While doing a simple scroll on apps such as Tik Tok, a viewer can find comments on large-bodied creators that range from, “Well maybe if you just lost some weight…” to “You can easily lose weight if you just ate in a calorie deficit.” These comments are not made on the videos of thin creators, though. No one is giving them advice on how to “bulk.”
It is inappropriate to comment on a person’s weight in general, but it is especially inappropriate to assume that plus-size people need to lose weight. There is a stigma that plus-size people are inherently unhealthy, which is simply just not true. A person’s physical size is not an indicator of their health and wellbeing; indicators such as heart rate and blood pressure give a better picture of a person’s health.
TV shows such as My 600 Pound Life have created the stigma that all large people gained weight through their own carelessness, when there are actually more reasons why people gain weight — especially for women and people who identify as women. People can gain weight due to genetic factors, illnesses, disabilities and even birth control, so to simply point to what someone eats, or how much they eat, as the sole reason why they gain weight and then give them weight loss advice based on that assumption is insulting and humiliating.
Additionally, because people see weight gain as a personal flaw, they neglect the idea that people are all made differently and will gain and lose weight differently. Everyone could follow the exact same diet and fitness routine, but each person will experience different results from that diet plan.
While it may seem that people giving weight loss advice to complete strangers on the internet is innocent and helpful, it is actually very fatphobic. Smaller-sized people do not face the same level of unsolicited dieting advice as larger people do. People who are smaller still face comments, such as “Oh you need to eat more,” but they do not hear those comments as frequently as larger people hear they need to lose weight.
In that same vein, the question of why people “need” to lose weight is raised. If someone is perfectly healthy at the size they are at, what is the motivator to lose weight, and why does a complete stranger feel the need to tell someone they don’t know they need to lose weight? The comment of needing to lose weight and subsequently offering weight loss advice comes from a place of fatphobia and being uncomfortable with the idea that fat, healthy people can exist.
The last consideration ignored is whether someone actually wants to lose weight. There are large-bodied, perfectly healthy people who do not want to lose weight. This could be because they are comfortable with their appearance, they are recovering from an eating disorder or general disordered eating habits, or their reason could be private because no one has to justify their appearance to anyone — especially strangers on the internet.
Jillian Craig is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Jillian know by tweeting her at @JillianCraig18.