Twitter erupts over claim the word ‘obese’ is a slur ‘used to dehumanize us and harass us’

A “vegan leftist” faced backlash earlier this week after she tweeted the term “obese” is a dehumanizing “slur.”

Twitter user @hutchleah posted her thoughts on the offensive nature of the term “obese” to Twitter Monday, claiming it was “a slur … used to dehumanize us and harass us.”

Many reminded the user that “obese” is actually a technical term denoting someone with a high body fat content. 


She began by tweeting, “The term ‘obese’ is a slur because it is used to dehumanize us and harass us. It’s not because our feelings are hurt by an ‘accurate description’, it is an outdated term that does more harm than good. And as such, it should be eradicated. That’s it.”

By Friday afternoon her tweet had been viewed over 2.4 million times and had received thousands of comments and retweets. 

The tweet even received an official community-based fact check from Twitter that cited relevant information from the World Health Organization. It stated, “Obese is a technical term. According to the WHO, ‘Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese.’”

USA Today opinion columnist Michael Stern found the user’s complaining inconsistent with her Twitter bio, which says “fat vegan leftist.” 

“It’s odd that this person would complain of a slur when she refers to herself, in her profile, as ‘fat.’ I wish people would stop trying to outlaw words and look at the intent behind the person using them,” Stern tweeted.

“We should have empathy for people’s problems, regardless of the label,” Stern added.

Journalist Oliver Jia tweeted, “That’s right, the correct terminology should be People of Size or POS for short.”


Conservative influencer Melinda Richards criticized the suggestion, tweeting, “Eradicate the word ‘obese’? No.”

Acknowledging the pushback her tweet induced, @hutchleah added to her Twitter thread, saying, “This seems to be making the rounds in bigoted circles. Fat people have always existed and will always exist. Fear-mongering a normal human variation does not work on me. But while you’re here you’re not harassing another fat person who might not be able to handle it, so go off!”

@hutchleah also acknowledged the medical nature of the term, but claimed that did not prevent it from being offensive.

In a final post of defiance, she stated, “‘Ob*se’ is a slur because it’s a term used to degrade and dehumanize in everyday lingo AND medical spaces to trivialize our care and treatment. Never denied it was a ‘medical term’. There are soo many other terms that are ‘medical’ but offensive.”

She then signed off saying, “Stay mad fatphobes.”

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