T Nation

Fat Shaming: Truth or Feelings?


I’ll just add my two cents on the topic of fat shaming and fat people, although I haven’t yet read the article.

Whenever I see an overweight person, my first thought is that such person doesn’t have much self respect, discipline, and mental toughness. Honestly it’s hard for me to justify a person being fat. Barring a serious mental issue, we ultimately have control over what we put in our mouth (although admittedly, during the hardest dieting period of my life I have had two instances of binge eating where I completely felt like I didn’t have any control over what I was doing) and are responsible for that.

On the other hand, I can’t believe a person right in their mind would ever go up to a fat person and start insulting them out of the blue for being fat. What the hell. If I see a fat person down the street or meet one, I probably won’t have a very good opinion of them, but at the same time I couldn’t care less. BUT, I have no sympathy for fat people. To me, it’s almost 100% their fault.

At the same time, I am aware that my understanding is limited by my own experience. My experience is that of a teenager who realized he didn’t like his body at the age of 15, and transformed it, and keeps working to make it better and better. I was skinny fat, but I was no emotional eater or anything. I was simply a young kid who previously didn’t care for appearance—the moment I started doing so, I took the necessary steps to change it.

But I do realize people can have issues, baggage, maybe even past psychological trauma, and probably discipline isn’t always enough in such contexts. Yet we only have one life to live, so even if I had underlying issues that lead me to overeating, I wouldn’t just delude myself by blaming my problem of them. I’d want to take the necessary steps to fix myself and then do what I need to do nutrition wise.

So yeah, I respect fat people as human beings, but I can’t help but feel they might be weak. But I also think that people who put them down in order to feel better about themselves are just as weak. Seeing as we have free will, we also have the right to judge other people, sure, but having the right to do something doesn’t mean you should be doing it or you are a good and respectable person if you do it.


Your mom is a damn superhero, and I’m not afraid to say it. It’s not easy and if she has managed and maintained a healthy weight? She’s amazing and I tip my hat to her.

I’ll let you win the argument over my “assumption” that people looked at me with disgust. You see it your way, I’ll see it mine.

No, I don’t think you’re a joke…at least not yet. Just making you aware I can be sassy when I want to. :wink:


I’ve never considered it in that light, but I guess you have a very good point. My thoughts have always been that I stand a far higher chance of causing harm than causing good by bringing the subject up. I tend to assume (possibly wrongly) that overweight people realise they are overweight and (definitely wrongly), that they are fully aware of what they should be doing to fix it, should they choose to.

I’ve certainly been in the position where healthy choices have been allowed to slide because they just fall down the list of priorities so I get it. I don’t believe we have a moral obligation to be slim or healthy, and if someone chooses to be overweight, I don’t feel it’s my place to question their life choices.


When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
(John 8:7)

Couldn’t resist.


There’s a way of addressing concern for someone rlse’s serious health problems and risky behavior. Any of you have any addicts in your family? Are any of you former addicts? Is one or more of your kids? Sure you can use some shame without going overboard. However, I’d like to know if any if you think a good tactic would be to make someone feel like dirt or if you’d kick your kid, spouse, or relative to the curb and invite a more attractive, healthier, and sober person into the family.

Maybe some of you have had the fortune to know no one with any vices throughout your life. Good for you then!

I sure as hell will never say a fat, disabled, or addicted person is just as good as or equal to someone without those maladies, but to think kicking a down person will do something is asinine!



I personally consider it a benefit to have grown up with many, many addicts in my life, and to have my family struggle financially. It has had it’s down sides, for sure, but it has opened my eyes to be able to better understand others and have more empathy, than those who never have to deal with those things.

EDIT: Will also add, being a person of color, and dealing with relative’s cancer and other serious illnesses.


This is the part we all overlook. I think the majority of obesity is a psychological issue. Garbage food makes us happy. I’m happy when I eat pizza, ice cream, cake, etc. But I know this things need to be eaten rarely as a treat. Some people turn to their junk food daily. They may not even realize it. They have a bad day at work and get home and grab some Doritos. They feel better.

My wife did that exact thing when she worked at a bank. She gained weight. She noticed it and stopped.

Most people don’t notice it. They eat to cope with various stresses of life (maybe unknowingly). Some decide to change it. Others keep on going in ignorance and once they realize it’s a problem, they’re huge. At that point they’re looking uphill at a mountain and it’s overwhelming. It stresses them out and in a moment of weakness, they cope with food. They feel guilty and think “Why even bother?”

It’s sad. Obesity does appear to be weakness, but the root is usually an unknown psychological issue.

But on that note, if I cope with stress by drinking alcohol then I can become an alcoholic. Everyone frowns at that, but it’s a choice right? What if I give my child some booze to cope with being sad? Child abuse! Call Child services! Arrest him!

What if I give my child a king size Snickers? Not child abuse. It’s nothing. But the reality is that I’m teaching him/her to cope with stress by eating junk foods. I’m setting them up for a life of struggles (mental and physical). Should someone intervene now?


I’m with @BrickHead. Kindness, and not shame is the best way to help the fatties.


Sometimes I’ll throw my addiction/recovery stuff out there in casual conversation just to watch the fireworks. It’s often interesting and educational to drop the A- bomb, and can evoke a lot of very strong and fiercely guarded emotions.

The most telling one is “I knew a guy that was sober. He was a fucking Asshole!”, and I’m just grinning and say “Oh yeah? How so?..”.


Any examples? (Besides the one you wrote.) Just curious.


Examples of what? Dropping the bomb or explosions?


In fairness, if you get a child junkfood dependent and then cut them off cold turkey, they get skinny and sad. If you get them alcohol dependent and then cut them off cold, they can get dead. Similar stories with ODing.

Do concur thought that some families set their kids up for ROUGH futures. Wife saw a family filling up a baby bottle with soda at Costco and it blew her mind. I told her it was sadly more common than she knew.

On the topic of psychology, I honestly think I am far more damaged now than when I was fat, haha.


Bit late to this.

@Despade articles dumb AF. Can’t believe someone wrote that garbage and someone else published it

The replies in this thread are pretty good though


I’m actually a registered dietitian and when I was young, even after becoming an RD, I thought because I was so damn hardcore in the gym and had so much control and discipline about my gym and eating habits that the same could go for non-gym goers in their health habits. Let me not leave out the fact that I lived with my mommy into my 20s, didn’t have a kid at the time, and pretty much had and do have a mid-skilled, non-physical job (I’m not a scientist, surgeon, executive, steel worker, or anyone else drowning in stress and hard labor).

Well, boy did I not see firsthand how complicated life is for most people being the spoiled and depressed jackass I was. I was usually a good, sensitive guy who was aware that life is complicated but didn’t know how much so. That all changed when I got a wife, kid, home, very loving and super-generous in-laws, some relatives dying or in bad spots (eg, addicted), and so on, and working in healthcare and seeing some lousy stuff in that too (diseases, people being drained of finances) I can see why paying attention to food and the damn gym isn’t exactly on some people’s radar at all! Life piles up on people, they eat what’s available or they’re not cognizant of what they’re doing along the way, and boom, they’re fat, addicted, hypertensive , depressed, burnt out, or whatever!

Many times, though I like nearly all here, I might rightfully or WRONGFULLY assume that some here home across as if life went darn smoothly. I only say that for the ones who have particularly smug attitudes who simply can’t see another person’s point of view and actually think life is so damn just or meritocratic or… how they perceive it to be, never even thinking perhaps others have problems, sentiments (yes, even the commonly vilified sentiments of the day), and bad habits because of their experiences.

If you’ve lived a life of great fitness, no problems finding a woman or good friends, abundance from the start, no one around you with vices or disabilities, great neighborhoods and schools, healthy home lives, and so on, great! That’s what I want for my son and future child. But please spare us the social Darwinism, might-is-right, law-of-the-strong, free-will stuff.


Well yes, these experiences can make someone empathetic. The downside is that a person with bad experiences and relatively less resources will likely not achieve what the next man can despite competence, raw talent or ingenuity, kindness or whatever. That goes especially for the current day. There might have been a time a poor boy with all sorts of bad stuff around him became something special, simply from hard work and his inherent ability and indeed it might happen today. But I don’t see this as common now.


I really like this. I also just genuinely like anything you post because, while I have mirror opposite beliefs and viewpoints, a lot of stuff you post converges with, and has a lot of similarities to how I view stuff as well, and this is one of them.
As much I think about it, I’m always met with my brain ultimately going: “And…?”

This part isn’t being directed towards you in particular Pwnisher, but feel free to comment back if you wish, I’m just voicing my own opinion.

Alright… Disclaimer: I’m about to take a sharp left turn in my train of thought. Sorry if what I say makes no sense.

On the other hand,the whole fat shaming thing, In my mind I don’t really see someone as fat. I mean yes they’re carrying around extra weight physically, but there’s a whole being full of emotions, thoughts, and other processes, and I feel like those things are what I’d like to interact with.

They have fat, they aren’t, the fat in and of itself, and I feel like the vast majority of society views it like that when they say “They’re fat, or he/she is fat”. It’s almost as if…well, it might actually BE the case, but I find it to just be a shallow association of physical outward appearances, with someone’s perceived worth as a human being. Idk. Humans, including myself, are all in a general sense, relatable. They’ve experienced happiness, achievements, pain, and suffering. As have I. Let’s talk about that. I could give a shit less about how much body fat they’re carrying. I guess that’s why you can’t see these…things. Stuff you can’t touch. Stuff you have to experience, like what goes on, on the inside of us. Our personalities, our aspirations, the things that scare us, what we don’t understand, etc. No amount of body fat can take away or cover up those abstract things. I guess that’s why we shouldn’t judge, or at the very least, be indifferent enough to not project those basic human instincts to attack anything different from what we view as “normal” or “acceptable” in a physical sense. If we take away the physical stuff, we’re just left with this energy of existence and the experiences of our emotions and rationale, that I’m willing to bet wouldn’t even be distinguishable from one to the next.

I know we’re talking about fat shaming, but I feel this way about an overwhelming amount of subjects in life.

So yeah, fuck all that shit.


I will have to find the exact quote, but Schopenhauer had a piece on man as a social creature. It talked about how there would be 3 reactions for a human encountering another human in the wild. One would be to see the other human, recognize the similarities between each other and go “that is like me” and form a kinship/government. The second would be to be revolted at the appearance of a human and say “Not like me!” and attack. The third would be to legitimately not recognize what a human was, and to just ignore it and move on.

What you prescribe is the first idea; see the similarities. Many feel they are doing option 3 but instead fall within option 2. Obesity is simply a physical manifestation of one of our many failures as a species, and many would rather not be reminded of their common kinship with this group, as it implicates that they too are subject to the same failures.

Edit: Also, thank you for the kind words.


I view overweight people as regular people until they’re very, very obese, at which point I start worrying about what must have precipitated it and what allows the maintenance of it in today’s world of readily available and relatively safe surgeries and medications.

I view fit people similarly as just regular people until they’re very, very fit, at which point I wonder at their ability to schedule enough time to work out at the level they must. My husband and I did a bicycle wine tour thing in the Napa Valley a couple of years ago and the the wife of the other couple, who doesn’t work, was right around my age and my total body-ideal. And I thought “wow, that’s what I’d look like if I had time to play at the gym.” Obviously there’s more to it than time - I lack the motivation to pass on other things in order to do more than hit it as best I can in a home gym at 6 am. I have a couple of friends who were stay-at-home moms and never went back to work for one reason or another, and none of them are shredded - in fact the two that come to mind are overweight - but I strongly suspect I would be. Like the woman from the wine tour, I’d be in a running club and planning charity runs, and I’d join a gym rather than do it at home because I’d want the social contact.

So that’s what I think. I also most definitely subscribe to “let he who is without sin throw the first stone,” and that leaves me little room to judge anything others do that hurts only themselves. Sure, sure society with their medical costs, but I risk my knees on the treadmill and how many posters here are dealing with fucked up shoulders from lifting? How many threads would pop up if I searched?

The last thing I would say is that those of us who are able to maintain ideal body weights and/or superior fitness should be too busy counting our blessings to judge others. From my mother, who would say “what are you doing?” when she saw me getting a third cooking, then tell me that if I was hungry I should eat real food, to my genetic makeup, to the fact that my adulthood has been spent in relative affluence: _

“Oh, my foot is hurt and I can’t use my $1500 treadmill? SHOOT. Better buy a rower. Looks like Concept II is THE rower to get, so I’ll get one of those as a backup to the treadmill.”

“Oh, the dumbbells are so cold in the winter! It hurts my hands to use them! I’ll just relocate them to a warmer part of the house since I have plenty of room for my fitness shit because I don’t live in a cramped apartment. No need to keep them in the room I like to keep cold because running at 52 degrees is so nice!”

“Oh, it’s so hot upstairs on the treadmill now that it’s summer. I’d like to stop by Home Depot and pick up a window a/c so I can put it right in front of my treadmill. I’ll turn it on a half hour before I work out so it’ll be nice and cool when I run.”

“Say, a nice side-benefit to having the a/c in is that the neighbors won’t be as disturbed by the music I blast through my Bose speakers with the windows open in the pre-dawn. (Maybe they’ll stop complaining, lol.)”

As my mother also used to say, “Keep your eyes on your own plate and don’t worry what other people are doing.”


Is there actual fitness shaming, as in people literally making critical statements to fit people about their fitness, or are some people just annoying?

Telling someone, “you know you want this Big Mac and fries instead of your chicken and rice,” is a heckle, not shaming.” Or are people actually saying stuff like, “how dare you walk around like that, looking fit and well built. Don’t you know a trim waist can lead to terrible consequences?”

I’ve been ANNOYED by others over half my life a events with food. How many times have I heard, “You can eat that?” While eating like a “normal person” (which is not eating “clean” foods) or just being pestered about it the whole gym thing. People say harmless corny crap all the time! It’s not shaming!

Seemingly every group in the current day is gunning for the greatest victim status. I’m not surprised many fitness buffs do this though.


This happens the me every winter :rofl::rofl::rofl: