Fatphobia Gabrielle Deydier

The City of Paris Declares War on Fat Shaming

Paris, the city of the svelte, is fighting against fat shaming in its eagerness to embrace its new status as a sanctuary city for the morbidly obese.

A land fit for whales. 

Coco Chanel, Pierre Cardin, and Christian Dior would have no place in modern day Paris. Once considered the center of high fashion and culture in Europe, the classical city has launched a campaign against “grossophobia” (that’s French for fat shaming).

Mayor Anne Hidalgo launched the conference to kick off the campaign following the success of a book titled On Ne Naît Pas Grosse (You Are Not Born Fat), written by fat activist and journalist Gabrielle Deydier, who complains in the book that she struggled at the workplace because of her status as a person of girth.

Gabrielle Deydier fat shaming

Gabrielle Deydier

“Fatphobia is a reality lived by so many citizens,” Hidalgo said on Friday, according to the Washington Post. “The city of Paris is unveiling this phenomenon and engaging.”

Like other continental European cities, commuters in Paris get around by foot—not mobility scooter, and you’re far less likely to see an obese person in France than you would anywhere in the United States. A 2017 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that only 15.3 percent of the French population is obese, compared to 38.2 percent of Americans.

Most French people believe, and correctly so, that no one is born fat. If you work out and eat right, you’ll stay in shape. In her book, Deydier challenges this view, claiming that it causes fat people to be stigmatized in French society.

“I think we have a problem with minorities in general in France,” said the social justice warrior in an interview about her book, arguing that fat shaming is as much a problem as racism and homophobia. “We say we are politically correct, but in fact we are not at all. The biggest problem is that people generally do not consider fatphobia to be on the same level as other discriminations because they think that if someone is fat, it’s their fault and that they should change.”

The French ideal of feminine beauty has adverse effects on fat women, argues the rotund activist, stating that even the word for pregnancy is “fatness.”

Deydier has been advised for years by doctors to lose weight, or have a bariatric operation for her morbid obesity. She told the Times of London that she considered the idea but now feels certain that she was right to reject it.

In addition to Deydier, the conference was attended by fat activists and “body positive” enthusiasts, including American blogger Jes Baker, who popularized the Health at Every Size movement.

On her HAES blog, Baker claimed “weight isn’t the real problem – weightbased healthcare is,” arguing that doctors from the American Medical Association are “susceptible to brainwashing” and wrong to advise obese patients to shape up.

Speaking at the conference, Baker called the lithe French woman a “myth” used to shame obese women like her.

“Fat is not wrong,” said Baker. “What is wrong is the way we address fat. It’s time for change, and this conversation is happening all over the world.”

Translation: “It’s OK to be obese.” Quelle surprise.

Source: Washington Post, Times of London.

Photograph courtesy of the Times of London.

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