Adventures on Reddit: How I discovered Hamplanets and lost part of my soul

This blog has pushed me out into the internet in a mean way — sink or swim — CONSUME ALL THE MEDIA. I noticed we were getting a lot of traffic from a site called Reddit. Having never used Reddit, I decided to mosey on over there and see what was what.

Later, I was telling this same story to a friend of mine, and when I got to the part where I said, “and so then I headed over to Reddit-”

“NO! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?!”

Why, indeed.

Reddit is the Bridge under which the Trolls live.

Now, there are a few sub forums on Reddit that aren’t soul-crushing. Body Acceptance is one of those forums, and was very supportive of our recent Fitspo/Thinspo/Fatspo article. Fatosphere is also a good subreddit, though with fewer subscribers. However, on the whole, it appears REDDIT HATES FAT PEOPLE.

FatPeopleStories is #1 on TFW list of WTF: Reddit Edition. Let’s take a look at their Rules Section (underlining added by TFW):

FPS rules

Hamplanet? Hambeast? Hamentality? What do those words even mean? Maybe I should use some context clues. Let’s look at the logos:

FPS logo

A fat man on a scooter with a pizza flag

FPSlogo2

A laughing whale

A Reddit ranking button with a hamburger and an apple instead of arrows

A Reddit ranking button with a hamburger and an apple instead of arrows

Clearly, it has something to do with fat people. Or sea-going mammals. Or hamburgers. Dammit, Reddit! Explain yourself!

whatishamplanet

Like a ham needs her McDicks? Oh yeah… hamburgers again.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 9.54.17 AM

Hamplanet = Obesity + Shittitude

Hamplanet = Obesity + Shittitude

HAMPLANET = OBESITY + SHITTITUDE

Still confused? Here is further clarification:

hamplanet

This person has added “delusions” to the list of hamplanet requirements. These delusions, in the Redditverse, are known as “fat logic”:

hamplanet

To learn more about fat logic, let’s turn to #2 on TFW list of WTF: Reddit Edition — The FatLogic subreddit.

Example 1: There is an entire thread dedicated to bringing down This is Thin Privilege. The thread claims that not only does TiTP embody and embrace fatlogic, but it perpetuates it to the ruin of all. Here is an exerpt from TiTP explaining the relationship of thin privilege and health (emphasis added by TFW):

Let me make it completely clear from the outset that I do not believe ‘health,’ however defined, is a reasonable measure to determine whether or not someone deserves respect, civil rights, and fair treatment. If you have a problem with how health markets apportion your premiums or where your taxes go, then by all means, rage against the system. But do not think for a minute your assholish behavior towards people you imagine use more than their ‘fair share’ is justified.

In fact, I’ll go further and state that in my opinion the modern conception of ‘health’ is bullshit. It’s an ever-changing, largely arbitrary definition that seems to serve a single purpose: to blame modern ills on so-called ‘unhealthy’ people then define so-called ‘unhealthy’ people as unpopular social ‘deviants’ like fat people, poor people, and the disabled. The philosophy of vaunting the modern notion of ‘health’ to some kind of societal/moral imperative is called healthism.

According to the FPS subreddit, this is classic fat logic.

fatlogic

A obese person recognizes that their increased size means certain problems might arise. They anticipate and accept this. They realize that this is not “oppression” because they have the same rights to marry/adopt/own stuff/use establishments/free speech like everyone else…

… a hamplanet is defined by their delusional and self-centered perception (fat logic), not taking into account courtesy to others.

In sum, Reddit says a hamplanet is a fat person who uses fat logic to justify not taking care of themselves, as well as not taking responsibility for their unhealthy body size and the impact it has on others, and therefore has no business sticking up for themselves against the ridicule and persecution because they brought it on themselves.

My definition of “hamplanet”?

HAMPLANET:

A derogatory term used to describe a fat person who refuses to accept discrimination and derision as part of their daily existence, who strives for positive self-image amidst a mine field of prejudice and thin privilege, and who insists that no matter what someone looks like, they deserve be treated with kindness and consideration.

Power, Privilege, and Fatness: Why thin shaming isn’t on the level of fat shaming

Greetings, fellow naturally thin-ish people.

I’d say “thin people,” but most of us are a few years past the point that the angles on our face were perfect no matter what we ate, or our asses could stop traffic. If not? We soon will be. But I’m speaking, here, to the non-fat. The wee. The svelte. The thin. The fast-metabolismed. The genetic lottery winners.

You know who you are. We don’t count calories, we can spend entire days without thinking about our body sizes, and while we may feel like shit about how we look, we certainly aren’t told that it’s all our fault. That’s who we are. If not? Quietly leave. I’m not talking to you.

Are they gone?

Okay.

So hello, thinnish people.

I have some distressing news for all of us, and it comes straight from the fat horse’s mouth:

We don’t get to talk about thin shaming like it’s every bit as bad as fat shaming.

Yes, yes, I know the argument. “Isn’t making fun of anybody’s body just as bad as making fun of anybody else’s?”

No. Just, like, way no. All the no. There’s no more “no” left, because I just took it all.

Stick with me, here.

I rejected this idea for years, myself. I wanted, very badly, for all prejudicial language, and every minimization of a group of people to be analogous and equal. As a thin (not to mention white) male, I wanted very badly for any member of any minority groups’ criticism of me based on anything but my actions to be every bit as bad as every insult thrown at them for no reason. Every barb. Every discriminatory act. Every oblivious act. I wanted my resentment to be as justified as theirs. I wanted them hating on me for being white, or male, or thin– I wanted it to be just as unthinkable and obviously terrible as it would be for me to hate on them for being black, or female, or fat.

But dude, I say, hoping the colloquialism doesn’t alienate…

It way wasn’t.

I was just an asshole.

I have an analogy here that many haven’t considered. It’s obvious, which means I’m a bit of a hack. It’s simplistic, which means I’m not the academic I would love to be, but it is also accurate. When people say that shaming the thin for being thin as akin to shaming the fat for being fat, here is what they are saying:

“Whites are the new blacks.”

Ridiculous, right? But this is an argument that is currently being made. According to a recent survey performed by Harvard and Tufts sociologists, many white Americans believe that they are now the persecuted minority.

Speaking as a white man, we’re not. We absolutely aren’t. We couldn’t be less the new blacks were minstrel shows about white folks to suddenly become, y’know, a thing. I can picture it now:

“Did you file those reports, Johnson?”

“No, Thomas. I was busy getting STARBUCKS!”

<Dismissive song and dance>

<Laughter>

Almost sounds like the Big Bang Theory.

Here’s the thing: there’s no comparing the oppressed with the oppressor. Agents and targets of oppression, as they’re known among several frameworks of social theory, will never be the same thing.

And that doesn’t mean that anybody’s a bad person. Nobody’s suggesting that anybody should be shot for laughing at fat people. But, y’know, nobody was suggesting that many others should be shot for laughing at movie portrayals of House Mammies. And yes, I am comparing these things, and yes, I do believe they’re analogous. Not on the same level, sure, but the same act. The same superior dismissal. The same subjugation and disenfranchisement of a target group.

It’s unthinkable to act, consciously and publicly, as if those who are born different should be treated with malice, but it is still totally okay to treat the larger members of our country with constant disdain, and disrespect. The reason for this is the same reason you’d almost never hear somebody say “I’m fine with Mexicans so long as they’re not all up in my face with it,” but the same is said about gays on a fairly regular basis:

Choice.

Fatness, like sexuality, is seen by many as a matter of choice. And worse yet, while a gay man can’t make himself straight, nor should he, a fat person can make themselves thin, so that must mean thin is better, right? That fat means unhealthy, right? That every fat person is just lazy, right? They should be thin and healthy like us! Go health! Dog-whistles!

I eat like shit, never exercise, and spend all day sitting. My wife eats well, controls portions, exercises, and spends all day on her feet. I’m thin, she’s not. I’m considered height-weight proportionate. She’s not. Oh, and I’m at risk of heart disease. She’s not.

Bullshit it’s all choice, and the health argument is ridiculous. And I am here, in my pants that fit, gleefully doling out said ridicule.

Our differences in metabolism are ignored. People wrongly assume I’m the healthy one and she isn’t, and for this reason, she can be mocked and I can sit in my bubble of oppressive social agency, secure that I’m a part of dominant culture, body-size wise. It’s not okay to say “nigger,” or “bitch,” or “fag” offhandedly on, say, network television, but it is 100% okay to call somebody a fatass. Or tank-ass. Or lard-ass. Or bubble-gut, or even such subtle jabs as “she’s let herself go.”

So when somebody who is exposed to this every minute of every day lashes out and says, “yeah? Well FUCK thin people!” we don’t get to act as if this the same as somebody calling a bigger guy or gal a fatass, because we are told, every time we watch television, every time we see a film, every time we look at a billboard, and every time we see a fashion magazine: “You’re okay. You count. You matter.”

When a gay man says, “fuck straight people,” he is not oppressing, because he is not in power, culturally-speaking. He is not in the position to oppress. When a black man says, “fuck white people,” he is not oppressing white men, because his group is not the dominant group. When a woman says, “fuck men,” she is not oppressing men, because to oppress, your social group must be on top. That’s what oppression is. 

But when a fat person talks smack about the “rail thin,” or the “anorexic models,” or even something so naked as “those fucking thin people,” they are treated, just as their oppressed contemporaries are when they retaliate, as oppressors.

They’re not, dude. They’re way not.

They’re just being assholes.

It’s a very important distinction to make.

Fat people are a persecuted minority. If you don’t believe this, just take in all of your daily media with the idea in mind of how you’d feel if you had what I like to call The Big Gene; if your metabolism sucked, and no matter how healthy you were, you still just had some heft to ya’. Just pay attention for one day to how godawful you’d feel. Most of us don’t even have to reach too far for this, because we’re not models. We’re already facing it, just not on nearly the same level.

Nobody is suggesting that there has ever been a fat-person lynch mob. Nobody is suggesting that fat people are regularly murdered for declaring their love in public. Nobody is actually comparing the plight of the fat to the historical and contemporary plight of other minorities. Nobody who matters, anyway.

But, as always, there’s a “but.”

Fat people are consistently mocked on television and in movies. Magazines have whole issues devoted to “Worst Bathing Suit Bodies”. Fat people are told how they should (and shouldn’t) dress, how they should eat. They are judged much more critically, and much more frequently than non-fat people. They are targets, because they are at the weaker end of the power dynamic. That is what makes “fat bitch” a different insult than “skinny bitch” and why fat shaming is different than thin shaming. Neither is positive, and neither should be acceptable. But thin shaming doesn’t excuse fat shaming; if anything, it only continues to oppress an already oppressed minority.

So, y’know, try not to pile on by pretending to be a victim.

Don’t be an asshole.


UPDATE

We have been receiving a lot of feedback on this article. Check out our responses!

The Feminomics of Spanx — Act Three: You May Crush My Internal Organs, But You Will Never Crush My Spirit

Spanx

Continued from The Feminomics of Spanx — Act Two: Sara Blakely’s Rags to Much Tighter Rags Story

In the last article, we briefly touched on the utility of Spanx; it smoothes bulges, hides lumps. It makes clothing that wouldn’t look “good” otherwise lay more smoothly against the body. It must be a tricky item to market.

“Are you malformed? Do you feel bad about your saggy lumpiness? Here, try SPANX!”

Not so coincidentally enough, Spanx does no actual marketing. It has grown solely through word of mouth. For example, Blakely kept sending gift baskets to Oprah with Spanx in them. Eventually, Oprah made Spanx one of her Favorite Things. Spanx is like an infection. There are no billboards, no commercials making you feel bad. It’s passed from person to person. Women, openly sharing with other women that they are unhappy with how they look, and recommending special expensive underwear to hide their imperfections. Women are sharing this with one another, spreading it, disseminating it. It’s everywhere now. Celebrities wear Spanx. There are Spanx for men. There isn’t a giant corporation telling us to perk our asses up. We are telling ourselves.

Think about the real purpose of Spanx; Spanx facilitates a lie we tell each other about our bodies. It’s a lie we tell because it is too hard to ask for support and respect for how we actually look. Spanx legitimizes what the Fashion and Beauty Industrial Complexes keep pounding into our minds.

We need to change to fit in.

We need to change to squeeze into the molds society has set out for us.

No, seriously. LITERALLY SQUEEZE.

Spanx and other foundational undergarments smoosh our insides so they don’t work properly. Our lungs don’t breathe as well, our nerves get pinched, our muscles atrophy. We don’t even poop properly anymore.

But look at this video from the Spanx website of a woman modeling the Slimplicity Full Slip:

Did you see how sad she looked? Then suddenly they gave her makeup and a necklace and she was happy! They smoothed out all her normal bumps and lumps, and made her pretty. Because she wasn’t pretty before. She was gross.

Sara Blakely is a model female entrepreneur, someone who pulled herself up by her pantyhose and is now trying to help other women do the same. But did she have to make her fortune on something like SPANX!? My heart, as well as my ass, hurts from knowing that our best model for women making it in the business world is someone selling insecurity out of a little red backpack.

Reblog: The Tyranny of the “Normal”

Reblogged from Riots Not Diets

Margitte Leah over at Riots Not Diets wrote a thoughtful, analytical essay of the bullshit of the BMI. It starts:

A few years ago I was getting a pap smear. The doctor—whom I had just met that morning—had me in those cold metal stirrups and was rooting around in my vagina when she asked, ever so casually, “so, do you know what the BMI is?”

I laughed.

As if a woman who has been fat all of her life might have never heard of the BMI.

The thing is, we all know about the BMI. It’s a simple chart that measures our height against our weight, right? The number that comes out of that equation places us into categories—underweight, normal, overweight, obese.

The BMI is supposed to be a value-neutral way to assess bodies across populations.

Except that, did you know that the BMI has never been neutral?

Read the rest over at her blog, Riots Not Diets.

Jennifer Lawrence: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

First of all, Jennifer Lawrence is dynamite in every movie she does. She is lovely. She seems fairly intelligent. And then she goes to Barbara Walters and says this:

Transcript:

BW: “You criticized the people who judge other women especially on the red carpet, you’re very sensitive to that. Why?”

JL: “Because why is humiliating people funny? And I am also, and I get it and then I do it — we all do it but, I think when it comes to the media — the media needs to take responsibility, for the effect that it has on our younger generation, on these girls are watching these television shows and picking up how to talk and how to be cool and how to be — then all of a sudden being funny is making fun of the girl that’s wearing the ugly dress and making fun of the girl that’s, you know… and the word fat. I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV, and  if we are regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words for the effect it has on the younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?”

Okay, let’s break a few things down. What is and is not seen on broadcast TV is largely determined by two groups; the Standards and Practices departments of the given cable television network, and (for broadcast television) the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC bases their guidelines mostly around the concept of “obscenity” as it is vaguely defined by the US Supreme Court. Specifically, it looks for material that:

  • An average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
  • Depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law;
  • Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value

The Standards and Practices departments of television networks are beholden to no one but their potential advertisers. Obscenity, or sex, or smoking, or drug use, is not banned from television.  And when those behaviors AREN’T shown, it’s usually because it would upset the advertisers and the network would lose revenue as a result.

Banning the adjective “fat” from TV is not the same as banning smoking. The problem with how “fat” is used on television isn’t that it glorifies the use of the word. It is that it glorifies the use of the word as a derogatory term. If anything, “fat” should be used more often, in more positive contexts. More fat characters with positive story lines and comedy that doesn’t revolve around body type. The only way to get the networks to discourage fat caricatures and fat shaming for comedy would be through the manipulation of ad revenue. Unfortunately, there is BIG BUSINESS in fat shaming, and even more in “body improvement” and “health” (think low-fat anything, makeup, SPANX).

Asking for someone to ban a word like “fat” does not deter fat shaming behavior. It simply increases its already negatively charged stigma. I say, bring on the “fat” words! Proliferate them! Take their negative power away. That is something that would actually help little girls… to hear words that describe their bodies that aren’t “bad words” that you can’t say on TV.

Where are the fat Disney heroines?

An online petition exists, created by a high school junior in Virginia, asking Disney to feature a plus size heroine in one of their movies. Specifically, the petition mentions making “plus size princesses in Disney movies”, but I find the “princess” concept in Disney to be generally anti-feminist and wearying. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy this new music video about the real messages our classic Disney princesses send to girls (even though Frozen isn’t exactly a beacon of feminism itself):

I thought I would go through and just do a roll call of fat female Disney characters, in either a major or at least visible supporting role:

As you can see, we have a stunningly diverse array, ranging from soft, grandmother-types, all the way to vengeful, angry, exaggerated villains. Oh wait, those are just two types. Oooh, we also have a little girl! (An aside, Lilo and Stitch is my favorite animated Disney movie. It’s perfect in every way.)

My Ursula ears from Disneyland

My Ursula ears

Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Ursula. She’s always been my favorite villain, and I honestly think she’s a better role model for female empowerment than the vast majority of princesses. She knows was she wants, she pursues it ruthlessly, she’s a business woman, she’s powerful, and she’s persuasive. All of this brings me back around to my original point: Where are the fat heroines?

Well, some people flat-out claim it is a bad idea for “health” reasons, like Kathryn Darden, the author of this ugly article from theexaminer.com. A plus size female role model would “only enable and encourage the obesity problem” because girls would emulate the character and subsequently overeat. Darden compares having a plus size heroine to having one who smokes, abuses pills, purges, or cuts on herself. Sorry, Ms. Darden, but your article kind of makes me want to do all four.

Anyhow, we should be happy with what we’ve been offered by Disney so far. They’ve already thrown us fat chicks a few bones:

“Disney has already created Merida with her “plus-size” face, so it’s not like all Disney heroines are stick thin. Snow White is also usually portrayed with a soft, round face. Apparently these heroines are not fat enough…”

Oh, how stupid of me! How could I not think face shape and body type were the same thing? I mean, I should really just stop complaining, because while none of the female characters look like me, at least they don’t ALL look like yard sticks. Maybe the obesity epidemic in America started with Snow White. Everyone saw her fat face and immediately started scarfing down popcorn so they could emulate her. Maybe that’s why movie theaters started upsizing all their snack offerings; they needed to keep up with the Snow White Fat-Face Fad.

Okay, back to the petition. I am signing it. This is my rationale, which I included on the petition itself:

I am signing this petition, not because I actually believe that these sorts of internet petitions actually result in the desired change, but because I want the issue to be considered and discussed. I am a plus size, body positive blog writer, and I strongly feel that all people deserve to feel loved and valued regardless of appearance. Whether or not someone is fat should not impact whether they live “happily ever after”, or are deserving of a Prince Charming to love them unconditionally. In truth, it never really bothered me too much that all of the female leads had cartoon Barbie bods until I read this petition, followed by all the counter arguments. Disney is a mega-corporation in the business of making money, and unless they think a decision will be financially rewarding, they won’t make it. What really pushed me over the edge was the hate. Every argument I read against this petition screamed “FAT IS BAD FAT IS UGLY OMG GROSS”. People are making fun of fat people, curvy people, and even the thoughtful girl who wrote this petition in the first place. Detractors are disguising their prejudice and condescension as “concern” by setting up straw men labeled “Health” and “Obesity Epidemic”. People need to see this hate, READ this hate, and know that it is, in actuality, hate.

I hope you will take the time to go and sign the petition as well, if for no other reason than to promote the dialogue.

What the Hell is “Skinny Fat”?

I first heard the term “skinny fat” at an event during a conversation with an old acquaintance about their current fitness regime (which involved eating massive amounts of protein, as well as a shit-ton of pseudo-ephedrine as a “metabolism booster”). This acquaintance told me that “skinny fat” was when someone looked skinny, but was just not fit and healthy.

I put this concept on the back burner for a while for it to simmer down. And when I say “for a while” I mean six months. And when I say “simmer down”, I mean get to the point mentally where I don’t want to go running down the street screaming obscenities and shooting lasers out of my eyes like Cyclops without his visor.

I thought I had actually pushed skinny fat so far down into the back of my mind that I had forgotten it, until I ran across this interview with skier Lindsey Vonn:

“I’ve been to a lot of photo shoots and I just see these girls that are really thin, they’re not healthy. They don’t work out … It’s difficult to be at events with a room full of women who weigh half as much as you do. That’s always tough. I don’t envy them, though, because so many of them are skinny-fat. They have more cellulite than most people.”

“It may look good in a magazine, but it’s not healthy, and girls who are that skinny are actually fat. You can see the cellulite on their legs and on their butts. You know I have cellulite too but I go to the gym and I try to eat healthy. I think that’s a better model for girls to look up to than skinny people who need to eat more.”

First of all, c’mon, Lindsey! Every body’s got its own thing going on. Athletic, thin, fat, whatever — the commentary is not helpful. Aside from the clearly polarizing message, what the hell is this? Is skinny fat a legit thing?

GOOGLE-FU!

Apparently, skinny fat is another term for Metabolically Obese Normal Weight (MONW), which is confusing to me. Apparently, someone who is “metabolically obese” is someone who is “hyperinsulinemic, insulin-resistant, and predisposed to type 2 diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, and premature coronary heart disease” just like many obese people are. What grinds my gears, specifically, is that not all obese people experience such symptoms.  IN FACT, research is now showing that 1 in 4 THIN people are showing signs of metabolic obese-ness.

So let’s just get this straight… there’s a metabolic problem fat people often suffer from that now lots of skinny people suffer from. And medically, we refer to the problem with the label “obese” even though it isn’t an obesity-specific problem. And colloquially, we refer to it as “skinny fat”, because the “fat” modifier tells the lay-person that it isn’t “regular” skinny… it’s “bad” skinny.

SKINNY FAT!!!

Chromatophobia Exposure Therapy: Fat Girls Wearing Cobalt Blue

Spring is upon us, and we will soon run out of excuses to wear our black-on-grey-on-black outfits. A lot of bigger gals shy away from bright colors for two reasons:

  1. We are ashamed of our bodies and don’t want to draw attention to them, and
  2. We just can’t find cute clothes in bright colors (society’s silent legitimizing of the first reason).

Well, this week I would like us all to open ourselves up to a new color possibility: Cobalt blue. This ain’t no navy, folks, nor is it a pastel. It is ultra-blue. BLUE. Check it out:

Now that’s BLUE.

Let’s start with bottoms. Most of us stick to neutral bottoms, jeans and the like. We get a lot of flack for wearing leggings (even I was in the “leggings aren’t pants” category for a while). However, I have changed my tune because I SHOULD BE ABLE TO WEAR WHAT I WANT. Not everyone agrees. Beware, I am ’bout to post things I’ve found in the comments sections of various websites:

ye certain clothes look better on a certain shape, leggings also would not suit the bigger girl, depending on your height i think, anyone between 5foot and 5″5 anythin from size 6-12 is perfect. and taller can pull of the 14 anyone ouve them brackets is bordering on overweight alright. some big girls like certain clothes that would defo do nothing for them ye sure they might be fashionable clothes but would just look dreadful on them.

The idea that tight bottoms are inappropriate for fat people is classic fat shaming. I am 100% sure that the following leggings would look slammin’ on just about every gal I know:

If you wanted something a bit more substantial then leggings, you could go for skinny jeans:

If you’re feeling extra-sessy, consider a pencil skirt:

Cobalt is an ass-celebration color! In fact, it’s a celebration color, period. This bright blue can make you stand out at shindigs, rather than blending you into the background shadows.  Of course, not everyone thinks we should wear cute dresses:

they don’t think they are fat lol
they think its okay to show off their bodies even if the rest of us don’t want to look at their cellulite and fat rolls
they want to dress like other girls- when really you should dress to flatter your body
Ugh, what a douche. Guess what? I have big thighs. Guess what else? I have a less-than-flat stomach. If I want to wear a short dress with a small waist, I will do so and receive tons of compliments from my friends and loved ones who aren’t shallow and insecure. Here’s a douche-antidote:

It’s not quite warm yet up here in Seattle, so we still need jackets. You know what we need more? Blue, ruffly jackets:

If you aren’t quite sold yet, let me show you MY chevron cobalt legging realness:

ONE MORE BONUS DRESS:

Stay tuned for future informal chromatophobia therapy sessions. Want to see a color featured? Shoot me an email or leave a comment!

Cellulite: Another Way to Make Us Hate Ourselves

Let’s talk about cellulite. It’s like, totally the worst, right? If you have it, you are clearly failing at life. I mean, why else would people market expensive cellulite-removing treatments? It couldn’t possibly have anything at all to do with making money. Right?

We are taught from childhood that as women, our worth is defined by how closely we match the perfect standards of beauty portrayed in the media. We are taught that aging will ruin us (if I see one more product that claims “age-defying” properties, I’m going to scream), that our wardrobe defines us, and that being overweight is a character flaw. And nothing screams, “You’re a huge, ugly fatty!” like cellulite.

Scarlett Johansson, one of the sexual and beauty icons of our time, an undeniably thin woman, has cellulite. In photo shoots, it's airbrushed out.

Scarlett Johansson, just one of many huge, ugly fatties.

Except that skinny women have it. Models have it. Athletes have it. WebMD says that it “is nothing more than normal fat beneath the skin.” It exists in over 85% of post-pubescent women, and it wasn’t considered unsightly or problematic until Vogue called it a skin disease in 1968. Scarlett Johansson, one of the sexual and beauty icons of our time, an undeniably thin woman, has cellulite. In photo shoots, it’s airbrushed out.

I have heard women bemoan the fact that they’ve been trying to get rid of their cellulite since they were teenagers. Which makes sense given that it is a secondary sex characteristic that develops along with breasts and body hair at puberty. And since it’s not a disease, there is no cure. Profit-hungry people will happily sell you expensive snake oil to help you rid yourself of your natural and healthy shape, but there is little evidence that the creams and treatments have any lasting effect – if they have any effect at all.

Just one of many cellulite "cures." The name implies that not only will your unsightly dimples disappear, but you'll also magically become skinny if you rub this cream on your fat.

Just one of many cellulite “cures.” The name implies that not only will your unsightly dimples disappear, but you’ll also magically become skinny if you rub this cream on your fat.

It’s an ongoing process, but I’m starting to learn to appreciate my cellulite. Mostly, I’m angry at the beauty industry. I’m pissed off that I have been deceived by unscrupulous people who don’t care how many women they harm in order to make more money. And I am livid that women have been trained to see their healthy bodies as monstrosities.

Fattertainment: Body Shaming for Fun and Profit

In movies and on TV nowadays, you very rarely see people being made fun of at the expense of their race or gender. Sexual orientation is improving too, though decidedly not as much. You know who are still hilarious, despite the passage of time and the supposed increased levels of sensitivity? Fat people. We’re so hilarious that it has become deleterious to our mental health.

Ha! Look at that fat boy! He just can’t stop eating! He’s so fat he got stuck in a pipe! Now he’s going to be boiled alive for his gluttony. Let’s sing about him! Hilarious.

Look at that kid, performing for his friends. His existence is amusing enough. He’s lucky to have such normal friends who can really appreciate his body for what it is. Hilarious.

I see what he did there! That used to be an actual song about someone who stuck up for himself and stood his ground. Now that he’s fat, I guess the only think left to sing about is sandwiches. Hilarious.

Speaking of sandwiches, did you know that the only time a fat person can joyfully express their fatness in dance is while they are eating? Unfortunately, we become quickly out of breath and collapse to the ground. Hilarious.

What’s wrong, Shiloh? Can’t you take a joke? Why are you so sensitive?

Guess what, folks? I have SCIENCE on my side. Science that says this pervasive media blitz of fat shaming DOES BAD THINGS.

There is such a thing as fat stigma. It is when people are blamed for being fat because they are lazy, or don’t care about themselves or their health. The same thing happened to those infected with HIV/AIDS in the 80’s and 90’s. People were blamed for a condition that they had no control over. Not just blamed, but VILIFIED. HIV positive is synonymous with “lesser” in the same way fat or plus-sized is.

A recent study has revealed several important facts. First, assumptions about why people are overweight translate into negative attitudes about the people themselves. Secondly, these negative attitudes lead to discrimination, and verbal and physical bullying. Lastly, these misperceptions have deleterious psychological consequences, including depression and decreased life-satisfaction. Fat stigma extends past the internal experience; overweight people are more likely to experience employment discrimination, and have problems with personal relationships. They are even more likely to receive sub-standard healthcare. Overweight people who are stigmatized and experience discrimination are 2.5 times more likely to become obese when compared to people who were not victimized for their weight. People who started the study obese were 3 times more likely to stay obese when subjected to fat stigma.

These problems start early in our lives. Caregivers often provide kids with confusing messages. I myself was always required to clear my plate. My husband had to eat quickly, because if he didn’t he wouldn’t get the same amount of food as his sister. My grandma got me a Spanx-like control-top pair of shorts to wear under a dress when I was 11, so I wouldn’t look “bulgy”, and was constantly telling me to slow down and chew my food. Don’t get me wrong, my grandma was the raddest old lady, kind and compassionate; she was just parroting societal norms.

Social media reinforces these societal norms, as evidenced by the earlier videos. Another article from the American Journal for Public Health breaks it down into numbers. When examining primetime TV shows, heavier characters are less likely to have positive interactions with other characters. For women, 32% of women categorized as heavy have positive interactions, compared to 51% of characters labeled as thin. The numbers for men look similar. Besides interactions, overweight characters are portrayed as less attractive, less competent, less polite, and less charming. Millions and millions of people watch these shows every day.

One of the key things we can do for our mental health and spiritual well-being is to work to remove the stigma associated with our physiques. My body is not comical. My body is not grotesque. I do not deserve being mocked neither for choices I made that caused me to gain weight, nor external or psychological factors. I try not to see movies and watch shows where fat characters serve as comic relief. I choose to say something when someone is making a fat joke or a derisive comment. I like to think I am making a difference.

How do you promote body-positivity in your life and community?

Literal Fat Shaming

Usually, when you think of fat shaming, you think of people making fun of fat people for being fat. Well Casey Chan over at Kinja has taken fat shaming to a whole new level: he’s berating fat itself. Fat, as in the substance that makes up a significant portion of everyone’s bodies.

Sad Adipose is sad.

I feel bad for the poor little Fat Blob. What did he ever do to Chan? As far as I can tell, he’s just chillin’ out with his homies at AnatomyWarehouse.com, minding his own business. Apparently, he is vile. Not only that, but Chan said he would feel like throwing up every time he saw him. I guess the part that really rubbed Blobby the wrong way was when Casey started talking about life choices:

“But as disgusting as this pound of fat is, I think if I put this blubber model on my desk, I would instantly make better life decisions. The all seeing eye of the one pound god of fat would prevent me from ordering fatty feasts during lunchtime, make sure I get up to walk around every hour and cause me to shudder and hurl every time I look at it.”

The implication is that fat comes from making poor life decisions. The further implication is made that fat itself is frightening, something people should fear. Truth be told, fat outside of the confines of one’s body is pretty weird looking, but so is someone’s brain or left deltoid. How far does the fat-fear go? When does the All-Seeing Eye of the One Pound God of Fat relent? Can you breathe easily at 20% body fat? 15%? 5%? Will sinners roast in Fatty Hell? I bet it’ll smell delicious.