Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter covering youth and internet culture for NBC News, based in New York. My choice is to use terms that invite the change I’d like to see, that are accessible to anyone who’d like to converse about these issues, and that don’t further stigmatize communities on the margins. But as an organizer, my job was to deliver change for communities that urgently needed it. Red Voice Media was created to share the truth of American politics, not just what mainstream media wants you to hear. “When we see a certain type of body glorified, praised, and labeled as desirable in media … It’s not going to not have an impact on us,” she said. “It can be something as simple as watching TV with others and commenting that a lean individual looks gorgeous in that dress,” Dr. Stanford says.

But I feel for anyone who is overweight because I understand the futile struggle. I have beloved friends who live in larger bodies than mine, and there are times we’ve gone out together where they’ve been publicly fat-shamed in places I felt safe. Likewise, I once vented on Facebook about how men only wanted to hook up with me. Another fat woman replied in the comments that having access to hookups was itself a privilege that not all fat women have.

Our fear of fatness can be creating a very real and very dangerous world of oppression for those living in larger body sizes. I’ve been using dating apps consistently for the last five years, and in that time I’ve noticed a lot of dubious trends, from the ubiquitous tiger selfies on Tinder to offers to “watch the new L Word and chill” on Lex. One of the most persistent ones, though, can’t be contained to a single app. The use of the word fit to describe oneself or one’s ideal partner is everywhere, particularly on more sex-focused apps like Pure and Feeld, and it’s always left me with a vague sense of discomfort. “Not having any plus-size people as part of the experiment undercuts any thesis the show purports to test,” Mathew Rodriguez wrote in Teen Vogue, putting his finger on a sentiment that has dogged the show on social media since it became a breakout hit. Navigating those simple elements of relationships was made difficult by a world that’s not built to accommodate larger bodies.

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In my new book, You Have the Right to Remain Fat, I talk a lot about how being fat has shaped my life, how fatphobia has multiple dimensions and how it does not just move outwards – from us to others. Still others use fat-shaming, which reduces a complex oppressive system to individual acts of aggression and frequently invites derailing arguments about skinny-shaming. As ever, any term we use to describe a vast and heterogeneous community united by one characteristic will fall short for some. “In medical school, we’re taught about calories, diet and exercise, but we’re not taught anything about how the brain regulates weight and the different brain pathways that regulate food intake,” Dr. Stanford says. “As a result, most doctors still view obesity as a lifestyle choice — something that happens because patients are ‘lazy’ and haven’t ‘tried hard enough.’ But the truth is, obesity is a disease.” Studies have shown that in health care settings, “The word fat itself is very inflammatory.”

Take Doug Heffernan on The King of Queens, for instance. He is fat, clumsy, untrustworthy, and often cruel, but somehow, he marries Carrie, a drop-dead gorgeous legal secretary. Philip and Vivian Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Men on dating sites have called me “thickness” and “fat queen” in introductory messages and have even told me that I should lose weight before trying to date.

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She says to the participating women, “Everyone wants to be loved for who they are. Couples will date and forge connections in furnished pods from opposite sides of a wall. Just the other day, a complete stranger came up to me while I was sipping a latte in public and told me to avoid pork so I could reduce my weight. This behaviour is jarring – and more often comes from well-meaning people we know. Fat people have tried every kind of diet; this kind of advice only makes us feel alienated.

There is no road map, so we become cartographers, charting some new land for ourselves. People of color experience eating disorders such as bulimia and binge eating disorder at higher rates than their white counterparts (22,23), often as amediating factor from experiencing racism or other acculturative stressors (32). However, they are more likely to be underdiagnosed, which can occur due tomisconceptions about who gets eating disorders (24,32). LGBTQ+ individuals also have higher rates compared to cisgender, heterosexual individuals, mostlikely as a way to mediate stressors (20). It can be hard to unlearn internalized stigma, Puhl says, but cognitive behavioral strategies can help. Ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist who works with people who have larger bodies.

We can take a moment to ask ourselves whether making romantic decisions in this way is getting us what we truly want. I have found that in romance I really want a sense of safety, shared values and overall chemistry. We are trained to seek out people who adhere to one-dimensional, culturally set standards.

Not only do these tests assess weight-related prejudices, but they also detect religious, gender-based, and other biases. After taking a bias test yourself, encourage your coworkers to do the same. Use it as an opportunity to have candid conversations about fatphobic behaviors. American society has long been enchanted by the idea of thinness. Although trends ebb and flow, the idealization of thin bodies remains constant, and this hurts women disproportionately.

A big part of dating anyone you like is introducing them to your friends and family. Even showing the group chat a photo of your new boo is a rite of passage! If your new boo happens to be fat, and you find yourself not posting them on social media or refraining Lava Life from showing them off to friends, ask yourself why. If you’re honest with yourself and realize it’s because they’re fat, that’s a sign you should probably end things and work on your fatphobia instead of subjecting them to your shame around their body.

Anyone who tries to push themselves on someone else without mutual attraction and refuses to take no for an answer really is mentally ill. Derek is in my rear view mirror now, and so is the idea that I need to change my body. Nowadays I still live in San Francisco with two Netherland Dwarf bunnies (named after two of my favorite fat icons, John Candy and country singer LuLu Roman) and my boyfriend of two years, Andrew. Every time I call him, he picks up the phone with a “Hey, good lookin’!

Men have long been silent and stoic about their inner lives, but there’s every reason for them to open up emotionally—and their partners are helping. “This is for my personal health, and I’m not trying to take a stand on any sort of scientific evaluation or studies done,” he said. Still, the negative response has become so intense that he posted a video statement Monday to TikTok, Twitter and Instagram. The TikTok creator known for his impressions of school administrators — and the line “the volume on this bus is astronomical” — is facing backlash for sharing his recent weight loss journey.

Ridiculing the notion that fat men could be “good” at sex further entrenches systemic fatphobia. The only redeeming quality our culture allows fat men — if they aren’t rich or powerful, and not even 100% of the time — is that they’re like fluffy teddy bears. While many fat men are indeed “warm and cuddly,” it’s harmful for them to see this as their only positive trait.

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