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Intersection of disability and fat — bigotry abounds around them

January 29, 2014

Fat HealthMy Boring-Ass LifeDickweed

An ecard was posted to a site on Facebook, which was then posted to Rolls Not Trolls on Facebook. This ecard happens to resonate with me particularly since I am fat and disabled.
fat phobic ecard
I don’t know who created this ecard, but frankly, there is no way in hell I would ever want to meet this person, let alone get to know them better. However, if I did happen to meet the creator of this card, I would have quite a few questions for him/her/whoever.

Hey nasty ecard creator, just exactly how can you tell that the fat person using a handicapped parking spot is not disabled and is just lazy? How can you tell that the fat person using that handicapped spot is even capable of walking that three miles? How do you know that fat person is capable of not only walking that distance, but also doing jumping jacks the whole way? Do you know more than that fat person’s doctor about that person’s disability?

I’ll tell you what, it takes a doctor’s recommendation to get that handicapped placard or license plate. You can’t just walk into the DMV and tell them “Hey, I’m disabled and I need a handicapped placard so I can use those sweet handicapped spaces.” They want proof, including a form that a doctor has to fill out before one can even start the process of getting a handicapped placard.

One of the commenters on Rolls Not Trolls said there was a comedian on the BBC laying into fat users of mobility scooters, power chairs, store mobility carts, and advocating throwing them off and telling them to get up and walk. Granted, this is in the UK, but I can see it spreading to other places — fat users of said mobility devices report a big increase in abuse even as an online petition spawned by a Guardian article supported a law restricting use of personal mobility devices only to the “deserving.”

Several times I’ve been at Walmart waiting for a mobility cart when an elderly person comes in, wants a mobility cart, and gets pissed because the store associate gives me the next available one. They seem to think their age/disability trumps my age/disability and the fact that I’ve been waiting longer than they have. Thankfully, every time this has happened, the store associate tells them I get the cart first because I’ve been waiting longer. When I need it, I get on the cart, get my shopping done in the least amount of time possible, and get the hell out of the store so other disabled people have a chance to shop (I also plug the cart back in when I’m done using it so the battery will have a chance to recharge, something that most people fail to do).

Who gets to determine who’s “deserving” of a mobility device? If you want insurance or Medicare to pay for one, you have to have a prescription and a letter from your doctor documenting exactly why you need that mobility device. Oh, and it better not be just because you can’t navigate the outside world, but can still navigate your home. Because if you can still manage to walk around your home, you’re shit out of luck, baby.

Insurance and Medicare don’t give a rat’s ass if it’s nearly impossible for you to go shopping without a mobility aid or vacation without one or go out to dinner without one or do anything outside your house without one. They pretty much say “Fuck you, you’re supposed to rely on friends and family to get your groceries. You can shop online for anything else you need, and you don’t need to go on vacation or out to dinner if you’re disabled.”

My response to that comedian who thinks fat people on mobility scooters need to be tossed off them and told to walk is this: “Just try it, motherfucker, I dare you. You’ll have a fight on your hands from this fat woman, and probably from my husband too (he does not appreciate strangers manhandling his wife).”

For your information, those of you who are judging that fat person on the mobility device, there are those of us who are disabled who had to pay for our scooters ourselves, and I can guarantee you that that isn’t a decision we entered into lightly. Those things are not cheap and they aren’t something we’d buy if we were just being too fucking lazy to walk. How many disabled people (or even how many fat people) do you know who can afford to pay upwards of $3,000 for a mobility scooter or power chair? That doesn’t even include the cost of a lift to load/unload the scooter/chair from a vehicle so it can be used — that’s another $3,000 or more. Just try pushing one of those things up a ramp when you’re disabled.

Then there’s the cost of having a vehicle that can haul that scooter/chair around — not something just any car can do. My scooter weighs 180 lbs., and is 4′ long by 22″ wide by 38″ tall (if the steering column and seat back aren’t collapsed). None of the newer cars have a trunk big enough for my scooter, but it does fit nicely in the back of my minivan, and our lift makes it possible for me to load/unload the scooter by myself, which means I can go to doctors’ appointments on days when my husband is working. I can also go shopping by myself and actually get out of the house and do things on my own. It allows me the freedom to live my life in a way that hadn’t been available to me in a long time.

I paid for my mobility scooter because I can still walk around my house (sorta, kinda, maybe) and Medicare/TriCare won’t pay for one so I can do the shopping and navigate the outside world. Telling me that I’m fat, not disabled, just shows how ignorant and bigoted you are. You don’t have a clue what my disability is or how I became disabled. You don’t have a clue why I’m fat and you sure as hell don’t know what my health status is.

The same goes for every disabled person and every fat person you see. You don’t know why they’re disabled, you don’t know why they’re fat, and you sure as hell don’t know their health status. And none of that is your business. Comments like yours, and that bigoted ecard creator, are just some of the things that make life less enjoyable for everyone.

If you’re that bigoted toward disabled and fat people, who else are you marginalizing? Who else are you judging? How many other people are you saying aren’t worthy of living a happy, fulfilled life? If you’re this judgmental toward one group of people (those who are fat and disabled), how many other people are you negatively judging?

Sounds to me like you two asshats, and all of those who agree with you or think these kinds of comments/cards are funny, need to take a look at your own lives and see what’s lacking in them — improve your own lives before you start telling other people how to improve theirs.


12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2014 10:47 am

    DX If you’re out with your husband or friends, you’re probably safe. Bullies prefer solitary, vulnerable targets, at least in my experience. They don’t like fair fights.

    Jeebus… that card. I almost spit out my coffee. And not in a “ha ha funny” way, either.

  2. Marilyn permalink
    January 29, 2014 10:51 am

    I consider myself very fit and I couldn’t do jumping jacks for three miles. I doubt I could do them for more than a quarter mile. It was very bad taste joke since only a person I suggest only a very rare athlete could do jumping jacks for that long.

  3. Twistie permalink
    January 29, 2014 11:08 am

    I could absolutely walk for three miles. I can walk a lot further than that and function just fine the next day. Three miles of jumping jacks would probably lead to at least hospitalization.

    OTOH, Mr. Twistie is not as fat as I am, and he’s the one with the disabled placard for the car… and not just because he’s the one who drives. He’s also the one with congestive heart failure.

    When he got the diagnosis, his best friend and I both tried to tell him he needed that placard. His doctor didn’t bring up the subject with him at all, and it took two of us two years to convince him to ask his doctor. Why? Because Mr. Twistie was sure he didn’t ‘really deserve’ it since he could still walk just fine.

    But he’s not fine if he carries heavy things at all, and he’s even worse if he has to carry them long distances. He works for a non-profit theater company, and one of the many (uncompensated) jobs he does for them is sound and lighting for some of the shows. That means a lot of heavy gear and he’s carrying it by himself.

    Anyone who tries to tell me Mr. Twistie doesn’t ‘deserve’ his placard because he’s ‘just fat’ is going to get some serious knee-whumping from his very short, very fat, pretty darn fit wife.

    Same goes if he ever needs a scooter.

  4. judybat25 permalink
    January 29, 2014 12:00 pm

    When are people going to realize how crazy this hatred has gotten and when are more people going to start calling out cruel and ignorant bigots on this bullshit? This ecard and the sentiment behind it are profoundly stupid and profoundly cruel. I’m getting so sick of this crap. 😦

    • January 30, 2014 11:29 am

      Yes! If everyone to a person would say “that’s really fucked up, what’s wrong with you?” instead of cheering this crap on with likes and reblogs and what have you, it would stop pretty quickly. The individuals creating this crap are looking for their ego to be stroked. Everyone needs to stop stroking their ego.
      It may not be the popular thing to do, but when we feel up to it, we all need to call these jerks on their crap.

  5. Anna Hayward permalink
    January 29, 2014 1:35 pm

    I got fat *because* I’m disabled, as a result of medication, immobility and probably a bit of depression. I know a lot of people who are fat and disabled – probably a majority, got that way because of their illness, not the other way around.

    Not that that makes any of this OK, but it particularly annoys me that it never occurs to these numpties that being immobile and on medication might make you fatter, even if you were previously a fittest freak/ gym bunny type.

  6. vesta44 permalink
    January 29, 2014 5:28 pm

    The thing about this fat and disabled bullshit is that I’ve been DEATHFATZ ever since my son was born 38 years ago. But it’s only been the last ten or twelve years that I’ve actually needed a handicapped placard. Even so, it’s only been the last 5 years that I’ve had to use a walker, and sometimes a mobility cart. I just bought my scooter a year and a half ago because my walker just wasn’t working for navigating distances over a couple of blocks.
    The funny thing about my worsening mobility is that it didn’t happen until after I had that WLS that failed. Up until then, I was able to walk all over malls when I went shopping. I even took a trip to NYC right after I had the WLS and managed to walk a couple of miles at a time when we were sightseeing. And even now, when I have to use a mobility cart to get my shopping done, I can still manage to walk from where my minivan is parked in one of those handicapped spaces to the store. Walking any farther than that is a whole ‘nother story, though. Is. Not. Happening.
    I do not feel like falling down when my back cramps up and my legs give out. These assholes already bitch about how they’re “paying” for my medical care and they think it’s just outrageous – how would they feel if that insurance they think they’re “paying” for had to pay to repair my broken bones because I fell because they don’t want me using a mobility scooter? Want to bet they’d bitch and moan and scream even louder? (heavy sarcasm)Because, after all, I’m so fat and lazy and ugly that I don’t deserve to get out of my house, at all, ever. I shouldn’t be allowed to inflict my fat body on their poor sensitive feefees (/sarcasm). Yeah, fuck that noise. I’m going to go out shopping, out to dinner, and on vacation and they’re just going to have to suck it up and deal.

  7. NextSupreme permalink
    January 29, 2014 9:07 pm

    I wish these people would stop and think about what it’s like to use a mobility scooter before accusing others of using them out of laziness. I’ve never used a scooter but through the amazing power of empathy I can imagine that it’s no picnic to use one. You have to deal with uneven floors, narrow spaces, obstacles, people getting in your way, not being able to reach what you need, etc., not to mention dealing with judgmental people. I’m really fat and pretty lazy sometimes but I can’t imagine using a scooter out of laziness.

  8. Happy Spider permalink
    January 29, 2014 9:30 pm

    That ecard guy is probably also one of those guys who think fat people shouldn’t get medical treatment. You’re not sick, you just need to diet.

  9. January 30, 2014 11:26 am

    All I can say is whoever created this is a privileged, sanctimonious douche canoe. We are all just one step away from the illness or accident which might leave us unable to function within “normal” ranges. How dare anyone assume anything about another person’s health, mindset, or abilities.
    People who do this sort of thing truly must be compensating for raging feelings of inadequacy. They try to make themselves look like special snowflakes by making others appear to be inferior. It’s disgusting.

  10. Dizzyd permalink
    January 31, 2014 7:05 pm

    Ya know, the ironic thing is that while I was reading this, a Daffy Duck cartoon was playing in the background and one quip in particular caught my attention – something along the lines of ‘Obviously I’m dealing with inferior intelligence.’ That pretty much sums it up. I agree with Twistie – some of these idiots deserve a swift kick where the sun don’t shine. I mean, seriously! When did acting like a total douchecanoe become the vaunted American pastime? What, cuz we’re no longer number one in anything worthwhile we have to top everybody in bein’ the biggest idiots on the planet? And of course, we have all sorts of contenders bringing up the rear. People any more have just flushed away all the noble sentiments that make human beings the special creations they were meant to be. Sin, I guess.

  11. Dizzyd permalink
    January 31, 2014 7:13 pm

    Plus, I would love to ask any of these arseholes that are laughing at this and virtually high-fiving each other all while feeling laughably smug how many of them could leave their cars at home and ‘jumping-jack’ all the way to all the places they go. I bet you none of them could do it.

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