The Taylor Swift Anti-Hero ‘fatphobia’ backlash completely misses the point

There is an absolute logical short circuit in accusing a woman who has had an eating disorder, a literal phobia of weight gain, of being fatphobic. Of course she’s fatphobic, she’s been taught for her entire life that a thin body is a tool for success. She’s a megastar in her thirties – she’s already on borrowed time. Magazines have literally printed pictures of Taylor when she has gained weight, speculating about whether she’s pregnant or just “piling on the pounds.” It cannot come as any surprise that one of the most famous and scrutinized women in the world feels enormous pressure to look a certain way.

Critics claim that the original Anti-Hero video perpetuated the stigma around fatness, portraying it as something undesirable, something to hate about yourself. The outcry plays into a very 2022 trend of expecting people to say what is acceptable rather than what is true. Should women hate themselves for their weight? No. Should we be terrified of being fat? Of course not. But pretending that we’ve already reached a utopia where women feel fine about weight gain doesn’t make it true.

Celebrities have been claiming they feel sexier when they gain weight, that they work out for their mental health or to feel “strong”, but all they’ve done is repackage the obsession with an entirely conventional kind of beauty. Teenagers are still starving themselves, photoshopping their pictures and crying into the mirror, injecting their faces and buying shapewear before they’ve finished puberty. The denial that thinness is revered and fatness reviled doesn’t make it any less true, it just makes it harder to understand why you feel terrible about yourself if you don’t meet the standard expected of you.

There is a common sentiment among younger generations that how a piece of art is received is the responsibility of its creator. “Impact, not intent! is the refrain echoing around TikTok. Obviously, this way lies madness. It’s impossible to make any kind of art without triggering someone. That’s sort of what art is for – to provoke a reaction. It is our individual responsibility how we react to things. If you are actively hurt by a single word – in this case “fat” – that you need to explore why. Use the art which triggers you as a compass, pointing you at the things you need to reflect on and explore. Don’t blame the person who made it for your reaction. The chorus of Anti-Hero goes: “It’s me / Hi/ I’m the problem/ It’s me.” A sentiment which I hope people might start to absorb.


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