Fatphobia in culture, and its effects: Some thoughts and a video you should watch

I was bullied for my weight growing up, though looking at pictures from back then I wasn’t particularly fat – just fatter than a lot of my classmates. The primary effect of that treatment was that I did my best to avoid exerting myself where other people could see me. I was lucky to find groups that DIDN’T do that shit for the most part, both in my youth circus and in the wilderness/naturalist program at my high school, but it never really went away. I don’t know that I would have worked out more had I been left alone about that issue – I certainly DID work out when I was in settings where I knew it wouldn’t come up – but overall when someone mocked me for my weight, doing something physical with my body was the last thing I wanted to do. Rowling’s descriptions of fat people doing things, as highlighted in the video below, are a good illustration of how I saw myself when other people forced me to think about my body.

I also don’t remember how I felt about the cruelty in JK Rowling’s writing. I enjoyed the books at the time, and I think the grotesque caricature named Dudley Dursley didn’t hit ME to hard because my reaction was “at least I’m not that bad”. A huge number of problems in our society seem to come down to the inability of some people to see their fellow humans as people, rather than scenery or props. Writing like Rowling’s encourages that perspective, and as many have now pointed out, it’s far from limited to the fat characters in her books.

Obviously there’s a lot more to societal treatment of fat people than just Rowling’s writing, and fortunately Ok2BeFat has a lot of content, not just about the societal aspects of fatness, but also the science. This is work that needs doing, and she does a good job with it, so support her on patreon if you can.


  1. Katydid says

    That was an eye-opening video.

    20 years ago, my son came home from first grade upset because the class bully called him fat. That was astounding to me. The child was in the 100th percentile for height for his age, but only the 30th percentile for weight. because he had inherited the long-and-lanky genes of the other side of his family tree. Even now–decades later–is still long-and-lanky.

    It occurred to me later that “fat” was the worst slur that the bully could think up, because there is nothing worse than being fat, amirite?

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