College warns students against ‘fatphobic’ phrases like ‘you have such a pretty face’

Mount Holyoke College's diversity office posted a guide with “fatphobic” phrases.

Phrases included “you’re so brave," and “that’s so flattering on you.”

The Mount Holyoke College Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion shared a guide on social media called “Phrases You Didn’t Know Were Fatphobic.” 

Phrases included “you’re so brave,” “that’s so flattering on you,” “you have such a pretty face,” “you carry yourself well,” and “I’m so bad for eating this.”

The college informed students  on August 10 that calling someone “brave” can imply that “there’s a reason” overweight people “shouldn’t show off [their] bodies or be proud of them,” and that “no one should be considered 'brave'  for simply existing in their fat body.”

“That’s so flattering on you," the college said, implies that dressing oneself is about appearing “smaller” and fitting into “society’s outdated thin ideal.”

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Calling someone's face "pretty" is also off-limits, because it suggests that someone’s face “is their only redeeming or acceptable” feature and “that fat is not beautiful.” 

Saying someone carries himself or herself well “reinforces the negative stereotype” that plus-sized people are “lazy, sloppy, and not well-kept.”

Certain comments about one’s own eating habits were also called into question, specifically the phrase "I'm so bad for eating this."

“Not only is this phrase incredibly triggering, but it also feeds into a harmful narrative created by diet culture that teaches ‘good’ foods versus ‘bad’ foods,” the post stated. “No one should feel embarrassed or guilty for eating sugar, carbs, etc. Food is essential to live, and there's no reason to fear that.”

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The office acknowledged that the guide was originally posted on the Instagram account The Power of Plus, which, according to the account's description, is “a size-inclusive digital community proving that fashion is for every body..."

The Mount Holyoke College Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office stated in its Instagram caption that it is “taking time to reflect on these everyday comments/phrases that are microaggressions.”

“I think that there are lots of things that people are not aware of that, in general, are actually hurtful,” Mount Holyoke College freshman Evelyn Bushway told Campus Reform

She spoke about her own personal experience with losing weight and people complimenting her. 

“When people say things like that to me I feel so self-conscious of what I looked like before,” she added. “Talking about weight in general is really hard to do without offending anyone but questions and statements like that said to the right (or wrong) person could be detrimental to their mental and physical health.”

The college's post came during the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed tens of thousands of Americans, many of whom had underlying conditions. One of those underlying conditions, which, according to medical experts, makes one more susceptible to contracting the deadly virus, is obesity. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, "people of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19." Among the conditions placing someone at "increased risk" for coronavirus is "obesity." 

According to the CDC's latest numbers, the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. in 2017-2018 was 42.4 percent, the 12th highest in the world. 

Nauru, Cook Islands, Palau, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Niue, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati, Micronesia, and Kuwait were the only countries in the world with adult obesity rates higher than that of the U.S., according to the CIA World Fact Book's most recently published data.

Mount Holyoke did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article: Lela Gallery