Mzznaki Tetteh, who lives in Accra, Ghana, recently got engaged to her boyfriend Kojo Amoah. She posted fabulous engagement photos, as many brides do, to her Instagram account. But unlike many brides, she had to deal with strangers who showed up to fat-shame her, claiming reasons from being concerned about how she’ll look in her wedding dress, to being concerned about her partner, to the ubiquitous “just concerned about her health.”
We’ll talk about how these things are bullshit in a second, but right now I want to be clear that even if these people aren’t just pathetic internet trolls (though obviously they probably are,) and even if they actually have strongly held personal beliefs that the things they are typing are true, and even if they think that despite the fact that she is a nurse she needs health advice from strangers on the internet with no qualifications, how on earth would they think that it would be appropriate to bring these things up would be IN RESPONSE TO HER ENGAGEMENT PICTURES. Seriously, what the fuck?
That said, let’s be clear that this is totally bullshit. Not allowing fat people a moment’s happiness or peace is not, and never will be, the path to supporting our “health” and well being. These people seem to think that the fact that they view fat people as nothing but a “before” picture justifies their abhorrent behavior. But they are wrong. We aren’t under any obligation to think of ourselves as “before” pictures. And we don’t owe anyone their idea of an “after picture,” and they have no right to demand it of us, it is not their place. We may not be able to immediately stop pathetic trolls from trolling, but we can all be clear that their actions lack any legitimacy.
This also sheds light on another issue that I want to bring up, which is the misinformation that gets repeated quite bit that suggests that Black women, either in the US or in other cultures, have some cultural protection from sizeism and fat phobia. As Sesali B.point out in her excellent piece “STOP EXCLUDING BLACK WOMEN FROM FAT ACCEPTANCE MOVEMENTS” which I highly recommend you read in its entirety:
It is oft cited and mentioned that studies show that Black women have higher self-esteem and body image. However, high self esteem does not equal less fat-shaming, fatphobia, or other violence against fat Black women. For one, even if it were true that Black communities were more accepting of their fat women (which it isn’t), Black women don’t live in a cultural vacuum where they only engage and are affected by other Black people!
Just in case it’s not crystal clear: When a fat woman posts her engagement pictures, your options for response should be to say “congratulations” or to keep quiet – including and especially if you are nothing but a stranger on the internet.
Congratulations to Mzznaki Tetteh and Kojo Amoah!
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