Wanting to be THIN is ‘white supremacy’: NPR guest and author of ‘Fat Talk’ claims people’s desire to be slim stems from the end of slavery as Americans sought other ways to ‘demonize black and brown bodies’ ‘
- A guest on NPR’s Fresh Air said the aversion to fatness stems from the end of slavery
- Virginia Sole-Smith wants to end the negative connotations of fatness
- She is the author of the new book “Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture”
A guest on NPR’s show Fresh Air promoted the idea that the desire to be thin stems from white supremacy while discussing how parents should tell their kids about their weight.
Journalist Virginia Sole-Smith appeared on the show on Tuesday to discuss her new book Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture, which includes the theory that fat phobia dates back to the end of slavery in the US.
Her argument is that when slavery was abolished and African Americans began to gain rights, white supremacists tried to perpetuate old inequalities by demonizing black bodies and glorifying slimness.
“This is really about maintaining systems of white supremacy and patriarchy,” she said on the show.
Journalist Virginia Sole-Smith (pictured) is the author of Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture. It attempts to re-evaluate how parents communicate ideas about fatness to their children
Sole-Smith appeared on NPR’s show Fresh Air suggesting that the desire to be thin is a form of white supremacy
Sole-Smith argued that the solution to fat phobia is not to make everyone thin and that the language surrounding being fat should be more neutral and less derogatory.
“The chronic experience of weight stigma … is similar to the research we see on chronic experiences of racism or other forms of bias,” said Sole-Smith.
Sole-Smith also cited the work of Sabrina Strings and her recent book Fearing the Black Body. Strings argues that the modern aversion to being fat has nothing to do with health, but is instead a way of using weight to perpetuate racism and classism.
“Her research is about how, when slavery ended, black people gained rights, obviously white supremacy is trying to maintain the power structure,” said Sole-Smith.
“So celebrating a thin white body as the ideal body is a way of being ‘different’ and demonizing black and brown bodies, bigger bodies, anyone who doesn’t fit that norm,” she added.
Sole-Smith proposes that toxic American beliefs about weight could be countered by encouraging parents to normalize fatness.
Sabrina Strings (pictured) is the author of Fearing the Black Body, which traces the rejection of black bodies back to the end of slavery in the US.
She self-identifies as “little fat” and advocated making the term neutral rather than derogatory as a way to “take all the power out of the word.”
“We’re making it into something that can’t be used against us, and that’s really the first step to dismantling anti-fat biases,” she added.
Last year, TIME magazine experienced backlash after it published an article exploring a similar theme — claiming that sports were a form of white supremacy.
The piece, titled “The White Supremacist Origins of Exercise,” advanced the idea that exercise was a pastime begun in the early 1900s by white Americans seeking to strengthen their race amid rising immigration and the abolition of the slavery.
In Tuesday’s segment, Sole-Smith also mentions the recent prevalence of the weight-loss drug Ozempic, which has seen a surge in popularity, thanks in part to social media.
Celebrities including Elon Musk and Remi Bader have revealed that they used the drug to reduce fat.
Sole-Smith was critical of how Ozempic is consumed for weight loss and argued that the solution to fat phobia is not to make everyone thin.
She also spoke about the role pharmaceutical companies play in selling their drugs.
“These drugs are worth millions and millions of dollars and the industry has lobbied hard for the past few years to create this market,” she said.
Nevertheless, she acknowledged Ozempic’s ability as a diabetes drug.
“I want people to have access to the medication they need to treat their health issues and that’s what I’m really advocating for here overall, let’s focus on the health issues,” she added.