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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Community can end fat-shaming

Published: November 14, 2014
Section: Opinions

We’re all human beings, and we all need to support each other. When we pass judgment on others, either purposefully or subconsciously, we lose a sense of our humanity. Some tend to think of themselves as really special when they tell others how to live their lives. These people, who find themselves better than others, think they are entitled to pass judgment as advice, and believe they deserve to be thanked at the end. Such is the case with fat-shaming, where perpetrators “advise” those they believe are too heavy for their tastes the most condescending and despicable bull a human being will ever say. This fat-shaming mentality is degenerate and sickening, and it needs to be put to an end.

The first thing to say in a proper rebuttal to most of those who fat shame is, “You’re not a doctor.” What right do these people think they have that allows them to tell others “your weight is unhealthy” and “it’s your own fault that you’re fat.” Oftentimes in the real world, weight is a product of many factors. Some of these factors include genetics, pre-existing conditions and the environment, all of which are out of our control. Remember when your pal told that girl that she “could lose a few pounds to be more attractive”? Your pal, the doctor that he must be, thinks he did that girl a favor. Little does he know that the girl might have had no control over her weight. The only certainty is that your pal is a terrible person and you need to make better friends.

In the real world, people have a choice and they’re entitled to that choice. We aren’t forced to follow societal norms nor are we forced to impose those norms upon others. If a human being likes the way they look, then another one should be content with that, and not try to change that. It’s as simple as that. Those who try to force their values on others fool themselves into thinking they’re more special than others, and this is one of the uglier occurrences that can occur in human interaction.

Also in the real world, being a jerk to other people is actually your own fault. Although those who fat shame may have a smug look of content on their faces at the end of the day, nobody else thinks it’s funny. Nobody thinks it’s cute. They let a darker side of their humanity come out. They bring out the sad true interior they hide from the world. Most of all, they hurt others.

The guise of “support” and “intervention” allows perpetrators to feel good about themselves while thinking they are making a difference in someone’s life. Let me tell these perpetrators that they are making a difference in someone’s life: a negative one. We can trace numerous health problems back to stress—that strain that just so happens to be exacerbated by receiving criticism.

Societal norms will always get in the way, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow them. This is one of the main tenets of social justice here at Brandeis, the destruction of cancerous societal norms—like the need to be skinny to be attractive. It also doesn’t help when the media bombards us with these norms. This issue is obviously deeply rooted in our society and therefore, as a unified society, we need to do extensive work to rectify it.

Although individual Brandeis students can only do so much to alleviate the effects of the deeply ingrained societal forces at work in fat-shaming and in any other prejudice, we can act as a unified community and be kind to our peers no matter what they may look like or act like. We’re all humans, and we’re all the same, so why should any of us have the right to act with condescending superiority over others?