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A belly full of laughs

By Eva Noller

There’s nothing like a pandemic to bring out the fat jokes.

Whilst we sit at and work from home, colleagues far and wide are revelling in the opportunity to wear stretchy pyjamas all day and being able to pop to the fridge for a quick snack for the 15th time (in the last hour). And instead of heading out for a swim, dance class or jog home from the office, the walk to the sofa for an evening of back to back episodes of Drag Race barely gets the heart rate moving. People are wondering what effect this might have on their waistlines.

 

Unfortunately, this also means fatphobia is ripe on social media channels. You cannot scroll through Instagram without seeing an augmented image of someone with bulging thighs and bellies, or check out Facebook without stumbling across a thinly veiled joke of how furniture all over the world is struggling to accommodate the added strain.

 

Because fat is funny.

 

Is it?

 

Somehow, fat-shaming in the times of Covid has become a perfectly acceptable thing to do – because people automatically associate the circumference of their trousers with their state of health. Thing is – weight loss isn’t guaranteed to improve your health, and the stigma of being overweight can have a much worse impact on someone’s physical or mental health.

 

Over 1.6 million people are estimated to have an eating disorder in the UK – some sources saying this is grossly underestimated and the true number is likely to be closer to 4 million. Eating disorders can manifest in different ways – the most common being anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. In a world of picture filters and photoshopped Insta perfection, triggers for someone struggling with one of these mental illnesses are everywhere.

 

The current disruption to our everyday routines has also been catastrophic for those suffering from eating disorders, with support charities seeing a spike in requests for help. For anyone who has endured a long struggle to forge healthy eating habits, a sudden change in pattern can undo a lot of hard work. Teamed with the current stress of uncertainty, seeing or hearing constant fat-shaming jokes could be enough to spark a return to an unhealthy relationship with food.

 

So instead of sending negative weight-related gags to others, why not focus on being kind and good to yourself:

  • Exercise because it sets free endorphins and makes you feel good
  • Eat your fruit and veg to help you power your brain
  • Drink lots of water – because basically that’s good for just about anything
  • Laugh loud and free with people, not at them

And try not to beat yourself up for having more chocolate than usual because you happen to be sat five metres from the fridge every day.

 

Next time you feel the urge to share a fat joke on social media, maybe consider why you think fat is funny or how this could be triggering to someone in your circle of friends or family.

 

And if you need advice on how to deal with your bodies when everyone else is joking about it – this fatty is here to help. Just don’t expect me to be laughing at the jokes.

 

 

Need more help?

 

You can also talk in total confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat by using their online chat service, or calling their helpline on 0808 801 0677.