Thursday, 14 July 2016

Things That Are Not Always Compliments For Fat People

You Forgot Your BullshitA society rife with fat shaming and fat hatred means that often even well meaning attempts at compliments are a swing and a miss, and fat people have to deal with a lot of back-handed compliments.

There are those who feel that we should just be happy that people aren’t outright hating us, but I think it’s worth it to think this through a bit to help those who are really trying to be fat positive, but just missing the mark because they live in a fatphobic society, and expose those who are doling out back-handed compliments on purpose.

That outfit is so slimming!

  • What they might think they are saying:  You look great!
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I think  you look better when your clothes create the optical illusion that you look smaller than you actually are because I think that smaller bodies are inherently better than larger ones.
  • What they could say instead:  You look great!

Good for you for starting a workout program!

  • What they might think they are saying:  I’ll encourage this fat person who is new to working out.
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I make wild guesses about people based on their size, including assuming that this person is a beginner.
  • What they could say instead:  “Hey” while walking by.  Unless someone has a shirt on at the gym that says “tell me about your thoughts about my workout” or they are making all kinds of eye contact, just leave them alone.

You’re so brave to wear that!

  • What they might think they are saying:  You look great!
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I have beliefs about what people your size should wear and you are violating those beliefs.
  • What they could say instead: You look great!

You don’t move like a big person!

  • What they might think they are saying: You are very graceful/athletic.
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I have stereotypes about how people your size move, you don’t fit into those stereotypes.  I’m making you into an exception so I can keep my stereotypes about all the other big people.
  • What they could say instead: You are very graceful/athletic.

You have such a pretty face…

  • What they might think they are saying: Obviously fat bodies aren’t pretty but at least your face is nice.
  • What a fat person might actually hear:  I’m incapable of seeing the beauty in fat bodies, this is a backhanded way for me to say that.  See also “You have such a pretty face, it’s a shame about your body…”
  • What they could say instead: You are beautiful.  Or, compliment something other than what the person looks like.

If you have others, feel free to leave them in the comments!


This year we have a kick ass line up of speakers. This is a virtual conference so you can listen by phone or computer wherever you are, and you’ll receive recordings and transcripts of each talk so that you can listen/read on your own schedule. The Conference will be held September 23-25, 2016

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