How Fat Shaming Feeds Eating Disorders

Not everyone who is obese lives on junk food. Fat does not mean unhealthy. Weight and size are not moral issues.

I will use myself as an example. I don’t eat sugar, flour, meat, junk food, fried food, or fast food—and that includes reading labels for such ingredients in foods that may seem “healthy” to most people. I have not eaten these things in many years (which I refrain from eating because they are addictive to me.) My blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol are normal. But guess what—I am still considered “obese” by the medical establishment.

I have had a life long battle with eating disorders of all kinds, largely due to the fat shaming I received while growing up. I became obsessed with my body, exercising hours and hours every day and restricting my food. It’s been a chronic condition for me my whole life. That’s what fat shaming does.

But guess what—being skinny never solved any of my problems. Not one. In fact, the weight range that is considered “normal”/”healthy” for my height by BMI is not sustainable OR healthy for me—I know this because I could not menstruate at that weight. My body shut down at that weight. I grew tiny hairs all over my body from starving myself at that weight.

All kinds of factors contribute to a person’s size, including metabolism, genetics, other chronic illnesses that may be present, and medications that cause or contribute to weight gain but may be medically necessary.  Not all fat people are fat simply because of what they eat.

Even still, let’s say someone enjoys dessert or pizza. Should they be denied those foods simply because of size? I know people who cannot eat more than 700 calories a day without gaining weight. And guess what? Because of fat shaming, they restrict themselves to 700 calories a day! I also know plenty of skinny people who live on junk and fast food, but no doctor hassles them about it because they look thin. Why the double standard? There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

Oprah is a good example of internalized fat hatred. She is arguably the most powerful, famous woman in the world, highly successful in every endeavor. Yet, none of it is enough, because she still sees herself as a fat girl who won’t “have it all” unless she loses 40 pounds. And that is tragic.

It’s also a class issue. Healthier foods are more expensive. Period. Being able to go “gluten free” or keto or paleo is a class privilege not afforded to people who live in poverty.

Believe it or not, there are happy and healthy people of all sizes. There are also unhappy and unhealthy people of all sizes. Weight is not meritorious. Size is not a moral issue.


Health at Every Size (HAES)™ is a movement to recognize that size does not determine health, and that each of us can take care of ourselves regardless of size and weight, without focusing on weight loss as the end goal.

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As a toddler, Scarlet chanted, “I want to if I want.” That gutsy girl survived to tell the story--in memoir, film, and art.

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