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Faith in Humanity

June 21, 2012

There are days when I just can’t think about fat activism any longer. Days when I look at all the new “studies” blaming fat people for everything from global warming to the lack of non-renewable resources to high unemployment, and I wonder if we can ever make an impact.

Then I see the video on Facebook about a female bus driver/monitor being horribly bullied by children on a bus.

Then I’m certain we’ll never be able to have an impact, due to the amount of hate evident even in the children.

And just when I’m sure that humanity has lost what makes us human — qualities like compassion and empathy and things like that — I read two things.

First, is Ragen Chastain’s post about the bus driver, Karen Huff Klein, and the outpouring of support to this woman has been incredible.  What started out as a page to raise $5,000 to send this woman on a vacation has turned into $418,000 and rising.  This could be enough money for Klein to retire and not have to deal with those pieces of excrement kids who caused her so much grief.

And then, linked from another friend on Facebook (I’m supposed to be working on lace, but Facebook, y’all!), I found a truly heartwarming story.  (Just keep reading, it ties in at the end, honest.)

HuffPost has a story about nine women, who call themselves “The 9 Nanas,” and how they have helped people in their community for 35 years. These women were privileged. So, when they first thought about doing something, they decided to start doing their laundry themselves, rather than have it done for them. That gave them $400 per month to help people in practical ways, such as paying their electric bills and buying clothes for their children. And remember, 35 years ago, $400 was a LOT of money.

They did everything anonymously. They would go out at night, looking for places without any lights on, to see what addresses might have had their power turned off. They’d eavesdrop on conversations in the grocery store to hear when people didn’t have enough money to buy their children clothes. They did amazing things for many people over the years, never telling anybody what they did.

They kept the secret so well, not even their husbands knew for 30 years. Then one day, one of the Nana’s husbands noticed a lot of money going out of the bank account. That’s when they realized they had to ‘fess up to their husbands.

The amazing thing? Even more amazing than what these nine women had done all those years? The husbands supported them and started helping them! The Nanas then confessed to their children, and received even more support.

This is a very heartwarming story of practical help, of a real life application of compassion, charity (which means love), and empathy.

These ladies are still doing everything they’ve done, and now they have an internet business selling the cakes they would give away with all of their help. Their site is called Happiness-Happens, and they have a bunch of handmade breads and curds for sale. The proceeds from the business go to support their vocation of, you know, helping others.

If y’all have any money to spare, I ask that you go to their website and buy a cake from them. Not only will you be getting a damn fine cake (from all reports, since I’ve not had one — yet), but you’ll be helping them to have a very practical impact on the lives of people in their community.

If you read their blog, I can almost guarantee you won’t have a dry eye. The first post I read (from back in May) made my eyes leak. Their blog has much wisdom, but this hit home: We shared this to prove a point: no matter who you are or what you have to offer, it’s just enough to make a difference.

I’m just one person. I often get tired of fighting the “studies” and the hate and the lies that are constantly thrown at fat people. Yet, my voice, along with all of your voices, will make a difference. Karen Huff Klein has seen $30,000 of a difference — a major, real life impact. The people who are the recipients of The 9 Nanas’ generosity have seen a real life difference. And Fat/Size Acceptance is already making a difference, in more and more news segments, and the conversation is turning around a little bit. My faith is being restored.

See, I told you it ties in at the end.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2012 11:24 pm

    Thank you, Shannon. I needed this!!!

    • Kala permalink
      June 22, 2012 10:02 am

      This one was from Bronwen. I find that if I check this site on my phone, I don’t see the author’s name myself.

  2. fatology101 permalink
    June 22, 2012 12:33 pm

    Great stories. I saw that poor woman on the news. I wanted to reach in and strangle them. I want to give thanks to Glen Beck as he has lead the movement to raise the money for her. And the housewives who did that for 35 years. There are good in people from all beliefs. A We are doing good with fighting the war on obesity. It will take time. Like most things, it starts with the kids. They want to teach them obesity is bad but look what has happened. We have to find a way to teach the kids HAES. They know not to say racist things and most know not to tease gays, etc. We just have to expand what they know and add obesity as something that is off limits. On the other had, these are Middle School kids and they are just mean. I put a lot of the blame on their parents like most things with kids. Never lose hope!

  3. bronwenofhindscroft permalink
    June 22, 2012 1:47 pm

    This is an update on Karen Huff KIein. The fund for her has reached over $500,000! And she is telling people to stop harassing her tormentors. I don’t believe the kid who says they were doing it just to bring attention to the subject of bullying.

    But the generosity of spirit from Ms. Klein is amazing. After the torment they put her through, she can tell the world to stop tormenting them.

    I want to make it clear that I don’t believe violence is ever the right policy, including violence in response to violence. Making these kids and their families afraid is NOT the right answer. There are many better ways to handle the incident (such as the fund set up for Ms. Klein, and the punishment the school board is thinking of) than for strangers to text and call and threaten the kids and their families. But I have to say, that Ms. Klein asking people to stop is a class act. She could not say anything, and nobody would even notice. Instead, she’s taking a stand to say don’t continue the violence.

    I think she is my new hero.

    • June 22, 2012 3:15 pm

      I finally watched the video and although I had the same visceral response and desire to flog those entitled little shits, upon reflection, it’s hard to blame them to a certain extent. Jezebel had a post on how we, as a culture, are ultimately responsible for breeding these little monsters through our bully-centered entertainment. We’ve talked about Tosh.0, but he’s just one bully among the thousands we cheer on in this country. It’s become a game to see who can make the most hurtful quip about anyone who dares to be publicly imperfect. Is it any wonder that children have begun playing this game as well, and become even better at it?

      It’s a parallel of our eating disordered culture. Our children area raised in this toxic soup, and parents can do their best to inoculate their kids, but those messages will still hit their targets and still influence the behavior of our children, whether we like it or not.

      The only viable options seem to be opting out of the culture (which is nearly impossible) or moving to Canada (which looks better and better every day).


      • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
        June 22, 2012 7:08 pm

        I actually unfriended somebody, yesterday over this. I (and a few other folks) gave him a chance to explain himself, but he was all “I’m laughing. I agree this is horrible, but it’s so funny I can’t help but laugh!” After being called out by myself and a few others, he responded back with how he’d done things like that as a child just for the laughs and so what was the big deal?

        I wrote a short response, and “flounced”.

        But yeah, “being offensive” is funny these days. I don’t know how it started (Don Rickles), or why, but yeah…

  4. Pattie Mahler permalink
    June 24, 2012 4:17 pm

    I am sorry to admit that I live 75 min south east of where the Karen Klein harassment took place. Unfortunately in this area, this is not an uncommon occurrence. These kids harass other kids for whatever reason on a daily basis.This time they targeted an adult in a position of authority. Thank you Shannon for hosting and keeping this blog. I have struggled with body image for most of my life. Even after 5-6 months of walking 5 miles a night and getting fit and being an “average” size, I wasn’t happier or even healthier. Medication significantly contributed to an 80 lb gain over approximately 9 mos. I am not lazy. However, I am limited to what I can do because of various medical issues. I do think the key is adopting a healthier lifestyle and move however and whenever you can and the rest can and does fall into place. Thank you again for this blog.

    • June 27, 2012 10:21 am

      You’re absolutely welcome, Pattie. Medication is largely ignored as a contributing factor for obesity, but anyone who has experienced the weight gain associated with anti-depressants and steroids can tell you that it’s a very real side effect. So, if you are faced with the choice of being thin and coping with medical issues or being fat and controlling those medical issues with medication, choose the latter. Because if you eat healthy and exercise, then you’re doing everything you need to do to take care of yourself.

      Welcome to Fierce Fatties and best of luck on your path to health.


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