In a body-critiqued culture where fat shaming and photo shopping is done daily, students at Castleton University stand up for size acceptance and are learning to love their bodies, no matter what size.
Ragen Chastain filled up the 1787 room at her Soundings event Thursday, Oct. 15 that taught students about positive body image. Chastain is an activist and a self-acclaimed fat person; and she loves, accepts, and appreciates her body.
“I believe that basic respect and the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not size dependent. I believe that it is impossible to tell somebody’s health based on their size,” said Chastain.
Fat shaming is everywhere. Celebrities in magazines are fat shamed and manipulated, even to the point where their skin tone is changed. Social media is becoming the ultimate tool to criticize and embarrass people, mostly anonymously. The gym or fitness centers is a dangerous environment for judgment. Even walking down the street is open for rude drive-bys. The lesson of rejecting and hating your body is the norm.
“I’ve been walking down the street before and I’ve heard ‘mooing’,” said Chastain. Students’ mouths dropped with disgust.
Not only are fat people being shamed, but skinny shaming is just as problematic.
“Haven’t you heard people say, ‘God she’s so skinny, eat a sandwich,’ said Chastain laughing at the irony that people can’t ever win in the battle of criticism.
When one male student in the crowd rebuttled Chastain’s research asking her if she disagreed with major institutions such as NIH (National Institute of Health) and she replied with, “you’re damn right I do,” students applauded wildly for her.
“Savage,” said junior Rosalie Burke clapping for Chastain.
Senior Emily Haley went to the event and left in tears of joy.
“I thought that woman had the most well evidenced push for unconditional body acceptance I have ever heard. It was moving, both experience and research-based, logical, and she stood up as a stubbornly truthful underdog opponent to throngs of misleading pseudo-scientific media outlets … she made me cry,” said Haley.
There is still so much misinformation in the news that promotes size conditional shame, but more exposure to people like Chastain has the potential to reframe health issues in terms of how people feel, not how they look.