Body Shaming, and the Secret to Effective Weight Loss

It’s the weekend. I’m supposed to be relaxing. And yet it would appear that things like this, and this, and this happen to me on weekends. And today, it seems, is no exception. So I’m just going to get right on in there and commence my rant. Let’s do this.

I am ridiculously tired of people being fat shamed “for their own good.” I am over it. I am sick to the back teeth of watching women looking miserable in their underwear on a white background while they’re led through a list of their own flaws. And I was utterly amazed to catch part of a show called Fat Families this morning wherein a douchebag presenter got two overweight women to strip down to their skivvies so he could zoom in on their imperfections with a tiny camera and force them to look at it on a big screen.

That’s in between voiceovers, I should add, where he describes them as “chubsters” and “lardies.” And it’s just before this lovely bit where he declares that a woman’s tearful response of “God, yes it’s awful. I feel sick. That is just absolutely disgusting. My legs! I look like a great big fat sumo wrestler. Honestly, I didn’t know I looked like that” to a photo of herself in her knickers to be “just the reaction I wanted.”

Stay classy, asshat.

My response, then, is this:

Screw Fat Shaming

That’s me. I’m imperfect. Even after losing 140lbs, my body is flawed and scarred and definitely not acceptable for public viewing. It’s not “perfect” enough to put on the front of a magazine in a bikini, and it’s not “fat” enough to fit into the other socially acceptable vision of the woman in pants – the kind looking despondently at her own “ugly” self.

For every stereotype, it’s wrong – and I really do not care.

Further to that, I would like to raise the following point:

Stomach

See that? That’s my stomach. Belly. Tum.

I am 99% sure had I been on that show, he’d have probably spontaneously combusted at the idea that you can love something that “utterly disgusting.” I mean, eww. It’s got stretch marks and saggy skin.

But y’know what?

I am not ashamed of that. Not even a tiny little bit. It’s my damn body and I love it. And that’s why I’m putting it out there.

I tried to take more photos of my imperfections to further prove this point, but I realised two things in the process. Firstly, that it is incredibly difficult to take a photo of your own butt, and secondly, that I am proud of pretty much all of it. I’m the buddha of body confidence these days. What might be imperfections to some are just me, to me, because I’m not buying into all this shaming crap.

I am done with that.

And that’s why I’m here in my pants. Again. This is my imperfect ‘after’ shot, not airbrushed to show the product of weight loss is perfection; rather, purposefully not airbrushed to show that the product of weight loss, for me in particular, was learning to love the imperfections instead.

Because that’s the secret.

It’s not shaming people “for their own good” or to “help them” to improve their health. It’s not making them guilt-starve for a bit, in between begrudgingly stomping on the treadmill as a punishment for their failures as people whilst surrounded by images of their “ugly” naked bodies.

In fact, that’s a situation in which they’re set up for defeat – because the second they “cheat,” they’ve failed not only as people (for getting fat in the first place) but also as dieters. Which means they’ll probably return to the source of the problem, and comfort eat their way back to where they started. And even if they do succeed in losing the weight, they’ll get there with a boost in self-confidence as a result of losing the weight – but a whole bunch of negative associations around their own body, and everything that’s “wrong” with it. Their body image is still tied up in the idea of being thin, perfect, and probably a certain number on the scales. You know how mad that sh*t makes me.

I have a problem with this kind of body shaming – the kind that takes the moral high ground because it’s for the benefit of the “chubsters” (I still cannot believe that, by the way) – because it creates a kind of disconnect between you and your body that means you’re starting out in a state of tension. When you declare “I hate my body,” even among friends – or when you let some asshat with a camera force you into a pit of self-loathing and despair – you’re setting up your mind and your booty as separate things. This doesn’t do you any good.

In fact, this is why, over the last year, I’ve talked a lot about weight loss, granted – but also about snarking, and body image, and positive thinking. These things are all totally, inextricably linked. Because the big secret to weight loss is getting over your flaws, and learning to love them. When you can look at your body with positive eyes, it’s a lot easier to eat the right foods, and exercise, and do all the other things you have to do to lose weight. It just makes sense, because you like your body, and you want it to function as well as possible. Simple.

But so we’re clear – there’s a very strong possibility you’ll never be perfect in the media sense. Unless you’re going to give up your day job and make looking good your career – which, let’s face it, is the case for most celebrities – or until someone invents Photoshop Goggles, you’re never going to look like anyone on the front of a magazine. Even if you lose weight, there will still be things that would be chopped off or rubbed out by the evil eye of the Cosmo/Glamour/Trash artistic director – because you’re not going to be perfect.

And that is absolutely fine. You’re awesome, and when you realise that, you’ll be happier – no matter what size you are. So let’s stop fat shaming. Let’s stop body shaming. In fact, let’s just stop shaming full stop.

Unless it’s towards the guy on Fat Families.

Asshat.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Heather 1 June, 2013

    Amen. I want to get healthy, but in the meantime, I. AM. NOT. ASHAMED. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • comment avatar Leisha 1 June, 2013

    You are right, you should be absolutely in love with your body. Thank you for putting yourself and your words out there. Brava!

  • comment avatar Nicole Hernandez 1 June, 2013

    On every picture of a big woman posing in her undies I see comments that say, “You know, all of you who say ‘good for you to not be scared to bare it all’ should be ashamed of yourselves. It’s your complimenting that kind of attitude that makes it continue! Her health is ruined, and you give her no reason to become a better version of herself. She needs to lose weight and re-gain her health.” So… after reading that an exorbitant amount of times I came to the realization. If it was a woman in the bowels of anaorexia or bulimia baring it all for the world to see. The comments would look like this, “Damn, she’s hot!” If anyone would make one comment about “But don’t give her a reason to continue her bad habits and poor lifestyle.” You would be slammed with the, “I don’t care her lifestyle if she looks like that!” No doubt about it. All these women posing semi-nude smoking cigarettes aren’t getting comments, “Hey you should be posting anything positive about her until she re-gains her health and stops smoking.” NO! Because NOBODY CARES. That is just a LAME EXCUSE to be DISCRIMINATORY against people without PERFECT bodies. So if you have that idea about life. Get some re-education and learn about what I call, “shape-ism.” You are a “shapist.” Like a racist, but a shapist.

  • comment avatar Amanda Bruce 2 June, 2013

    WORD.

    “Firstly, that it is incredibly difficult to take a photo of your own butt,”

    Hilarious!

    “Because the big secret to weight loss is getting over your flaws, and learning to love them”

    SO true. I’m in recovery from an eating disorder, and it’s too funny, because when I was sick, I always wanted to be thin. And now that I love myself for who I am, I’m thinner than before because I’m not binging and starving due to self-hate.

    Thanks so much for this!

  • comment avatar Em 2 June, 2013

    Hallelujiah!

  • comment avatar supergenericgirl 2 June, 2013

    Oh jeez, this is amazing.

  • comment avatar Mari Adkins 2 June, 2013

    omg thank you for this. i’m sitting here in tears. i’ve shared this on facebook and on tumblr.

  • comment avatar Frugalistablog 2 June, 2013

    And here I am beating myself up for being a size 6/8 instead of a size 4/6 I was 5 years ago. I needed this so I can start loving myself better dammit!! You rock girl!

  • comment avatar Julius 2 June, 2013

    You’re hot to me!..so too hell with what other people say. I can think for myself!

  • comment avatar isadora 2 June, 2013

    your absoulety right! 100%! i don’t care what people think about me. the only opinion that i need to hear is mine and i love me for me. not because what everyone else thinks! who cares if i have big b**bs or a bottom! i am not ashamed of who i am!

  • comment avatar lauraannham 2 June, 2013

    That face is hilarious! You’re right. Slut shaming and body shaming are so out of order. What’s this obsession with being perfect, with being attractive all the bleeding time? You’re healthy, you’re fit, I like your nail polish. That’s all the matters.

  • comment avatar samanthaangela 2 June, 2013

    Every body is awesome and no one should have to feel like theirs in inadequate because society’s very narrow definition of beauty doesn’t have room for most bodies.
    Thanks for posting this. You’re awesome.

  • comment avatar Liz Prazeres 2 June, 2013

    Ok this is the best post I have read by anyone in a long long time… I agree with you, so over all this nonsense… no one is going anywhere positive by beating up on themselves and being downright vicious… kindness has to be part of the path and process and really – why not be kind to ourselves as we work to get healthier? Life can be hard enough at times… Good for you girl, share the truth, enough already!

  • comment avatar Romana 2 June, 2013

    Fat or not fat, the most important thing is to be healthy. The girls on magazines would not look as they do without wondermaking Photoshop device. I think that we are what we eat. I am in favour of Body Mass Index, the best thing to be “ok” is to feel ok. Not too big, not too small, a bit of thought what you put in your body and all is good. I needed about 20 years to understand this. The most beautiful women of this world were/are curvy.

  • comment avatar Sean 2 June, 2013

    The ugliest thing about your photo is that apple product you hold :p

  • comment avatar rhiannon 3 June, 2013

    I have been working at losing weight and when I look at my body now, having not met my goal, and I see my stretch marks I do get defeatist agaisnt myself, thinking that even when I am thinner i will still have these hideous marks to look at. But seeing your pic, i have to say I was thrilled b/c they really do look so much better. They are still there but they really do get better. So thank you for being so courageous! Also, congrats on the weightloss!!!!

  • comment avatar Candy Barnes 3 June, 2013

    This is awesome! I’m so glad you posted it! I’ve gained back about 20 pounds that I had lost on Weight Watchers 2 years ago, and have been beating myself up over it! Reading this is so encouraging to me, as it isn’t the same as the usual “fat and proud of it” stuff. It’s more just a realistic look at what is normal for most of us. Thanks again!!

  • comment avatar Rachel 3 June, 2013

    Chapeau to your “in-your-face-take-that-i’m-imperfect-and-I-own-it” courage to post this! I loved every bit of it! Keep it up!

  • comment avatar Lotus 3 June, 2013

    I’m not fat but I have scars all over my back from horrible acne when I was younger. Being bigger is not the only thing that makes you imperfect. I agree 100% that fat shaming is stupid because being thin will not make you perfect. I do modelling as a hobby and I know for a fact it is the photography/angles/editing that make you look great, nobody is perfect, you gotta work with what you got!

  • comment avatar tizloche 3 June, 2013

    Katie, I LOVE you!!!!! You are amazing! You inspire me by keeping it real. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!!!

  • comment avatar Claire Buss 4 June, 2013

    You are awesome!! I’ve been called “skinny-fat” in the last year, after losing 40pounds and becoming healthier, FOR MYSELF! I looked up what skinny-fat meant and basically it means I look skinny in clothes but as soon as I’m I anything less than that, I’m fat. People are so ignorant, as long as we ourselves love our own self that’s all that matters. Kudos to you!

  • comment avatar SkorpionUK 5 June, 2013

    My friend linked to this post, and I’ve been steadily devouring your blog since then. Hours of it. That’s because a) you’re awesome & write well, and b) you’re right! I’m still working my way through your “start here” posts (thank you for those as well), and I’ve got some stuff going on that I need to take care of first, but I really, sincerely hope that one day, in the not too distant future, I’ll be able to write you another comment that says, “Hey, Katie, THANKS! Your blog really helped me to be even more awesome, too!”

  • comment avatar jenny matthews 5 June, 2013

    what an inspiration you. Well done

  • comment avatar Emma 5 June, 2013

    Amazing! You are beautiful! xo

  • comment avatar naz 5 June, 2013

    Great post! Thanks for writing this! While I think it’s important for ALL of us to be at a healthy weight for our bodies, there isn’t a right or wrong number. And no matter what that number may be, we are all still PEOPLE and ‘shaming’ people is another form of bullying. It’s disgusting, it’s wrong and the douches that do this need to go play in traffic!

  • comment avatar Vic 15 June, 2013

    This post made me cry. I too lost a lot of weight and was left with saggy skin = definitely not bikini-esque. Though the process took a while, I learned to love my body. I am accepting its imperfections but also doing my share to improve it if I can. Thank you so much for your post.

  • comment avatar madeline 16 June, 2013

    Thank you! an actual real body and a real response-and honestly the first thing that popped into my head when looking at your picture “cute freakin bra!” Where’d you get it? I feel so uncomfortable because I grew up heavy,was nearly 200lbs in my early teens and I lost a lot of weight.I’m considered “small” not but what people don’t realize is the sagging skin and stretch marks everywhere,and have always had cellulite.my breasts are sagging to the point where I refuse to ever have children unless I have money in the bank for a boob job right after! I am covered in flaws and full of insecurities.Even plus sized models are perfect.Perfect skin,perfect hair,NO CELLULITE EVER.They’ve turned completely normal,completely common things into these hideous flaws we all have to loathe ourselves over and it is fucking bullshit! I remember Adrianne Curry posting untouched photos of herself,though she is in amazing shape she is also covered in stretch marks too,and that Katt Williams bit about you being a God Damned TIger and earning her stripes{not through pregancy but still,I think it applies} sorry this is a bit off topic and ranty,but I appreciate this so much and I support you! I am sick to fucking death that I am literally expected to be a flowing,firm perfect being absolutely flawless-or I’m gross. Fuck you,world! The jib is up and we are sick of your shit.I love this discussion and your article.

  • comment avatar Brenda 16 June, 2013

    Its crazy how from a young age, we are bread to think that fat is ugly. I am a tall big girl. I get tired of people saying if you lost some weight you could be a model…Come on really? I am me. And who ME is…is not my BMI or the number i see when i am on the scale. Love it or leave it…your choice! I think its awesome when people stand up for themselves against narrow minded people.

  • comment avatar Anon. 16 June, 2013

    I don’t know how not to hate my body, but I’m trying. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!

  • comment avatar Kate 16 June, 2013

    woooo you know what’s up girl! Thanks for posting, I needed it

  • comment avatar Jay 17 June, 2013

    Fuckyeah! You are awesomesauce!

  • comment avatar Samsara 17 June, 2013

    YOU are awesome. Thank you so much. Shame is a dis-ease on this planet and especially thrust upon the bodies of women. I mean…if we were all so satisfied with our bodies, there goes the diet, make-up, fragrance and fashion industries.

    Now I DO love my lotions and potions. But what I love more than that, is wearing them because I want to feel extra sparkly, not because I feel dull or inadequate to start with.

    Losing weight or getting healthy or whatever… That’s my business. My health, size, weight, height, etc. is no one’s business but mine. And I give you vast amount of props for this powerfully personal experience.

    And you are cute as a button!

  • comment avatar darcil 17 June, 2013

    You are absolutely awesome. (And I adore your “pants” … I also adore that term for what American’s term underwear. Even with as much British TV I watch, I always have to take a second to readjust my understanding of the word.)

  • comment avatar Okelle 17 June, 2013

    Tell it, girl.

  • comment avatar Maxine Dangerous 17 June, 2013

    Nicely stated! I too loved the comment about trying to photograph your own butt. 😀

  • comment avatar Faffajane 17 June, 2013

    Thank you for your voice of reason! Love your body no matter what it looks like!

  • comment avatar Celia Karac 17 June, 2013

    I think you’re beautiful.

  • comment avatar Martha 17 June, 2013

    You are AWESOME!!!! There is absolutely nothing more beautiful in the world BY FAR than love — and that includes loving your SELF. Your comfort and happiness in your own skin just radiates from you and makes the world a better place. I wish everyone could realize how ridiculous it is to feel awful that their bodies don’t look like some arbitrary ideal. The only thing ugly about anyone’s body is their sense of shame about it. Thank you for posting this.

  • comment avatar Amon 17 June, 2013

    It’s heartening that there are intelligent, decent people like you to provide a voice of reason in these times of nasty, cruel, image-obsessed culture. You’ve cheered me up, that’s for sure.

    I (a man) have always struggled with my weight and it was just one part of a whole set of self-esteem issues I have and still have. I decided to lose weight for myself so I could feel better and wear nicer clothes and I have achieved this to a large extent after an incredible amount of work and pain. Of course then a horribly devastating realisation set in: that my body was damaged and mangled beyond repair after the weight gain/loss cycles over the years. I am left with a lot of loose skin and without clothes I look hideous. I can’t afford a surgery to fix these issues, I don’t have some ideal body image in my head that I want to aspire to, by the way, I just mean even surgery to bring me up to the level where I am not in fear of any intimate contact for the rest of my life. I am not concerned with body types/weights beauty ideals when being attracted to other people, I have never judged people on looks.

    In your images you look beautiful and I honestly don’t see anything that I could even conceive as being off-putting about your body. I’m sorry to mention this but I guess that little cynical woe-is-me voice in my head is saying ‘of course she can love her body, it’s pretty normal. I’d like to see her love her body if it looked like mine.’ I’m not putting that in as some kind of criticism, I’m just trying to give you an insight as to how someone in my situation thinks.

    I cannot accept that I could ever be in a relationship again as I could never allow anyone to get close to me for fear of the heartbreak that would inevitably arise as they become disgusted by me. I have taken a vow of celibacy upon myself and have chosen to try and get on with my life and accept myself.

  • comment avatar Ian Osmond 17 June, 2013

    You look gorgeous.

    Interestingly, how gorgeous people look seems to have more to do with how they feel about their bodies than about any particular body type. I know people who are 90 pounds and gorgeous, because that is just how their body looks naturally and they’re healthy and comfortable with that, and people who are 350 pounds and gorgeous, because THAT’S how their body naturally is and they’re comfortable with it. I know people who can swim 15 miles who are gorgeous because they love their bodies, even though I’m sure the people on that show would try to shame them — long distance cold-weather open-water swimmers have incredibly good cardiovascular health and strength, and a good insulating layer of fat around their middles so that their core temperatures don’t drop too much.

    Athletes have different body types depending on what they do — so long as they have the bodies they want, their bodies tend to be gorgeous. Non-athletic people have different body types, and, again, in my experience, tend to be gorgeous when they like their bodies.

  • comment avatar Rebecca Corrado 18 June, 2013

    I love your belly button! It looks like it’s scowling at that Fat Families guy! 😀 Great post!

  • comment avatar Angela Pettengill 18 June, 2013

    i love you.
    i have been told for years that i need to lose weight. i don’t. i am not as physically fit as i’d like to be, so i should probably exercise more. but over the years i’ve been eating healthier (more veggies and less snacking)
    i will never be thin, and i will always be more muscular than people realize. i will also have a healthy layer of protective fat. (fat is necessary and healthy)
    thank you for sharing your photo and your thoughts with us

  • comment avatar Fuzzy 24 June, 2013

    Amen, sister! You are fecking awesome =)

  • comment avatar erin 10 July, 2013

    You.

    Are.

    AWESOME.

    I like everything about this. Your message, your attitude, your perfectly imperfect physical self.

    I’ve been reading a lot about fat acceptance and body shaming in recent times and I just can’t get over how much hate there is out there. Self hate, hate for others. Fat girls hating on skinny girls, skinny girls hating on fat girls, fat and skinny girls hating on themselves.

    What I have to say on the matter is far too long for a comment, but you’ve pretty much summed up my thoughts entirely in this one post.

    Go you good thing.

  • comment avatar Herc 20 July, 2013

    Your skin sags like that because you lost weight without taking in a steady amount of vitamin C and animal meat/fat. EFFs, EAAs, and vitamin C are all necessary for making collagen, and that’s exactly what your skin is lacking when it does that after significant weight loss. Try eating 2-3 kiwi fruit everyday and a medium-rare to medium sirloin steak every other day. Betcha your stomach will tighten right up in a few weeks. Oh, and sprints, burpees, any type of hiit training will help tremendously while you’re at it.

  • comment avatar joo 2 August, 2013

    I love to see more variety in the human form, scarred, flawed, happy just makes you feel better and lets you focus on more important shit! Thank you

  • comment avatar Janey 13 August, 2013

    I think you are right, that it is important to learn how to love my flaws. I have been able to do that for others. I hope I can learn how to do that for myself. Thank you for phrasing it in an inviting, compassionate way. I am tired of people saying that abusing people motivates them to get into shape. I have a punching bag that I use and I think of them, but that’s really the only motivation they give me. My partner and I were talking about this subject earlier, and we think that the extensive cruel pressure is only preventing people from losing weight instead of helping them. I will try to learn how to love my flaws instead as you have suggested.

  • comment avatar shauna 25 August, 2013

    most average chicks/guys i date are around a plus size 26 and they ar hot! you look a whole hotter than the people i date/ hookup with, so love your body c’mon, everyone i have dated over 18 has had bad scaring, massive stretchmarks and celulite, i have those too from massiove weight gain. i’m like 200lbs over weight and my partners are usally right there, so be happy and don’t need a model body.

  • comment avatar Tristen 8 October, 2013

    Thank you! My body is not perfect, but you I love it anyways. It’s the one that I have right now and it’s beautiful. Despite not being a stick and having a muffin top, it’s the only one I have and I love it. Thank you for being so honest! You’ve got a new follower. 🙂

  • comment avatar teri1963 21 October, 2013

    I began working out in 2007 because I was displeased with how unhealthy I felt. Panting while climbing stairs? Sure I lost weight but that was just a pleasant side effect of feeling better. Now I work out because it clears my mind. My belly, after 2 children and gaining oodles of weight, looks like yours. And I don’t care because I earned every stretch mark and fold. Life is yours to live, no opinion on how you should look should be given any credence at all.

  • comment avatar Zac 29 December, 2013

    First, congrats in losing the weight. Not because you look better, but because you probably feel more healthy. I lost a bunch of weight and was most happy when I could go up stairs without being winded. Good for you.

    Second, you look great. I say that more for your facial expression and physical attitude than your looks. Confidence is attractive.

    Third, just to put it out there, guys have the same issues. Good for you for speaking up. That’s more than a lot of guys would do.

    • comment avatar Zac 29 December, 2013

      Oh yeah. Forth, congrats on the PhD. Good on ya!

  • comment avatar Danielle 20 January, 2014

    You are brilliant and inspirational. I’m going to make everyone I know read this xxx

  • comment avatar Sandi 7 September, 2015

    Not only was this well written to get your point across…asshat is just an awesome word. 😉 inspiring blog. I wish more would see the world the way you do.

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