Questionable Celebrity Responses to Fat Shaming

What Will you DefendA number of people shared an article with me from mic called “10 Celebrities Who Had the Perfect Response to Fat Shaming”  I’m really glad that they published the article and I definitely loved a lot of the responses. But there was one that I want to discuss a bit more.

In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Mindy Kaling said “They’re like ‘It’s so refreshing that Mindy feels so comfortable to like, let herself go and be a fat sea monster.’ And I’m like I run and work out, it takes a lot of effort to look like a normal, chubby woman.”

Mindy Kaling is allowed to respond to fat shaming however she chooses (because, hey, Underpants Rule) and she’s certainly not the only celebrity to respond this way.  She has also said a lot of things about self-esteem and body positivity that I really like, but this is definitely not among them.

What I think she is clearly doing here is suggesting that she shouldn’t be the victim of fat shaming because she is somehow better than other fat people (because she is less fat than them, because she runs and works out -as if there aren’t much fatter people than her who do the same- and is therefore a “good fatty“, because her size is “normal” or just “chubby.”

Engaging in this kind of defense against fat shaming is not so much creating a rising tide that lifts all boats as it is stepping on other people who are victims of the same stigma as you, and pushing them down to try to get your own head above water.

I think it’s really important that when we respond to fat shaming, we are clear that we don’t deserve to be fat shamed – and it’s not because of how we eat or if we work out or if we are the size of the “average woman” etc. but rather that we don’t deserve to be fat shamed because NOBODY deserves to be fat shamed, ever, for any reason, period.

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8 thoughts on “Questionable Celebrity Responses to Fat Shaming

  1. Oh, also meant to say I’m more bothered by Tyra, not in what she actually said there, but in how selectively she chooses to say fuck you to body shaming vs embracing it. She has done plenty of her own fat shaming on ANTM to other women.

  2. Absolutely, Ragen! Whether I work out every day and eat an abstemious vegan organic diet or I never get off the couch while chugging soda and gobbling up every greasy, deep-fried, factory-produced snack food known to man, I still don’t deserve hate for the size and shape of my body.

  3. I don’t know…maybe I’m giving her a lot of credit, but it struck me more as her saying that you can’t tell these things by looking at someone, and that assuming she’s “letting herself go” is completely counter to the reality of her life. I absolutely agree, though, that the good fatty/bad fatty thing is a HUGE problem, and that people who don’t work out do not deserve stigma or mistreatment any more than those who do.

  4. Just watched a new (new to me, anyway) episode of the show “Impractical Jokers”.

    In this dare, each guy got texts from at least one of the others in Spanish, and had to find a stranger to translate them.

    Said messages were made to be very embarrassing.

    The thin guy of the group got a message stating that he didn’t know the lady at whom he threw eggs earlier was pregnant — he just thought she was fat. He basically claimed that the imaginary woman being fat made having eggs thrown at her OK; his conscience would have been clear then.

    If she was pregnant, though, he would have felt awful.

    He then said that he’d throw eggs at fat people all day long.

    Tsk, tsk, IJ.

    1. (((Me)))

      You know what’s really frustrating about comedy skits like that one, Me?

      Jokes don’t work unless the majority of the audience has a common frame of reference; the premise of the joke has to be something most of the people hearing it believe/are familiar with, or they won’t get it.

      This joke’s premise is that fat people are the subject of unprovoked, fatphobic assault; specifically in this case, the depressingly common occurrence of us having garbage thrown at us when we’re walking down the street minding our own business for no other reason than we’re not thin and we dared to try to go about our lives where other people could see us. *If you do not agree that happens, this ‘joke’ doesn’t even make sense.*

      Apparently it made enough sense to enough people to be put on national television.

      But try to tell those same people you were targeted for assault or violence because you’re fat, and what do they say to you?

      “That doesn’t happen. You just made that up for sympathy.”

      “Stop being paranoid. He was probably aiming for a trash can beside you and missed. Fatphobic violence isn’t a thing. It’s all in your head.”

      “All pedestrians get trash thrown at them. You don’t know it was because you’re fat. Really? He was screaming ‘fat bitch’ at you? Well, that doesn’t prove anything.”

      “What did you do to provoke him?”

      “I’m sure it was just a one-off weirdo.”

      The same mainstream audience who has enough of a frame of reference that fatphobic violence is real and relatively frequent to find this “joke” funny would whip out the gaslights and denials in a heartbeat faced with a real-life case of it. They certainly would have none of the fat victim wanting some kind of justice or protection.

      But they’ll laugh at it.

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