Fatphobia in BYU’s media
When many hear the word ‘fat,’ they think of ‘unhealthy,’ ‘ugly,’ and more, but that is
unrealistic. There are many fat people that are fit and beautiful. Being fat is not a shameful thing. In 2016, about 40% of adults in America were obese, yet do you remember any fat people in photos you were emailed when encouraged to apply to BYU?
In media worldwide, but specifically at and for BYU, there is not adequate representation of fat students and faculty, creating a toxic environment that is not inviting to all; this needs to change. When asked if they noticed a discrepancy in the representation of fat people in BYU media, a graduate student shared her experience: “I couldn’t bear the thought of people making fun of me based on my weight when they didn’t even know me. All of the ads on campus reinforced that.”
A toxic culture exists in our society that causes people to think like that student, and exclusionary ads only perpetuate that thinking. The same graduate student summarized her point, saying: “All the ads on campus seemed to show thin girls. It was terrifying to think that I might not belong or be liked because I didn’t look like them.” Think about that. BYU media reflects our students and yet it isn’t an accurate depiction and is hurting people in the process. Who does that help?
The gospel, and thus our university, teaches that we are made in God’s image. We are taught to love and accept others. However, the ad campaigns and media around campus are doing the opposite. Representation has improved astronomically for gender and race. It needs to keep improving for all, especially fat people.
The prodigal press
A small white pamphlet was tucked under my apartment door, catching my eye and attention. Slightly disgruntled by the solicitation, I resolved to research the mysterious paper more when I got home. Weren’t there enough conflicting voices in the world without another pamphlet grasping for attention?
When I followed the link on the pamphlet, I found the words “Not quite holy, not quite heretical” printed across the home page of a newspaper website, along with a handful of controversial topics plastered in web article titles below. The alarm bells in my head rang as I realized this “news source” was designed to influence, not inform.
A poorly written mission statement addressed the paper’s existence and explained that it was a platform for underrepresented opinions from misrepresented individuals. However, I found that the same issues were addressed there as on every other nationally recognized platform. With a false goal of unifying the student body, this paper was a desperate attention grab and did not even follow its stated mission. Additionally, I wondered how a paper that seeks to validate people can disregard and trample on the beliefs and values of most students here at BYU and expect to be taken seriously.
Members of the BYU community need to seriously consider using platforms that already exist — like The Daily Universe — to express their opinions. With the ever-increasing abundance of platforms on this campus, be a unifying voice and know when it’s better to cut out the noise.