Pom in Oz with Derek Goforth: Fat-shaming is never OK and just another form of bullying

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
What is “fat-shaming” and is it any different from simple old-fashioned bullying?
Camera IconWhat is “fat-shaming” and is it any different from simple old-fashioned bullying? Credit: LeslieLauren/Getty Images/iStockphoto

What is “fat-shaming”, and is it any different from simple old-fashioned bullying?

From the perspective of a “fat guy”, I would have to say despite the new title, not much has changed.

Fat-shaming is just people using their power, voicing their insecurities, or just being a complete tool. There isn’t much psychology to it.

Ridiculing someone for their appearance has never been right, and still isn’t.

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But — and this is the huge but — does that mean we should simply accept being fat (or overweight or whatever you feel happier calling it) as OK and not see any need for people to make changes?

Well, no. I would even strongly say that should never be the case.

Again, speaking from a personal perspective, I am overweight, but I am probably fitter than the average guy based on a couple of factors you could judge “health” on.

How much do you press? How much can you deadlift? How’s your clean and jerk? And what’s your snatch form like?

Well, I can lift heavy, and I can pull off lifts the average skinny or even muscle-bound Joe would struggle with.

But does that make the fact I am still multiple kilos over my ideal weight an OK thing? Nope, it certainly doesn’t. I need to lose the excess fat, and I need to get my cardio output up quite a few levels.

Instead of perpetuating harmful stereotypes and stigmatising individuals based on their weight, we should strive to create a culture of acceptance, compassion, and understanding.

This means rejecting the narrow ideals of beauty and health that permeate our society and embracing the diversity of human bodies.

It means advocating for policies and programs that promote access to healthy foods, safe and supportive environments for physical activity, and affordable healthcare for all.

I think it’s important to emphasise accepting oneself as overweight does not mean endorsing unhealthy behaviour or ignoring the importance of health.

Rather, it means recognising bodies come in all shapes and sizes and true health is about nurturing and caring for oneself, both physically and emotionally.

But I honestly don’t think the vast majority of people who see fat-shaming as acceptable have overweight people’s health as their priority.

No one who sets out to belittle anyone because of their weight or appearance ever has your best interests at heart — they are simply serving their own ego and working through their own insecurities.

I never look at an overweight person and make judgments about their life. I don’t assume they are greedy, lazy, or anything other than their input is more than likely higher than their output.

I don’t treat them any differently. I don’t make any sort of judgment about their character.

But sadly, I know this isn’t the case for so many people out there.

I have been sidelined, humiliated, ridiculed, treated like an inferior human being — all these things because I was carrying around some extra kilos.

I am so glad I did not grow up during the social media generation. At least I could retreat indoors. I could shut my door. I could walk away from school or work. But my oh my, what our youth have to go through, both from advertisers and from their peers.

What ideals do they now have to hold themselves to?

How often are they bullied through a few keyboard strokes? Poorly thought-out words that cut deeper than the sharpest blade?

So, healthy body images, yes please. Good realistic role models, absolutely.

But bullies excusing their behaviour under the guise of “tough love” — give me a break!

Derek Goforth is an expat and father of three living in Geraldton

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