Fat visibility has been rising at a rapid pace. Even Cosmo has started to advocate for body positivity, which means hell froze over, and we are living in a positive, post apocalyptic world. Special K, known for their exclusive cereal diet, decided to jump along on the body talk bandwagon.
Special K teamed with Tyra Banks and gathered a bunch of “fat talk” tweets and comments and plastered them up in a fake store called “Shhh”. It seems really obvious that there are no fat people under their employment, because this campaign lacked mighty fat guidance. One of the comments read, “I have a muffin top”. Special K added a simple-minded “Shhhh” to the left side of the comment, printed it on a label for the shoppers to read, and called it a body positive campaign. Let’s not forget, Special K is a company that sells diet food, along with a diet “plan”. They are not here for a person’s mental health; the company’s main basis is to have you buy their products so you can lose weight. By campaigning to #FightFatTalk, they are also pushing their weight loss products. This is directly about fat erasure, not body acceptance.
Back in the days of the glorious Tyra show, Ms. Banks dressed up in a fat suit in order to shed light on how fat people are mistreated. She learned, after a few short hours hours parading around in the suit, that being fat is hard. She described it as being “one of the most heart-breaking days of my life”. After the segment was finished, her rubber suit was removed, and Tyra went back to “smizing” in her straight sized body, with a new found pitying eye towards fat bodies.
Just like that, Tyra realized it was time to erase fat discrimination by erasing fat talk all together. Eight years later, and her distorted view of body positivity is still being promoted at large. She put herself in charge of shutting up every mouth that is talking about the burgers they put in it.
Special K’s “Shhhh” campaign does not advocate for body positivity. Instead, it advocates for the erasure of fat talk while encouraging fat to be seen negatively. Fat is so bad we will be shushed from identifying with it! The last line of the commercial, “reversing the fat talk. Making it positive talk” further reinforces that fat is negative talk. Special K has invited us to “fight fat talk” only because of their shallow concern with the way we identify and and use the word fat, and they are willing to get violent about it.
Excuse me, but I am happily fat. Instead of “fighting,” let’s open the dialogue about fat bodies. We can discuss how our bellies do cute things sometimes or about how proud we are to be just as we are. We should drown out the effervescent “shhhh” in our heads and exchange it with a vivacious “and perfect!” when we look in the mirror. (Or other positive phrases) Let’s promote how wonderful it is that we can love ourselves in our own skin, exactly the way it is.
If fat wasn’t such a bad word, it would be easier to listen to our bodies. Instead of looking in the mirror to decide how much weight you want to put on or lose, one can simply say “I feel like working out today because it will make my happy”, or “I would like to eat that cupcake because it is delicious.” If fat was a positive reinforcement for a fat body, the relationship between food and weight would not be as skewed as it is. Food would not be a reward or a punishment, as the powerful industry that is diet culture would love to have us believe. There has never been a better time for “riots not diets” to be shouted from a mountain top, overpowering every “shhhh” Tyra throws at us.