[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ecently a group (or perhaps an individual) has been handing out cards on public transport in London informing passengers that they are overweight and therefore deserving of fat-shaming. ‘Overweight Haters Ltd’ outlined their ‘hate’ towards fat people, as well as their ‘gluttony’ and ‘greed’.
The cards seemed to be making political statements by claiming that fat people are ‘wasting NHS money’ and that overeating is heinous because ‘half the world [is] starv[ing].’ However, these notices are nothing more than disgusting vitriol.
The main sentiment these people want to make clear is that fat people are disgusting, wasteful and excessive individuals, who are only accepted by ‘perverted chubby-lover[s]’.
This behaviour is sickening. The abusive and premeditated nature of these cards is only a reflection on the person who created them, not its victims. Unfortunately, overweight people face this kind of public abuse regularly.
Whilst you may believe that the aforementioned example was extreme, it actually isn’t. These cards have arrived on the heels of Nicole Arbour’s ‘Dear Fat People’ YouTube video, which is another example of the vitriolic hatred and fat-shaming directed towards overweight people.
Arbour described fat-shaming as ‘brilliant’ and wanted to ‘shame people who have bad habits until they f—ing stop’. Arbour did receive an intensely negative reaction, to the extent where she disabled the comments and ratings on her extremely popular video.
However, the points she made are still perpetuated by many, just less overtly. The belief that being overweight is bad and that shame will change a person’s habits is held by a large majority of the population, and fat -shaming shows no signs of changing.
Anti-fat bias is the proper term ascribed to this discrimination. Interestingly, ‘fat’ is not used exclusively for those that are clinically obese. People who have a normal BMI still often face prejudice because their body type doesn’t fit society’s narrow standards.
Further research has suggested that those who say their prejudices are health concerns actually apply this justification after they have already associated negative personality traits such as ‘lazy’ and ‘greedy’ to overweight people.
Essentially, this means that people often find someone unattractive and justify their negative attitude towards them with information that was irrelevant in their cognitive processes. This is an example of the Halo effect – when an outward impression influences feelings regarding character.
By acknowledging common biases such as fat-shaming, we can avoid making judgments on someone’s personality based on something as fickle as appearance. In the process, we can also attempt to drown out those who think shaming someone is ever acceptable.