You’ve undoubtedly heard it muttered in whispers: “Don’t call her obese. It’s disrespectful.” And for the most part, don’t we consent? Yet why? Why does a word like “fat” have such a bad reputation? Why is it disrespectful to mention that they are obese if it is not impolite to state that “that woman is blonde” or “that man is tall”? Stigma is the solution. Particularly in the United States, the stigma associated with obesity has made us oblivious to the true issues facing the food and health sectors.
Self magazine followed up with “‘Fat’ isn’t a Bad Word,” but explained that the word had been made so by others: “Some people use fat to mean unlovable, undesirable, slovenly, unintelligent, lazy.” In May of 2020, Charlotte Zoller of Teen Vogue wrote that the word “fat” makes people uncomfortable because it “has been hurled around as an insult for decades.” However, now, “it’s a term that plus-size individuals are.
We only have to glance at the nearest weight-loss commercial to see proof: Take charge of your life, the hospital urges. Get your life “back on track” in a book on weight loss surgery; watch YouTube videos; this is essentially the same language used to describe quitting drug usage. Then there are the horror stories, like those of British journalist and entrepreneur Katie Hopkins, who purposefully put on 43 pounds to “show” that obesity is “simply laziness.” Hopkins is mistaken, and as Monica MPH (@fattyMPH on Twitter) pointed out to me, “obesity” is a construct rather than a fact. Nevertheless, this unpleasant, mistaken way of thinking continues to permeate society, causing us to approach weight as if it were a different category from other physical characteristics.