The oppressive nature of sizeism

Zara DeGroot

Zara DeGroot

What is the worst thing you could be called? For me, I’d take grave offense if someone told me I looked like Rob Kardashian. But that has happened before. If someone told me I looked like 2014 Rob Kardashian, I’d be even more offended, and probably cry into a piece of cheesecake. Why is that? Because he put on some weight during that time and I would assume people were telling me I was “fat” like Rob. Why is “fat” the worst thing we can be called?

Behind the word “fat” lies connotations of being lazy, unintelligent and undesirable. Not only is it a jab at someone’s image, it is an attack of their character.


Sizeism, discrimination based on an individual’s size, is a problem in our culture. I’d even go as far as to say that it is a form of oppression. The idea of being the “right size” is on our minds far more than it should be. With print advertisements in every paper and magazine, to photos of Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel on Instagram, the pressure to possess the ideal body is all around us.

About 5 percent of women naturally have that petite, slender form we all strive for. The rest of us are over here struggling because we want to eat all of our baked ziti, but don’t want to switch our skinny jeans for our fat pants the next day. It is ridiculous that only one female body type is being displayed, because it leaves out a large chunk of the population. The same goes for men. Not every man is as beefy and greased up as those “Vogue” advertisements show. It would suck if every guy was that beefy, because if he put you in a headlock, your head would pop off. That’s not sexy, that’s terrifying.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the solution to this is to simply “love yourself.” Yes, that is a good place to start. Self-hatred, in many cases, is deathly. But hatred of our bodies started after the standard of body size was set. It’s not an achievable goal, one that many individuals spend their whole lives trying for anyway. Loving yourself is easier said than done, and being told to do so does not fix the problem.

I’m not going to tell you the answer to your problem is to love your body. And I’m not going to say “be healthy,” because that’s always annoying. The solution to this problem is how we collectively view one another. If we keep trying to mold to the collective “beauty” standard, nothing is going to change. We need to stop equating one’s character with their body size. A woman with curves isn’t necessarily “unhealthy” just because she carries more weight. She might actually be healthier than a super-thin woman who is overworking or under-nourishing her body. At the end of the day, if your body houses your mind and soul, it is a pretty great body.

Our body types should not define who we are or what we are capable of achieving. Let’s try to focus on what really matters about each other, and start to appreciate the diverse personalities around us, rather than if we can fit into our friend’s Hollister jeans, which we all know is impossible if you carry any weight on you. We are too worried about our outward appearance, when we could be educating ourselves on world events, or even empowering one another to make a difference. Body types are marginal in the grand scheme of things, and it is sad we cannot accept one another otherwise. So if you get told you look like Rob Kardashian, take it as a compliment rather than an insult, because you are being compared to an entrepreneur of a successful sock brand.

Collegian Columnist Zara DeGroot can be reached at, or on Twitter @Zar_degroot