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The Fat Post

February 9, 2012

Two mates of mine had an argument on twitter this evening about depictions of fat people in the media. One was saying that it should be acceptable to say that really fat people are unattractive, the other disagreed.

This is something that hits a bit close to home, as my friend’s definition of unattractively fat is ‘obese’.

This is me. I am clinically obese.

As with all these discussions, it was said that it’s ‘not about you’, and ‘of course this doesn’t apply in your case’. But that doesn’t fly. Because my BMI is 30. That’s obese.

This relates to a strange problem I have with my body image.

I’m attractive. I know this because people tell me so. My clothes fit well, and I often receive compliments, sometimes from people I’m not in love with. So that’s nice.

I also quite like my body. I make a lot of my own clothes, and I enjoy the challenge of modifying patterns and making things fit my curves and bumps, that are so different from other people’s curves and bumps.

But sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I think I’m looking at someone else. Someone gross, huge and blob-like. Because I’m often told I’m attractive, and the women on the front of magazines and in adverts are attractive, therefore, subconsciously, I think I must look like them. I don’t. I’m 5ft 4in and size 16. I am clinically obese.

I’m not insecure about my body or my weight, or looking to change either. But about twice a month I experience this weird disconnect. Because I am attractive, but not what I’m told by adverts to believe is attractive. It usually takes me about an hour to feel like my body is mine again.

So, it would be nice to have more examples of people who are fatter held up as attractive. It would be lovely to have examples of healthy people at all weights being held up as paragons of beauty. I would like to see the sort of people that I find attractive held up as attractive in public arenas.

And don’t just tell me that it doesn’t apply to me because I’m pretty. I am technically obese. If you are saying things about ‘fat people’, then you are saying them about me. 

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3 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Firstly, I didn’t say “fat people are ugly”. I said “obesity is unattractive”. It’s different. I’ve heard plenty of people say “smoking is unattractive” and never heard a smoker complain that they’ve been called ugly. Or even take it personally.

    Obesity doesn’t define a person. It is possible to have many wonderful and attractive qualities, and still have unattractive ones too. In fact, we all do.

    Like you, I am in favour of having a huge variety of healthy body types acknowledged and presented as beautiful. But not unhealthy ones. I really think it’s socially irresponsible to glamourise any unhealthy size or shape. A lot has been said about the dangers of size zero culture, there’s been backlash against use of unhealthily thin models. That’s great. But there shouldn’t be a double standard

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Have you seen the Adipositivity Project? http://www.adipositivity.com/ Hawt.

    B: I think what you’re doing there is equating health with ‘being an average size”, while there are in actuality healthy people in all shapes and sizes who need more sociatal/media representation.

    IMO “unhealthy people” of all sizes could do with more representation too, as I try not to equate unhealth to media invisibility:P

  3. Tony Kennick permalink

    1]
    BMI is a very criticised broad brush measurement.
    a) 30 is the absolute lowest number in the BMI scale in that band, lose 100g and you are no longer “clinically obese” would 100g weight loss make you hugely more attractive/healthy/whatever? I really doubt it.
    b) you can’t look at BMI on the internet without falling over articles like this one about how big a crock of shit it is: http://www.maa.org/devlin/devlin_05_09.html
    2] As with all generalisations it doesn’t work, body shape may well be part of what makes people attractive or otherwise but the issue is fabulously complex.
    3] My crass generalisation of the day is that anyone who says something like “X is a really unattractive trait but that doesn’t mean I think you are unattractive because of Y” without it being some sort of supremely layered joke is a dribbling moron ;->

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