[12] What is “Fatness”? Why do we “Fat Shame”? and Why does it Exist?

giphyIf you have ever sat down with your family to watch a show like The Biggest Loser, you know that American obesity is completely real. However an author, Rothblum, claims that our society has an incorrect mindset of ‘fatness’. Saying that we believe it is both curable and distasteful. America especially is known for this. “The fat America is a well-known and well-worn stereotype around the globe” (Rothblum 327).

American obesity seems to be its own animal, separate from the rest of the world.  According to Rothblum this is because “fat has come to be regarded as an issue sited specifically within the United States, and that nontraditional knowledge about fat, embodied in Fat Studied, remained locked within that country.” (Rothblum 327).

When one thinks of America, the first think that comes to mind is fast food – like McDonalds, Burger Kings, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks etc…” Even though the issue of fatness and obesity are found in all cultures, America stands out the most. As a nation, we have done the most research in this area and have become the basis for Fat Studies. Consumerism and capitalism root obesity to America through low cost of unhealthy foods and the way these chains make their food look so extremely good for a great price.

Obesity issues are situated “firmly within the United States and reinforce the notion that fat is an American subject.” Even Simon Murphy states “The world sees fat as American Export, but America thinks this too” (Rothblum 328). Every American has come across an ad that encourages us to exercise and get healthy.  Growing up in school, gym class and health class showed us how bad it was to be fat. Now as adults we are trying to balance the idea of loving your body and getting healthy.

I mean look at the amount of advertisements we see on TV and on our social media for weight lose. The programs and diets you can find online are endless!fat_americans_japan-s450x390-79993

Now at this point in our post you may be wondering what the heck this has to do with feminism. Well. The amount of times I have witnessed mothers, sisters, girlfriends and anyone in between go on a health kick should say something. In one of our earlier articles, we talked about Fat Shaming and how it is just stupid. There is a thin line between shaming someone for the look of their body and suggesting joining you at a kickboxing or yoga class or to drink some kale spinach super duper food smoothie (if thats what you’re into).

Getting back to the really educational stuff: Rothblum’s solution to change our minds about fatness is to “broaden the scope of the subject around the world; although Fat Studies knowledge grows and developed within the United States.” (Rothblum 329).  The truth is that Fat Studies and research is primarily done in the United States. The idea is to expand and increase cross-cultural understanding across the world. (Who says only Americans are fat? I’ve definitely seen some fat German people before.)

International research will “promote cultural sensitivity in a movement that recognizes and celebrated the differences among people, strengthen the discipline beyond it’s present limitations; encourage diverse voices to flourish throughout international as well as national, and local organizations; and build an atmosphere of learning that is broad, complex, and gives space to people to speak their own truth – these small actions could even undermine the stereotype of the fat American” (Rothblum 332).

So now we’ve reached the point in the article where we tell you exactly why feminism has everything to do with this. The actions being taken around the world to bring women’s rights to the forefront of politics, bring salvation to victims of rape and abuse and bring help to single mothers and their children is exactly why. What do all of these movements have in common? Women? yes… but.. okay here it is

They are all international.

The same way women have worked to bring issues to life across the globe, international fat studies may reveal new information regarding our American stereotype, and our place on this fat earth.

The only way to solve this is to encourage Fat Studies in the UK and other countries outside of America. America is the biggest power in Fat Studies, and that fact alone is why the information gathered by these studies are so exclusive.

This has recently become a large topic on Social Media. In stead of shaming people into joining Fat Loss Groups and Programs, like the ads below… – People are now using social media to educate others on how to better live their lives.

People are:pork

  • Creating a Facebook groups
  • Use blogging
  • Using Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Using YouTube

to promote new habits and tips to being healthier.

In Europe the government educates people in what they are eating and how to stray from what is bad. Why do you think the French are always so skinny??There are studies done on how much they walk and what they eat.

“Walking is an essential part of the French way of life, and the average French woman walks three times as much as the average American.” (À Pied: Walk This Way) The French create the stigma of being healthy being of the utmost concern when buying foods.

Fast Food is even having a cut back in revenues. The French lunch hour has collapsed from 80 minutes back in 1975 to just 22 minutes, according to a 2011 study by insurer Malakoff Mederic. (Mon Dieu! Fast Food Now Rules In France) The French are raised to want to cook their own meals rather than eat out… The complete opposite stigma of America one could say.

The other problem pointed out by Rothblum is that in America the  “stigma of fatness itself, but also the elimination of stigma as a basis for public policy and perhaps even public food-portions-in-us-vs-europe2discourse.” (Rothblum 335)

The stigma of fatness is deemed a public health issue, “according to this logic, being fat is a disease called ‘obesity’ or fat causes, or contributions to a number of illnesses that could be made better through losing weight” (Rothblum 335). This is a believed regardless of all medical and health problems that may have led to fat gain. There are multiple factors led completely ignored.

So here is a metaphor for you. You and a friend are art majors (obese). Maybe one of you became an artist because they had a natural talent for it (genetics). Maybe the other just ate a lot of McDonalds until they were a fantastic painter (neglect).  The point is, every single person on the earth is fat for a different reason. Maybe the dollar menu is all your family could afford when you were a kid. Maybe your whole ancestry has struggled with their weight. Maybe you just aren’t taking care of your body because you aren’t educated on what is good and bad for you.

The idea of ‘fatness’ is deemed as an issues that can be cured and fixed. This is reinforced by the “multibillion-dollar dieting industry, the diet food industry, the diet cookbook industry, the barbaric surgery industry, the health/exercise club industry, and cosmetic surgery industry” because these industries “would cease to exist”, without this social stigma (Rothblum 337).

color_pie_chartWe are blinded into believing that our bodies are disgusting and the products sold to us by these companies will solve all of our problems. This is the belief that our bodies are products to ourselves, shells we can shape and change as we please. That simply buying products we can alter ourselves to match society’ expectations.


The only way to destroy this stigma of fatness is to educate the world!!!!

[Just as Rothblum recommended in Chapter 39]. If we are educated into understand how to be healthy then we can live in a much healthier way. This would defeat the need to meet society’s unhealthy and borderline anorexic standards and allow ourselves to be happy when we look at ourselves rather than pointing out all our flaws.

Education in the Feminist Movement is a great comparison to encouraging international fat studies. If I grew up as a young girl strongly believing every stereotype and old world beliefs that women remain in the kitchen and don’t enjoy sex and are only useful to produce children; well then yea, I’d believe it. The difference is that because of the Feminist movement itself, education of young girls evolved and evolved as we get closer and closer to true blue equality. This movement to end the stigma of fatness should take some notes from early Feminists. Fatness is the new F word in town, and everyone should learn where it comes from.


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