According to the radical wings of social media, the latest form of discrimination to have its roots in racism is “fatphobia.”
“Here’s your reminder that fatphobia is rooted in racism,” declared TikTok user Hannah Fuhlendorf, who describes herself as a “counselor” and “fat liberationist” in a video that has garnered almost 400,000 views on the social media platform.
“As always, if you haven’t read this book, go do that,” Fuhlendorf continued, holding up a copy of “Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia” by Dr. Sabrina Strings.
“The main thing to understand is that for the last 300-ish years, white folks have been marketing fatness as a black trait,” Fuhlendorf said. “And this is regardless of whether or not black people individually were actually fat. That was irrelevant.”
Finding fat people unattractive is racist pic.twitter.com/nsGk16UHyY
— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) June 14, 2021
“The message they spread was that black women specifically were ravenous and uncontrollable and these barbaric traits made them fat,” Fuhlendorf added. “On the flip side, thinness was marketed as a white trait. Again, regardless of whether or not individual white people were actually thin. That was irrelevant.”
“The idea was that white women specifically were refined and restrained and this led them to having delicate, thin bodies,” Fuhlendorf concluded. “Over the years, these messages have become more subtle, but even today they are still very prevalent in conversations around race, health, capitalism, and poverty.”
According to her website, Hannah Fuhlendorf offers coaching sessions for $180 per hour for individuals and $228 per hour for couples. She also notes that “Income-based reduced fees are not available at this time.”
“My personal and ongoing experiences with fatphobia and sexism have fueled my desire to see people free from the prison of self-hate and internalized oppression. My goal is to support all of my clients in reaching their goals and stepping into their power,” Fuhlendorf explains in “My Story.” “I practice from a HAES and fat liberation lens. I aim for my work to create a space of collaboration and empowerment.”
“Fat liberation,” also known as “fat acceptance,” “fat pride,” or “fat empowerment,” is a social movement that aims to change the so-called “anti-fat bias” regarding the stigma of obesity. Standing, in contrast, is a wide swathe of criticism from the medical community, arguing that the movement can promote a lifestyle with significant health consequences.
“Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia” was published in May 2019.
“Fearing the Black Body participates in a critical discourse that exposes the convergence of anxieties about race and fatness as it manifests in our current fatphobia. The text successfully demonstrates how the Black body has been subject to ongoing surveillance, and more specifically how it has been co-opted as a site where struggles around race and class issues play out,” wrote Fat Studies.
Dr. Strings is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine.