Humans 101

7 Ways to Uproot Your Anti-Fat Bias

Bias against fat people is on the rise — and it’s harming our health, relationships, and self-esteem

Your Fat Friend
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readMar 2, 2020

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A photo of five sculpture-like human faces.
Photo: Ozgur Donmaz/Getty Images

The conversation is always the same and no less heartbreaking for its familiarity.

After days, weeks, months of talking with their fat friends and family, a straight-size person (that is, someone who doesn’t wear plus sizes) realizes that anti-fat bias isn’t just the work of devoted bigots, bad actors hell-bent on tormenting fat people. Something has clicked into place: She now realizes that the bias lives and breathes within her, too.

Anti-fat bias is, she finally understands, something she’s been perpetuating and replicating without even realizing it or meaning to. Every well-intended weight loss compliment, every “sweetie, no, you’re not fat!” now stings. Everything she’s learned to say now feels wrong, but she doesn’t know how to revise her old scripted lines or what she’d put in their place. And it isn’t just a matter of what she says but how she thinks. She finds herself overwhelmed, longing for somewhere to start, something to absolve her of all this guilt she now believes herself to have earned.

The truth is, there is no checklist of anti-fat bias. There are no tidy steps to an escape hatch, no ejector seat to launch us out of the body-based beliefs we’ve developed. There is only the long, complex work of learning to see each other again. There is only the discipline of holding ourselves to new standards. There is only relearning how to see our humanity reflected in those around us—regardless of their bodies.

Many of us think of ourselves as egalitarians, so acknowledging any biases, even subconscious biases, can threaten our very self-image.

That work is long, complex, and soul-searching, yes, but there are clear starting points and clear measures of progress. There will be moments of epiphany and revelation, moments of divinity and eureka. But despite all that gospel, there is no moment of salvation, no benediction to deliver us from a system that has so meticulously trained each of us in its work. There is only the work of…

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Your Fat Friend
Human Parts

Your Fat Friend writes about the social realities of living as a very fat person. www.yourfatfriend.com