If you are a sensitive, empathetic person generally, it’s hard to hear that there are ways you are fat shaming without realising it. It’s fair to say that over the last few years, the desire by people to be as sensitive and politically correct as possible is higher than ever before. There are so many issues like race, nationality, sexuality, and gender to be considerate of in these more accepting and enlightened times, that it is sometimes the case that other issues tend to be left behind and don’t get to experience the same kind of progression as others. The issue of weight and body image has always been a big deal for women in particular, and though there is more body positivity now than there has ever been before, there is still a lot of work to be done! Here are some ways you are fat shaming without realising it.
1. Mock Concern
When you see someone big at the gym or in your exercise class and mock feign concern for their well being, you are really putting a dent in their confidence. Even if the banter is coming from a place of being impressed that they are able to keep up with everyone, it will still hit them where it hurts because you are essentially singling them out for stares and negative comparisons.
2. False Congratulations
Don’t go into raptures and congratulate a big person for being active and exercising, at least not any more than you would do for a person who is of ‘normal’ weight. You might think that you are being supportive and encouraging, but once again you are just putting the focus on them and making them feel ostracised from the activity.
3. Wardrobe Suggestions
You just never make wardrobe suggestions to an overweight person, because unless you are big you have no idea about the kinds of restrictions and hassle that one has to go through to find clothes they even half like. By making suggestions, you are implying that they don’t look good in their current get up, which in turn will damage their potentially already fragile self confidence and be counterproductive to their journey.
4. Diet Judging
At the end of the day, what a person eats is only their personal business, so it is not your place to make judgements about the kinds of things that someone you know likes to eat. In many cases, there is a real problem with food or a bad relationship, so they will know that they aren’t making the best choices all the time. It shouldn’t be something that you bring up.
5. Using Fat as a Negative Term
Even if you happen to believe it, you should be making an effort not to associate and use the term fat with total negativity, especially around bigger friends and family members. You even have to be careful of saying things like “wow you look great since you lost those few pounds’, Ybecause it only serves to let the person know that you think they looked terrible before.