Big issue: Why fat-shaming sucks


“Us fatsos are made to feel shame about our bodies constantly”

Libby responds to Daily Mail columnist Linda Kelsey’s recent attack on overweight women

Obviously – OBVIOUSLY – I hate pointing out when people writing for the Daily Mail are wrong about stuff. Obviously. Nevertheless I feel that Linda Kelsey is indistinguishable from two short planks. And if she can laugh me because of my fat, I can laugh at her because of… well, take your pick. Let’s go with her lack of critical thinking skills.

Of course, we all know it’s clickbait, controversy for its own sake, and we all know it’s bull doo-dah, but it’s given us an opportunity to pick apart a ridiculous argument from a ridiculous woman just for funsies.

Linda, this is for you.

First of all, there’s your assumption that anyone daring to be fat in public is somehow doing it specifically to offend you. Sorry, Linda love, up until this morning I’d never heard of you, and now I have, well, I still don’t give a shit. Oh, and Linda? Commenting on other people’s appearance? Unwise. It takes away any discomfort we might feel about picking on your appearance. And that might lead some people to comment that you look like you borrowed your eyes from Sauron. Not me though. I’d never say that.

Second, there’s the assumption that us fatties are super-extra-mega proud of all our added padding. Have you been in the world Linda? Like, even once? Because if you had, you’d probably have noticed that your opinion is not controversial and rare. It’s common. I’d even go so far as to say it’s mundane. Us fatsos are made to feel shame about our bodies constantly. From media, from colleagues and schoolmates, from family. From strangers in cars who shout comments as they speed past.

Where the hell have you got this idea from, then, that we’re not ashamed?  Most of us are. I’m not suggesting that that’s a good thing, but it’s an acknowledged truth. If you’re carrying six extra pounds or 60, you face a battering ram of judgement every single day. Mainly from people like you, who somehow think they’re a) entitled to an opinion on my body and b) that I’d like to hear it. That sort of thing can have an effect on a person. It can make people feel sad. And do you know what’s good for sadness? Cake.

And then, from the other side, there’s the fat positivity movement, doing its darndest to make us feel bad for feeling bad. We can’t win.

"If you’re carrying six extra pounds or 60, you face a battering ram of judgement every single day"

“If you’re carrying six extra pounds or 60, you face a battering ram of judgement every single day”

Let me spell it out for you Linda. I’ll try not to use any big words. When I go outside, I have to take my fat with me. I have absolutely no choice in that. I’d like to cover it up, but it turns out muu-muus are actually LESS flattering than well-cut t-shirts and trousers. Who’da thunk it? They’re also really hard to come by on the British high street. Since your complaint is largely an aesthetic one, wouldn’t you rather I wear something nice from Monsoon than a table cloth with a hole in it? I mean, I don’t want to offend your aesthetic sensibilities.

Aaanyway, Linda, where were we? Oh yes, you were suggesting we fatamarans are largely doing nothing to reduce our weight. Er. Citation needed, sweetie. Weight Watchers made over 60 million dollars in 2013. The number of bariatric surgeries performed on the NHS rose by 530% between 2006 and 2012. It is abundantly clear to anyone with a working brain that your shaming techniques are working, Linda. Bravo; most of us fatty Pattys do not want to be big. And if we happen to like our fat? Well, so what? What the chuff has it got to do with you?

I’m not even going to mention Health at Any Size, or how the biggest chubster I know is also the strongest. I’m not going to mention polycystic ovaries, depression, cancer, thyroid problems, physical disability, Cushing Syndrome or the myriad other illnesses and disabilities that cause or contribute to weight gain.  I’m not going to mention them because I know you don’t care. Your concern for our health is a pretence. You don’t like us because of the way we look, Linda. That’s all there is to it.

You may think you’re making a groundbreaking point, Linda, but you’re not. Your words simply bounce off me (‘cos of the fat, innit). But if you must know, I am fat, and I am ashamed of it. Are you happy now?


First photo © Christi Nielsen. Second photo © Dee. Both licensed for use under Creative Commons

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Libby Baxter-Williams

Libby is a 30-something Londoner, who spends more time reading picture books than is seemly. She became a bi activist entirely by accident, but now she can't imagine living any other way. In the event of an emergency, she'll have a large gin and tonic, thanks.

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One Response to Big issue: Why fat-shaming sucks

  • Laura Hurt says:

    VERY good, very well said, love your writing! As a former fatty and still not too slim, I know exactly how you’re feeling. Awful when people rather have you stay inside than dress for the weather….

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