Diet & Weight Magazine

Should We End Fat Talk?

By Danceswithfat @danceswithfat
my name is

Name courtesy of hatemail from someone who didn’t realize that I would love this so much I would consider changing my name.

A clip has been leaked of an interview with Barbara Walters and Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence. Walters asked her “You’ve criticized people who judge people on the red carpet. You’re very sensitive to that. Why?” Lawrence responded:

Because why is humiliating people funny? And I get it, and I do it too, we all do it. But I think when it comes to the media, the media needs to take responsibility for the effect that it has on our younger generation, on these girls that are watching these television shows and picking up how to talk and how to be cool. So then all of a sudden being funny is making fun of the girl that’s wearing an ugly dress or making fun of the girl that’s, you know. And the word fat. I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV. If we’re regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?

First of all let me say how much I appreciate Jennifer Lawrence speaking out about this, I’ve written before about how ridiculous I think it is that, on a night that people have dreamed of and waited their whole lives for, we choose to trash them because their dress or shoes or hair don’t meet the fickle and ever changing requirements of the fashion police.  To me this applies to red carpet critique, who wore it best articles, best and worst bikini bodies and more but that’s a subject for another blog.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard the idea of ending fat talk.  Often when it is discussed “fat talk” is short hand for negative body talk.  Above Ms. Lawrence seems to be suggesting literally not calling people fat. though I think that it’s couched in hyperbole for effect.

The issue here is that, however well meaning, saying that we shouldn’t call people fat suggests that being fat is such a terrible thing that we shouldn’t utter the word out loud.  Fat people are not Voldemort and making fat seem like the “physical descriptor that must not be named” actually further shames and stigmatizes people who are fat whether we call them/ourselves that or not. The trick is to end body shaming full stop – not to suggest that we should abandon the use a perfectly good physical descriptor because people have been allowed to heap stereotypes onto it.

Here’s what I think:  We don’t need an end to fat talk, we need an end to fat stereotyping, fat stigmatizing, fat bashing and fat-based healthism (along with all healthism while we’re at it.)  We need to realize that public health means creating access to options for the public, not making people’s health the public’s business.  We need to acknowledge that bodies come in lots of sizes for lots of different reasons and that people of all sizes deserve to be treated with respect – which includes the absence of stereotyping based on physical appearance.  I think that we need to end body snarking and body bashing of all kinds, and I think part of that is creating a world where calling someone fat isn’t either.

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