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Episode 37: The Fatphobia Fallout: Confronting Beauty Standards in 2023

Updated: Apr 25

This is an edited version of a podcast episode. If you prefer to listen, click Make Me Whole Podcast to find this and all my other episodes.

Hello, and welcome to the Make Me Whole blog series! Today we are going to be talking about something that affects the daily lives of millions of people: fatphobia. Before I dive into the topic, I want to take a moment to just be transparent. I’ve always been healthy, but when I started feeling somewhat uncomfortable in my own skin, I began working with my medical team to do something different. We found out that I am actually insulin resistant, and that is part of the reason why I was having such a hard time with my weight. So, we've worked on that, and it's been such a successful journey. But, I had to take the steps in order to feel that I had control over the situation, and it's not always easy!

If we take a look at how obesity has functioned in our society, we see that we've been told that being thin is the only way to be attractive, successful, or even happy. It creates a culture that demonizes fatness and celebrates thinness, spreading the idea that those who are overweight deserve to be discriminated against. And this is not just limited to the United States. It's a global thing.

So, who is it that's most affected by the culture of fatphobia? Well, studies show that marginalized groups such as people of color, those with disabilities, and lgbtqia+ individuals experience more negative consequences. One of the most significant consequences of fatphobia, in my opinion, is the mental health crisis it creates. When society tells you that being a fat person is a type of failure and something to be ashamed of, it's going to lead to negative self-talk, body dysmorphia, and even eating disorders. According to a study by the National Eating Disorders Association, 65% of people with eating disorders say that bullying, teasing, or harassment contributed to their disorder. That’s terrible! It’s not just those who are overweight who suffer from the mental health consequences of fatphobia. Even those who are considered thin or normal weight can experience negative mental health effects from the enormous pressure to meet societal standards of beauty. The effects of fat phobia are hugely significant and cannot be overstated. When people are constantly bombarded with the messages that they're not good enough, attractive enough, or worthy because of their body size, it's going to have a huge impact on their self-esteem. The expectation that bodies should be a certain shape can be especially damaging for women because they are often held to a higher standard. And unfortunately, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, the pressure is unrelenting.