salad

I don’t think my friend meant any harm when she said “You’ll probably just want a salad, right?”, but the assumption that I was dieting wasn’t great.

There are a lot of ways to insult, shame, or oppress someone, but perhaps the most detrimental tools are the subtle microaggressions that we don’t even think about. #fatmicroaggressions has been trending on Twitter for the last couple of days, and I think it’s an excellent way to explore microaggressions on the whole, which are less understood than blatant insults or bullying. Everyone should check out the #fatmicroaggressions hashtag on twitter, since we don’t often realize that we’re committing microaggressions, which are extremely harmful.

This tweet (by Amy McCarthy, who wrote beautifully for us about diet culture) perfectly summed up the false but ingrained idea that not only are fat women less sexually desirable, but less picky about their partners.

“Fat girls don’t say no, they’re all desperate for the d.” – #rapeculture and #fatmicroaggressions all in one place.

— Amy McCarthy (@aemccarthy) December 11, 2013

Microaggressions often hide behind compliments, effectively hiding oppressive ideas in plain sight.

I used to be fat and now I’m not, and I can tell you from experience that people fall all over themselves to say things about weight loss. Of all of my (admittedly humble) life’s accomplishments, I’ve never gotten as much praise as I received for losing weight.

These tweets shine light on the cavalier way we refer to fatness as the ultimate punishment, which I think may be the most pervasive microaggression of all. We’ve simply assigned “good” to skinny people and “bad” to fat people, end of story.

Here’s the reality about bodies: bodies are neutral. No body is inherently better than another based on size, yet we assign significant privilege to certain body types based on arbitrary standards (this of course extends far past body size to include race, gender, ability, and tons of other intersecting factors). We take for granted that people who fit the conventional standard for body types aren’t the only people on earth, and are hardly even the majority. It somehow became assumed that this bullshit standard is “normal,” and everyone else is a deviation.

Microaggressions are more dangerous than blatant bullying or shaming, because they’re cloaked in compliments or worse, as “just the way it is.” The implicit assumption of factual accuracy makes them all the easier to internalize, and then these backwards notions get even more entrenched in society. Please go read through the rest of the #fatmicroaggressions tweets, because we’ve all been guilty of them, and it’s time to stop.

Image: Shutterstock // [h/t] Handbag