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Back You are here: Home Feminism & Pop Culture Feminism & Pop Culture Apparently fat shaming is worthy of an award

Apparently fat shaming is worthy of an award

FatshameA large man was held up to the public as an example of what not to be, and by rewarding the creator of the image, the message was sent that fat shaming is a positive, no matter how emotionally harmful this is for fat people, writes Renee Martin.

11 June 2011




This image recently won a Clio award, and apparently the space was sold before the man was revealed completely in the nude. What I find completely disgusting, is that it suggests that the nudity of a fat man is something that we should fear; that it would be unspeakably horrifying. To make its point, the advertisement is absolutely dependent upon fat hatred.

This kind of public shaming is something we normally see aimed at women. Even now advertisers are busy pitching us healthy food and gyms so that we can have so called bikini ready bodies.

This advertisement plays on the same theme. Fat people are expected to disappear from public view because our bodies are supposedly disgusting. No matter the weather condition, only being covered from head to toe to ensure no visible skin is deemed appropriate, in order to avoid upsetting others with our unseemly flesh. It has absolutely become normalized to express disgust at the sight of a fat person.

The advertisement also suggests that nothing could be sexually appealing about this man. Picture the same image, but with someone like Iam Sommerhadler, Alexander Skarsgård, Blair Underwood or any man that is understood to be conventionally attractive. Do you believe that they would be encouraging us to stop him from undressing, or using his body to sexually excite the viewer?

When it comes to male physical beauty, one must have a tight ass, washboard stomach and be somewhat muscular. The man in the image looks nothing like this and therefore being physically attracted to him is understood to be an impossibility.

Fat bodies are the antithesis of what we understand as erotic. This is particularly why fat men are understood not to be masculine. In fact, it is the desexualization of their bodies that in large part that encourages the feminization of fat men.

It really is not shocking that such a hateful advertising campaign was selected for an award. If we are completely honest, there is nothing innovative about the spread, and so this award was given for the fact that it conformed to body essentialism through the shaming of fatness.

Just as we are shamed anytime we step outside of what are deemed to be social norms, we are rewarded when we comply, because this helps to maintain the hierarchy of bodies. This man was held up to the public as an example of what not to be, and by rewarding the creator, the message was sent that fat shaming is a positive, no matter how emotionally harmful this is for fat people.

The solution to the end of these sorts of attacks is not for fat people to lose weight, but for skinny people to grow a freaking heart. Very few meet the physical standard that has become normalized and even those people quickly find that as they age their ability to conform becomes compromised.

These standards that we have created are false and harmful. They send us chasing after a dream physic that in many cases is unachievable, while suggesting that we cannot live full and complete lives until we find a way to conform.

Personally I say live for today and get on with it. The person who is obsessed with shaming is probably only covering for the fact that they are rife with insecurities. That is the irony of all of this shaming – it is born of insecurity.

Renee Martin is a committed humanist who believes in the value of people over commodities. She is a pacifist, anti-racist, woman of color who runs the blog Womanist Musings.

This article was first published at Womanist Musings and is reproduced here under a Creative Commons licence.



0 #5 Aaronymous 2011-06-23 16:43
Yeah, when I saw this, I thought "Ugh, what a sleaze-ball," not "Ugh, what a fatty."

I don't think it was JUST the fact that he's overweight that's supposed to gross people out.
0 #4 JC 2011-06-14 19:27
You know, whilst I don't disagree with your position, I think the execution of this ad could have worked perfectly well had someone like Iam Sommerhadler been used. And, funnily enough, with that context it would have 'meant' something completely different - in fact something more playful.

If you consider that position then this ad may have been more about bashing stereotypes rather than just 'fat people'. In fact - from that perpective it's worse!

The implication in that image is that "overweight men are sleazy pigs" - look at the look on his face; I would go so far as saying that this ad is anti-male - it's not just about being fat!

I hate to say it, but if you're looking for easy examples of how humanity is going down the toilet then looking at advertising industry awards is probably going to be one of your first ports of call.

0 #3 Breeze Harper 2011-06-12 23:19
Thanks for the article.

I wanted to let you know of a new book coming out this fall. I'm interested in it because of the fatphobia and 'obesity scare' that comes out of the alternative foods movement rhetoric in the USA (vegetarianism, veganism, localvorism, etc).

Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism (California Studies in Food and Culture)
Julie Guthman (Author)
0 #2 Cristy 2011-06-12 19:22
As I posted when I shared this on Facebook...
Society, as it stands, deserves a huge thunderbolt square in the temporal lobe.
Healthy minds lead to healthy societies... of which one, we are not.
Thank you for this post!
0 #1 Dana Lee 2011-06-11 12:32
hellva blog. david benzaquen put the link on facebook, glad he did. awesome work, hats off to you.

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