I don’t hate myself for being fat. I hate myself for caring that I am.
My usual self-hatred boiled into anger on Sunday night when a room full of thin people cheered for the makeup team responsible for demonstrating how being fat is a disgusting monstrosity.
Judy Chin, Adrien Morot, and Annemarie Bradley won the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for creating the 300-pound prosthetic that Brendan Fraser wears in The Whale, a movie that turns fatness into a hideous spectacle. Fraser also won an Oscar for his portrayal of the misery of fatness. And outside the Dolby Theatre, celebrities displayed newly svelte bodies on the “champagne carpet,” presumably thanks to the Type 2 diabetes drug Ozempic.
I say presumably because most of these celebrities haven’t discussed their drug use — it’s just been the topic of speculation for months. The Ozempic hashtag has generated 662 million views on TikTok as people guess who’s on it. The same discussion is happening on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, through comments and viral essays. Muting the word won’t set you free. People know how to talk around it, vaguely mentioning how someone looks different.
Thunderous applause for a brutal movie about the tragedy of fatness. Ridicule for those forsaking “body positivity” for an easier, thinner life. As a fat person, it’s hard for me to watch people monitor body size so boldly.
But people online still talk about bodies like mine. They just don’t know I’m listening.
Since I spent the first two decades of my life as a thin person, I know it’s disingenuous to say that the size of my body means nothing. The judgment on display the night of the Oscars reminded me of the interactions I’ve had at coffee shops and with friends of friends that were never a problem in my thin years. I never know if someone is going to look at my fatness with pity, hail my bravery for simply existing, or avoid me out of disgust. Sometimes the fear of what might happen keeps me from putting myself out in the world, so I retreat to the internet, where no one knows how much space I take up. But people online still talk about bodies like mine. They just don’t know I’m listening.
For every TikToker wearing whatever she wants, there’s a post ridiculing a celebrity for not choosing something “flattering.” Even social media personalities who are typically careful with their language still find it acceptable to accuse Mindy Kaling of using Ozempic (when that’s the least of her crimes against pop culture) under the guise of holding celebrities accountable for not embracing their natural body size. But this just further contributes to diet culture by giving people a free pass to monitor someone’s weight to determine if they are worthy of praise.
The resentment and ridicule of rich celebrities choosing to become slimmer comes from the perception that they’ve taken the easy way out. Losing weight can overtake your brand and be the subject of headlines for the rest of your life, as stars like Oprah Winfrey, Adele, and Rebel Wilson know.
Much of society’s hatred for fat people comes from the assumption that we’re lazy and thus deserve less respect. Women are expected to labor to optimize our bodies as much as possible while making sure said optimization looks authentic and effortless, lest we be accused of cutting corners.
If weight loss happens too fast, people will assume you didn’t do enough to deserve it. A weekly shot of misery-inducing diabetes medication is too easy. Using Ozempic is cheating, and you will be ridiculed with the same fervor we reserve for nepo babies we feel have had an unfair career boost.
Pharmacies have reported a serious shortage of Ozempic for the patients who need it as a treatment for diabetes, and people are judged for using it just to lose weight. But we live in a world that equates thinness with health, and it’s likely that those who can obtain the drug will use that same logic to justify their usage. Rich people will always have access to the best, most limited drugs. And we’re making them feel like they need to.
As it stands, we’re hated for being fat, and hated for becoming thin. It’s a contradictory, nonsensical thought pattern.
Even the internet, once a medium that allowed me to be a formless void, requires me to reckon with my body on a daily basis.
As a fat person, I don’t know how I’m supposed to love myself in a world like this. If I want to retain any fragile shred of self-love I manage to conjure in my mind, I can’t go outside, and I can’t go online. Even the internet, once a medium that allowed me to be a formless void, requires me to reckon with my body on a daily basis. The hyper-specific algorithm knows what makes me emotional too well. I don’t post photos of my body, and I don’t scroll without intention. In my career as a writer, the most common feedback I get from readers is about my weight.
I’m left hiding inside myself, hoping for a sea change in the hearts of a billion strangers, knowing that I shouldn’t change for anyone but feeling like I have no other choice than to shrink in every way.
As my rage melts back into self-hatred, I keep asking myself the same question: If a true miracle drug for thinness existed — if I weren’t afraid to go to the doctor knowing they blame my every ailment on my weight, and if using the drug wouldn’t take it away from someone who needs it to manage a chronic disease — would I partake? I don’t know. I can’t even make myself want to leave the house right now. But I do know I wouldn’t be entertaining these questions if there wasn’t so much value placed on being thin.