Commentary: Is It OK to Shame Fat Men?

Here’s the problem with publicly body snarking guys. 

Posted: 05/21/2014 01:14 PM EDT
Rob Kardashian

(Photo: Juilano-Maciel/X17online.com)

When Rob Kardashian got photographed in all of his extra poundage on the way to France for sister Kim’s wedding, social media and blogs went crazy. He was fat, he was depressed, he was suicidal they all said with mean-spirited glee. And, even more, how dare he not get himself together knowing that he had to attend the biggest wedding of the year?

Now that everyone has forgotten about Solange, Rob’s hefty girth became the talk of the tabloid town. The photos shouldn’t have been a shock for anyone who watches Keeping Up With the Kardashians, where his struggles as an emotional eater have been well documented over many seasons. But considering he had not been photographed in a long time, it was stunning to the rest of the world.

Although body shaming anyone is rude, is it not as bad since Rob isn’t a woman? Was it a more damaging message to society — and more hurtful — when the press used to go after Khloe as the chubby Kardashian? Because women are the ones held to such dangerously high standards of appearance, and also because how a woman looks has a stronger impact on her chances of success, some might argue that it’s not so serious when a man is the focus.  

For Rob, it mattered a lot. "So I found out I was trending for being fat…" he tweeted. "Thank you all, it really made my day :)" And even though he shot back that everyone must have run out of “real news” to care so much about how he looked, he also must have felt the need to explain himself, since he posted, "I'm a grown man and will work on myself when I choose.” And, "I'm aware that I'm fat that def aint a surprise to me lol and my only therapy will be in the gym..."

His sister Khloe also didn’t keep quiet but she definitely wasn’t interested in giving an explanation for how Rob looks. She said his critics were “disgusting” “shallow souls” who should be ashamed of themselves. But as someone who faced a lot of public criticism about her weight, what she said next is more telling: “Your words are cutting deeper than you know,” she said, and she added they could leave “lifetime scars.” Because, while we may want to feel like it’s not such a big deal to be cruel to a man about his weight, in truth, social media and tabloids have helped to make them as insecure and as critical of themselves as women, now that they are held up to the same scrutiny and public debates.

So if there is any lesson taken from Rob Kardashian, it should be that we need to all shut up.


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