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Stop Being a Victim of Fat Phobia


There is absolutely no doubt that fat phobia is alive and well and thriving in our culture. The question is whether it has to take root in your mind and make you miserable. Do you even know of anyone who’s of higher weight and pays no attention to fat phobia? My guess is that you don’t and that’s one of the reasons you fall prey to it.

So, let me introduce you to Shannon Walton who finally got tired of being bullied about her weight. “Battling obesity—and telling bullies to ‘Kiss it!’” tells her story and shows how she took charge of her life and fought back. Says Walton who lives in Sheffield, England, “I’ve always been overweight, from a very, very young age.” At 14 she was 196 pounds and at 15 she was 210. Later, she discovered that she had both premature adrenarche which made her develop early and polycystic ovary syndrome which caused weight gain. She was, she says, neither an overeater nor a binge-eater and grew up eating reasonable portions of healthy food.

When she was fifteen, she’d had enough bullying, teasing and commenting about her eating and weight. Her decision was to stop making feeling good about herself weight-dependent. The photographer who did a book about Walton, Abbie Trayler-Smith, also grew up higher weight and says, “I believe that making healthy choices, whether it’s food or whatever it is in your life, starts when you feel good about yourself.” Smith says that as a teenager she never felt good enough because of her size but decided to move on from that kind of victim thinking.

Neither woman is glorifying fat nor maintaining that it’s healthy to be obese, and Smith argues that “there’s a balance between body positivity and health, and I think we need to find that balance.” Walton has found balance by remaining social, working, going to college, and spending time with a trainer in the gym. She found out that trying to eat too little was only making her fatter and now eats enough for her body size.

Reading about these woman is inspirational. And there are other women (and men) like them all over the world. How often do you Google or read articles and books about higher weight people living full lives without worrying about what they look like? How often do you challenge people who make negative comments (overt or covert) about your weight or size? How often does your mind run in that negative loop of giving up hope of ever living your dreams because of your weight?

You can challenge fat stigma or change your thinking about weight. Or do both. What you can’t do is internalize weight stigma, hate your body, and expect to be happy.