Fat shaming has struck again as British singer and reality TV star Jamelia said that high street brands should not be catering to the plus-size crowd because she thinks it sends a bad message. Heat World reported today that Jamelia, on a recent episode of Loose Women (a daytime panel show) said: "I don't believe stores should stock clothes below or above a certain weight. [Plus people] should be made to feel uncomfortable when they go in and can't find a size." So, yeah. Let's absolutely try and make people feel even more uncomfortable about their size than they already may be. Of course, this is an irrevocably terrible comment, but even worse? The reasoning behind it.
"I think everyone should have access to lovely clothes, but I do not think it's right to facilitate people living an unhealthy lifestyle," Jamelia continued. "It shouldn't be normalized in high street stores. They should have specialist shops."
Here we go again, with the assumption that being plus-size automatically means that one has poor health, but even more striking, that we should determine someone's worth by their health. I honestly can't believe that it's 2015 and that it has to be re-explained that people are and can be healthy at any size. But that even if someone is not in pristine health, acceptance should be a given nonetheless.
The aspect of Jamelia's statement that is particularly problematic is that she feels that plus-size people should have to shop at their own stores, implying that they don't deserve to be allowed to shop amongst everyone else. Although this makes me feel 100 kinds of grossed out, it also shows that people still have a serious lack of knowledge about plus-size clothing and body positivity. That is already pretty much the reality, since few shops have lines that go above a size 12 or even specialty plus-size ranges.
The thing is, there are so many different definitions of what healthy is and what healthy means to different people that I honestly can't even imagine trying to decide if someone is healthy or not just by looking at them. I mean, unless their head has been completely severed from their body. I cannot help but wonder if Jamelia also want to ban smokers from buying high street clothing? How about thin people who don't meet her standards of what she defines as "healthy?" Even if we could determine someone's health from their appearance, I don't really understand why someone who isn't healthy has to be stripped of their humanity and the ability to wear whatever they want. What about people with disabilities and chronic illness? Are they somehow less human than everyone else? Obviously not — but this logic treads a dangerous path.
I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: Fat shaming doesn't work. Seriously, if Jamelia thinks that if we just make people feel uncomfortable by not carrying their sizes at stores, then they might finally wise up and get fit (because if you're fat, you obviously don't work out) — she's simply wrong. And science has proven it. What I wish she would grasp instead is why body policing is so harmful. As a celebrity, I'm sure she's no stranger to people dissecting her appearance and tearing apart everything from her clothes to how her body looks. The solution to this garbage is not to make other people feel even worse.
And honestly? I'm just bored of the entire mindset. Jamelia's comments are nothing new, and actually serve as a reminder that so many people still do think this way. Unfortunately, fat phobia is still a very real thing and people will go to great lengths to distance themselves from plus-size people. Even by suggesting that "they" have to shop at a different clothing store.
People speaking out of turn about plus-size clothing or the relationship between health and size, in which they obviously have little to no knowledge or expertise, is old news. Seriously, myth debunked — move on. This is why the size acceptance movement is just as important as ever. Not only for people of size who need to find self-acceptance and messaging to drown out the ignorance, but also for mainstream acceptance of all bodies and an actual nuanced understanding of health and its lack of relationship to worthiness. Having a few more places to shop or having a few models that look vaguely outside of the mainstream's narrow definition of beautiful is nice, sure, but never hearing comments like this again would be even nicer.
Images: Getty; Giphy