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Basic Respect

April 24, 2013

Look, I’m not an academic. I don’t pretend to be. I can get through books like Health at Every Size and I love the lovingly done breakdowns that atchka posts explaining various studies on weight and health. I don’t do that. I can thumb through studies and get the gist, but I perhaps don’t have the patience or scientific background to be thorough the way some activists are. I’m so thankful for those who have the patience and insight, though.  But my point is that it’s not all about the science, even though that’s what so many activists, including myself, focus so heavily on backing up their arguments with.

Let’s pretend for a moment that there were no studies to talk about. Pretend being fat was a choice and a bad choice at that. When did it become okay to start abusing people based on their life choices?  I’m talking all about abuse. The name calling, the trolling, the physical abuse (who here got beat up as a kid for being fat? *raises hand* Or ever had anything thrown at you? A random smack from a stranger? Oh yeah, it happens), the mental and emotional torment.

Why is it okay to completely tear someone down, to reduce them to nothing, to take away their humanity, their self worth, their autonomy? Just for making a choice that you wouldn’t make? Sports players make dangerous choices that I certainly wouldn’t make. Just look at the rate of concussions among football players! But do they deserve to be told they need to kill themselves? Or have death or rape threats because they defended their right to play football?

Let’s face it. The health of fat has nothing to do with the hatred of fat. The abuse of fat people isn’t about concern. It’s not about healthcare costs. It’s about the ICK factor. People are grossed out by fat people because of a smear campaign that uses fat people as scapegoats for society’s ills. Global warming? Blame fat people. Rising health care costs? Blame fat people.  Natural disasters? Sure, let’s blame fat people for that too.

Being a queer fat woman, I can’t help but be reminded of the similarities to some aspects of homophobia, especially towards gay/bi men and transgendered people. When you get down to it, it’s not about religion or what’s “natural,” it’s about people being grossed out. Not because there’s anything inherently gross about those people, but because society tells us we should be. And hey, society’s always right, isn’t it? And in the same way, it shouldn’t matter if being gay/bi/trans is a choice or not; it doesn’t make it okay to discriminate against those people.

Fat haters, I address you with an olive branch. Even if fat’s a choice, and I’m not going to argue here that it isn’t, can we at least agree that abuse doesn’t help people become thin? That abuse is bad regardless of who it’s aimed at? That discrimination is just bigotry and not any form of help? Hatred never helped anyone, but at least when people love themselves they’re more likely to take care of the body they love so much.

And, above all else, let’s agree that all people deserve basic respect and dignity.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Elizabeth permalink
    April 24, 2013 12:40 pm

    Am I the only person who has used her size to her advantage? A group of girls attempted to bully me in ninth grade for my political stance, and my response to them when they threatened to beat me up was, “Yeah, you and who else?” They didn’t touch me. I had a man grab my arm because I wanted him to move his car which was blocking everyone else’s way, then he let go when he felt how muscular I was. I’ve had hardly anyone comment on my weight — and, admittedly, I’m a small fatty, so I’m privileged — due in part to their fear of what I might do or say.

    While we’re resisting bullying and intimidation, we need to realize how POWERFUL we are, and how we need let no one give us crap for one second. In all honesty, this will not make you popular, this will not make you beloved of those who like to stomp on other people, but it will make you feel strong and ready to defend anyone else who is being targeted.

    • April 25, 2013 11:24 am

      I didn’t learn how to do this until I was older and meaner. I’ve always had less self esteem than a tick on the underbelly of a cockroach. It’s kind of hard to get the eggs or the cojones to fight back when your inner self believes that the haters are right, sadly.

  2. LittleBigGirl permalink
    April 24, 2013 1:45 pm

    *slow clap into standing ovation* ❤

  3. Lauren C. permalink
    April 25, 2013 12:43 am

    FANTASTIC POST! This Fataphobia (I don’t know if there is a real name) that is going around is really getting out of hand! I get comments & looks- I try to stop the person & have a conversation (if I can keep from blowing my top), I try to have a “teaching moment”. Sometimes it works, sometimes people are just jerks. I’ve seen this comment posted elsewhere, “You do not have homophobia! You aren’t afraid-your just a giant jerk!” I think the same is true with us. “You do not have fatophobia! You aren’t afraid-your just a giant jerk!”

  4. April 25, 2013 11:22 am

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    This is so right. We don’t take care of what we don’t love. I only recently started taking care of my body because fuck people who hate me for what I look like. For years I hated myself for not looking like what society said I should.

    • Dizzyd permalink
      April 28, 2013 7:05 pm

      I agree with you. And what’s really hilarious is when people who act like buttholes will sit there and act as if “But I’m only doing this cuz I’m soooo WORRIED about yoooooouuuu! (sob sob sniff)” as if that makes them seem so virtuous and caring. Uh yeah idiot, do you really think that bullying people and treating them like crap is going to show how much you care. Wow, quick! Send the idea into Hallmark: “I hate you and you should go die you’re so fat and disgusting!” When you care enough to send the very best! Heartwarming, isn’t it? BTW, Elizabeth, YOU ROCK!!!

      • April 30, 2013 10:34 am

        The concern trolls. It would be fun to coerce them into just telling it like it is. Then I could show them my sanctimonious “I told you so!” expression as they clapped their hands over their mouths to attempt to put their true hate and animosity back in there.

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