5 Reasons Why Fat Shaming Totally Doesn't Work

In case you were curious.

Does Fat Shaming Obese Or Overweight People Work? Getty

Think fast: What is your gut reaction when you see fat people walking down the street?

Do you think, "Oh my god, that person needs help!"?

Do you think, "Ugh, obese people are disgusting!"?

Do you think, "That fat person daring to even exist makes me furious!"?

Or, do you just think, "Look. It's a person"?

If you picked any option other than that last one, then it's time we had a conversation about the problem with fat-shaming and perceptions of obesity.


I know you think that treating fat people with disdain is going to change their life, their body and their weight by forcing them to take an "honest" look at themselves and get into shape. Perhaps in doing do, you believe, you may even be the one to cure the national obesity epidemic.

But you're wrong.

There's a reason why fat shaming doesn't work.

In fact, there's actually more than one reason why fat shaming doesn't work.

I'd like to take this opportunity to break five of them down for you.

1. Fat-shaming doesn't work because creating a sense of shame is never the answer to anything.

Remember when you were a little kid? You know, back in the days when having total control of your bladder wasn't a sure thing? I know I do.


Now imagine that during one of those unfortunate incidents where you had an accident, someone picked you up, put you on a chair, and invited all the town's people to mock you.

What would that kind of public humiliation have done to you? Would it have made you take stock and cpmmit on the spot to never wet your pants again?

No. It would have embarrassed you, alienated you, and made you feel small.

In fact, studies show that children who experience weight discrimination are actually more than twice as likely to become or remain obese in adulthood than those who aren't. So, there you go!

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2. Fat shaming doesn't work because it isolates the individual being subjected to the shame.

When you shame someone about their body image, you are telling them that they aren't normal. When you tell someone they aren't normal, you are, in effect, saying that you don't want them in your company.

What does that do? It makes a person feel lonely. It makes them feel out of place and unacceptable.

That's an awful and ridiculous thing to do to someone just for failing to meet your personal, cruel, and shortsighted expectations.

3. Fat-shaming doesn't work because because being told you're fat isn't exactly new information to fat people.

You know what fat people are used to? Being attacked, isolated, and being made to feel ashamed for being fat.


We get it, skinny people. You think we're ugly. You think we shouldn't have a positive body image. You think we're lazy. You think we're not healthy. And you think we're slobs.

We get it. We literally hear it every single day — if not from you, then from the TV or the internet.

You think you're going to shock us out of our supposed complacency, when in fact, what you're really doing is continuing a pattern of mistreatment and abuse that at this point is just mundane for us.

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4. Fat-shaming doesn't work because it promotes global bullying instead.

When you start targeting a group of people and body shaming them for not adhering to some arbitrary norm, it's a slippery slope.


You're telling kids that it's okay to bully people for random reasons like a number on a scale. What's to stop them from going on to bully people for wearing glasses or because they have red hair?

Nothing, that's what.

5. Fat-shaming doesn't work because it's based on the (false) assumption that being fat is a problem.


Here is the magic bullet, the answer to the real question, really the only item that should be on this list.

Why doesn't fat-shaming work? Because it assumes that being fat is a problem that needs solving.

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Fat people are happy. Fat people are beautiful. Fat people contribute to society on a daily basis.

Fat people are not sitting around waiting for you to "solve" them, because they aren't a problem.

If you feel personally driven to change the world and you've decided that shaming fat people into becoming thin is your crusade, why not take that energy and direct it toward something that actually matters, like equal pay for women or climate change?

Stop being a bully and instead try to make real, positive change rather than focusing on your own warped idea of how a person is supposed to be.

RELATED: Study Shows People With A Specific Body Type Typically Live Longer


Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.