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Fatphobia: The Brazil women fighting prejudices

Rayane Souza avoided taking city buses after years of struggling to get on board

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อัปเดตล่าสุด :  30 ม.ค. 66 / 01:11 น.

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Rayane Souza used to struggle taking the local bus in Vitória, the capital of the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo, 480km (300 miles) north of Rio de Janeiro.

Aged 14, having got stuck in the bus turnstile yet again, and feeling the eyes of the rest of the passengers on her, she vowed never to take this form of public transport again.

"I've been fat my whole life. I became used to hearing rude comments about my weight," she said.

Ms Souza's experience is not unique. Another Brazilian woman recently got stuck in a turnstile on a bus for more than four hours.

In the end, firefighters had to be called to free her. A few passengers tried to help her, but she said others posted embarrassing pictures of her on social media.

While studying at university, Ms Souza suffered similar humiliation on social media after already having been teased and bullied at school about her weight.

"I was the victim of bullying, of fatphobia. All the students made a WhatsApp group and they took my photos that I published on my social networks in that group and started to make fun of me."

That was a watershed moment for Ms Souza. Rather than retreating into her shell, she decided she was not going to be intimidated.

She decided to set up a campaigning group with fellow law graduate Mariana Oliveira. They called it Gorda na lei, the Portuguese for "Fat in the law".

It aims to advise people of their legal rights if they are discriminated against because of their weight.

They receive around 70 messages per month from people who want compensation or simply to share their story.

Accepting different body shapes

Brazil might be known for the stereotype of the tanned beach-ready body, but the reality is, that like in much of the developed world, more than half of the population is overweight, with a quarter medically obese.

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