Is Fat Shaming Ever Ok?

You might have seen the controversy recently over Danni Levy’s interview on Good Morning Britain, where she claims that fat shaming people helps them to lose weight.  She said that we should fat shame more because it will help people stop eating and do something about it.  Ever one to support controversy, Piers Morgan was understandably supportive while Susanna Reid couldn’t have disagreed more.

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In response to the endless negative comments, death wishes and name calling…. I did NOT say being fat is unattractive, nor did I make comments on appearances, yet people seem to love commenting on mine! I used the term ‘fat shaming’, as this is the term invented by overweight people to describe the act of calling someone out for being overweight. Big may be beautiful to some, but too much body fat kills! There are over 30k obesity related deaths every year in the UK. So no it’s not okay to praise being big and beautiful! If you’re obese and medically you can lose weight, do something about it, both for yourself and those who love you. Obesity is rapidly rising, whilst smoking is declining. The Cancer Research UK website states: ‘Our success as a nation in bringing down smoking prevalence, through a combination of raising awareness of the harms of the habit, and legislating to reduce accessibility and exposure, shows that these approaches work. It is CRUK’s aim to reverse the rise in overweight and obesity prevalence.’ Let’s do the same to address the overeating habit! Nutrition classes in schools, less accessible junk food for all, a sugar tax and more accessible and affordable healthy snacks. The obesity crisis needs to end! If you’d like help or advice please DM me for free. I would love to help! #obesitycrisis #fatloss #fatshaming #weightloss #letsgethealthy

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Following the interview, Danni came under quite the barage of abuse from people mocking her own appearance and even threatening her life over her comments.  So is it ever ok to fat shame someone?  In a word, no!  It’s not ok to bully, ridicule, or pass judgement on someone else’s physical appearance; only a medical professional who knows that persons clinical history can comment on whether they are healthy or not.  But what’s also ‘not ok’ is pretending that being obese is absolutely fine.  Roughly 30,000 UK deaths every year are attributed to underlying conditions caused by obesity.  It costs the NHS £6.1billion a year to treat conditions that are caused by obesity, and is the second biggest cause of cancer in the UK.

The problem is that when you are talking about something that you are passionate about, you tend to get tongue tied and your brain fires at a rate of knots faster than your mouth can action, so Danni’s words were poorly chosen and quite frankly disgusting.  Her underlying point, however, is absolutely true.  I would wager that more people who have lost the weight for good, were motivated because they had seen an image of themselves that they simply did not recognise, or like the look of.  Either that or something devastating had happened like they got stuck in a chair, or on a ride, or an item of clothing ripped in public.  All of these things are a significant cause of shock and embarrassment that drives change.  Pointing at someone and ridiculing them, bullying them for their appearance, or passing unsolicited judgement does not work.

The reasons behind someone’s obesity can be pretty complex, and overeating or lack of exercise are often not the cause, but a symptom of it.  True causes can range from deep psychological trauma to genetic predispositions to overeat, so telling someone to “stop eating” is about as helpful as telling someone to stop being ill, the cause needs to first be treated and if we’re not careful, we could make the situation ten times worse by driving them into the safety blanket of food.  But we are also living in a society where we like to be offended by everything, we are increasingly taking away responsibility from ourselves and placing the blame on others.  ‘It can’t possibly be my fault because that may make it seem like I’m a lesser person, someone else must take responsibility.’

I know a GP who advised a patient of his that losing weight would help her with a condition she was suffering from.  She publicly criticised him for “fat shaming” her.  There is a growing movement from the likes of self branded “fat activists” Tess Holliday and Sofie Hagen that support the “big is beautiful” notion, and woe betide anyone say anything to the contrary.  All you need to do is look at the backlash of the Cancer Research UK advertising campaign.  The problem here is the word beautiful, anyone criticising obesity is labelled a fat shaming troll, but it’s not the person who is being criticised, it’s the obesity.  Learning to love the body you are in whether it’s big or small is beautiful, having respect for yourself and learning to love who you are is beautiful, but there is a big difference between that and suggesting that it’s absolutely fine to be morbidly obese.  Respecting yourself enough, and the wonderful body that you have been given, to lose body fat and increase your life expectancy is also a beautiful thing.  Being truly honest with yourself and admitting that you need to change for the sake of yourself, your family, your children, your health, is a beautiful thing too.

Under no circumstances should people ever be subjected to “fat shaming” in exactly the same way that nobody should be subjected to any kind of shaming, be it shaming people for wanting to exercise, shaming people for wanting to be slimmer, shaming people for being “too” athletic, but we shouldn’t also be encouraging a state of normality where it’s healthy to be obese.



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