America’s ‘Fat’ Problem: Ending Discrimination of Overweight People

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 01/14/2014 | 03:00 PM EST

The negative reactions to Gabourey Sidibe’s Golden Globes look says a lot about America’s ‘size-ism’

Though Gabourey Sidibe’s response to all the hate she received for her red carpet look at the Golden Globes was both clever and inspiring, the fact that the world responded in such a hateful way is a stark reminder of America’s “fat” problem (which is a term that needs to be done away with completely).


It was pretty clear that all the jokes and memes directed towards Sidibe had very little to do with her dress (which was actually pretty nice) and everything to do with her body. Body image consciousness is nothing new under the sun - especially in Hollywood. But when it comes to people who are clinically obese or overweight, there’s an extreme bias, if not a morbid fixation with ridiculing them. While there are vehement pushbacks against racism, sexism and homophobia in America, the same cannot be said for what I like to call “size-ism.” Oftentimes when we see people who are overweight being defended, it’s usually out of political correctness and not out of a passionate concern for the discrimination of people who fall outside of the spectrum for what is considered an attractive body type.


It seems as if campaigns geared towards curbing obesity in this country and educating Americans on nutrition and healthy eating has somehow only fueled what was already a huge societal issue, which is the othering and shaming of people who are not considered “normal” size. But when we’re talking about healthier living, it’s important that we also talk about self-esteem and America’s jaded beauty standards.


Where’s the national outcry for the bullying of people who are oversize? Where are the campaigns like “Big Girls Rock” to improve the self-esteem of young girls who feel they are not pretty or smart enough because they happen to have a larger body mass?


While it’s great to have role models like Sidibe, Queen Latifah and the like to show young girls (and even boys) that you can be fabulous and successful in any body type, it doesn’t even scratch the surface in ending what is a pervasive prejudice against voluptuous and heavier people - though we’ve seen people like Mo’Nique do their best to build their self-worth and encourage them to love themselves.


It’s time we begin reshaping our perception of attractiveness and redefine the way in which we engage beauty. It could do the world of good.

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