Fat shaming and body confidence

Satoshi Kambayashi on obesity
Photo credit: Satoshi Kambayashi/The Guardian

Recently, I’ve piled on the weight a little.

A number of factors have caused my weight to go up, ranging from general life stressors, health issues and eating more because… well, I’m a foodie. At the moment, my weight is sometimes going down… only to go up again. To put it simply, these days, I’m fluctuating.

The recent discussions of ‘fat shaming’ in the media – the practice of harassing obese people – has prompted me to think of our judgemental attitudes toward people who are struggling with weight issues. A recent study in the UK showed that discriminating against obese people made them gain even more weight. In other words, when you make other people feel like utter rubbish and discriminate against them, you’re not doing them any favours – you’re making their problems, outlook on life and view of themselves a lot worse.

One would think a study wasn’t needed to teach people to simply be kind.

I’ve noticed that my own fluctuating weight is having a massive impact on my confidence. I’m unhappy with the impact that increased weight has had on my body, but I’ve also been subjected to constant criticism about it by people around me. A few months ago, I wasn’t one to care about changes in my weight, primarily because I’ve always been happy about how I look. However, I’ve started to become affected by things, because just as this study relays, the more narrow-minded amongst us don’t make it easy for people to forget when they don’t fit the accepted norms.

Within my culture, being thin is apparently a strict requirement for females, and we’re never allowed to forget that eating a sandwich with cheese in it or having a slice or two of pizza is going to make us ‘fat’. Someone or the other will almost always comment with something along the lines of “don’t eat too much of that, you’ll get fat” or “watch what you’re eating, you should control yourself”. A recent trip to India further placed a spotlight on my weight. Lacking sensitivity, a few of my cousins told me to lose weight and constantly lamented: “you were so thin before!”. I was upset, shocked and defended myself about these comments, for I am a perfectly healthy, normal woman who did not need to be told how to alter my body for the approval of others. People simply needed to stop and think before they spoke.

The comments I’ve heard about my weight and the general attitude towards people who are obese are extremely uncalled for, and through writing this post I’d like to remind people to refrain from judging those they do not know. The people who tell me to stop eating or to lose weight simply have no idea of what I (and others!) may be going through.

It’s easy for people to discriminate and point the finger at someone who isn’t healthy, but this form of ridicule is simply not needed, and only causes people to feel more ashamed and upset about themselves. The message is simple: just be kind, and refrain from making someone feel low about the way they look.

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