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three people are speaking to each other in an informal setting. They just happen to be plus-size people.
Image from AllGo – An App for Plus-Size People

TW – body issues.

I’m one of those people who have struggled with their body image for a long time – I’m sure there are more of us around than we probably think, or realise. I was triggered on social media the other day.

On a completely unrelated issue (whether to wear masks or not), a well-known British pop group were being trolled for their stance on wearing masks or not – at this point, it doesn’t matter what their stance is – that’s their idea and as much as I disagree with it, that isn’t the issue. My issue was that someone had altered a photo of them to make them look larger than they are and then to ridicule them for this. I called the person out for doing this and got blocked – good. It is exactly this kind of rubbish that needs to stop if we are to ever stop shaming people for their body size, whether big or small – because of course, it goes either way.

Think of some of the characters from TV shows or films – let me refresh your memories a bit:

So, here we have Fat Bastard, Monica from Friends and the Nutty Professor. All in their own way, anti-fat. It’s also interesting to note that these three characters were played by actors in fat suits. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good characters out there too, but potentially only in the last few years.

Thinking of my own industry, English Language Teaching, the images of larger people have tended to look like this:

Obviously, not all men – but these were the images I found to demonstrate what I want to. The first one on the left shows an overweight man tired out by exercise. The middle image shows a man exercising but being inspired by the promise of food. And the third image is supposedly a funny fat man exercising.

As an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in my industry, it’s important that body size and body image is included and regarded as a topic to be treated with respect and sensitivity. TV shows like the Big Body Hotel are wonderful to see and just goes to show that being bigger doesn’t equate to being unhealthy, or ugly.

I want to see more photos like this in ELT materials:

The two photos to the right are from Body Liberation Photos – a stock photo website for body positivity.

I’m also really pleased to have seen this on BBC Bitesize about fat-shaming.

It is time, it is long overdue, that people, no matter their size, are not ridiculed or shamed. Please note that this does not only apply to larger people. Only recently there was the very sad news of a reality show star who passed away due to complications with anorexia.

It shouldn’t matter what size you are to deserve respect.

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