Obesity & Fat Shaming: The World We Live In

I don’t know where to start with this. I’ve been in a really bad place this last week, and I think I need to get this off my chest. What follows may be a jumble of opinion, with no real destination in narrative, but I need to write this down before I go mad.

I’m obese. I’m not okay with that, but I am. I have an eating disorder, and I was on steroids which made me balloon. I won’t apologise for beating a disease, and I won’t apologise for having issues with food.

It’s who I am.

Despite trying to lose weight, I will always struggle with food. I know I’m obese. I know I need to lose weight. Yet I see billboards every day from Cancer Research UK telling me that being obese will give me cancer. The new campaign has seen billboards, ads, magazine pages and targeted Facebook ads raise awareness for obesity, and it’s making me spiral, in all honesty.

Am I overreacting? Maybe. But try and see it from my perspective. Put yourself in my shoes: you’ve struggled with food from a young age, you’ve been on diets since you were 16, you have been bullied, shamed, called out and laughed at for your weight. You see a therapist. And then one day, you’re walking home from the cinema with your boyfriend and you see a billboard. A giant, white, lit up billboard, telling you that your body will more than likely give you cancer.

Can you imagine how that feels? After struggling with your self-image, to be told that?  It’s isolating, to say the least. It furthers your opinions of yourself that you’re not good enough, and it makes things worse.

Do you think we don’t know? Do you think fat people don’t know they’re unhealthy? We know. We’re reminded every day by people online, in the street, by our family. We know.

When you see models like Ashley Graham and Tess Holliday – they’re not “promoting obesity” like so many absent minded people say. They’re simply existing. When have you seen a fat woman who embraces her body openly discuss her diet? Newsflash, they don’t. They don’t promote eating, they don’t promote an unhealthy lifestyle, they’re literally living their lives online. But this isn’t good enough, is it? Every day I’ll see comments on my favourite Instagrammers latest post calling them hideous names. These women are icons for women like me who have the same body, yet they’re made to feel like a lesser human being.

As a society, we have been raised to despise the obese “other”, and these new ads just perpetuate this. Before you talk about billboards and adverts commissioned to stop smoking, let me address something. When you smoke, you’re putting harmful chemicals into your body. You know from day one that what you’re doing is harmful. When you want to quit, you’re given a free quit pack on the NHS and offered group therapy sessions. When you’re obese, you’re offered surgery. No therapy, no advise on healthy eating. You feel shamed into something drastic.

Smoking is not the same as eating. When have we, as a society, been given a clear view of what constitutes as healthy eating? We’re told different things from one day to the next, we’re lied to, fed food saturated in carcinogens – by our own government – yet this isn’t addressed? You know what is addressed? The obese. Those that suffer at the hands of a society that has been feeding them unhealthy and uneducated views towards food since a young age.

We shouldn’t be punishing the obese, we should be punishing the industry.

I’ve seen so many people on Twitter fat shaming those who are upset over this campaign from Cancer Research UK, and it feels like a perpetual cycle. I’m outraged, I’m disenfranchised, I’m upset, but at this point, there’s nothing I can do. We’ve been conditioned to hate the fat, the obese, to let them know how disgusted we are of them – and those who want to change this are berated by the ignorant.

I wish this post could be more inspirational – or have a meaning, but it doesn’t. This is the world we live in.

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