It is hard to argue with the fact that double standards exist. Turn on any TV and you’ll see beautiful, thin women celebrated, while those deemed less attractive, or God forbid, “fat” are cast to the side and mocked.
Women’s bodies are constantly being dissected. Whether it’s Amber Rose being made fun of because she’s a little too thick in the thighs in some people’s eyes, or Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson catching flack for getting “too thin,” women stay losing when it comes to discussions of weight.
But should we? When weight and body issues come up, why are women always getting the brunt of the criticism?
In a new article on Salon.com, David Sirota takes a look at the double standards between the way in which overweight men and women are viewed. In “Why the Fat Guy Should Lose His Privilege,” Sirota wonders why the double standard even exists when there are more overweight men than women.
“Considering those troubling statistics, Advertising Age’s headline this week is welcome news: ‘Weight Watchers Picks a New Target: Men.’ The story details how the nation’s biggest diet company is using the NBA playoffs to launch its first male-focused advertising campaign. Sounds great — except for one thing: Why only now?
“This is a significant question in a country whose debilitating weight problem is more male than female — and “more” means a heckuva lot more. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost 70 percent of men are overweight, compared with 52 percent of women. Yet, somehow, 90 percent of the commercial weight-loss industry’s clients are female, and somehow, this industry hasn’t seen males as a viable business. How can that be?”
While many (including some Black men) knock Black women for their weight, citing that 80% of us are overweight or obese, most don’t ever mention the fact that 70% of Black men and 72% of White men (and 60% of white women) also fall into this category.
Why is this? Why are some quick to point out a woman’s flaws, but not those of her male counterparts?
For Sirota, it’s simple, overweight men get a pass.
“In comedy, fat guys from Chris Farley to Kevin James haven’t been venerated in spite of their huskiness — their humor has been seen as more valuable because of their size. Same thing in the drama genre: From John Goodman to James Gandolfini, male girth is seen as either innocuous or beneficial. But how many major comediennes or actresses get the same treatment? Very few.”
While the media continues to scrutinize every pound female celebrities gain or lose, this attitude has spilled over into our every day lives. We have an entire industry that is predicated on making sure women are completely obsessed with their weight, not just living healthier lives.
From magazines telling us we can drop 10 pounds by Saturday to the latest workout informercial promising fantastic results in just two weeks, women are constantly bombarded with the idea that our body is just not good enough.
But is the answer to revoke “fat man privilege” and make men feel just as bad about their bodies as many women do? Not quite. As Anna North of Jezebel wrote, “Instead of extending fat-shame to a whole new group of people, we can offer them well-being and acceptance instead.”
I couldn’t agree more.
What do you think? Do overweight men get a pass? If so, why? Sound off!