Posting images of yourself on the internet can be weird – especially as a plus-size person. Reactions range from support over a neutral like to hate comments and awkward fetishizing messages from strangers. While we all know how vulnerable we can make ourselves by posting our bodies, thoughts and feelings, and opinions, this is by no means an invitation to leave unsolicited fat-shaming comments under postings.
Fat-shaming itself is rooted in fatphobia, something that is very common in a lot of cultures. It is a form of bigotry that equates fatness with inferiority, ugliness, and immorality. People feel entitled to leaving fat-shaming comments because by this understanding, everything a person is comes down to their weight. You cannot possibly be successful and fat at the same time. A fat person can absolutely not be beautiful. And a fat person has no morals, eats all day, and generally does not take care of themself. Right?
Many people feel like this because this is what we are taught to believe. But while many people think this way, they don’t quite dare to put it into words. This is where my favorite type of comment comes into play: people who pretend to be concerned about other people’s health due to their weight. Let’s be honest here: no one cares about the health of fat people. It’s a means of hiding discrimination, hate speech, and generally mean comments behind a positive facade. By masking these comments as a concern, people feel like they can voice their negative thoughts safely, pretending to care and to be a good person.
But really, why would they? Why would anyone care about the health of a stranger? Why would anyone feel the need to comment about potential health risks on a stranger’s photo? Why would people only care about the health of fat people? Why do these comments hardly ever appear under the posts of skinny people, of people who fit the norm? Because people could not care less about the health of others. They only comment to point out the weight of others, to have a means of voicing their fat-phobia.
Another thing probably all plus-size people can relate to is the weird fetishization of fat bodies. People don’t want to be seen with a fat person in public but then send anonymous messages and DMs about wanting to touch, feel, and do whatever to fat bodies. They think our bodies are embarrassing but just about good enough to be sexualized.