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Too many people are comfortable with their fatphobia

Photo courtesy Jazmine Castillo

By Jazmine Castillo     1/17/23 11:47pm

Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece contains references to fatphobia, disordered eating, thoughts of self harm, suicidal thoughts and child abuse.

On Dec. 21, the following message was posted on Fizz: 

“Fat people are disgusting and I’m tired of people like you sugar coating it saying it’s ok. If you don’t want to be disgusting eat healthier and go to the gym. Yes of course some people will have it harder than others but that’s life, that doesn’t mean you get to hide under your ‘genetics’ and pretend you don’t look disgusting when you’re clearly obese and unhealthy.” 

The comments following it were full of blatant fatphobia, with dozens of upvotes. Sadly, this isn’t something new at Rice or limited to Fizz. Fatphobia is rampant throughout the culture here, often unsaid but rarely unnoticed, at least by those of us directly affected by it. But even that understates the importance here — fatphobia is harmful to everyone, including people who are “normal” sizes, because it encourages body dysmorphia, eating disorders, bullying and hatred on all levels and at all ages, and those who are posting these comments should be ashamed of themselves.

I’m writing this because I am fat. Supposedly synonymous with: disgusting, vile and lazy. But, fat is not a bad word, despite the fact that the student body seems to think it is. 

Y’all say that being fat results from poor self control or laziness, but I was seven when I realized that I was fat, when I first wished I could cut off pieces of myself, even though my habits were the same as my peers. Even without getting into the science — that there are uncontrollable factors that make people larger from differences in genetics to varying gut bacteria  — do you think it’s ok to put a seven year old on a diet? That’s when I was first introduced to one. 

The only time in my life that I could ever be considered thin was when I was 12, living in an abusive home, depressed, suicidal and starving myself. Once out of that home, I gained the weight all back, and then more. I was told I took up too much space but would still never be enough. Would you tell that kid the same things you were saying hiding behind anonymity on Fizz? 

Then, I came to Rice, where nearly everyone is skinny. And I know you all noticed I wasn’t from the moment O-Week started. It was a mutual understanding. But at some point, I decided I was done hating myself, done trying to earn the respect that everyone else had by default. You tell me I need self control. Fewer calories in than calories burned. Go to the gym. As though I haven’t known that since before I hit puberty. As if I don’t know how many calories are in each piece of safety chicken and my maintenance caloric intake. If you’re going to be so obsessed with my body, at least tell me something I don’t know. 

Every one of you should reconsider how you treat the fat people in your life. You claim to “worry about my health,” even with my normal blood pressure and pulse and other stats, because fat people in good health don’t fit into your worldview. No matter what you were taught growing up or what you think is happening with someone else’s health, fatphobia is not okay.

Just like any other hatred, this needs to be called out. I know you’re fatphobic, and you know you’re fatphobic, so next time, say it to my face and face the fact that I’m a real person that you’re choosing to hate because of something that doesn’t affect you in any way. Or change. Look up resources on how to battle fatphobia, both internally and what you hear from those around you. Be a good ally, or at least try not to be an asshole to those who don’t look like you. Don’t mention someone’s weight, how much they’re eating, or that they should hit the gym, whether that friend is big or small. And if you refuse to change, then realize that you’re just a hateful, bigoted person and accept that fact — you are choosing to hate an entire group of people for physical characteristics that have no impact on your life. 

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