A whole lot of fattist nonsense

One of my followers pointed out an article on the Daily Mail’s website to me today tentatively entitled…

Why are today’s young women so unashamed about being fat? Horrified by the rolls of flesh she’s witnessed on show this summer, LINDA KELSEY takes no prisoners

In this article, Linda talks about being a ‘self-confessed fattist’ who thinks it is ‘unattractive and unhealthy to be fat’. Well then.

She describes being at the airport behind three young women in their early 20s who are all roundabout a size 18, which ‘mesmerises‘ Linda. She goes on to express her utter dismay that these ladies and others around her are ‘obviously unconcerned about it [their weight]‘. She describes them as having ‘bulging bellies’ and ‘billowing pillows of back and shoulder stuffing, punctured by flabby arms and lardy legs that no amount of fake tan could disguise.’

She then goes on to talk about the ladies’ fashion choices. ‘One was wearing shockingly skimpy crochet shorts, as seen on size-zero models in adverts. But in this case, the shorts made it appear the wearer had an extra bottom hanging below the cut-off hemline.’ She continues… ‘Another girl wore white stretch leggings with a pattern of cellulite dimples showing through, accessorised with a super-sized sausage of overhanging belly.’ She’s still not finished… ‘Meanwhile, the third sported a cut-away vest top revealing the entire back of her pink bra, complete with chunky rolls of fat above, beneath and around the straps. To top it all, these three were – I kid you not – sharing a bag of crisps.’

Linda then says: ‘It occurred to me that if these girls hated their bodies and were racked with self-loathing, as we’re so often told that the majority of young women do and are, they were doing a grand job of projecting exactly the opposite impression.’ Well this is pretty promising, maybe the article’s going to make a dramatic turnaround in tone? Wrong. She goes on… ‘Far from body hatred, what I witnessed was a let-it-all-hang-out faith in themselves and a don’t-give-a-damn attitude to their evident obesity.’

She tries to justify these, by her own admission, ‘Un-PC’ comments, by trying to convey some kind of concern for our health… kind of. ‘Of course, eating disorders can kill. But being overweight leads to high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and even cancer. According to Cancer Research UK, as many as one in ten cancer cases could be prevented by improving our diet. The link to breast cancer is less clear, but dietary fats are increasingly thought to be implicated. Type 2 diabetes, linked to being overweight, is on the increase and more children are suffering from it. Asthma, sleep apnoea, acid reflux, fatty liver disease, dozens of illnesses, minor and major, can be linked to being overweight. Fat, and this can’t be denied, is fatal.’

She also talks about ‘a misguided message of body acceptance’ which makes mothers ‘scared to tell their daughters they’re getting fat’ because they’re so blinded by fear that they’ll trigger them to develop an eating disorder. She mentions the fact that modern day mums are ‘so busy shoring up their daughter’s self worth’ that they’re becoming guilty of benign neglect.

Now, we all know that leading a healthy lifestyle is important. It’s a good idea to eat a varied diet and exercise. It’s pretty standard, boring stuff. There are lots of things that count as exercise. Going for a walk or a run is free – no gym membership required and it will make you feel good. But what Linda fails to mention in her judgemental, condescending article is that there are all kinds of things in life which can lead to weight gain. Health conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome is linked to it and also means that for some ladies they find it hard to get rid of the ‘excess weight’. We go through stressful and traumatic times, like grief, breakups, arguments, family illnesses. Some people find eating a comfort during times of hardship. Emotional overeating is now a recognised medical condition. We get seriously injured or become very ill which can mean that we’re housebound or are unable to get out and about as much as we used to.  Some of us are unlucky enough to be victims of (physical) crime, which can leave some people feeling scared to set foot outside of the door let alone go anywhere else. Depression and other mental health conditions can leave sufferers feeling like they’d rather stay in bed all day as there’s no point anyway. These kind of conditions can leave people deflated, with no energy for anything whatsoever, let alone going for a run. Nowadays, more and more people go through long periods of unemployment. This in itself is demotivating and can chip away at those enthusiasm levels. And you know what? Sometimes we’re just too darned BUSY to think about going to the gym, or going swimming, or going running or jogging. Sometimes we have more pressing matters to think about.

At the end of the day, all of the above is well and good, but, what business is it of Linda’s anyway? What business is it of hers or anyone else’s what these ladies dress sizes are? Who made it her business? What right does she have to write an article like this and shame people in this kind of way? You cannot tell a thing about a person’s health just by looking at them. I’m sure there are plenty of people in this world who are a size 18 who can run a mile just as fast as someone who’s a size 10. Healthy means different things for different people. And you don’t know what someone’s state of health is unless you’re their doctor. There is more to these ladies than the way they look. These are people with thoughts, feelings ambitions, families, talents and stories to tell.

Perhaps instead of writing articles full of negativity and shame we could write about things full of compassion, understanding and empathy. We all find different things attractive. If we all liked the same thing then things would get… pretty chaotic. If you personally don’t find something attractive, write about something else.

Perhaps we could just concern ourselves with what’s going on in our own lives instead of making it our business to put people down.

Just saying.

Oh and also, WEAR WHAT THE F*CK YOU WANT.

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About Leyah Shanks

Positive body image activist and advocate for mental health.

One comment

  1. I love your writing, I love your confidence, I love your Body Confidence message, I love everything you do. The world needs more of this ❤

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