We don't like fat women being confident.

We don't like fat women being confident.

It's not a question, it's not an opinion, it's true. When fat women become visible to us, when fat women have their voices heard, we are appalled.

"How dare this fat woman upload a selfie to Instagram in her bikini? She's promoting obesity! Think about her followers! How disgusting, she's so unhealthy, she needs to diet"

I mean, wow. Telling anyone they need to diet is never really a polite thing to do as it is, but when it's done on social media, under a photo a fat woman has uploaded because she thinks she looks great, it's just ten times more venomous.

This is not an "unpopular opinion" by any means, and is not an uncommon post either. I see at least one tweet a day that looks like this.

Of course, the discussion of visible fat women and body positivity has really become more prominent since Tess Holliday made it onto this month's cover of Cosmopolitan magazine - and, in my opinion, she looks great. I don't actually like Tess all too much - there was some scandal a while back about her taking money she was supposed to have raised for charity blah blah, and so I've never followed her or anything like that, so I am totally not biased towards her at all. Regardless, I've never given her weight a second thought.

Once people saw the Cosmo cover, we got what you always get when fat women become visible in mainstream media - nasty, critical people fat shaming but disguising it as being "concerned about health". Because that's what always happens, isn't it? We see a fat woman being given a platform and people immediately become concerned with her "health" - when really, they just can't stand seeing someone who isn't typically attractive on a poster, a billboard, a magazine cover. I think Em Clarkson summed it up best in her blog post when she made the comparison between smoking and obesity; we put smokers, drinkers, even drug addicts on the cover of magazines and at the forefront of ad campaigns and no one bats an eyelid, because they're slim, pretty, desirable. Yet put a fat woman in the same position and suddenly everyone is concerned about health - and everyone just so happens to be a health expert, too. It could almost be funny if people weren't so nasty about it.

And it's definitely a problem specifically with women, too. Think about it - think about all the overweight and even "obese" men we see in mainstream media; James Corden, Michael McIntyre, Jonah Hill, Chris Moyles, DJ Khaled... the list goes on. All of these men are significantly overweight (although the likes of Michael and Jonah do fluctuate) and all have brilliant, successful careers that involve them being thrust into the limelight time and time again. Do we ever bat an eyelid? Demand to know their daily diet, question their health, tell them they're disgusting, overweight and a bad example to their fans? Do we hell. We do nothing but praise and support their careers with absolutely no questions asked.

It's undoubtedly an issue with fat women, as opposed to fat people. The world hates a confident woman, let alone a fat confident woman! Honestly, how dare someone love themselves and be bigger than a size 14? 

My favourite example of a "healthy fat woman" is Ashley Graham. A famous, gorgeous plus sized model, people often use her as the "acceptable" example of a plus size woman. Want to know why?

It's because she's sexy. In comparison with other plus sized girls, Ashley Graham's tummy is relatively flat in most of her photos. She has curves in all the right places and is sexy, desirable - and therefore, the perfect example of a plus sized woman we're more than happy to see on the cover of a magazine. She's big, but not too big. Society can accept that.

The other week a fantastic article was published via Huffington Post titled "Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong". After you've read this post, or maybe even right now, read this article, because it will enlighten you on so many things and blow your mind.

The article talked about how fat people are treated in society as well as in doctors surgeries, where one woman talked about an experience where she was congratulated for having an eating disorder as it meant she was losing weight. In a world where being thin seems to be the only goal for most, apparently having an eating disorder that makes you lose weight is totally okay.

The article also goes on to talk about how being skinny doesn't necessarily mean fit or, more importantly, healthy by any means, which is something I preach all the time. Skinny doesn't equal healthy by any means whatsoever, and we should never look at a skinny person and assume they're healthy in the same way we need to stop looking at fat people and assuming they're unhealthy. We need to stop judging a book by its cover. Skinny doesn't equal healthy. Skinny doesn't equal healthy. Skinny doesn't equal healthy!!!

Let's talk about that word promoting...
When we see a fat woman in the media, a lot of people suddenly get very upset. We see a lot of "She's promoting obesity!!! How dare she! Think of the young viewers who will see this!" I'm sorry, but unless she's wearing a sparkling banner and waving a flag over her head that says "Obesity is great, we should all be obese. Yay, obesity!", then she's not promoting obesity.

In the same way that the Kardashians don't promote plastic surgery just by getting a boob job when we see them on a magazine cover, in the same way that divorced celebs aren't promoting break ups, in the same way people who take drugs aren't promoting going out and doing a line of coke... a fat woman isn't promoting obesity by being fat.

When we talk about women promoting obesity, we reduce them to nothing more than their weight, their size, their physical appearance. We don't care about what they've achieved or why they're being given a mainstream platform - be it for business success, an important campaign or whatever else - we just care about what they look like. And, their health, apparently.

But where is their concern when a smoker is on the cover of a mag, in a movie, in an advert? Where is their concern when an abuser is cast in a TV series or film? Where is their concern when a drug addict is being interviewed? Somehow this concern just magically disappears...until a fat woman appears, and then suddenly these health activists are out in full force! And again, these health activists never appear when there's an obese man around... only when there's a fat woman. Amazing, isn't it?

And let's talk about the NHS...
One thing that comes up time and time again when a fat woman is being seen in mainstream media is the topic of the NHS, and how much this singular fat person must be costing the NHS. According to a BBC article from 29th April 2018, obesity costs the NHS around £6.1bn a year. That's obviously a huge figure and one that people love to push at obese people, reminding them of their cost to the tax payer. But let's throw a few more facts out there, because whilst obesity is costing £6.1bn...

  • According to this article in The Independent, in 2015 the government provided funding of £150 million for young people with eating disorders. 
  • The same article cited that obesity costs the NHS around £6.1bn a year, eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia cost more than £15bn a year.
  • According to this article from 2017, the NHS spend anything from £2bn to £6bn a year on smoking related diseases. The article also goes on to explain that tax payers don't just foot the NHS fees either - tax money is spent sweeping up cigarette butts from the streets and also on the fire brigade, putting out fires that are started by cigarettes.
  • This article in The Guardian shared the stats that claimed the NHS spend £3.5bn on alcohol-related conditions and an additional £3.4m writing out 195,000 prescriptions for alcohol-related conditions.
  • An NHS stats sheet shared that in 2015/2016 there were 15,074 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs whereas in 2016/2017 there were 10,705 admissions with obesity recorded as the main cause.

Take a look at those stats... and it's still only fat women you want to get mad at? So what if we have a celeb who smokes promoting products and talking about their successful life, we don't because they're thin! Who cares if she costs the NHS up to £6bn a year and wastes fire services time? She's thin! It's okay! 

Put a fat woman in that same position and suddenly people want to talk about the cost to the NHS and the tax payer. Okay then! People are so concerned about how much these obese women are costing, but look how much is spent on people who are anorexic and bulimic? Disorders that often (but by no means always - they can happen to ANYONE) lead you to being dangerously thin...yet we don't care when someone slim graces a magazine cover because the world has told us that to be thin is to be desirable. That being thin is the end goal. It's a disgusting message to preach and it's sad. Very, very sad.

It's also worth noting that not all obese people end up going to hospital for all the obesity-related illnesses you can think of. When I was 17-21 I was classed as obese because of my height to weight ratio and in those four years never had a problem other than eczema - a health problem I've had since birth. When you're obese your risk of getting certain illnesses and diseases is increased, but it's not a certainty.

Fat women aren't being glorified - they're being celebrated!
Finally, we are starting to celebrate fat women. Pretty Little Thing just collaborated with Ashley Graham to bring out a collection that goes from size 4-24, Nasty Gal just expanded their clothing range to include a range of bigger sizes and to be more inclusive, Tess Halliday has been on the cover of Cosmo. The world is changing, and whilst a lot of people still aren't being very receptive to it, enough of us are for brands to be paying attention. Fat women are being given the same platforms and opportunities thin women are and I am here for it - but there's no denying that there's still a long way to go.

We're not asking for obesity to be promoted. We're not asking for everyone to live their life with the aim of being a size 28. We're just asking that you let these women live their lives the way anyone else is allowed to live theirs - without comment, without criticism and without judgement. Let them post photos of themselves and be confident without being screenshot and mocked on Twitter. Let them wear bikinis to the beach without making a bitchy comment. Let them eat a burger without you lecturing them about their health or their diet. 

Fat women - and fat people, for that matter - deserve to live their life without constantly being judged, being the subject of bullying and abuse. They deserve to do exactly as they please they way everyone else does without being questioned by masses of trolls on social media, without having to answer to people pretending to be concerned with their health.

It's time more of us were more body positive and also embraced more women who are confident, no matter their size. Let's not drag them down, try and belittle them, just because they might be more confident than us. Let's not drag fat women down because they're doing what we've been told over and over only a thin woman can do. Let's celebrate them instead! Let's celebrate all women, of course - but let's make sure that "all women" includes fat women too!

Love from,
Florence Grace

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