I’m a body image activist who attempts to work in solidarity with the fat acceptance movement, an eating disorder survivor who still harbors body and food issues, and a person of average size who talks openly about thin privilege.
But then there are the people who say that “skinny-shaming is the same as fat-shaming” – which simply isn’t true.
And because on the surface, that comparison seems to hold water, I think we need to examine it a little more closely to see why – when using an intersectional, anti-oppression lens – it’s a false equivalence. I want to be honest about the fact that the concept of “thin-shaming” or “skinny-shaming” is a difficult one to talk about. And while there are problems with the body-positive movement, something that it tries to stand for is assuring people that all bodies are deserving of love and care. If we want to be body-positive, then we need celebrate all bodies and understand that all people are made to feel like shit about their appearance.
Not only is it plain mean, but as social justice activists, we also should be clear that body-shaming is a tool of oppression. Here, I talk about how because skinny-shaming is rooted in sexism – that regardless of our body types, society polices them because patriarchal structures benefit from the creation of this insecurity – it is, indeed, oppressive.
But I also want to make the point that it’s necessary to take an intersectional approach to feminist thought, including in discussions of body shame.
If you’ve never heard of this (or have never seen Chris Rock’s documentary), it’s essentially an idea within communities of color (especially among Black women) that the closer one’s hair is to European texture (that is, straight and smooth), the “better” it is. Clearly, we can see how this is sexist: Telling women that their hair needs to look a certain way in order to be beautiful – and that they need to spend an inordinate amount of time and money on it to make it do something that it isn’t naturally inclined to do – is a problem. But if we want to deconstruct and examine this beauty standard, we need to address that it’s also Eurocentric in nature – that it places European (read: white) features as the ideal.
That was the first time that I understood that my hair wasn’t “perfect” – that there were standards that I would never live up to. But while that early instance of sexist beauty standards hurt me, I didn’t experience racism on top of it.
When we talk about skinny- and fat-shaming, the difference is that while the former may be tied to sexism, fat-shaming exists at the intersection of sexism and fatphobia. Take, for instance, if I was at the beach with a fat counterpart, and we were both eating ice cream. The sexist standards plaguing my mind are awful – but the rest of the world isn’t shunning me because of my body. The intersection of fatphobia and sexism matters, and we can’t discuss the problem of fat-shaming without acknowledging that fatphobia adds an additional layer of oppression.


When we talk about fatphobia, we’re talking about the idea that we live in a thin-centric world that demonizes fat bodies, that the very structures that hold up our society prioritize the comfort and safety of thin bodies.
As I’ve discussed before, I’ve never been asked to pay more for a seat on an airplane – because the seats were designed with my body type in mind. I’ve never experienced a doctor dismissing my health concerns by telling me that if I just “lose weight,” all of my problems will be solved – because the institution of Western Medicine doesn’t look at my body inherently as a problem that needs to be fixed. Similarly, the reason why skinny-shaming doesn’t exist as equally oppressive as fat-shaming is because there is no additional power behind it.
It’s important to understand that even if individuals shame you, respect (and even admiration!) for you is still woven into the fabric of our society. Denouncing fat women is just reinforcing the same intersection of oppressive structures that people of size deal with day in and day out – and there is no escape from that. When we talk about valuing “equality,” generally what we’re saying is that we want everyone in society to be treated the same – namely, well.
But there’s no magic wand – no, not even feminism – that’s going to make that happen overnight. And the process of administering this equality – in doing the hard work and consciousness raising that hopefully will make equality a reality someday – is the pursuit of justice. Take Meghan Trainor’s summer jam “All About That Bass” as an example (putting aside the arguments that it’s anti-feminist in its approach just for the sake of this article, although it’s disconcerting).
I’ve heard people saying that while they’re glad that the song celebrates bodies that “ain’t no size two,” the fact that the lyrics center around “bringing booty back” are problematic – just because they don’t address the “All Bodies Are Beautiful” mantra.
The argument is that anything that purports fat bodies as worthy of love are inherently skinny-shaming because they don’t include skinny women or because they posit thick bodies as somehow “better than” thin ones.
But here’s the thing: Because disenfranchised groups – in this case, I’m talking about groups who have systematically been left out of consideration in the definition of “beauty” – need to be empowered and lifted up to even get to the level that privileged people are. If we were all equal – if all bodies experienced body-shaming (and even body appreciation!) in the same way – then the argument would hold water.
Something can be body-positive and at the same time, leave thin bodies out of the conversation. If we want to work together in a movement to end body-shaming, we all need to be on board with the idea that no one should ever be made to feel bad about their bodies. But I also think that if we want to stand in solidarity with fat acceptance, we need to critically analyze the ways in which skinny- and fat-shaming differ. Because if we’re not prepared to do that hard thinking and work through our own privileges, then we’re not doing the movement any favors either.


Trumpeter swans often frequent lakes in winter alongside other waterfowl such as Canada geese. Winston's kindergarten teacher received a grant from Farm Bureau to take the class to Shatto Dairy. Miss Missouri’s Outstanding Teen McKensie Garber, Keegan Allen, Jacklyn Maize, Ethan Adkison, Jenna Rains, and Champ the Bulldog.
Morgan Corwin, Michael McLey, Dalton Swalley, Keaton Collins and Hunter McCampbell moved up to the rank of Star. R-5 basketball cheerleaders for the 2011-12 season are, from left: Maria Bickford, Morgan Horvatin, Mattie Burge, Kara Stanley and Skyler Loxterman. Karla Michener's (four-year old) preschool class, from Learning Time Preschool, took a field trip last Friday to the Active Aging Resource Center. People who have experienced the pain of being made to feel ashamed of their bodies want to be validated and acknowledged for that – and they should be. They don’t have the same experiences that I do – because fatphobia (which dictates the fear, disgust, and hatred that the public feels toward fat bodies) exists. But because they wouldn’t need that special treatment if equality existed, what it really is, is a leveling out of the playing field. Because eradicating oppression sometimes means decentering the conversation from around the oppressor. Fabello, Editor of Everyday Feminism, is a sexuality educator, eating disorder and body image activist, and media literacy vlogger based out of Philadelphia.
Deputy Robert Mazur, Gallatin Police Officer Rick Pointer, and two civilians, Tammy Mazur and Jesse Reynolds, all received the Citizenship Award.
Rather, this piece aims to point out the ways in which fat-shaming entails an extra layer of oppression – fatphobia – that skinny-shaming lacks.
Deputy Chuck Karns received the Honorary Deputy Award.Charles Cameron received the Citizenship Award.



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