Here at Ramapo, we have a week filled with awesome events: Lesley Kinzel, blogger from Two Whole Cakes and xoJane; Love Your Body Day, featuring activities like yoga, massages, Zumba, and more; and the Body Image Monologues, a performance of student-written pieces about body image.
Lesley Kinzel, keynote speaker of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, describes herself as a “stringer-together-of-words” at xoJane, and a “radical fatass.” Kinzel blogs about loving oneself in the face of rigid societal expectations about the female body. One recent article of hers, What’s Wrong with Fat-Shaming?, discusses what it’s like to be a fat person today, with the constant judgment and shaming from complete strangers. On body-shaming in general, as well as fat-specific shaming, Kinzel writes,
Body-shaming is ubiquitous and abhorrent; it happens everywhere, to pretty much everyone, at one time or another. It is especially levied against women, who are shamed for being skinny, for being tall, for being short, for having big boobs, for having small boobs, for having body hair, for being unfeminine, for being too sexy, for being too prudish, for being smart -- shamed at some point for being pretty much anything while also being female, including for being ugly (and failing to serve a purpose as a beauty object) and for being pretty (which must mean they are vapid or dumb).
Fat-shaming is a specific variety of body-shaming. It is not the only kind of shaming that takes place, but it is one of the more common ones. Lots of folks think fat-shaming is perfectly acceptable. More than that, lots of folks think fat-shaming is actually a good thing, because with shame as a motivator, perhaps those darn fat people will stop being so fat.
It doesn’t work, though -- shame is not a catalyst for change; it is a paralytic. Anyone who has ever carried extreme personal shame knows this. Shame doesn’t make you stronger, nor does it help you to grow, or to be healthy, or to be sane. It keeps you in one place, very, very still.Essentially, in our image-obsessed world, people have taken to harshly criticizing the bodies of those around them, often framing their comments as helpful, when in fact they are rude, hurtful, and unnecessary – policing the bodies of others just isn’t okay. One of Kinzel’s goals is to spread the concept of health at every size; rather than one ideal being considered the only “healthy” option, with everyone falling above or below the ideal being harshly criticized as too fat or too skinny, Kinzel and others like her believe that health is not entirely size-oriented, but about treating your body well, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.
Lesley Kinzel will be speaking in the Alumni Lounges at 7 p.m. tomorrow, February 28th. Be sure to come by, and come out to the rest of the EDAW events this week!