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Overweight women don't live for the approval of hateful men

By Fran Hayden

Published 05/12/2015

Fran Hayden
Fran Hayden

As Christmas is approaching, you'd expect to see festive kindness in abundance, but for some London commuters, it seems that the season of goodwill has passed them by.

This week, women on the underground were surprised by the handing out of cards - not celebrating festive cheer, but demeaning and bullying fat women about their size, apropos of nothing.

While we are, as a society, leaning towards a more diverse idea of what bodies should look like, there are still some who take it upon themselves to try and lay down the body-shaming law. This abhorrent practice came to light when commuter Kara Florish tweeted a photo of the card that was handed to her by an anonymous man. Upon reading the card and seeing the vile tripe that it was spouting, social media exploded in defence of the young woman and others who had also been targeted by the so-called Overweight Haters Ltd group.

As a fat and body-positive activist, I am hardly ever surprised by the extent that some people will go to when trying to shame bodies that don't conform, but this one is new to me. There are myriad social pressures forced upon women to look a certain way and to present themselves as carbon copies of one another in order to be valued by a corrupt culture.

The body-positive community works tirelessly to help rewrite these "rules" about body image and teach a new style of positive acceptance, one that it is strong enough to withstand this kind of ignorance.

The Overweight Haters cards have left me with so many questions. Why, when it's continually reported that body image anxiety is tied to suicidal thoughts in teenage girls, is someone happy to attack a woman's image for no reason?

Why, when self-esteem is at a low among young women, would someone care so much about analysing a body that isn't their own?

These cards attempt to demean fat women and make them feel unworthy to go out in public.

Because they are fat and because they are female, they're not allowed to go about their daily lives without being reminded that their appearances should be a pretty performances for others. How affronted those people are when fat women's performances aren't up to scratch.

Fat women have heard it all and we refuse to live by your descriptors any longer. We live, not for the acceptance, or appreciation of mankind, but for ourselves.

Belfast Telegraph

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