End the Body-Shaming

By Clara Collins ’17

The Body Positivity movement has made tremendous strides in recent years. The inclusion of plus-size models in mainstream fashion magazines and other publications has dramatically increased. This is a positive step, given the overly-airbrushed, spray-tanned beach blondes that graced the majority of billboards and magazine covers of the past.

Just this year, Sports Illustrated’s famous swimsuit issue featured model Ashley Graham front and center as the cover model. This is a milestone achievement for plus-size women. Although Sports Illustrated certainly isn’t si-ashley-graham-600x800.jpgknown for its feminist views, it is a widely popular publication. Though the platform may be corrupt, it is important for less visible people in media to seize these opportunities so that they can become catalysts for diversity.

Despite these gains, almost exclusively skinny white women continue to walk in major fashion shows, be cast as love interests and heroes in films, and glorified in the media. The world needs to stop being afraid of the word “fat.” Technically, fat is something you have, not something that you are.

As a chubby girl I’ve been described as “curvy,” “plus-size” and “full-figured,” but we all know these are just polite terms for what others really want to say. Using these words and not embracing the word “fat” creates a separation between “fat” women and “curvy” women. It creates this idea that, yes, it’s okay for you not to be traditionally skinny as long as you’re tall, have big breasts, a flat tummy, big hips and virtually no cellulite. It allows for models like Gigi Hadid and Kate Upton to be called “plus size” simply because they have large breasts and hips for a model. This causes real “plus size” women to be excluded from the Body Positivity movement for just being plain old fat, and not this perfect “curvy” hourglass.

In an ideal world, our bodies would not be categorized at all, aside from medical conditions. However, many people continue to condemn fat women by stating “they’re unhealthy.” This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by these people to hide their own discomfort with a heavier woman who is proud of her body.

For example, model Barbie Ferreira keeps a healthy diet and frequently original.jpgposts photos of herself at the gym, yet she still receives several messages a day about her “unhealthy” body. But it isn’t just fat women, every woman with a body less than “ideal” faces this hate. Even Serena Williams, the number one nationally ranked female tennis champion, faces waves of hate from people who call her body “masculine” and “ugly” and “manly.”

Some people claim they only want to promote healthy bodies, but what if the picture of physical health is not what we have been programmed to think?  It’s hard to imagine that a person can not discern that bodies metabolize and form differently. That means someone with a “good” body is not automatically healthy, and a fat person is not automatically unhealthy.

I believe this kind of body-shaming must originate from plain hatred for women. I have always been a chubby girl, and even when I was participating in rigorous athletic training five, sometimes six, days a week, I was still much larger than peers who didn’t do any kind of exercise or follow a strict diet.

Bodies are just different. And it’s time for the world to get over it.



pictures from katietaylor.wordpress.com, stylenews.com, twitter.com

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