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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Should Fat Shaming
be a Hate Crime?

‘Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and’…Katie Hopkins? On this memorable date Katie and I came ‘face to face’ in a heated discussion as I formed part of a panel discussion being filmed for her TLC documentary; To Fat and Back. The documentary will be aired in early 2015 and I’ll be writing a full account of my experience to coincide with the airing; so, this post is very much to be continued at a later date.

In the meantime, there is a particular ‘incident’ from that day that has already reared its head in the media; taking the form of a tweet from Katie herself and a delightful mention in her column in The Sun newspaper on 7 November 2014 (see left). What happened, I hear you ask? Well, I’m not going to flower it up; one of the participants accused Katie of hate crime (with regards to her fat shaming comments, I should add) and called the Police. I don’t know the individual’s reasons and my initial thought was of concern that someone felt so deeply affected by Katie’s comments that they felt it warranted Police attention. The initial statement formed part of the panel discussion, for which I was present, but I did not witness the filming of the telephone call or the aftermath (in which, I am informed, the individual discussed what had happened with the rest of the participants).

Some of the responses to Katie’s tweet and article have been incredibly insightful (note: sarcasm) and include treats such as ‘do the scales of justice go up to thirty stone?’ and ‘I think she’s mentally challenged…probably latent tuck shop issues’.

I digress. My second thought, and what I would like to discuss, is that fat shaming is not a hate crime. Hate crime only covers ‘crimes committed against someone because of their disability, gender-identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation’ (GOV.UK, 2014). If fat shaming were a hate crime this situation would be entirely different. As it stands, I think it will reflect poorly on those that were involved in the panel discussion (myself included), despite it being the actions of a sole individual. Reporting a non-existent crime comes across as naive, at best, and stupid, at worst; asides from the issue of wasting Police time.

So, now that we’ve established that fat shaming isn’t currently a hate crime, I ask; should it be? There is no doubt that fat shaming can and does have a negative impact on the wellbeing of many people, and I know from personal experience that the abuse isn’t always just verbal. However, I’m not convinced that it should be classed as a hate crime, particularly as I’m not sure what it’d achieve; it’d be a minefield to navigate. Does fat shaming have a long historical and cultural background, like other forms of hate crime?

I could go on forever, but I won’t bore you. I’ll just leave you with one, final, honest point...

You can’t walk into the lion’s den and expect not to get mauled.

6 comments:

  1. There is a precedent ... going back to the mid-1970's apparently. In the U.S., there are apparently six cities and one state where it is illegal to discriminate based on weight: http://mn.gov/mdhr/education/articles/rs10_2weightlaws.html

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    1. Ooh I had no idea about this, how interesting! I'll take a look. Thank you for sharing x

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  2. Hey hun, fine words there! I don't suppose you read my post on my opinion on fat shaming did you? http://henryskat.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-hype-about-fat-shaming-my-opinion.html - Check it out if you have 5...

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    1. I did see your post, it's a good read :)

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  3. Interesting post on what can be a very contentious topic. I swing from ashamed and frustrated about my size to proud of my curves on what seems like a weekly basis. In my opinion, fat shaming has a long culture of being acceptable. It's frowned upon to be fat, it's seen as a sign of laziness, no self control, lack of intelligence, ugly, etc. Look at how it is portrayed in films, music videos, in books. There are always negative connotations. I don't think making fat shaming a hate crime would do any good but we certainly need to do something to re-educate / re-culturalise society.
    I think it's more important to nurture good health, good body confidence and a society that welcomes differences than to penalise an idiot who thinks it is funny to get air time from making others feel bad based on their waist line!
    Meh- bit of a long winded rant. I think I could go on and on too lol!

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    1. I agree with you :) and I don't think it was long-winded haha! Body confidence/acceptance/positivity is an ongoing journey and a daily battle for many of us, myself included. Don't hate, educate!

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