May 7, 2009

Skinnyism: The Newest Acceptable Prejudice

Filed under: Other — PolitiCalypso @ 7:03 pm

At left, body image movement activists’ rhetoric about most feminine body types. At right, the activists’ rhetoric about thin women.

The term “fattism” is not yet standard usage, I don’t believe, but it is a pop-culture expression that means “discrimination and prejudice against overweight women.” It’s a real phenomenon; numerous studies have shown that overweight women are less likely to get jobs and promotions than their normal and underweight counterparts, and this form of bigotry is unacceptable. Let me say up front that nothing whatsoever in this post should be construed to mean that I disbelieve that fattism is real or that I advocate the practice of it. In fact, the subject of it really isn’t fattism, but rather, its opposite. In keeping with the method of formation for the word, I’m dubbing this new type of bigotry “skinnyism.”

Now that fattism is recognized by most authorities as a real occurrence, there has, perhaps predictably, been a surge of awareness and a strong counter-movement against this type of behavior. That’s fine. What’s not fine is one direction that the movement has taken. Just as a spike in awareness of various forms of prejudice prompted a form of accompanying “political correctness” that many people believe went too far in the opposite direction, the counter-movement to fattism is, in my opinion, going too far in the opposite direction. What’s beginning to happen amounts to blatant, codified prejudice and nonscientific bigotry against thin women. Whatever can be said about fattism—and none of it is good—it usually cannot be said that overweight women were actively discriminated against in organizational policy. The prejudice occurred in practice, not on paper. In sharp contrast, thin women increasingly are discriminated against in policy itself in this counter-movement, and there is a threat of more to come. We also have to deal with the same kinds of demeaning, dehumanizing behavior that overweight women once dealt with over their weight and shape. (Read more…)

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