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An Open Letter to Fat-Shamers

I've been trying to understand you for a while now. You are concern-trolling at its most extreme; you are superficiality at its worst; your evangelism about health and fitness and who is and isn't disgusting is misguided. Yet, you continue to do what you do.

You are that mean kid at school, trying to disguise yourself as a mature adult with compassion.


How does a conversation revolving around a picture of an overweight celebrity or two or three about how disgusting they are and how you're not attracted to them and can't believe anyone is, somehow get twisted into a conversation about health with you?

You baffle me, the way you disproportionately focus on this one characteristic of a person, when they could have all kinds of other flaws for you to harp on. You have absolutely no regard for the feelings or well-being of just about anyone. I can only conclude that you've got major insecurity issues. [I'd bet lots of money that if I get any unfriendly comments on this, at least one of them will call me fat].

What if you have a child who gets fat*? Will you try to ruin her life like you try with everyone else?


*This is possible.

My personal history with fat shaming.

Fat-shaming is a phenomenon that I wasn't aware of until I started frequenting Jezebel a few years ago. I lived in my small world of not-too-fat* privilege, and also in my small world of very-tolerant-people-who-don't-do-things-like-fat-shame. Even my generally snobby and intolerant relatives - who are all thin - don't do this. Even though I've never hated fat people or viewed them as lazy, I never felt that there was something that needed defending here. I have my fair share of body image issues, but I don't have a need to make sure someone else feels like shit, and I didn't realize just how much you need that.


When the term "fat-shaming" first came to me, I didn't think much about it. I was like, "Yeah, duh, be nice to people about superficial things." But I did think fat people were perpetually unhealthy people trying to get healthier. I offered unsolicited advice, I felt sorry for them, and I didn't take into consideration that they may be healthy - healthier than me, even. I changed.

I am an open-minded person, and I broadened my horizons. Thus, I learned to conceptualize each person's body as a work of art they own; I learned to view fat and thin as not a state of health or un-health, attractive or unattractive, but simply as a state of being. I accepted in my heart that all people are different and no one deserves to be ridiculed. Yes, like you learned on fucking Sesame Street!


*I'm not that fat, and neither is anyone I know. I always have about 20 pounds I'd like to lose but I've never experienced the dirty looks, the name-calling, and the terrible shopping experiences of an obese person.

Who are you kidding? You're not concerned for anyone's health.

If you were, you'd also be raging against those who drink too much, those who sleep around, those who drive too fast, those who do drugs, those who smoke, those who tan, those who eat too much butter, those who eat too much sugar, those who eat too little, those who use products with BPA, those who frequent bars with second-hand smoke, those who don't abort their pregnancies, those who drink sodas, those who eat too much fast food, those who work near toxic chemicals, those who drink tap water in certain cities - the list goes on. While many of those people have shamers, you are shamers of one thing: people being fat. Not one activity; a state of being.


You noticed I put some things in that list regarding diet? You're right; but instead of shaming what this person eats (which is really unnecessary anyway), you are shaming how they LOOK, putting it forth as a health concern. You are not shaming thin people who eat these things (or rather, you wouldn't bother to figure out whether they do or not). You assume the fat people do. And you assume it's your business.

This is the same as shaming someone based on the color of their hair. It is something they can sort of control but sort of not. And it has nothing to do with you.


People look how they look and you should get over it. It's not about you.

I bet some of you fat shamers are tan. You assholes - don't you know tan skin causes skin cancer? I'm concerned for your health - and don't tell me you were born that way. Very few people are born with tan skin. I know that you are addicted to tanning - just admit it. You look like shit. I hate you and you disgust me.


Sound familiar? No. You know why? Because we accept that everyone has different skin shades.* Some people do tan, and some people will get cancer. Not all tan people will get cancer; not all people with cancer will be tan.

A person is fat. Does it affect you that they are fat? No. Get the fuck over it. No really, get over it. Do you yell insults at people with crooked teeth, gray hair, or bowed legs? Probably not, because you don't view yourself as a huge asshole, right? So focusing on a fat person's fatness is unnecessary assholeness.


*Not talking about racists.

"My tax dollars/insurance dollars/emergency room minutes shouldn't be wasted on some fat person who bla bla bla bla." WAHHHHHHHHHHH.


Welcome to civilization (although, I'm not sure you'll like it here). Here, we all are somewhat beholden to the actions of others. It is important for everyone to drive well, to not text and walk, to not spin around in circles with a baseball bat in public. Not included: BEING unattractive to you. While I don't support it, a step in the right direction might be to be critical of unhealthy habits* and to look inward at which of your habits might be less-than-perfect. (Hint: it's been said that reading too much text on the computer screen will screw up your eyes. I DON'T WANT MY VISION INSURANCE DOLLARS PAYING FOR YOUR STUPID EYE ABUSE! On that note, do you wear sunglasses every time you're outside? Didn't think so.)

*Don't do this. You'll still be a dick.

Being anything other than your (and many people's) ideal body type is not a crime, and is not a reason to want anyone to hide.


You are an asshole for ridiculing these people. Like, straight up. It is FINE to have a type of person you are attracted to. It is FINE to be up front about it. It is NOT fine to act as if those who are unattractive to you have no place in photographs, walking around, wearing anything but a sweat suit. Frankly, your gelled hair or leathery tan skin might gross me out. But I'm not going to publicly call for your execution based on the fact that you exist.

Science! If you actually cared about people and the welfare of the community, you'd pay attention to it!

  • Being fat is not the same as being unhealthy. It is often unhealthy - sure - but you certainly cannot tell how healthy someone is by looking at them, so you come off AGAIN like an ass when you make assumptions. It is not your place to decide, period. Here and here and here and here and here and oh-the-list-goes-on.
  • Shame will not help people to lose weight. You probably already know this, so again, you are just using this as an excuse to be a judgmental asshole. You do not care about the public good.
  • There are large-scale societal problems contributing to obesity in the US. Do you think that it is helpful in addressing these problems, if you simply shame the people suffering from obesity without taking a minute to think about the broader condition here? Junk food is addictive - this and this and this, and many people don't have proper nutritional education - here and here (come on, we all know someone who has eaten a fried chicken salad with ranch dressing thinking they are being healthy), and many people don't have the access to affordable healthy food and the time to cook it - again and again. Then there's the whole school lunch thing and the getting rid of PE and whatnot - you know, basically robbing children of the experience of EVER having a chance at being healthy.

How to properly care about the obesity epidemic*.

Work to address those larger conditions in that last bullet point up there, and acknowledge them as valid. Acknowledge that the people you are trying to emotionally destroy could be victims of these problems (not necessarily) and that you are failing to be the good guy.


There is truth, obviously, that obesity can often lead to (or may be a sign of) many larger health problems. Learn to tell the difference between a health concern and a physical preference on your part. Work to eradicate diabetes. Demand proper nutritional education. Demand priority on physical education for children; don't yell at parents with fat children and call them child abusers. Work to keep hidden monsters out of our food (I'm looking at you, corn syrup) and hold Big Ag accountable.

But I have a sneaking suspicion this is not really where your priorities lie.

*I have personal qualms with referring to it as an epidemic. It's really diabetes/heart disease/etc that are the epidemics. The obesity itself is not. Were lung cancer an epidemic, we wouldn't call it the Coughing Epidemic.


This leaves one question: why are you such an asshole? Even if the fat people you ridicule are indeed unhealthy, WHY do you believe you have the right to be such a shit about it? Why do you not leave people alone and learn to accept everyone and their differences?

Is it because you lost a lot of weight, and think it is *merely* a question of willpower and everyone is just sucking harder than you? Is it because you have no trouble eating healthy and exercising? Is it because you have always been thin and so - of course - everyone else is doing it wrong? Is it because your mother taught you that your image is your only asset?


Is it because your image is your only asset? Are you only as good as your beauty, which you know will fade deep down? Because clearly, fat shamer, you lack character, compassion, empathy, and general social skills.

Remember: You could be one side-effect riddled prescription, one injury, one year of aging, one year of depression, one pregnancy away from your metabolism slowing and you becoming the very thing you hate - against your will. It could be you.


Most likely, it's because you are insecure. It's a tale as old as middle school. Are you annoyed that these horrid fat people have the confidence to be photographed, while you silently pick away at small bits of fat on your own body (or, while you remember the days you never had such confidence)? And most importantly, do you really feel like you're not an asshole?

For fuck's sake, even when you do meet that very large person who eats nothing but fast food and has diabetes and whatnot, do not shame them. DON'T.


Fat shamers, you are the worst.

UPDATE: Pre-rebuttal, inspired by this comment.


"What about thin-shaming?"

My Rebuttal: Not ok. But the mere fact you're making it about you leads me to believe you're a fat shamer, which makes you a dick.

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