I recently attended a lecture at Sonoma State University as part of their “Feminist Lecture Series.” The theme of this lecture was”Fat Justice.”
At size 2, I am in no way “fat.” I don’t have experience being overweight but types of discrimination are numerous and I strive to be informed as much as I can. Discrimination against overweight people is one part of interlocking systems of discrimination against the LGBTQ community, disabled ppl (ableism), racism….Just as with these forms of oppression and discrimination there are many assumptions made about overweight ppl that non-overweight ppl project onto them. Overweight ppl are subjected to ideas that they have no self control, that they are food addicts, that they are lazy..none of which may be true. There are ppl that fetish-ize overweight ppl and in doing so, view them as less than human.
Disabled ppl experience treatment similar to overweight ppl. People offer unwanted advice, ask questions, make uncalled for remarks. People who don’t experience being overweight have views that may not be realistic of overweight ppl.
Overweight ppl have access ppl that thinner ppl don’t such as access issues getting seating in public spaces, as one example. Overweight people are treated with hostility as if they choose to take up extra room instead of being viewed as humans who are simply a different size that needs to be accommodated (ie like tall ppl, short ppl, kids, etc)
On the flipside thin ppl are also subjected to unwanted advice from people “you should eat more” etc. At the same time skinny ppl are subjected to the idea that being skinny is normative and outsiders can subject them to “fat fears” and surveillance…”you look so much better since you lost weight,” “you’re eating so healthy” “I don’t want to get fat,” etc. Our culture has an obsession with “fatness” and the avoidance of it.
Ways that we as a culture can fight “fat discrimination” is to avoid complimenting ppl for thinness, if they have lost weight compliment hair or something other than their body shape. Dont laugh at “fat jokes.” Look at overweight ppl with humanness and advocate for access for overweight ppl (such as with school desk sizes, airplane seats, etc). There are many ways we as a culture together can combat this.