In October of 2012, I remember both seeing and discussing Jennifer Livingston’s public response to a viewer who fat-shamed her.
Because she’s a celebrity, even if only locally, he felt that he had a right to speak out, to attempt to shame her into being what he considered to be a “more healthy” role-model for the local children – to quote his note, ‘especially the girls.’
One does not have to be a celebrity to have random strangers feel entitled to make comments like this to us. And it isn’t just fat people (even though it seems women in particular hear far more of this kind of bullying about their bodies, men also receive body-shaming), people of all sizes are actually shamed regularly for their bodies not being supposedly perfect in someone’s eyes.
Each and every one of those people who feel entitled to critique other people’s bodies feel justified, because they feel the person’s body is causing them and the rest of humanity harm. It doesn’t matter if it is the issue is about medical costs, the old standby of “won’t someone think of the children?”; or some other pseudo-researched opinion.
This was his response to her televised comments.
The fact that his apology was less than sincere only makes it worse. Even after being told she has a medical condition, he ignores it and states he’s willing to help her lose weight.
He puts up the straw man argument that because HE has experienced struggles with weight his entire life but is able to be considered supposedly of a normal weight, that HER struggle with weight is exactly the same as his – and if she’d only work harder, or do something different, she would get the same results he does.
It doesn’t matter if he were speaking to a thin person or a fat person, it STILL comes from a sense of subjective reality over-writing consensual reality. One person whose metabolism is out of whack due to a genetic malfunction (whether it is out of whack in the way that the person cannot gain weight or in the way that they cannot lose weight) is not the same as a person who has an eating disorder (again, no matter if thin or fat), nor the same as the person addicted to exercise.
And THIS is where the body-shaming is a problem. No stranger can know what is going on inside another person’s head. Hell, even someone intimately close to someone else can rarely know what’s going on inside that someone’s head.
If you follow medical research with any kind of attention, you will find that as we learn more about the human body, those outdated ideas of why someone is fat or why someone is thin are becoming far clearer as myths. There are far more reasons for why someone is fat or thin than we ever were willing to believe. Research is also finding that less than 10% of the population is ever able to intentionally change their weight radically (again, no matter if they’re fat or thin). The only people that are considered able to radically change their weight are those who have a serious illness or injury that forces the change upon them – such as cancer, long term coma, or any number of others.
But your average Joe Schmoe on the street doesn’t want to hear that. Why? Because he/she wants to feel justified and superior to the person who doesn’t look normal.