real life

"Do you really need that biscuit?" I'm regularly fat-shamed at work. I'm done laughing it off.

My whole life, I've experienced being fat-shamed at work and honestly, I've reached a point where I'm just exhausted by it. 

I'm done not taking it personally, I'm done laughing it off, and I'm really done not making it a big deal. 

It's a weird thing to navigate being fat-shamed at your job.

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Obviously, on an intellectual level, I understand that when people put down my body, it's usually because of their own issues. 

I've also realised that the fact that I appear confident and comfortable in my body unnerves people. 

It seems like because I appear happy, people want to point out why I shouldn't be, or they somehow think I'm unaware that I'm not skinny and they should remind me.

But it's been happening my whole career, and I'm so sick of it.

It's also particularly hard to navigate in a work setting. You can't always afford to sever work relationships for your own mental health.

You have to work with these people, and they can't just become someone you avoid at a party. 

So there's this added pressure: how do I respond to being fat-shamed without alienating this person? 


Honestly, I still haven't quite figured that out. Because while people seem very keen to give me feedback on my appearance, they aren't open to feedback on their own manners. 

I've experienced all types of fat-shaming at work, from micro-aggressions like, "Do you really need that biscuit?" to "You know Mary, she'll eat that!" And I've experienced it as just plain aggression. 

Once, I called out a co-worker for criticising someone else's body, and she said, "I get why you'd be offended by that." 

Another simply told me I needed to lose weight to get a boyfriend. I suppose it makes sense that fat-shaming has happened to me at work because while I have control over whom I surround myself with socially, I've never been able to control who my co-workers are. 

I've spent my career working alongside people I disagree with, and while that's normal, maybe even healthy, it's hard when these people also make your body their business. 

Naturally, these people aren't on board with the body positivity movement. 

They are stuck in the 'starve yourself' movement. 

For my entire career, I've always brushed these remarks off. Not because I'm a perfect person but because they are humiliating, and I find it hard to wade into my own humiliation.

I don't want to meet with HR because someone uses my own body as a joke or small talk. It's uncomfortable. It makes me feel vulnerable, and I don't want to give the conversation any more space. 

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I find fat shaming is extra painful when it happens at work. 

You want work to feel like a safe and calming place. Somewhere that makes you feel comfortable enough to build relationships, to learn and create your best work, but that is hard when you feel like your body is constantly a spectacle. 

It's hard to grapple with because I have done and continue doing all the work I can to feel good about myself and practice body positivity and body neutrality. But the world is still sending me such different messages. 

At least once a week, I have to spend part of my day not letting someone's comment ruin my day, and I'm just so tired of it. Now, I understand that office culture often makes people feel close, but I can promise you this much. 

You are never close enough to someone to comment on their weight, and I don't care if you're doing it under the guise of being concerned about their health, worry about your own health, and I'll focus on mine. 

When you are a plus-size woman, your body somehow becomes public property. People make assumptions about your health, life and general wellbeing. 

Sometimes, they even shame you. 

This is so normal to me that it barely seems like a big deal. Because it quickly stops becoming a big deal if something happens to you enough. What others need to remember is that it doesn't mean it hurts less.

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