Fat shaming is a particularly nasty and specific form of body shaming. And fat shaming doesn’t work to get people motivated to lose weight. Fat shaming doesn’t do anything except cause people to feel shitty about themselves. Period.
I think my stance on body love is pretty clear. But just to get all 100%-crystal-freakin-clear, let me say it again.
Fear and shame aren’t sustainable motivators.
Shame in particular is a debilitating emotion. It is far more likely to result in body dysmorphia, eating disorders, overtraining or even self-harm.
Take it from the uber-awesome Brene Brown, world famous shame + vulnerability researcher, in her book ‘Daring Greatly’.
Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we can change and do better. We live in a world where most people still subscribe to the belief that shame is a good tool for keeping people in line. Not only is this wrong, but it’s dangerous.
Shame is highly correlated with addiction, violence, aggression, depression, eating disorders, and bullying. Researchers don’t find shame correlated with positive outcomes at all… In fact shame is more likely to be the cause of destructive and hurtful behaviors, than it is to be the solution.
Even if the fat shaming comes from a medical professional, it doesn’t make it any more sanctioned.
A friend of mine told me about her recent experience at the doctor’s office. She’s just begun working out with a PT and is very clear about her health goals and reasons for getting fit. (Huzzah!)
To ensure that her health was in the all clear, she went to her doctor to get some blood / hormone tests. (Huzzah! x 2)
Sadly, instead of giving her the results and inquiring after her health or wellbeing, the doctor launched into a lecture about why she should lose X number of kilos all while counting calories.
At no point did the doctor ask her about her exercise regime, her mental health, her emotional wellbeing, or how fulfilled she was in relationships or at work.
Now – I fully understand that doctor’s are busy busy people and perhaps don’t have the time to get a full picture of a person’s wellbeing in a 15 minute consult.
But he seemed to have the time to patronise and shame her, which is a big fat (pun intended) no-no in my books.
I’ve already debunked the calorie counting hooie.
So if you truly are considered medically overweight and you’ve got some “do-gooder” family and friends hassling you about your weight - here are 3 steps to help you deal with fat shaming.
1. Acknowledge the obvious
Tell the person gently but firmly, that you are not an idiot. Of course you know that medically you are considered overweight. But let them know that by pointing out the obvious, they aren’t sowing good seeds of motivation.
2. Sustainable over scam
If they doth protest that they are merely “trying to help”, thank them for their concern. However, you are on a pathway to sustainable health – not a quick-fix-charlatan-scam weight loss cure. You are investigating all the aspects of your wellbeing to ensure you are the healthiest + happiest you that you can be.
3. Praise over shame
If they continue to berate you that being overweight or obese is the be all and end all of poor health feel free to point out the following FACTS:
- Scientists have already proven that it is better to be “fit + fat” than “skinny + sedentary”. So you can’t tell how healthy someone actually is just by the way they look.
- Researchers have found shame is more likely to be the cause of destructive and hurtful behaviors, than it is to be the solution (see quote above). So if they really wanted you to be healthy, they would praise you for all the things that make you awesome, rather than bullying you about your weight.
- It’s none of their goddamn business.
Of course, if you have an open, honest dialogue about your wellbeing with your friends, family + health practitioners – fantastic news.
It’s important to feel supported if you’re on a weight loss journey because you want to be fit strong + healthy.
But your weight + size is not up for shame-inducing debate – and anyone who tries needs to be firmly, but respectfully, put in their place.
Have you ever experienced fat-shaming? How would you respond to someone who did it?