Discussion: Is Being Fat Always Unhealthy, Or Is Saying So Body-Shaming?

Kudos to this kick-ass news anchor, Jennifer Livingston, who shut down a bullying reader who emailed to call her “fat.” The video has already gone crazy viral because her response is so important and so eloquent.

The not-so-viewer who emailed claimed Jennifer was a poor example of a public personality and a bad role model for girls because her looks promoted obesity. In response, Jennifer asserted that she is much more than what you see on the outside.

It’s a topic that’s come up a few times — with jokes about Governor Chris Christie’s weight, jabs at Lady Gaga’s gains, and criticisms of Christina Aguilera’s fuller figure on The Voice. The word that’s been coined to cover it all is “body-shaming.” And whenever I hear someone doing it, I always think of this JK Rowling quote:

‘Fat’ is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her. I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’?

“Fat” is a description of a person, and as Jennifer points out, she knows she’s overweight. She can see herself. Why would you hate someone just for how they look? But “fat” is also a loaded, hateful word (like Louis CK’s joke about intent mattering more when you say the word “Jew”). It’s also not always a choice. The assumption that someone who is chubbier is just sitting at home eating cheeseburgers is ridiculous. That being said, the media likes to run around screaming “obesity epidemic!” and America is regularly called on as an example of a stereotypical country of fat people for our fast food obsession and our large sodas (now banned in NYC because of worries about obesity). The person who emailed Jennifer framed their jerkiness as concern about her health and the health of young girls, but is that really the case?

What do you guys think? Is being fat always unhealthy? Did Jennifer’s message move you? Do you agree? TC Mark

image – Hartphotography

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