Stop Posting Pictures of Fat People’s Stomachs with Our Heads Cut Off

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News stories about the obesity crisis commonly feature pictures of fat people with their heads cut off. I presume to shield us from shame. As if cutting off our heads disguises who we really are. I know my fat body when I see it.

Body shaming in this way is common and leads to eating disorders and mental distress. Fat people who are dehumanized are shunned, bullied, and made to feel that they do not have worth.  I am not ashamed of my body; as a matter of fact, I am happy with it and I know that is many people's worst nightmare.

We are whole people, and we deserve respect and dignity. Cutting off our heads demeans us and diminishes us to our body parts. We are regarded as so defective that we are not given the dignity to be seen as whole people.

There is nothing wrong with my belly and I am not ashamed of it. You cut off my head in an effort to shield me from shame. But I am here to let you know it is your shame you are hiding, not mine. Fat bodies are fine just the way they are. There is no shame in being fat.

I know the statement that fat people should not be ashamed of their bodies is shocking. Everything thin and fat people are taught goes against this. We are conditioned to shame fat people so they will do everything they can do to be in smaller bodies. Well, I am here to tell you that does not work and the only thing it accomplishes is that fat people and thin people hate fat bodies. This destroys the mental health of fat people.

I have lived my entire life hating my body. I learned this from a very early age, and no one has supported me being in a larger body. I recently saw a pain doctor (for a chronic illness that had nothing to do with my weight). After I told him I had an eating disorder, he tried to bully me into dieting and restricting, recommending new weight loss medications that he had no business recommending. Even in a conversation with my stylist about the above doctor encounter, she recommended the weight loss drug. Even she thought I would want to be in a smaller body at all costs. By any means necessary. Both were completely out of line, by the way.

If I were ever to see an image of me on the news with my head cut off with a byline that the obesity epidemic is out of control in this country, I may very well lose it. My body is not available to be used in this way. There are many studies that prove that obesity is not a death sentence or that being in a larger body will necessarily lead to negative health outcomes. The reason fat people are having negative health outcomes is not their fault, but that of the medical-industrial complex. It is well documented that the medical profession is anti-fatness and works to systematically eradicate fat bodies at all costs, even if it is not medically necessary or done by evidence-based means.

If you have an “acceptable” body, you are privileged. Your body fits in airline seats, seat belts in cars click for you, you can find clothes your size in all stores, and you do not have people videoing you when you are out and about town. You are privileged whether you want to admit it or not. You want to keep this status. You want to be better than me and keeping me down is a way of accomplishing this. 

Bodies like mine have existed since the beginning of humans and will outlast all of us. There is inherent body diversity in our society. Nothing is wrong with my shape or girth. Because of anti-Blackness and fatphobia, society has come up with an impossible standard and is forcing everyone to strive for it. You are misled and fooled into playing along to have status, but they have made sure you will never be satisfied with your body and will spend every last dime you have and take on the next miracle pill or diet you can access to change your body. I am here to tell you it is not worth the sacrifice you are making. Rest assured you are sacrificing your mental and physical health to achieve a standard that is unobtainable for most of us without severe food restriction, excessive exercise, and body disfigurement.

Fat people are human too and deserve all the respect afforded any other human being. I have no reason to be ashamed of my body and I do not have to prove I am so-called healthy to garner some dignity. Your ideals of what I should look like are not my problem, they are yours; they are society's. I am fat and I am also happy. I am not miserable as you would make me out to be. I am a happy, productive, strong, intelligent woman who loves life as it is, and you are not going to make me less than or cause me to shrink in the face of your disdain.

I am happy in this body, and you can tell me no different. Cutting off my head will not make me your obesity nightmare.

My fat happiness is your worst nightmare.

Image via Deposit Photos

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I am Black, lesbian, disabled, mentally ill, fat, a birth mom, mom and grandmom (grand ma Coco to be exact) and Funny. I am a woman who is constantly fighting for my and your liberation.

I have a history of working for those living at the margins mostly in activist and nonprofit spaces. I currently work in the mental health field serving those who have been convicted of felonies and are in mental heath court. I am also a writer. I write about disabilities, chronic illness, mental health, racial trauma, sexual violence and disordered eating. I am also a public community speaker on the same topics. Hit me up if you need my writing or speaking skills.

Please use she or her pronouns when referring to or about me.

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