Three Marks of a Turn Against Fat Shaming

Fat shaming is a concept that didn’t even hit the radar of popular culture until 2012. Prior to that, you couldn’t find the smallest blip of interest in that term on the Web. “Weight bias” was the sterile academic term of art you could find in its place. Interest, as measured by Google, has grown with some impressive leaps since then.

What some people perhaps once thought were witty remarks about others’ bodies are now becoming socially unacceptable. Strange as it seems, we may be on a path toward respect for people of diverse shapes and sizes. Here are a few recent cases that make the point.

  1. Taylor Townsend exploded into the French Open tennis tournament this week, becoming the youngest woman to reach the third round in a decade. Two years ago, the U.S. Tennis Association refused to support her participation in the U.S. Open, despite the fact that she had just won the junior Australian Open to become number one in the world among junior players. The USTA’s excuse was concerns about her “long-term health” and “long-term development as a player.” In other words, she didn’t fit somebody’s idea of what a female tennis player should look like. Townsend says, “It made me stronger as a person, it made me stronger as a tennis player, and it made me stronger in the sense of knowing that what I went through helped other people.” The media and the body size police may be backing off. A headline in The Guardian asks “Why are we fat-shaming tennis players?”
  2. Fattitude is a documentary that has been spurring a vigorous discussion about fat shaming and the hostile and threatening behavior of some of the people with these repulsive attitudes. It spurred threats of violence from Internet trolls. Their actions have only strengthened the resolve of people determined to stand against this hateful behavior.
  3. Opera reviewers are getting harsh pushback for putting their preferences for the shape and size of female singers ahead of objective reviews of talent and performance. Five old male critics have been singled out for criticism because of their reviews of a rising star, Tara Erraught, that focused on her size more than her talent.

“Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength.” — Eric Hoffer

Click here to read more about Taylor Townsend, here to read more about Fattitude, and here to read more about the opera kerfuffle. Here you’ll find a perspective on our diverse, normal bodies that’s worth reading (Thanks, Philippa).

Taylor Townsend, photograph © robbiesaurus / flickr

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