There are a number of fat activist writers in the fatosphere who do a better job at talking about what is right and what is wrong with our society when it comes to equality for plus size women and men. Generally I like to leave it to them; because, well, they do it so well. A few of my favorites include Paul at Big Fat Blog, Kate at Shapely Prose and Rachel from The F-Word (see related links below for a listing of my favourite fat blogs).
I did want to take a few minutes to highlight some fat stereotypes that seem to be coming through my in-box but before that I think it's important to look at what a "stereotype" is. According to Merriam-Webster online, it means to have "a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment". Basically it is when you assume that everyone in a specific category is the same... or if one does it then they all do. Here are a few common fat stereotypes (in no particular order):
* Fat adults were once fat kids. Not true. Do some fat kids grow up to be fat adults? Yes. Do some grow up to be slim adults? Yes. Do some slim kids grow up to be fat adults? Definitely. To assume that all fat adults were once fat kids is a stereotype. Don't do it.
* Fat people don't get laid (or they just like dirty sex). Yes, fat people like to have sex and some of them have a lot of it too. It's wrong to assume that fat people don't have sex. Many fat people are in loving relationships that involve sex. It's also wrong to assume that all fat people are into some kind of freaky fetish like sex. Don't do it.
* Fat people don't exercise. This is a huge stereotype. Fat people exercise (heck, I constantly seem them out walking). Do all fat people exercise? No. But there are lots who put in way more exercise than their skinny counterparts. To assume fat people don't exercise is wrong. Don't do it.
* Fat people don't diet. Yes, fat people diet. Many got fat because of the yo-yo dieting syndrome (lose weight, gain weight, lose weight, gain more weight). To assume all fat people don't diet or think about what they eat is wrong. Don't do it.
* Fat people only eat fast food. Yes, there are a great portion of people who live on fast food. But guess what... not all of them are fat. And not all fat people survive on a diet of fast food. It's so wrong to assume that they do. Don't do it.
* Fat people are uncontrollable eaters. Some are, but not all. I also know some skinny people who practically eat all day (and I don't mean their fruits and veggies). Don't assume that all a fat person does is eat, eat, eat. It just isn't true. Could fat people make better food choices? Sure, so could we all.
* Fat people aren't healthy. Not all fat people are healthy. Just like not all slim people are healthy. Fat people can have good cholesterol, blood pressure and be diabetes free. Being fat doesn't mean that their future is headed toward these things either. Assuming fat people aren't healthy or won't be for long is wrong. Don't do it.
* Fat people make poor employees. To assume that fat people are lazy and unproductive because they are fat is wrong on so many levels. Are some fat people lazy and unproductive? Sure. So are some slim people. Fat people can be talented, educated, hardworking individuals who make loyal employees. Don't assume the worst of fat people. Hire a fat person today!
* Fat people are stupid. Ok, if you assume that then you're... I won't go there. Don't do it.
* Fat people smell. Sure, they smell. So does everyone else on the planet. Do all fat people stink? No. Only people who don't bathe stink... fat and slim. Don't assume that all fat people don't bathe.
Fat stereotypes are rude and insulting. The next time you start to make an assumption about a fat person (or anyone else), stop and check yourself. Is it a valid conclusion or just a stereotype you've let yourself believe. Or, if you hear someone making an assumption based on a fat stereotype, correct them. Show them the error of their ways.
Regardless, all people deserve respect, fat, skinny, slim, purple, blue. Show a little. You might be surprised what you get in return.
Read Big Fat Facts.