Origins of Weight Stigma #4: Toxic masculinity and sexism

Why do people hate and fear fat bodies?

Weight stigma β€” also known as fatphobia, fatmisia, anti-fatness and fat hatred β€” ties into threads of power and profit going back centuries. Let’s look at one of the factors: Toxic masculinity and sexism.

β€œThe concept of toxic masculinity is used in academic and media discussions of masculinity to refer to certain cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and to men themselves. Traditional stereotypes of men as socially dominant, along with related traits such as misogyny and homophobia, can be considered β€œtoxic” due in part to their promotion of violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. The socialization of boys in patriarchal societies often normalizes violence, such as in the saying β€œboys will be boys” with regard to bullying and aggression.” (courtesy @wikipedia)

Toxic masculinity is at the root of fat-hatred dynamics like the phenomenon of men daring each other to seduce a fat woman. (And, conversely, men being too ashamed to admit they’re dating a fat woman.)

Since toxic masculinity teaches men that they’re not β€œallowed” to be attracted to fat women, this also becomes a component of β€œfat admiration.” One reason fat admirers objectify fat women (and leave gross comments like slobber all over our online presences) may be that they feel their attraction is more socially acceptable if it’s overlaid with a toxic-masculinity-approved layer of objectification and boundary-crossing.

Read more about the origins of fatphobia.

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I believe that people in large bodies deserve the same rights and dignity as every other human. In my weekly newsletter the Body Liberation Guide, we dive deeper into body image, power, oppression, the beauty of fat bodies, what health looks like at every size, and what you can do personally to help end weight stigma.

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Hi there! I'm Lindley. I create artwork that celebrates the unique beauty of bodies that fall outside conventional "beauty" standards at Body Liberation Photography. I'm also the creator of Body Liberation Stock and the Body Love Shop, a curated central resource for body-friendly artwork and products. Find all my work here at