Size-based discrimination, also referred to as fatphobia, is one of the more socially accepted forms of discrimination. However, just because it is socially acceptable does not mean it benefits our world.
Fatphobia, as a word, refers to an abnormal phobia, either of fat in general or of being fat. Fatphobia typically results in some form of discrimination or prejudice against fat people. Typically, some form of blame or belief that fat is a moral failing accompanies fatphobia.
The trick with fatphobia is that it often disguises itself as being “for someone’s own good.” The general population views the constant reminders as beneficial. Members of society view the inability to complete daily tasks without some well-meaning stranger commenting on our bodies as good or at least neutral.
The thing is, it’s not.
Encountering fatphobia has demonstrable health effects, both physical and mental. Living in a world that pathologizes our whole bodies is actually bad for everyone. Though it’s not how the various trolls think it is.
The thing is, there are a lot of different causes of fat, many of which are outside of our control. It goes beyond the tired “calories in, calories out” approach. Today, many health conditions and medications affect metabolism or cause weight gain as a side effect.
Lack of recognition of this fact means the discrimination will likely continue unchecked. Shrinking seats, narrower doors, smaller aisles, and so on affect more than fat people. Yet there’s an assumption of fault these things have happened.
Another example of casual fatphobia occurs in the very medical settings that are supposed to help us. Pretty much every fat person has the experience of walking into a doctor’s office knowing that they’re going to receive the same “lose weight” speech. Only after such weight loss will the doctor do something if the problem (usually unrelated to their joints or muscles) persists.
When we know that every trip to the grocery store invites public judgment and comments on our bodies, is it any wonder we do not get to participate in public life the same way?
As a group, we can do something, though. We can examine our internalized fatphobia, adjust our perspectives, offer our fellow humans grace, choose inclusive event options, and treat our fellow humans like full members of our society.
After all, that’s what Star Trek does.