fitness · weight stigma

Anti-fat-shaming videos: don’t do more harm than good, folks!

CW: Inclusion of an video that depicts a scene of fat shaming and purports to be anti-fat-shaming, but in fact is fat-shaming. Discussion of body weight, eating, fat-shaming. Mention of the “Karen” phenomenon. Mention of an ableist term and its use.

There’s a new anti-fat-shaming video out there, and it’s very sincere in its attempts to alert people to fat-shaming and to explain why fat-shaming is wrong. Here it is (again, note content warnings above):

The initial scene plays out roughly as follows: A fat woman walks up to the counter of a coffeeshop, orders a kale salad and a small chai tea latte. The cashier– a thin woman– calls her “Fatty” instead of her name, Patty. She also interrogates her about the order in ways designed to fat-shame her. When Patty receives her latte, the name written on the cup is “Fatty”. She runs out of the shop.

Customers in the shop look silently on the scene, no one speaking out, until one man comes up to the cashier. He gives a sincere soliloquy about how the cashier– called, yes, Karen– shouldn’t have bullied Patty.

Here’s where things go wrong:

  1. He defends Patty’s right not to be bullied, saying she deserves respect and is trying to change. Change what? Her body size, one assumes. Argh.

2. Then he cites her food choice of a kale salad and small almond milk chai latte as evidence of her desire to change. No, dude. You shouldn’t have gone there.

3. He compares Patty’s state of self to being sick in a hospital, indicating that none of those groups deserve shaming. This is getting really bad really fast.

4. He does go on to connect fat-shaming to stress-eating and point out that studies show that weight discrimination doesn’t “motivate change”. Sigh. This is a more subtle error, but error nonetheless. He’s fully on board with the idea that fat people suffer from fatness and need to be motivated or helped to change. This belief is at the heart of fat-shaming.

5. He uses a ableist word, “lame”, to criticize some views about body image. Gotta be more careful, dude. You don’t want to do more harm here.

6. Here’s my least favorite part: he wraps up his heartfelt speech by entreating the cashier to “accept them for who they are, and lovingly encourage them to be who they could be”.

NO. NO. NO. That is flat-out health concern trolling about body weight. Patty doesn’t need loving encouragement to become something else. Not from her family, not from her doctor, not from her friends, and not from the cashier. What Patty needs is for the cashier to take her order and give her what she asked for in a professional and courteous way. That’s it.

And honestly, I would’ve watched that video and shared it with others.

There are many other flaws in this video, but alas, my blogging time is up. Readers, what did you like or not like about this video? I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Anti-fat-shaming videos: don’t do more harm than good, folks!

  1. I couldn’t keep watching after sad, powerless “Patty” walked out and self righteous Prince Ea starts his speech. This is horrific.

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