Fatphobia

I recognise the incredible amount of privilege being thin offers me. I am automatically thought of as more attractive, more intelligent, more healthy.
I’d be stupid not to enjoy it except that I distinctly remember, at age 16, being told I was too thin to be found attractive by any man. So I’m not impressed when I’m congratulated for suddenly fitting into society’s highly regulated, highly unrealistic beauty standards. I’m thin because I have the thin gene and a high metabolic rate. Other than that one lottery ticket, I have low VitD levels, I have battled depression; because of my mother I have a 25% chance of getting breast cancer; because of my father, a decent chance of developing diabetes ( no, it’s not a fat people’s disease) if I’m not careful; I have chronically painful joints due to over running and over exercising because of my body dysmorphia; you see even thin as I was, I always tried to get thinner.
Am I fatphobic in spite of all my big talk? Probably.
Even though I haven’t consciously fatshamed anyone nor do I think of fat people as unattractive for merely being fat, I always reflexively tuck in my tummy when I pass a mirror. In fact I don’t remember ever relaxing my stomach from the age of 18. Now no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to relax it fully and I have no idea how that must affect my internal organs.
There is a unspoken social sanction for the shaming of fat people, and particularly the double whammy of being fat and female. A famous designer exhorts only fat women to be confident, never thin women.
There is a strategically taken photograph of Smriti Irani drawing water at a hand pump while campaigning in Amethi. And of course the comments were about, brace yourselves, not her ideology, nor her politics, nor her governance, but about the only thing that matters, her size. Extremely hurtful, vilest of comments mostly by forward thinking, emancipated liberal men. Smriti because of her ideology and being one of the more visible female members of the BJP draws not only the maximum fatshaming but also slut-shaming, because she apparently stole someone’s husband like other leaders stole mangoes. Smugly secure in their progressive ideology Smriti is quarry for all the fatphobic misogynistic liberals who consider themselves a superior breed of humans. There is universal acceptance that fat people are ugly and slothful and gluttonous and therefore fair game for public humiliation. Similar remarks however, are seldom directed at the male top brass of the party, none of them svelte or slender by any stretch of imagination.
But nothing brought both liberal and conservative men together in such remarkable unity than when they were attacking the woman in the recently viral video over her size, one wit even ROFL emojied her as being un-rapeable because of her size.
Growing up, I have been skinny-shamed, an awful subset of fatphobia. Once on the street an asshole announced loudly that my hips were so narrow that if I ever had a baby either me, the mother or the baby would die in the process. My friend walking with me laughed aloud. This came to mind, years later, in the labour room as I was birthing my baby. What if it had been a prophecy, I wondered…It wasn’t.
That’s the beauty of the human body, it’s diverse and adaptive and growing and changing to suit the age of the person and the need of the time. And those shaming people for their appearance, ultimately beauty is a beauty does.

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