Cancer Research UK are not fat shaming

In the wise words of the late great Freddie Mercury: “Fat bottomed girls make the rockin’ world go round” a statement that is without hyperbole, fact – because there’s not a damn thing wrong with being thicc.

But another fact is that obesity does increase the risk of cancer. And after the recent cancer research backlash its evident we don’t understand what ‘fat’ really is. Fat shaming is real because beyond everything else – it sells. The insecurity elicited from advertisements of the idolised image of the skinny woman or muscular man makes us strive for that which is artificial and unattainable – resulting in all manner of mental health issues and stigmatisation.

But I don’t think the advertisement in question is guilty of that fat shaming – although it is ineffective. Amidst reports that *shudder* “millennials” are going to be the most obese generation yet; it seems to me that portraying obesity as the scary boogieman is just… lazy.

We start at the end point when instead there should be a greater focus on the key to any kind of health, whether that be mental or physical, which is balance – being unhealthy has less to do with weight than it does the delicious greasy stuff we put inside ourselves and the absence of exercise.

The line medicine draws is ultimately arbitrary – just look at sumo wrestlers – obese, yet in good health. But Cancer Research isn’t exactly making an advert aimed at sumo wrestlers. They have a responsibility to let people know the facts, but shock tactics only serve to desensitise us. Is it lazy? Yes. Do those chips look nice? Yes. But is it fat shaming? I’m inclined to say no. And it’s naïve to derail the evidence to support the increased risk of cancer associated with obesity even if our understanding of it is as unclear as ever.

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August 2021
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