Abuse Based on Size

What is "size-ism"?

Size-ism is the chronic discrimination of someone because they are larger, smaller, less muscular, small-breasted, large-breasted, have a small(er) penis, are robust, fat, pear-shaped, pot-bellied, taller, shorter, etc. than someone else or groups of others. It is much like racism or class-ism. In the United States, the media abounds with images of what our ideal physical standards should be. Even the federal government has established standards of acceptable or "normal" weight ranges and anyone outside of these ranges are considered overweight, unhealthy, fat or even obese. There is still very little literature that exists which actually encourages individuals to be whatever body size/shape they choose, or that the one they have is good just the way it is. Many large people often are as conscious of their health, nutrition and exercise regimes as their smaller counterparts. There is also the false assumption that persons of ample size are less sexual than smaller or more "average" sized persons. Sexual libido/activity is not related to physical size or shape.

Each person gets to decide for themselves what their physical size, eating habits and activity level will be and with whom they will spend their time and/or have sexual exchanges with. Many people in the BDSM community believe that those who weigh more have "more padding", are able to take more physical sensation, are often assumed to be submissive or "in need of control", or are deferred to as an authority figure or even assumed to be "natural nurturers", etc. These are not necessarily true. Each person is an individual and has individual preferences and needs. Negotiate with new partners to determine their comfort level with physical intensity and other interests – do not assume them.

Discrimination also occurs when organizations or groups do not try to accommodate the needs of their members or event attendees by securing or stabilizing crosses or other dungeon equipment so that larger people are not in danger, placing medical supplies out of the reach of shorter individuals, overlooking the need to provide sturdy chairs for those that are not comfortable (or able) to stand for long periods of time or "perch" on something smaller, etc. Anyone who identifies as a "person of size" is entitled to the same safety and peace of mind considerations that any other individual receives. People of size do not deserve to receive discrimination, abuse or ridicule in any form.

What is considered abusive to or with a "person of size"?

Since mainstream society is still not fully accepting of many physical differences, nor are they sensitive as a whole to the needs of those who are larger than what is considered "normal", moral and social judgments and discrimination are still commonplace. Due to the oppression many people of size experience, self-esteem is often lowered in the individual and thusly abuse and domestic violence are frequently overlooked, discounted, tolerated or accepted as "deserved". When given an opportunity to engage or relate to and with a person of size, care must be taken not to perpetuate institutionalized discrimination and shame-based philosophies. Abusive behaviors towards these people often come in the form of criticism, judgments, exclusion, invalidation or restriction on their contributions or involvement. These individuals often find themselves invalidated for their beauty, sexuality, fitness, healthiness, etc. Random House Webster's Dictionary defines abuse as "to use wrongly or improperly" and "to treat in a harmful, injurious or offensive way." When someone coerces, manipulates, bribes or threatens another to agree to do something they don't want (like surgery, diets or forced exercise), or abandon something that is important to them (like enjoying their body the way it is), it can be assumed that the relationship is abusive and, if the partners are or have been intimates, then it is considered domestic violence. In either case each party should get help quickly.

What does abuse towards a person of size look like?

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Dr. Gloria Glickstein Brame
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