Plus-sized black women deal with things that others might not consider — and being shamed for eating publicly is one of them. Self-described ‘hood feminist’ Ashleigh Shackelford (IG, FB) is pushing back against the notion that fat black women should feel shame for existing in public spaces. Shackelford published the following photo to her Instagram and Facebook accounts with this caption;
” #FatandVisible Eating in public for fat folks often means being watched, being berated with unsolicited opinions, or being violated. I’ve had strangers take nonconsensual pictures of me when I eat in public spaces. I’ve eaten salads and had strangers tell me they’re proud of me. I’ve eaten burgers and been told that I should take care of my body more. I’ve had someone take my plate away from me as a means of teaching me a lesson about eating because apparently I could “afford to miss some meals.” Literally, my time eating in public is often met with thin strangers’ fatphobic voyeurism and violence in which they feel entitled to my body and my choices.
Public Service Announcement: Fat bodies are not sites for your opinions, violent ideologies, or insecurities. We do not give a fuck about what you think about us eating or about what we’re eating. Human beings need to eat to survive. But that’s the problem — fat people are not humanized. We’re seen as inconveniences. We’re seen as sloths that don’t deserve basic human needs.
Fat people can eat whatever the fuck we want, whenever the fuck we want, however the fuck we want. Being fat does not inherently mean that we do not take care of our bodies nor does it mean we’re unhealthy. But even if we are unhealthy, what does it matter? Why is health seen as the pinnacle of life’s achievement? Why is health conflated with thinness and beauty standards? What is health and wellness in a white supremacist context? What is health when we don’t have access to humanity and safety in our own bodies? Do you stop thin people and ask them what their cholesterol is? Do you ask thin people why they eat burgers instead of quinoa?
Stop thinking fat people deserve to be violated because you think being fat is the worst thing in the world. Stop violating fat people because you think it will encourage us to lose weight. Stop telling fat people what we should do with our bodies. Stop policing the food we decide/ have access to eat.
Our bodies are not problems.
Our bodies do not exist for you.”
The photo soon went viral, being shared more than 900 times on Facebook and heartily affirmed by Shackelford’s black woman fans. People weighed in in the comments with their own reflections;
“Crazy, many people are ashamed to eat in public just for the reasons you stated. You are obviously gorgeous and the only ammo haters have is to say you’re fat, cause you would never give them the time of day!?!? I HATE THIS SOCIETY. Keep doing you, Relentlessly???”
“Amen sista as far as I’m concerned you are beautiful and I would floss you anywhere..f*ck people and what they say..don’t let their hang ups be your down fall…fuck whatever they gotta say cause it don’t mean shit no way..”
“As a 5’9”, 315lbs chunky guy w/ a belly, I wholeheartedly agree with this message.”