Glossary of a Fat Activist

Handy-dandy guide to wtf I’m saying when I criticize media

Hi, I write a lot about fat hate, especially fat hate in media. Here’s some terms I use and how I use them. Consider this a Kiva’s Fat Glossary you can reference to understand what I’m saying when I criticize media.

Fat exclusion: the exclusion of fat people and/or fat politics.

Fat antagonism: Fat hate directed at fat bodies not present in the media. Blocks the appearance of fat people and also dumps hate on them.

Fat abuse: abuse, verbal, emotional, sexual, and/or physical, of fat bodies.

Fatphobic abuse: abuse, verbal, emotional, and/or physical, of fat bodies that is directed specifically at their fatness/size.

Fat misogyny: The oppression of fat women.

Fat misogynoir: The specific oppression of fat black women.

Fatphobic ungendering: The habit of media to degender fat people as much as possible. Not specific to cis or trans experience.

Fat transmisogyny: The specific oppression of fat trans women.

Fatphobic ableism: Oppression and hatred specifically of fat disabled people.

Thin assimilation/Diet Culture: Pressure on fat bodies to lose weight and conform to thin body standards.

Radical fat activism: Fat-centric activist theory that specifically demands a radical dismantling of the system of valuing and devaluing bodies.

Body positive activism: Body-centric activist theory that seeks to change the value standards in the hierarchy that values and devalues bodies.

Fat queer activism: A long-standing historical movement of fat queer activists fighting for their rights within and outside of the queer community.

Bodyposi/BoPo: Common shortenings of “body positive.”

Fatphobic infantilization: Assumptions about fat adults or a specific fat adult’s inability to care for themselves as an adult. An assumption that fat bodies are infantile.

Fatphobic fetishization: Dehumanizing sexual objectification of fat bodies. Not to be confused with fat sex or fat/fat-centric pornography, both of which are fine and good.

Good Fatty: Thin Society’s Ideal Fat Person. “I eat right, I exercise, I’m just genetically fat, so I’m a Good Fatty, not like those Bad Fatties that just eat too much.”

Fat Emotional Labor Expectations: the social demand for fat people to give more emotional labor to thin people than they receive from them.

Fat Wage Gap: the increased wage gap experienced by fat women of all races.

Fatphobic medical mistreatment: Misdiagnosis or mistreatment of a fat person’s fat-unrelated condition by medical staff who believe the fat-unrelated condition is actually fat-related.

Fatphobic medical abuse: Verbal, sexual, or physical abuse of fat bodies by medical professionals because of their fatness.

Fatphobic employment discrimination: Employment discrimination of fat bodies, including passing over for hiring, promotion, wage increase, or excusing/allowing fatphobic abuse in the work environment, or firing someone for gaining weight, or pushing work policies that unfavorable punish fat bodies that do not conform to Thin Assimilation.

Fat Reproductive Justice: Activist theory that focuses on the barriers to reproductive justice that fat bodies face, including increased cost of abortion, limited abortion providers, and lowered efficacy of birth control for fat bodies.

Fatphobic medical bias: Medical science’s unwillingness to study or create for fat bodies. See: morning after pill having lower effectiveness for fat patients but being approved rather than improved.

Headless Fatty: The dehumanizing media habit of presenting photos of fat bodies with faces/heads cropped out.

Small-fats: People who fall within the national average body size (size 14–16 for US women) but are still classified by society as “fat”.

Narrative fat erasure: The presentation of small-fats in media as ‘fat’ paired with the exclusion of fat bodies.

Narrative fat isolation: The habit of media to present a singular fat character in a cast and universe otherwise populated with thin bodies.

Fatphobic visual shorthand: The habit of using fat bodies in media as a visual representation of negative traits such as greed or gluttony or laziness.

Pathologizing fat bodies/fatness: The socially ingrained bigotry that has someone know nothing about a fat person they see on the street but assume they are lazy, greedy, less competent, etc. Ascribing another individual’s fatness to psychological disorders you are in no way qualified to diagnose.

Fatphobic sexual entitlement: a demand in media that fat women present be made somehow desirable, i.e. that fat women have large breasts and hips or hourglass silhouettes in order to gain visibility in media, thus leading to the exclusion of fat women whose bodies do not conform to this sexual entitlement.

Fatphobic maternalization: The habit of media to present fat women as sources of emotional nurturing and mothering for thin main characters.

Fat panic/Fatphobic panic: Heightening the danger/tragedy or misrepresenting the health risks of fatness in order to foment resentment/fear.

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