Controversy Corner – Fat Shaming

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Controversy Corner

I am a lifestyle and beauty blogger first and foremost. I started my blog to write about lipsticks, and learn how to photograph pretty things. That doesn’t mean though, that I am superficial and have a head full of glitter. I do have a brain, a mind that questions and a tongue that can and often does get me into trouble. This side of me is not the Jules most of you know but every now and then she wants to be heard. So let me introduce you to Controversy Corner – the space on my blog where the bolshier Jules gets the opportunity to say what she thinks about whatever topic takes my fancy. The views expressed in Controversy Corner may not always be the same as yours but that’s okay. We all are entitled to our own opinion and this is mine.

Fat Shaming

There has been a lot of chat this week about Fat Shaming. It started with Loose Women panellist and former singer Jamelia who stated that High Street stores should not stock plus sizes as they would encourage young people to continue to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Instead Jamelia believes that young people who need larger sizes should be made to feel uncomfortable, with the inference that if they feel abnormally large they might be shamed into losing weight. As you might expect there was an immediate and ferocious twitter backlash with woman of all sizes responding with the #wearethey hashtag and tweeting photographs in which they looked fierce and fabulous regardless of the numbers on their labels.

Body shape is a very personal thing. I love the way clothes look on someone who is very thin but has curves. In my dreams, that would be my figure. Some people like a softer more rounded shape, some like to be really very skinny and some prefer a more muscular, athletic shape. Whatever your preference, how you look or aspire to look is obviously your business and none else’s. 

So far, so very obvious!!

Where it becomes less clear cut however is when the choices people make are damaging their health. I have a somewhat unique view as someone who has literally been at both ends of the weight spectrum. I have struggled throughout my life with various eating disorders. 

At one stage in my life I was super skinny but I got there by seriously restricting my food intake and had a ridiculously unhealthy diet. My periods stopped and I could barely run for a bus. Healthy? Not so much! 

And then came the stage where I was at a really healthy weight and to an onlooker would appear to have a very healthy attitude to food. I seemed to eat well – in public at least. In private I binged on huge quantities of super unhealthy food then purged it, sometimes many times a day. My teeth crumbled and my skin, hair and nails snapped. I was a healthy weight – but absolutely nothing else about me was healthy.

And what about now? I no longer purge (much) but I still struggle with binge eating and as a consequence I am overweight – substantially so. Obesity increases the risk of diabetes, strokes, heart disease and many cancers. I am pretty fit, can run 5k without dying but I don’t kid myself that the impact of my weight on my health is anything but damaging.

My point is that although I totally accept that it would be good for my health to lose 30 pounds, the truth is that as a size 16 I am probably the healthiest I have been since I left primary school. If however you tried to shame me into losing that 30lbs, the result would probably be a relapse into my old unhealthy ways with potentially disastrous consequences for my health.

Does that mean I want my daughter to be overweight like me? Absolutely not. My daughter has a beautiful slim figure with curves in all the right places and despite one little slip a couple of years ago, she has an incredibly relaxed attitude to food. She eats what she wants and because she has no issues with weight or food, over time she eats exactly what her body needs, a perfectly balanced diet. 

I strongly believe that whatever you think you know, you cannot make assumptions about someones health based solely on the way they look. Unless you are their doctor, you have no business passing comment on whether in your opinion someone should lose or gain some weight.

In answer to Jamelia, shaming people into losing weight will never work. Encouraging them to obsess about their size or weight will achieve nothing positive. What we should all be striving for is to forget about the numbers. For the sake of our physically and mental health we should all try to love our bodies enough to nourish them and treat them well. 

As I said at the start this is just my opinion. I am not a doctor, a nutritionist or a politician. Everything I have written is my opinion only. Your opinion may be different. If it is then you are entitled to hold it but why not share it with us in the comments below.

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