Rowan students discuss history of fat shaming at social justice event


The Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution (SJICR) held a talk on fat shaming this week titled “Fat(ness) in American Culture- Responses to Fat Shaming.”  

Assistant Director of Women and Inclusion Programs Joanna Murphy presented the talk on Mar. 1., which covered a wide range of issues women face concerning their bodies in the modern era, especially those who are considered overweight.

“When we see a thin person, we assume they are healthy, and when we see a fat person, we assume they are not,” Murphy said.

The media, government, environment and socioeconomic issues all play a role in this phenomenon, according to Murphy.

Concerning the media, Murphy mentioned the trajectory of advertising as another form of fat shaming that has remained pervasive for more than 100 years. In 1890, weight-loss ads aimed at women first began to appear. From then to now, this advertising increased, with now more than 90 percent of weight-loss ads aimed at women.  

Gardy Guiteau, director of SJICR, provided an example of an environmental factor that may influence a person’s ability to exercise, saying, “maybe in the place I live, it’s not safe to stay outside.”

Murphy also pointed out that correlation does not imply causation, noting that “thin people can have heart disease. Don’t say fatness causes blank.”

Freshman theatre design/tech major Tori Taloga touched on the complicated relationship between weight and the body.

“People keep taking something as complex as the human body and eating problems and simplifying it into something you can walk off,” she said.

Junior communication studies major Bri Ozalas mentioned the importance of body positivity between generations.

“I just think that talking about this topic is important because it affects not only us, but also the people younger and older in a kind of cyclical relationship,” she said.

Ozalas also brought up her younger sister, someone she wants to impact positively.

“If we learn this information, we can teach younger people to love and accept their bodies for how they are instead of trying to fit into a very small box,” she added. “I hope I can paint an image for my sister to not have to worry about that kind of thing.”

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