“That person’s unhealthy.” is probably a phrase you have heard more than once, in regards to somebody’s weight. It is also something that needs to end. Just because a person is plus size, it does not mean they are unhealthy.
Fat shaming is nothing new and, unfortunately, is still a big part of the lives of many people, particularly young women. At a time when young women are already struggling with body image issues, schools sometimes tend to make matters much worse. One Britain-based school has been accused of fat shaming by promoting free Zumba classes to help girls get their bodies “fit for prom.” While the school had not intended to make students feel they were applying anything negative about their bodies, they failed to take into account all the ways such a message could be read.
The fact of the matter is that when people see “plus size body” they automatically relate it to an unhealthy lifestyle and a need to lose weight. This needs to change if the cycle of fat shaming is ever going to end; it needs to be recognized that you can be healthy and happy at any size. It is not just young women that face this dilemma, however.
Ashley Graham, a plus size model-though she hates the term, has been one of the most recent celebrity victims of harsh criticism for her plus size body. Former British MP Edwina Currie describe Graham as looking “unhealthy” and accused the fashion industry of encouraging obesity during an episode of BBC Breakfast. She went on to add that “encouraging obesity was the same as encouraging people to be size zero.”
Graham received further criticism from former Sport’s Illustrated model Cheyrl Tiegs, regarding Graham’s own cover on the magazine. Tiegs told E! News that she disagreed with Sport’s Illustrated for featuring Graham as a full figured model, stating it was “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.”
Graham spoke to E! for the cover debut, and admitted she struggled to accept herself in the beginning. Agents told her that due to being plus size she would not get featured on magazine covers and others even reminded her of the money she could make if she lost some weight, but none of it swayed her. Her biggest hope is that her success will serve as a positive reminder to girls and women alike that beauty is not defined by size.
It is important to think before you speak, and not automatically assume you know a person’s health just by looking at them. People come in all shapes and sizes, and they all deserve respect and compassion. So, before you pass judgement on somebody else, imagine how it would make you feel to be ridiculed, or told you are not healthy just because you do not fit society’s norm. It is people like Ashley Graham that will help lead the call for action, to stop the fat shaming, to stop the judgement, and to show the world just how skin deep beauty truly is.