In the news today is a shocking story of a fight that broke out between two 16-year-old schoolboys in a school lunchroom. One of the boys ended up dead after being stabbed in the heart. Most of the news coverage is focused on the fact that the fight started when the victim refused to give the other boy one of his biscuits. What only a couple of them have mentioned is that the resulting argument descended into name calling, but it was only when the perpetrator called the victim’s mother “fat” that he lashed out.
I’ve written before about how fat shaming can be lethal. In that case, an otherwise healthy 41-year-old mother of three chose to undergo bariatric surgery to prevent her kids being bullied about her weight. A series of medical errors during and after the surgery cost her her life, although the cause of death on her death certificate was listed as “morbid obesity.” When this was challenged by her mother, the coroner returned a verdict of “death by accidental adverse healthcare,” otherwise known to you and me as malpractice.
When being called fat is such a terrible insult that these things happen, something has to change. How many more victims of the neoliberal bootstrapping ‘War on Obesity’ need to fall before people start to take weight stigma seriously?