‘Take It As A Compliment.’ The Conversations Around Sexual Misconduct And Fat Bodies

By Jessi Roti
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Jessi Roti reports, “Many accused of sexual misconduct have leaped to using the size of their accusers as some type of defense. It’s been ingrained into the culture, breeding fatphobia and other biases against people based on their size.”

Chicago Tribune

Those of us beyond a certain size have all heard at one point or another: “You’re pretty, for a fat girl.”

Unfortunately, a 17-year-old heard it from the judge presiding over a trial last year in Montreal in which a 49-year-old taxi driver was found guilty of sexually assaulting her.

“It can be said that she is a little overweight, but she has a pretty face, huh?” said Judge Jean-Paul Braun.

The judge continued, suggesting that the teen was “flattered” because it could’ve been the first time a man expressed interest in her.

Cue heavy sighs from women everywhere, particularly fat women, myself included. Rightly so, Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee called the judge’s comments “unacceptable” and filed a formal complaint.

The message is clear: Our bodies are open to prescription, ridicule, lecturing and pity. We’re so far removed from the public narrative around issues of assault and harassment that if someone shows a sign to the contrary, take what you can get. Take it as a compliment.

No.

Sexual harassment and assault are not compliments to anyone, especially those who don’t fit the normative definition of attractive.

Many accused of sexual misconduct have leaped to using the size of their accusers as some type of defense. It’s been ingrained into the culture, breeding fatphobia and other biases against people based on their size.

After every new case, experts remind us that sexual assault is about power, not physical desirability or the sexual acts themselves.

Still we hear stories of some survivors purposefully gaining weight and avoiding makeup or wearing fitted clothing to make themselves “less desirable.”

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