Fat shaming is one of the few remaining legal prejudices in western society. Equality for the obese is not protected by law nor by political correctness. Instead, obesity itself at times seems to be considered politically incorrect. As Yale researcher Rebecca Puhl explained to ABC News, fat stigma is reinforced in the media and with public health campaigns, leading some to believe it is alright to insult strangers, co-workers, friends, and family members about their weight.
“It is the last acceptable prejudice.”
Wentworth Miller was exceptionally buff on Prison Break, but in 2010, while battling depression, Miller turned to food for comfort and gained weight. A photo of Wentworth taken during that period was recently converted into a fat-shaming Facebook meme.
Fat shaming is very hurtful, and Miller decided not to endure the attack in silence. Wentworth posted a reply, explaining in great detail some deeply personal issues. The creators of the meme apologized. It was the beginning of an open online dialog.
Fat shaming and discrimination against heavy people can be very damaging. In recent studies, prejudice against the obese has been proven to influence the outcome of jury trials, and it affects the way medical professionals view their patients. In the workplace, obese managers are perceived as less effective. Even worse, over 70 percent of obese individuals said they had been ridiculed by family members, according to ABC News.
Wentworth Miller spoke out against fat shaming, and so have many other celebrities and media personalities who have been victimized by body shaming. Plus-sized models Tess Holiday and Maiysha Kai, as well as South African Idols judge Unathi Msengana are letting their voices be heard.
Tess Holiday Was Fat Shamed By A Fitness Blogger
Tess Holiday recently defended herself in the wake of a fat-shaming attack by Australian fitness blogger Ashy Bines. Tess Holiday is pregnant and a size 22. Bines called Tess fat, unhealthy, and a bad role model. She also allegedly suggested that she was doing some injustice to her unborn child by being overweight.
“I stay active for me, & only me. It’s not about proving anything or trying to lose weight, it’s about what makes ME happy! We ALL deserve to be treated with dignity regardless of our size, gender, race, sexual orientation, abilities, etc. When people criticize or belittle us it says more about them than us, remember that.”
Tess Holiday works out on a regular schedule, even while she is pregnant, according to Us Weekly. She also loves the way she looks. She takes care of her body, eats a healthy diet, and takes her modeling career seriously.
Wentworth Miller Inspired Unathi Msengana To Speak Out Against Fat-Shaming ‘Idiots’
Unathi Msengana took to Instagram with her own new meme after hearing about Wentworth’s reaction. As Channel 24 reports, Unathi knows what it is like to be ridiculed for her weight.
“Making fun of a fat person at the gym is like making fun of a homeless person at a job fair.”
Unathi has also been a victim of fat shaming but learned to turn her anger into fuel for more exercise. Msengana told Channel 24 that those self-appointed critics gave Unathi the extra fire she needed to get through her workouts.
“They used to point, snicker, laugh, and even try and take pictures when I would change in the change rooms. NOW they ask how I lost 30kgs and as much as I want to respond with ‘I did it with great pain whilst you laughed at ME’ I try to be a lady about it and share what I can!!!!! FORGIVE THEM! It’s so liberating!,”
Fat Shaming Is Never OK: Maiysha Kai Explains
Maiysha Kai is also considered a plus-size model although she is far from obese, wearing a size 12 at five-foot-10. She describes herself as “stacked.” Maiysha recently wrote an article for the Root in which she exuded confidence about her perfectly proportioned body. Kai lists reasons why it is never OK to body-shame someone.
“Because it’s just an opinion—and nobody asked for it. The plus-size industry is booming, not only because of the many women in the world who happen to be over a size 10, but also because of many, many men who like their women that way.
“Because it’s not ‘constructive criticism,’ it’s cruel. We spend far more time with our naked bodies than you could ever hope to, and know every jiggly bit, stretch mark and sag. You’re not telling us anything we don’t already know… Cease and desist. Block. Delete.
“Because in case you didn’t know, healthy is the new skinny. I’m in the gym five to seven days a week, tracking what I eat and eating clean… I do the best I can for my body and am confident that it wants to be a size 12… I know full-figured women who run marathons and slim women who scoff at working out.”
Fat shaming is cruel. Plus-size models like Tess Holiday or Maiysha Kai have a lot of self-esteem and are perhaps able to take criticism better than most, but those who choose to insult others based on their weight could cause real damage to less secure individuals.
Fat shaming Wentworth Miller caused him pain, but those who wrote the meme probably didn’t even think of that until they read his reply.
[Photo by Paul McConnell/Getty Images]