so I answered this question on my personal blog, but it absolutely belongs here.
(tw: discussion of ED, rape, rape culture, depression/mental illness, and hate speech)
well anon, I give a shit! and if you care about other -isms, you probably should too. fat people (or really, people of any body type outside the “norm” as determined by the media — intersectionality, yo) are stigmatized to the point where:
hate speech and flat-out nastiness toward fat people is normalized, which is dehumanizing. people feel entitled to tell fat people they shouldn’t eat something, or should eat less, or should exercise more, or that what they’re wearing isn’t flattering, and all manner of things that are actually pretty inexcusable! moreover, people feel entitled to say (and do say, all the time) that fat people are disgusting, lazy, gluttonous, stupid, and/or unhygienic, which is simply untrue. and these things are legitimized and standardized by our culture. this is all in the name of Being Concerned About Their Health but that’s actually a load of crap — someone else’s health isn’t your business, you can’t tell if someone is healthy if you’re looking at them, and unhealthy people deserve just as much respect and dignity as healthy people regardless.
fat people, especially fat people who are not cis men, who are sexual assault survivors are significantly less likely to report their assault, because they’re told they’re wildly undesirable pretty much every day. in a culture where rape is misrepresented as a crime of passion or misunderstanding, fat people are scoffed at for reporting. who’d want to fuck a fat girl, after all?
fat people are encouraged in eating disorders and eating disordered behavior. generally, most people see any effort fat people make to lose weight as a good thing, even if those behaviors would cause serious alarm if performed by a thin person. I can speak firsthand about this - my EDNOS went undiagnosed for years because most of my doctors thought that any effort for me to lose weight was a good effort, even if it meant I was hurting myself. the other night I was watching TV and a diet advertisement came on for a product that had the tagline “Eating less never looked so beautiful.” seriously, what the hell?
speaking of, fat people are routinely misdiagnosed and mistreated by the medical community. I once went in to my university’s gyno to get a yeast infection addressed, and was told that I’d developed it because my thighs touched.* Melissa McEwan of Shakesville says it better than I ever could:
No, there is not a documented epidemic of brutal murders of fat people for being fat, but there is a documented epidemic of failure to provide life-saving healthcare: Google will easily help you find stories of fat people who died while emergency crews laughed at their weight and appearance, of fat people who were told they should lose weight to fix problems actually caused by blood clots, cancer, internal injuries, infections, and myriad other problems that later killed them, because their doctors couldn’t see past their fat to properly treat them. Google will also easily help you find stories of medical equipment that cannot accommodate fat bodies, of anesthetists who accidentally kill fat people in surgery, of doctors who prescribe wrong doses for fat bodies, of drug trials that make no attempt to include fat patients. Google will also easily help you find stories of fat people who did not seek life-saving healthcare because they had been so viciously fat-shamed by doctors their whole lives that they had given up hope of finding sensitive and caring providers who would treat them.
Fat people die because of fat hatred ALL THE TIME.
fat people are subject to a myriad of microaggressions that, in aggregate, signal to them that they are not worthy of “normal” society. plus-sized clothing is harder to find and often costs more and is not as well-made. safety equipment doesn’t fit fat people. fat people are expected to constantly apologize for themselves and be actively looking to lose weight, and therefore are not allowed to be happy or to like themselves (and fat people who are happy, who like themselves, or who feel sexy are relentlessly ridiculed and cut down for it). articles about the “obesity epidemic” are accompanied by photos of fat people where their heads are cropped off, which is a standard way of objectifying and dehumanizing. “fat” has become shorthand for “lazy, gluttonous, stupid, unhygienic, disgusting.” I could go on, but the blog This Is Thin Privilege has many other examples.
overweight teenage girls are much more likely than their average-weight peers to be depressed, suicidal, or to commit self-harm. this is because they’re only offered images of happy thin people and one-dimensional, unhappy fat people. when all you see in the media are people who look like you that hate themselves, or people who used to look like you to whom the best thing in their lives was no longer looking like you, you don’t expect happiness.
and not for nothing, but people are making a LOT of money off of this “obesity epidemic” crap and keeping people from focusing on the actual problems behind said “epidemic.” the people who benefit from keeping everyone scared of being fat? the billion-dollar diet/weight-loss industry, plus the companies who get a LOT of money from government food subsidies for corn, in particular. they want people at large to avoid thinking critically about why people in America are steadily gaining weight, because the answers will lose them a lot of money. classism, wage gaps, and poverty play a huge role — if you’re a single parent working multiple jobs, you don’t have a lot of time or money to prepare fresh meals all the time, and there is a correlation between poverty and weight. ever heard of a food desert? google that sucker, anon. shit’s whack.
you should give a shit about fatphobia because fatphobia is mad intersectional (body politics apply to a lot, a lot, a lot of people, not just fat people) and because it’s mostly manufactured to keep you thinking about “actually important things.”
not for nothing, but if you’re worried about the quality of life of oppressed people, you should also worry about the fact that 1 out of 10 parents would abort a child if it was genetically likely to be fat** and 1 out of 3 people would rather walk away from their marriage than be fat ***
apparently, fat is the most terrifying thing you could possibly be in American culture. and how fucked up is that?
* yeast infections do not happen because your thighs touch.
*** even more sauce