Yes, Fat Women Can Be Good Role Models

by Renee Martin

If you are a woman, you are no stranger to body policing.  No matter how beautiful, or successful you are, people will always look for a flaw and suggest ways that you can change to better conform to the straight male gaze.  Stars like Katie Couric, Demi Lovato,  Salma Hayek and Lady Gaga, have all been very public about their struggle with body image and disordered eating.  Tyra Banks famous response to the fat shaming that she received, when critics felt that she was letting herself go, is but one example of a woman having to stand up against the belief that there is a size standard to which we all must conform.  If you happen to actually be a fat woman, the pressure and the scrutiny intensifies in proportion to your weight.

Jennifer Livingston is a morning news anchor for WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin and recently she was sent the following letter from a viewer, which her husband later posted on his Facebook page.

Hi Jennifer,

It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Thankfully, Livingston was given the opportunity to respond by the station and she said in part:

“Yes, the truth is, I am overweight. You could call me fat and, yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart. But to the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that?”

“You don’t know me. You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family, and you have admitted that you don’t watch this show. So you know nothing about me, but what you see on the outside. And I am much more than a number on a scale.”

Her response went viral for one simple reason, it resonated with people. All of us at some point have been judged and the more outside of the supposed norm we are, the more likely we are to have experienced this sort of abuse.

Fat is a very stigmatized identity and it is considered by many to represent a moral failing. Fat is associated with gluttony, a lack of control and slovenliness. These negative attributes attach themselves to fat people regardless of how active, engaging or beautiful they are. Fat is deemed so negative that women are starving themselves, and binging and purging to avoid the label of fat.  I think that it is fair to say that this is extreme, but in a world in which fat people are largely erased, policed and shamed, is it any wonder that we have pro anorexia sites littering the internet?  Before young girls know how to do long division, they are already considering dieting.   The reason that diet products, fat free foods etc., are largely aimed at women, is because some women live perpetually on a calorie restricted diet for fear of gaining any weight all.

One of the things that bothers me about the supposed concerned intervention, is that it never comes from a good place.  It’s all about shaming the person and objecting to their right to take up space. There isn’t a single fat person walking around in ignorance that they are fat or obese.  Society does not make it easy to be fat and believe it or not, we all own mirrors.  A small thing like trying to buy a simple article of clothing can be an absolute nightmare.  Eating in public can be an adventure in shame because of the well intentioned suggestion that we should be stuffing ourselves with salad twenty-four seven , until we lose weight.  It is not unheard of to have people reach into your shopping cart and pull things out they think you shouldn’t be eating.  If you happen to go the gym to work out (you know, the place you are supposed to go to get in shape), be prepared to be subjected to stares, as well as suggestions that you don’t belong there.  And yes, as a fat Black woman, these are all things that I have experienced. There isn’t a single space in the social sphere where one can go and avoid fat shaming.

The continual stigmatizing of fat is just another level of social discipline.  Pointing out that someone is fat, is not about the fat person per say, it is about making the critic feel good about themselves. As humans, we are obsessed with getting power and wielding power.  Power is at the root of most of our interactions, even at time when it appears invisible. When someone decides to attack a fat person, they are not only reveling in their thin privilege, they are wielding a coercive form of power. As we all know, power, even when it is used to harm, leaves the wielder with a sense of pleasure.  Quite simply, people bully because it feel good.

It disturbs me that people can see fat and assume that someone is unhealthy and lacking of control. The greatest predictors of fat are genetics and poverty and these are two factors that are out of a person’s control.  When a skinny person is pounding back a double cheeseburger and washing it down with fries cooked in lard and a jumbo size pop, you can be sure that they won’t be subjected to stares and rude comments.   This doesn’t mean that they are not walking around with high blood pressure, clogged arteries, or diabetes. From the social tendency to fat shaming, one would believe that skinny people don’t get chronic life threatening conditions.  Not even a doctor can look at a fat person and determine immediately that they are unhealthy.  If that were the case, no one would need to bother with things like a yearly physical or getting the blood pressure checked.

Watching Livingston respond to the abusive bully brought tears to my eyes because I know that even with all of the grace that she displayed, it had to hurt her.  When the critic implied that Livingston is defective and not deserving of the right to be visible, or heard, it was a direct assault. Words mean something and we can either use them to create, or to cause great harm.  No one should be subjected to the kind of treatment that Livingston was.  When you sit to judge someone, and shame them, the only person you are benefiting is yourself.  We need more women like Livingston on television, because it is time that world understand that beautiful, intelligent women come in all shapes and sizes.

  • Megs

    Black women have been encouraged to forget themselves. To leave the beautiful that came from being full-figured you and try to squeeze into white male media’s fantasy waif who blows over at the first strong breeze. Women have convinced themselves a certain size is the symbol of healthy and successful. The problem with fat shaming is for every assertive Livingston, there are a dozen women apologizing for taking up too much space. Haters gon’ hate, it’s up to women to be their own advocates and teach confidence to their daughters.

  • Blaque217

    Can overweight women be good role models? Absolutely!
    Should people love and accept their body no matter what the number on the scale says? Sure!
    However, people, especially us in the Black community, need to be HONEST. We are taught to “love our curves” but at the same time, we are killing ourselves. No, we don’t have to look emaciated like some Europeans look in my opinion, but accepting an extra 20, 30 or 50 plus pounds is not doing our bodies any favors.
    We don’t have to be super skinny, but I think our community is too apathetic when it comes to exercise and healthier food choices.

  • Nic

    This is going to get ugly b/c a lot of people with a lot of awful flaws are going to RAIN down on the topic of fat. They should probably ban articles like this from the site b/c while black people are loath to criticize poor education, bad diction and grammar, and illegitimate kids, among other things, they sure like to preach on the evils of being fat, and this is just going to turn into a thread of people who claim will act like all fat women are black and should not exist.
    We seem to be a-okay with choosing to be ignorant and uneducated, but yeah, weigh too much and all of the roosters and hens will come clucking.

  • Nic

    I think this lady looks fine and the guy who insulted and concern trolled her was wrong, but yeah, she’s white and all that is going to happen is a bunch of people who hate black women are going to show up to turn a story about a fat white lady into “eww, fat people are gross” and “eww, all black women are fat.”
    Not sure why they care so much…but yeah, they do and they will.

  • heide

    Thank you Renee Martin for this article. Very well said. And Kudos to Livingston for standing up for herself. Bravo!

  • Echo

    I’ve said this before and will say it again, what a person looks like on the outside is not always an indication of their actual health. I am a size 16–I have no idea how much I weigh because I don’t bother with scales, but when I got serious about getting healthier two years ago and began walking regularly it was no time before I began to notice the difference. And even though I’d only lost about 7 pounds at the time, both my gynecologist and primary care physician noticed a difference before I stepped on the scale. Because I’ve always been conscientious about what and how I eat, I’ve never had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or been pre-diabetic–all ailments that run in my family. However, because I’m now in my mid-30s I understood how my sedentary lifestyle could very easily put me in danger, and so I decided to take action before it became a major issue. Most folks who are overweight have struggled most of their lives with it. I am a huge proponent of embracing oneself as is, BEFORE attempting to change. Get real with who you are inside and out. There is almost always something at the root of overeating, and until those issues are addressed no attempts to lose weight will be sustainable.

  • aziza

    “The greatest predictors of fat are genetics and poverty and these are two factors that are out of a person’s control”

    Stop kidding yourself, miss! The greatest predictors of fat are a high calorie diet and a lack of physical work. You can control your weight, its not like race or ethnicity. Stop making it a discrimination issue. Being fat is not healthy, nor acceptable. The presentor and author are whining, but deep inside they know everything the person wrote in his letter, is true.

    And no, i’m not skinny, i know i have work to do, but wrong is wrong and right is right.

  • Anthony

    I remember when I was in college and I knew a guy who was I who was per-med. her never said a person was fat without also calling that person “sloppy.” I always thought that I would hate to be a fat patient of his.

  • donnadara

    @aziza, that sounds like some fat shaming to me. Can you prove that every overweight person is unhealthy? Who made you the decider of what is unacceptable or healthy? Cite a medical source or move on.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815095034.htm

  • Anthony

    Aziza, who says being fat is not acceptable? You don’t accept it, fine, but you cannot tell someone not to accept themselves! Being healthy, both mentally and physically starts with a healthy self image and valuing one’s self, not simply admiring one’s silhouette. You certainly don’t help people by putting them down. Your concern about weigh comes off as barely disguised contempt.

  • heide

    Uh Ms or Mr Aziza I call straight up bull on your comment. A lot of people cannot control their weight I suggest you do some research and perhaps enroll in some counseling for yourself. Maybe then you’ll be in a better position to take part in an intelligent conversation.

    And I wasn’t even going to comment on this article but that just made me mad. Do people work at being ridiculous or does it just come naturally to some?

  • ?!?

    I disagree with how you made it seem like being overweight was completely out of people’s control. Genetics plays a part, but poverty is one I definitely don’t agree with. I understand that unhealthy food is cheaper in many neighborhoods, but come on. Eating the right portion sizes even with unhealthy food and moderate exercise will keep you from packing on the pounds. Also poor people around the world are usually skinny. This is an American thing usually to be poor and overweight. Also in America, there are plenty of overweight people who are not poor. Also in the past, ancestors of these genetically predisposed to be overweight people were not overweight because they moved more and did not have a sedentary lifestyle.

    I don’t go around fat shaming people in my everyday life. I think this letter was in poor taste. I just don’t agree with the excuses or fat acceptance. People want to place the blame for their weight gain on everything from genetics to the Emancipation Proclamation. The last thing people ever want to mention is diet. And diet is the biggest factor.

  • ?!?

    Sure. A lot of people can’t control their weight, but there are many that can. And for these people, poor diet is the biggest reason that they are usually overweight. Americans are bigger than they’ve ever been before. Is it because now all of a sudden so many people can’t control their weight? I think it’s the super size me American diet that’s the problem.

    Look at America’s childhood obesity rates. Is that because of genetics too? For some kids, yes. But when I see these kids in McDonald’s eating Big Macs with a large fry, I start to believe it’s because many parents spoil their kids and feed them garbage, and I see kids like this all the time eating junk food.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    I was informed from a friend that the ‘Fat Acceptance” movement wasn’t about accepting the fat and ignoring the side effects to being overweight/obese. It is more like accepting one’s body type, in order to continue to make the necessary positive changes.

  • Candi83

    It’s VERY easy to criticize an overweight person but I have person experience seeing skinny people that were unhealthy. I’m not saying all skinny people do unhealthy things to their body to stay slim but there are some of them out there that never eat, smoke like a chimney, eat really unhealthy or have an eating disorder. Everyone things that they are healthy but they are in worse physical condition than an overweight person.

    Like Livingston, I have been fat shammed and not by a stranger but a family member. I’m working on my weight issue but for this uncle it’s not good enough. He wants to see me at 100 lbs in a month. Every time he sees me, he makes it a point to remind me that I am overweight and I need to loose weight. Well no sh*t Sherlock!! I didn’t know that I had gained weight and I am wearing a bigger size than I did before.

  • Anthony

    MimiLuvs makes a great point that fat acceptance is about understanding your body typ e and accepting it. I have had weight issues my entire life, and when I was in my late teens, I lost a great deal of weight. I remember contiuing to lose weight until I was weak because my body did not look the way I thought it should once I lost the weight. Had it not been for my Mother, I think I might have developed an eating disorder.

    As I matured, I realized that I have an endomorphic body type. I gain muscle very easily and I am pretty strong (when I was younger, I could lift 500 lbs from a bench, deadlift over 500, and squat around 600 lbs.)
    but I was also prone to having a layer of fat over my muscle. In other words, I looked like a football lineman when I was young, and I was at times mistaken for the team noseguard when I was in college.

    I was the kind of person who had no diabetes, average blood pressure, and could ride a bicycle seventeen miles without being tired, but I was still heavy. At my healthiest, I would still be well over the typical weight for a man my height. The problem is that someone who doesn’t know me just sees a fat man.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    My thing with this who event is that if Livigston was a man then this guy wouldn’t have written the letter. Why is it that usually the blunt of fat shaming is directed towards women? Oh yeah…that nasty policy of policing women’s bodies and deeming how we should look. I don’t think nobody is condoning being overweight and unhealthy not even the majority of fat people because if that was the case the weight loss industry wouldn’t be booming. As I always stayed fat bashing is a sport to some people but as someone who lost a considerable amount of weight many people who never had a weight problem just don’t understand how different the world can be and that is not to say that some people aren’t coming from a good place with their comments of wanting you to get healthy and loss weight but majority of comments isn’t filter like that and they have the nerve to get mad when the fat person stands up for themselves. Guess what they get it their fat but all the bashing/shaming in the world isn’t going to make the person change Unless they change.

  • Namia

    if its not medical..most people can control their weight..stop lying to your self…once i changed my eating habits..with out even exercise the weight slowly melted off..its been 7 years..and ihave never looked back…

  • Mademoiselle

    I wrote this on the previous article but it seems more applicable here. Forgive me for the duplication.

    I doubt I’m in the majority of viewpoints, but I’m convinced that so many of the people championing weight loss have only found a new way to say “I hate looking at fat people” and get away with it because the latest meme is “health.”

    The truth is when a lot of people blow the healthy vs obese whistle, what they really mean is they want everyone to be “visually healthy.” When’s the last time someone asked a thin person whether they were naturally thin despite eating like they’re on death row or if they actually worked to maintain the size they are?

    If everyone were walking around at a size 6 or lower, I bet a lot less people would question whether anyone was actually healthy because visual health is all some people are asking for.

    I’m ready for people to start discussing medical numbers outside of weight and pant size. Until then, a lot of this just seems like a socially accepted bullying movement.

  • Mademoiselle

    I wrote this on the other article but I think it’s more applicable here. Forgive me for the duplication.

    I doubt I’m in the majority of viewpoints, but I’m convinced that so many of the people championing weight loss have only found a new way to say “I hate looking at fat people” and get away with it because the latest meme is “health.”

    The truth is when a lot of people blow the healthy vs obese whistle, what they really mean is they want everyone to be “visually healthy.” When’s the last time someone asked a thin person whether they were naturally thin despite eating like they’re on death row or if they actually worked to maintain the size they are?

    If everyone were walking around at a size 6 or lower, I bet a lot less people would question whether anyone was actually healthy because visual health is all some people are asking for.

    I’m ready for people to start discussing medical numbers outside of weight and pant size. Until then, a lot of this just seems like a socially accepted bullying movement.

  • Stephen

    “The greatest predictors of fat are genetics and poverty and these are two factors that are out of a person’s control.”

    If genetics were that big a factor then why did such a massive increase in obesity only start happening after the 60s? While obese people did exist, our current levels of obesity were unknown prior to our grandparents’ generation. Our genetics didn’t change that significantly in only one or two generations but our food choices did.

    If poverty is a major factor then shouldn’t Africa have a much higher percentage of obesity than North America? Being poor in Africa means that they eat less but being poor in America has resulted in eating less quality food and more junk/fast food.

    It seems to me that it is more about what we choose to eat and that puts it entirely within our control.

  • aziza

    I mean it’s never going to be accepted by society, you can cry all you want to on tv, saying that the guy who wrote the letter is bullying you, but there is and will not be any sympathy for this woman.

    And i’m happy when a fat person is happy with his or her body. However, the author is lying by saying that the greatest predictors are poverty and nature and thereby obesity is something you cannot change. This is undeniably false!

  • ?!?

    We are all visual creatures, and no it’s really not that deep I think. For many people, it’s not about being healthy, it’s about looks. Frankly, being overweight is commonly associated with gluttony and sloth. I think many people look at it as letting yourself go. Unless you have a medical condition, people really have let themselves go. I don’t believe the majority of overweight people have problems controlling their weight. I believe that at some point they were overeating and not exercising enough and packed on the pounds. This is what most people believe when they see an overweight person. They think how could this person let himself go, but instead of saying how could you let yourself go, they start talking about health. For the most part it IS about being physically appealing. As Binks mentioned, if this were a man, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because the incident would not have happened.

    Looks are important and there are many things are out of our control such as your face or height, but staying in shape and dressing well are in your control for the majority of people. People who are out of shape are judged as being lazy. Health is usually an afterthought. Frankly, when folks hear healthy at any size, they think why would you want to stop at that size? Don’t you want to look good as well? And for many overweight people who are motivated to lose weight it is because of looks and wanting to look better. Better health is usually an added bonus.

    I would never walk up to someone and attack them for being overweight. I don’t think bullying people because they are overweight is okay, but I think being overweight is controllable for the majority of people. It is not the same thing as being ugly or short. It is controllable for most people, and honestly this whole being healthy at any size thing seems to be about doing the minimum to tell people that you are healthy but not giving it 100% to look good.

    That sound superficial, but as I said I don’t think overweight people should be picked on. I don’t go around telling people this to make them feel bad. That is how I feel about healthy at any size. I don’t know why anyone would not want to put in the extra work to get rid of rolls and tone up to look good other than getting to a smaller size is very hard work for bigger people. And some folks don’t want to do the hard work, so they start saying but I’m healthy.

    That sounds harsh, and I know I will get thumbs down, but I’m just expressing my thoughts on a website. I’m not going to tell someone these things in person to make them feel bad. I didn’t agree with the man who sent the letter. I know overweight people, and I never say anything mean to them, but they are not in denial or making excuses. They are trying to do better and have goals. They don’t blame their body on genetics and poverty. They know how they got overweight–eating horribly and not exercising. So they’ve changed their diet and started exercising.

  • Mademoiselle

    I agree with you on a lot of what you wrote. People are visual, and instead of saying “I hate looking at you” a lot of them are now hiding behind “I’m concerned for your health.”

    I don’t have a problem with people prefering smaller people as their lovers if that’s their “type.”

    Yes, size is controllable for most people, as are clothing style, hairstyle, makeup, shaving, etc., but no one goes on crusades (public service announcements, billboards, regurgitated scientifice studies, etc) against these personal choices despite some of the harm some people could go through to achieve a certain look with these (I would keel over to see an anti-perm campaign run on broadcast TV). When it comes to anything else, people generally go with “I’m just not attracted to _____,” not “I’m concerned for your health.” But when it comes to someone’s size, it’s no holds barred.

  • Anthony

    Stephen, poverty does not work the same everywhere. In many poor countries, poverty means it is difficult to get any food. In richer countries, poverty means it is hard to get quality food.

  • Cheshire

    Dear Aziza,
    You say that “Wrong is wrong, and right is right.” Unfortunately, in this instance, you are wrong. Or a better word would be misinformed. Weight cannot be controlled through force of willpower long-term, it is in fact genetically-influenced, like race. (While the word is often used interchangeably with ‘race,’ ‘ethnicity’ is actually a socio-cultural identification and is not genetic. A person’s ethnicity refers to their nationality, culture, ancestry, language, beliefs, etc.)

    Dieting is ineffective and dangerous: http://www.healthyweightnetwork.com/wgtloss1.html#1

    Being fat is not inherently unhealthy. The key to increased physical health is fitness, not weight:
    http://www.healthyweightnetwork.com/obesity2.html#3

    Additionally, the public shaming and blaming of fat people *is* discrimination. That’s what discrimination means: “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things.” To write a critical letter to a woman one does not know personally, based solely on the appearance of her body, is unjust prejudicial treatment.

    Finally, fatness is only as accepted or rejected as the cultural standards a fat person finds themselves living by. Our culture has determined that fatness is undesirable, that does not mean that fatness is inherently unacceptable.

    Sincerely,
    Cheshire.

  • http://gravatar.com/pretkit2011 pretkit2011

    I was skinny. Sick skinny. So skinny without event trying but women constantly complimented my figure. I developed Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as well as an autoimmune disease. The PCOS makes losing weight, even with a restricted diet, very difficult. The autoimmune disease has damaged my joints and tendons. I simply CANNOT exercise at a level that will melt off the pounds. I manage to avoid becoming obese with common sense food choices but unless I literally starve myself, I will never be “skinny” again, merely overweight. Do you see the sequence here? It wasn’t that my lazy butt stopped moving and then I got sick. I got sick and then the weight piled on. I’m happy for you that your weight melted off. I sincerely hope that your sanctimonious attitude about other people’s struggles will melt off too. Not everyone is as lucky as you are to be skinny. But you could have a better attitude towards others, honey.

  • Stephen

    I disagree. I think non-quality food (junk food, fast food, etc) is more convenient but it is not hard to get quality food in America unless you’re trying to buy organic. I would also add that, when you factor in health costs related to obesity, to cost of eating non-quality food is even more expensive. Poverty doesn’t explain this, lack of education on healthy foods does. For years there has been a debate about food stamps and junk food.

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-20/news/ct-nw-food-stamp-spending-20120620_1_food-stamp-junk-food-supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program

    Furthermore, poverty in America skyrocketed in every economic class. Over the decades, obesity has reached epidemic levels in the middle-class. Neither genetics nor poverty explains this. The dietary habits of Americans is the only thing that explains the levels of obesity that we see today.

  • Anthony

    Stephen, I think you are wrong. People without transport who don’t live close to grocery stores may have a very hard time getting enough quality food.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    Thank you.
    I’ve noticed (from the people that I know) that when a overweight/obese person, who doesn’t accept their body type, decides to adopt a healthier physical regimen, they end up doing more harm than good. They become so obsess with losing a lot of fat(I hate saying ‘weight’) and it leads to unhealthy dieting/excercising habits like starvation, longer time periods excercising, binging/purging, poorer self-esteem issues, stress and many other things.

  • http://gravatar.com/mimiandy1683 MimiLuvs

    I remember reading off of a blog (I have forgotten which one) about an overweight woman’s experience with dealing with a man, who had left an insult (in regards to her body type) on her OK Cupid’s web page. Somewhere in the middle of the article, she written a statement that just made me go “Oh, that’s one way of thinking about it”. She said, “…Some guy who was, mind you, 100% completely NOT worth dating or worth an ounce of my attention (hence why I admitted to “feeding the trolls” because trolls moved from bridges to the Internet a few years back), sent me messages that aren’t worth caring about. Because what he thinks of my weight is none of my d*mn business. He tried to make it my business…”
    So, now, if I ever experience a point in my life where a person tries to spit on my spirit by verbally ripping me a new one, I could now say that it is none of my business of what some person thinks about me.

  • Mademoiselle

    That should be applied universally. There will be people who feel like it’s theire right/responsibility to “put people in their place” about crap that “offends their sensitivities/worldviews” but the reality is the only person that cares what they think is themselves. The less time you spend concerned with irrelevant people’s opinions the less stress you deal with. Be aware: sometimes irrelevant messages come from people close to you too. It can be tough to learn when to let someone’s opinion fall to the wayside, but if you don’t your life could be filled with a lot of unnecessary woes when it comes to doing anything that everyone else isn’t subscribed to doing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ladonna.n.duncan LaDonna Nicole Duncan

    I am all for accepting people the way they are but there needs to be a limit. Being morbidly obese is just as bad as having an eating disorder and being underweight. Being obese is not healthy for your body. High blood pressure, diabetes and other health problems aren’t cute. i’m not saying everyone should be a skinny mini, but i do think the media needs to promote the healthy lifestyles of people. Not go to the other extreme end of being unhealthy.

  • Treece

    People act like being fat/obese is something that is easy to remedy. A lot of people say “All you have to do is eat right and exercise, it’s simple”….This couldn’t be farther from the truth! If it were that simple, every overweight person on the planet would just take those “simple” steps to loose the weight and be successful. Instead, what we have is a lot of people making empty promises to exercise daily and stay away from carbs (fat, meat, sugar, or whatever…), pop pills, or have surgery because they are desperate. It takes a lot of “will-power” to override the programming that all ready exists in the mind of a person who is overweight. Obesity can be the result of food addiction in many cases. It is NOT easy to stop, and I really wish people would quit giving overweight folks such a hard way to go.

    And yes, biology/DNA is a factor. Some people are genetically hard-wired to pack on the pounds and keep them on. How else would you explain the fact that two people (one overweight and one thin) can eat the same diet of high fat/high sugar and salt foods but the thin one doesn’t gain weight and the large person is obese and continues to gain. I’ve seen it sooooo many times and wondered why. Genetics is why. And the thin person isn’t any more healthy either…..give people a break and show some respect.

    There are fat women who are great role models for plenty of other reasons and are quite beautiful, smart, and successful. They just have issues with food, just like everybody has some sort of issue in their life that they should have the freedom to work on…… without a whole lot of criticism from judgmental a**holes like this dude!

  • Mag

    While your intentions for avoiding a morbidly obese public are well-aimed, I think your criticism still falls under the ignorance of Livingston’s critic. The author here is not discussing shaming of the morbidly obese. I have lived in all ranges of fat, from chubby to whale, and the antagonism is equal in all spectrums.
    Moreover, thinness has never directly been equated with health. Thin people are equally subject to heart disorders and blood sugar problems, but they are more praised for having the appearance of a healthy lifestyle.
    Thinness in women has nothing to do with health. We seek thinness in women because it is another way that society has enforced control on us. Not only are we judged for our color, our hair, our age, our voices, our sexuality and sexual habits, we are judged for our weight. Exercising painful discipline over our eating and exercise habits, in addition to the hundreds of other pressures we face, shows that women are still under the yoke of a heterosexual male ideal.

  • Mag

    Stephen, being poor in America (where fresh produce is more expensive than a trip to McDonalds, where meat and dairy farmers get higher subsidies than fruit and vegetable farmers, and where school lunches provide little nutrition for an increasingly poor middle class) means that you have less access to healthier foods. Healthy organic foods cost an arm and a leg and for middle and lower class families it’s easier to buy TV dinners than try to feed their children on cheap iceberg lettuce.

  • http://gravatar.com/moudou Badu

    I have no idea why it’s fat people’s job to explain epidemiological change, before our opinion on our own experience and lives can be taken seriously.

    If you think you and others know better than me about that, fine. As long as you have no say in my existence, I know longer care as I’m tired of your kind of attitude.

  • http://paleoshenanigans.wordpress.com THEQUIETVOICE

    Race is a social-construct and in no way is similar to ethnicity.

  • Jo

    By “as bad as”, do you mean immoral or unhealthy or what??
    Did you know that obese people who have Type 2 diabetes are LESS likely to die from it than “normal” weight people?

  • Shepherd

    Fat women can be good role models. Lets be real, the main cause of being overweight/obese is taking in too much enegy (food) that you don’t actually use up through exercise. That being said, it doesn’t make fat shaming acceptable. The man who sent the woman that awful note had no regard for this woman’s health, all he wanted was to bully her for not fitting his beauty ideal and I doubt he would have taken the same action if she were a man. No one should bully you to lose weight, if you choose to do so,do it for yourself because losing weight because you’re worried about what people think hardly yields long asting results. I have never been on the overweight side of the BMI index and I work out and eat heathily, but I too have received negative comments from family memebers (who are fat) when I have put on some pounds (still within the healthy range of BMI index). Fat shaming happens to fat, skinny and healthy people alike to suit someone’s agenda or salve their low self esteem.

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  • Isabel

    “If genetics were that big a factor then why did such a massive increase in obesity only start happening after the 60s?”

    Heaven forbid the medical community would reveal what most of us suspect…that for some physiological reason, the typical American carb/sugar/preservative laden diet causes higher rates of metabolic syndrome in minority populations such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and some Native American populations (actually, this is WELL documented, google Pima Indians and obesity or diabetes). I believe that among other things (including the phony ingredients in a lot of what we are marketed), the increase in minority populations accounts for the trend.

    So yeah, I’m not sure what your explanation was, but I agree WHOLEheartedly with the article.

  • http://thebrokejetsetter.com Brokejetsetter

    Honestly? Some of the comments I’ve read make me cringe. People act like an obese person looks at the next person and says, “Eat so you can be as big as me.” A role model has nothing to do with outside image. What happened to the beauty inside a person? Or did anybody consider that this obese person could be starting to workout or eating healthy. Nobody knows the process or progress one might be making. Gahdaaaam!

  • PiscesStar7 (@PiscesStar7)

    I just want to know…can I be a role model for what I DO and not necessarily for what I LOOK like?

    If not, then I might as well purchase a glock, and get it over with.

    But, if so…can we just accept that I’m working on being a better person today than I was last night and continuing to make the decision to positively contribute to the human condition daily?

  • http://twitter.com/natalieboero Natalie Boero (@natalieboero)

    Actually, research on the “obesity paradox” shows that in fact fat people with type II diabetes are indeed less likely to die from it than average weight people.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/18/health/research/more-data-suggests-fitness-matters-more-than-weight.html?_r=0

  • CenterLeft

    Short men too right? Seriously, the hypocrisy from LIBERAL women is becoming unbearable…

  • CenterLeft

    Apply this to short men?

  • CenterLeft

    Short men get bashed all day everyday and no one seems to care. My ivy-league educated community-minded short black man cousin can relate…

  • CenterLeft

    I do not think short men should get picked on…

  • CenterLeft

    ” a lot of this just seems like a socially accepted bullying movement.”…you mean like the kind that assaults short men everyday…

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