So my recent introduction to Social Media studies, got me interested in the campaign #EffYourBeautyStandards which enjoys quite a following on several social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tess Holliday

The campaign was launched by plus size model, Tess Holliday (Munster). Her endeavours have highlighted body shaming behaviour and fat phobia. Even though the message of her campaign is overwhelmingly positive, she has been attacked for promoting obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. Among other things, she has been called “unhealthy” and a “disgusting fat pig”. Ms Holliday has stated that it is not her aim to promote obesity, but simply that any body shape is deserving of love and respect.

The blog post by The militant baker, gets to the heart of the matter via the following statement:

“So THEN after all of this, when a fat chick- who hasn’t done the work, who hasn’t tried to fix her body, who doesn’t have any interest in the gospel we so zealously believe in, stands up and says: I’M HAPPY! …we freak the fuck out. Because: that bitch just broke the rules. She just cut in front of us in line. She just unwittingly ripped us off. And she essentially made our lifetime of work totally meaningless. It’s kind of like investing everything you own in some sort of stock and instead of it’s worth increasing, you’re notified that it’s value is now the same as Monopoly money. All of a sudden, your investments (aka “Body Currency”) have the devastating value of: zero?”

There seems to be a pervasive attitude that fat people should be desperately unhappy and need to suffer in their pursuit to lose weight. Tess breaks all the societal rules by being fat, happy and successful. She has nullified the efforts of those who has starved and suffered in the gym to lose weight. And probably the worst thing of all for the trolls who avidly comment on her social media pages, is that she is actually using her fat body, which is supposed to be the source of her shame, to take a stand and to make lots of money in the process.

Threat to the crash diet industry

And Tess is a threat to the crash diet industry, as they stand to lose billions if women stop buying their products in a desperate attempt to lose weight.

Concern trolls

The #EffYourBeautyStandards campaign, has also made me aware of an interesting social media phenomenom, namely concern trolls.

These are the wonderful people who are always a little worried about others and usually base their concerns on a single photo. In reality, they are afraid to criticise you outright and tell you they don’t like you. They’d rather tell you they’re worried about your health, or that you’re setting a bad example to children.

Gender bias

Gender discrimination also comes into play, as many people are still not comfortable with a woman who doesn’t conform to what is expected of women.

Tess has a child and is engaged, whereas overweight women are conventionally viewed as not worthy of love and relationships until they lose weight. Obese women are seen as less worthy and must be ashamed of their bodies, while Hollywood tells overweight men that they are still entitled to slim and attractive women.

Interesting debate

As a person who is overweight herself, I find the #EffYourBeautyStandards campaign and Tess Holliday debate, very uplifting and at the same time, disturbing.

I do also understand the supposed concerns of the concern trolls. Excess weight can lead to health issues, especially later in life. But I think many of them are failing to understand the aim of Holliday’s campaign.

Body shaming

I don’t think shaming people will encourage them to lose weight. In fact, it might only lead to more weight gain.

There are many reasons why people gain weight, and it is not up to us to judge them. Personally, I started to gain weight, when I did not have so much time for exercise anymore. Exercise and chocolate are my coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, so less exercise equals more chocolate.

Other people have severe health and emotional issues which have caused their weight gain. Life is fast-paced and very stressed these days, and not all of us are that good at keeping up without depending on bad habits to help us deal with the rush.

Some of us might be a little lazy and not like lettuce that much.  😛  But that’s our call to make.

Love yourself 

I agree with Ms Holliday’s approach of encouraging people of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies and take care of themselves.

In my mind, insulting people and calling them “disgusting” will only lead to stress eating and more weight gain. If you love yourself and appreciate your body, you might actually lose some weight with very little effort at all.

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