worth as human beings.