Finding the Woman Within: Just Say No to Fat Shaming

Updated on September 19, 2017
Are plus size women's bodies public domain? To be scrutinized and criticized?
Are plus size women's bodies public domain? To be scrutinized and criticized? | Source

Here's something I bet you "regular" sized people didn't know: If you ever order any type of plus-sized clothing from one company, you will suddenly get catalogs from every other plus-sized company.

Yesterday I got one titled the "Woman Within," as if there is some skinny woman hidden inside my plus sized body, just waiting to get out.

Not the most inspiring name ever.

Plus-size women do not get a break. Ever. We are constantly being reminded that we are bigger. Different. Other.

We can't go to "regular" stores and buy clothes. We must find the "women's" stores. "Women" being a euphemism for fat.

While sports stores may gladly carry larger sizes in men's workout gear, the women's stops at a size 10. Stubbornly, Defiantly. The message is clear: If you're over a size 10, don't even bother.

Weight Is Complicated

Even in light of more and more research that explains that weight is complicated, nuanced. That eating the same food can have vastly different effects on different people, we are still shamed. We still suck in our stomach, try to make ourselves smaller in those already too-small airline seats. We eat less and we still don't lose.

We might even gain.

We avoid doctors because the first thing they see is weight, before any tests are run. (Tests that show that...shock...We may actually pretty healthy.) We are peddled shakes and salads and when those don't work we are shamed more.

It must be our fault. No one is bigger unless they are neglectful and slovenly. No one is big unless they willfully choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle. It's just so easy if you'd just try.

We hear that message everywhere, every day, and it weighs on us. On our value. On our worth as women.

Why is what a woman eats a part of public discourse?
Why is what a woman eats a part of public discourse? | Source

Food Control

I recently had a conversation with a good friend who is far from plus size. But she has some interesting insights about weight.

She explained about her family, how she was raised to be conscious of every bite that went into her mouth. How a pound gained was a tragedy. She told me that as she got into adulthood she found herself echoing that philosophy by strictly choosing the food her family ate and obsessing over fat grams and calories. Until one day she'd had enough.

She decided to stop. She decided that it was making her life miserable. She described how she has discovered eating. How she is enjoying food. How she has gained weight and feels better. Her energy is there again. She feels better than she's ever felt.

Yet, in all that, she says that she knows as soon as she goes back to her doctor she'll be scolded for her weight gain, and she dreads it even as she is defying it.

Feeling good is less important than looking good. A message that's been handed to women for centuries and one that we have bought and embraced as our own.

Skinny Isn't Always Healthy. Fat Isn't Always Unhealthy.

Even as I write this I know there'll be the detractors. The ones with the firm tight abs, the strict workout regimens, and the healthy vegan diet. And there's nothing wrong with that path.

But what is wrong with a different path? What if I want to be able to eat regular portions of the food I like? What if my plus sized body is healthy? What if health is more complicated than a number on the scale?

What if I enjoy a nice walk in the evening but have no desire for a three hour workout.

And why must my worth as a woman be boxed into shame for my body if it falls outside your outward definition of beautiful?

What if I have energy, health and happiness despite my inability to get below a size 14? What if I eat regular portions, exercise, and still don't lose weight?

Ideals of beauty change over time yet a woman is supposed to conform to whatever the current ideal is.
Ideals of beauty change over time yet a woman is supposed to conform to whatever the current ideal is. | Source

Anytime there is an attempt to begin to define beauty beyond weight, there is the detraction, the fake sympathy.

  • "I just want you to be healthy and feel good."
  • "I do feel good and I am healthy."
  • "There is no way you can be at that size."
  • "But I am!"

And there is always the subtle reminders, like catalogs that suggest there is a "woman within" that remind me that I am other. I am a woman but an offensive version of one.

I have to struggle with limited clothing choices. Overpriced options that are cheaply made just because I'm a captive audience.

I have to endure the scrutinizing of my food choices. Should you be eating that? Wouldn't a salad with no dressing be better?

I have to deal with the mental anguish of finally working up the guts to go to the doctor for routine care only to leave in disgust after being peddled an MLM weight loss shake.

No physical exam was made. Just a number and a judgement. Blood tests only after the fact. Those same tests that let you know that I actually have really good numbers and appear to be rather healthy.

Looks matter more than health. Always. Don't forget it!

The Fun of Fat Shaming.

Fat shaming is fun. It makes the shamers feel better about any of their own flaws whether those are internal or external.

Look at how they live. Look at those choices. We laugh at the "People of Walmart" photos because they are not us. We don't wear those too-tight clothes or have rolls of fat hanging over our pants as we putter around the store in scooters. Thank goodness I'm not those people.

But we are those people. Every one of those people has a story. Yes even fat people are people. Putting aside the link between poverty and obesity, our willingness as a society to dismiss someone's humanity based on their outward appearance is not only prevalent, it's encouraged.

Some Resources For Body Positive Attitude.

  • The Body Is Not An Apology: This is a great website that fights discrimination of people for all kinds of reasons including weight and disability. It's about seeing people as people.
  • The Fat Nutritionist: Her message is simple yet inspiring. Health at every size. Among other things she calls for doctors to start understanding the true health of patients and not just their weight.

How do we stop making people, women especially, apologize for their weight? How do we shift the focus from outward to inward? How do we see health as nuanced and subtle? How do we make plus sized women not feel like "other?"

So, as Shakespeare says, "there's the rub."

How Can We Fight It?

I fully realize that we live in society that is external, where appearance is everything. Where it's okay to have curves as long as they are exaggerated and sexualized (ala Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj).

But there are little things you can do to emphasize yourself as a person and not a number on a clothing tag or a scale.

For one, you can surround yourself with better people. People that may be skinny, fat, short, tall or in-between but who see you as someone of value no matter your size. Find people who worry less about what you are eating and more about who you truly are.

While it would be nice if we could change media and their air brushed depictions of women, that's not likely to happen. Instead we should celebrate that people, as humans, are very diverse.

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong or bad about being a smaller sized person either. There are beautiful people. Gorgeous. Wonderful to look at. Makes you wonder just how genetics could come together that perfectly. And many of them are smart and talented and truly wonderful people.

And some of those people are thin. And some are not.

And there are other people. People who are not meant to be gazed at as if they were some type of art. But rather they are interesting. They are funny and smart. They make the best lasagna anyone has ever tasted. They can knit the most wonderful creations. They can write. They can teach. They can inspire.

I want to live in a world that just stops for a moment and realizes that diversity applies to not only ethnicity but also to size.

You can perpetuate the problem or be part of the solution.

The choice is up to you.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 L C David


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • profile image


        4 years ago

        Amen sista!

      • MyFiveKids profile image

        Brandon Hart 

        4 years ago

        After having many kids my wife's body certainly isn't the same as it was when we were married. That being said I grown to love her for the sacrifice she's made. To me she still looks great. A lot of us guys prefer plus size women with their curves and appeal.

      • MHiggins profile image

        Michael Higgins 

        4 years ago from Michigan

        A well deserved HOTD! Very nicely written.

      • fpherj48 profile image


        4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        Excellent hub. Wonderful message. I happen to agree with you wholeheartedly.

        Genetics has so much to do with this matter what size we're discussing. We are who and what we are. Amen. Somehow the "perceptions" have got us all doubting that we are "OK" just as we are.

        My own personal message to all my sister-grandmas out there: "You might have been slight & slender, dainty & thin as a young woman....but it is terribly unrealistic and disillusioning to think that we will ALWAYS remain that way. To tell you the truth, per mother nature, we're not even designed nor intended to be that way.

        Those "additional" 30 to 40 lbs are in the stars for us. Genetics, hormones, activities, lifestyle....the day arrives, like it or not.

        Just remember to continue to like YOU!!!."......UP++++ Peace, Paula

      • savvydating profile image


        4 years ago

        One of the best hubs I've come across, ever! Absolutely fabulous. BTW, I didn't realize a 14 was plus size. I thought it was average. Well, anyway, who cares. I hope all the fat-haters and naysayers read this hub and feel ashamed. Luckily for me, my mom was fat. I never thought anything of it and I've raised my son to feel the same way. Never will you hear him lecturing someone who is "overweight." It's all about the love people. Of course, size 14's can be healthy---and curvy too. Thanks for writing this excellent hub of the day, and congratulations! Up, awesome.

      • eilval profile image


        4 years ago from Western Cape , South Africa

        Love the message you bring across ; congrats on HOTD !

      • twoseven profile image


        4 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

        Really well written. This is such an important perspective and you point out something that all of us women can relate to whether we are plus size or not: Why is what a woman eats a part of public discourse?

        This is such a huge issue, and I think you present it in a really accessible way. I agree the focus should be on health and how much energy and happiness a person feels, not how people think women should look.

      • Thelma Alberts profile image

        Thelma Alberts 

        4 years ago from Germany and Philippines

        Congratulations on the hub of the day. Well done. I was once thin and I used to hear that I was sick because of that but I was healthy. I felt great. I gain 5 kilos after marriage and those "friends" still said I was thin. LOL! Now, I know. They felt fat themselves when they were with me. It was not me, sick. It does not really matter how heavy you weight, it is how you feel and happy you are.

      • MandiGirl profile image


        4 years ago from Arkansas

        Awesome article! Thank you so much for writing it. I'm a plus size woman myself and I can identify with a lot of what you said. We are all beautiful in our own way!

      • CatherineGiordano profile image

        Catherine Giordano 

        4 years ago from Orlando Florida

        You did a marvelous job with this topic. You definitely deserved HOTD. Keep on being you.

      • poetryman6969 profile image


        4 years ago

        Sometimes it's who you choose to listen to. Just as we should not hang around negative people, I think we should probably avoid negative websites and such. For instance, on Facebook I follow the folks who post things about curvy girls or plus sized models. They are always positive and the models looks sexy and great!

        There is a problem though if you look at too many sexy big girls. Sometimes, if you go on pinterest and look at what all the young woman are pinning it can be almost horrifying how skinny the models these young women are trying to look are. You kind of wonder how any mentally balanced woman could want to look so emaciated.

      • Millionaire Tips profile image

        Shasta Matova 

        4 years ago from USA

        Congratulations on HOTD. I am short, so I completely understand. There is less space for the distribution of fat on my body, so my portion sizes have to be smaller than someone who is taller. I think that it is good to try to be healthy - eat healthy foods, exercise, etc., but you're right, people shouldn't be judging other people based on their weight. Even on TV, it is perfectly acceptable to tell fat jokes.

      • pcharboneau profile image


        4 years ago from Oklahoma

        I love your humorous writing style. You are right, women can be plus-sized and healthy. I work out and am overweight, but men still find me sexy. A lot of it is how you feel about yourself, too. If you feel good and have a lot of energy, don't worry about what others think.

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 

        4 years ago from Dubai

        Great hub and congratulations on the HOTD.

      • Victoria Lynn profile image

        Victoria Lynn 

        4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

        Congrats on HOTD. What a great message! I need to lose about 30 lbs, and I berate myself every day. I needed to hear this. Sharing!

      • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

        Lisa Marie Gabriel 

        4 years ago from United Kingdom

        Awesome! As someone who has a genuine big frame size - feet, head, hands, shoulder width etc etc - I fully relate to the problems here. Well stated. No amount of shaming will combat genetics and a big boned muscular body type.

      • mary615 profile image

        Mary Hyatt 

        4 years ago from Florida

        Congrats on HOTD! I come from a long line of overweight women! Even my four daughters battle constantly over their weight. They are forever on diets, and that worries me. I'd rather see them happy and overweight than unhappy and overweight.

        I even battled the weight problem until I went through menopause. Now I eat anything I like without gaining weight.

        So, be happy with yourself and enjoy life.

      • LongTimeMother profile image


        4 years ago from Australia

        Hi LCDWriter. Congratulations on HOTD!

        I am not plus-size, but I would also be offended if I received anything titled 'Woman Within'. I am the woman I am - as are you. :)

      • mySuccess8 profile image


        4 years ago

        Worldwide, the proportion of overweight women (and men) have been increasing. You have provided an interesting look at obesity (or overweight) in women from different perspectives, other than becoming major global heath risk factors. Plus-size women can also be successful, happy, and beautiful, as long as they are healthy. There are many natural ways to look and stay good, other than weight considerations. Really enjoyed reading this well-written Hub. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

      • North Wind profile image

        North Wind 

        4 years ago from The World (for now)

        @bravewarrior - I just read an article that studied Japanese people who live long and it was discovered that those who lived to be ripe old ages were somewhat overweight in their fifties. Just a tidbit that you might find interesting.

        @L.C. David, I have to say that I do not generally read the HOTD but your title was intriguing and here I am. Society has become focused on the outside rather than on the inside and I believe that women and men, regardless of size, struggle with the pressures of how they are supposed to look outside a lot more than the average person thinks. You would be surprised to know how many people hate themselves because of their looks and they are not overweight either. It could be something as simple as a scar or it could be a nose. It does not matter. That is why plastic surgery is so successful. People just want to feel accepted by the society that tells them they have to look a certain way.

        The result is an obsession with the superficial and not the everlasting which is a great shame.

        I appreciate you sharing your experience.

        Very interesting hub!

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        4 years ago from sunny Florida

        Well done. It is so sad to see the ugly that comes out in folks who see someone who is overweight. Sadder still to see the little ones with them who hear what is said and model it!!! Heart breaking.

        Congrats on HOTD

        Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

      • lisavollrath profile image

        Lisa Vollrath 

        4 years ago from Euless, Texas

        If there's a skinny woman inside me, it's because I ate her to shut her up!

        I come from a long line of short, round, Italian women. All of my cousins and aunts have the same body shape I do. Yes, I could lose a few pounds, but I'm never going to be a size 2. Healthy and thin, I'm still a size 10, and I'm OK with that.

        My doctor is OK with my size, as well, because I'm vegan, and my cholesterol numbers are good. I'm really lucky to have found a doctor that understands that one size doesn't always fit all.

      • jlpark profile image


        4 years ago from New Zealand

        I really really like this hub! Thank you for writing and sharing it.

        I had a gastric bypass almost 10years ago, because I was unhappy with where I had got to with my weight, and nothing I tried would shift it - and I know that you'll understand when I say "believe me, I TRIED".

        I lost quite a bit with the surgery, and kept it all off.....for a bit. I'm now probably a bit heavier than I 'should' be, but I'm happy, I'm healthy, and that's all that matters. Sure, its nice to see a smaller number on the scales (should i feel like stepping on them), but it really doesn't matter anymore.

        BUT the thing is - I still see myself as overweight, fat if you will - not in the mirror so much, but in my mind. Funnily enough, my mother has had similar surgery 31yrs ago, but she said she still feels the same.

        I think fat and skinny shaming needs to stop - shaming of those who need to point out difference should start.

      • OldRoses profile image

        Caren White 

        4 years ago

        I'm sorry that you are made to feel badly about your appearance. You are correct. It's not your fault. I see from your photo that you are a young woman. I am much older than you. When I was a child, people were much thinner than now. Food was healthy and mostly prepared at home. Calorie laden convenience foods which make up most of today's diet were scarce and very expensive. And portions were much, much smaller than now.

        Fat shaming is nothing new. It existed when I was young. My parents were raised during the Depression when food was scarce, so they forced their children to eat more than they should. Seconds were mandatory. Hence I was heavier than my peers and teased about it every day. When I moved out of my parent's home, I went in the opposite direction and became anorexic.

        Food has been a battleground for me for my entire life. I love to cook, but I don't enjoy eating.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        4 years ago from Central Florida

        This is awesome, LCD. I was thin and trim most of my life. Now I'm 30 pounds overweight. I'm also in my latter 50's, which has much to do with it, I think. My friends don't treat me any differently, but I hate the way I look. I'm not used to the change. I'm trying to adopt the it-is-what-it-is attitude, but find it difficult. Something I need to work on, for sure.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)