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We Should Know Better

April 8, 2014

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One of the downsides to social media is that it can turn people who are for the most part decent human beings into total douchebags and assclowns. Surprisingly, some of them are those who should know better.

Charles Fowler, a South Carolina high school assistant principal, resigned last week amid allegations that he shared a picture of a six-year-old girl that was taken by another customer while she was at Walmart with her family. Fowler made fun of the little girl with the caption “Honey Boo-Boo at Walmart” on his Facebook page.

Girl

The little girl’s family found out about the picture and were hurt and upset. A cousin said that she suffers from health problems and now feels uncomfortable about going out because of her weight. An online petition is circulating asking the school district to fire the assistant principal. Even his son signed the petition. The Facebook page was made private and the post removed.

Thanks to a combination of social media and the obesity panic, anyone visibly fat is a target of ridicule, including children. FFF’s Gingeroid blogged about Alexis Shapiro, a 12-year-old girl suffering from hypothalamic obesity, a condition that causes rapid weight gain and hunger, that was triggered after brain surgery to remove a tumor. Her family had raised the money needed to perform weight loss surgery, hoping it would stop her weight gain. Since that original post, Alexis did have the surgery on March 21, but doctors had to do a sleeve gastrectomy instead of gastric bypass, because her liver was too large and stiff.

When the story broke, there were the usual hate-filled comments about her not being able to put the fork down. Despite her diagnosis, she was still treated with scorn and disdain, and I’m sure the majority of those comments were made by people over the age of 18. Again, people who should know better than to pick on a child.

There is also a real creep factor to this. We have grown-ups discussing a child’s appearance and we have people taking pictures of children they don’t know and posting them online to be put up for public ridicule. Why would anyone think this is acceptable or funny in the first place?

Those who feel that Fowler and others like him aren’t doing any harm should step back and realize that while some kids can get past the taunts, others might not, and long-lasting damage, both physical and psychological, can occur as a result. When we hear the phrase “think of the children” we usually roll our eyes, but in this case, we actually should.

 

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2014 10:12 am

    I am always amazed at how the anonymity of the internet brings out the asshat in people. I shouldn’t be because they show time and again just how much asshattery they can get up to, but I try to be hopeful that maybe this time (or the next time) will be different.

    I’m especially appalled that someone in a position to see firsthand the impact bullying can have on a child thought this was acceptable behavior. IT. IS. NOT. For the love of tiny kittens, think of the children. Think of the impact your actions/words might have on the life of a child before you hit that “post” button.

  2. April 8, 2014 10:18 am

    People say stupid shit because you have jackasses like Kirstie Alley going on TV making commercials for Jenny Craig about needing to lose weight but not being “circus lady fat” and then trying to defend those asshole comments to Matt Lauer on The Today show.

    • April 15, 2014 7:54 am

      Kirstie Alley seems to be willfully ignorant. On one hand, I can understand that she has had fat stigma shoved down her throat for years, and has bought into it, hook, line, and sinker. On the other hand, Kirstie, get a clue. Jenny Craig didn’t work the last however many times you did it. It ain’t gonna work long term this time either.

  3. Duckie permalink
    April 8, 2014 11:47 am

    It’s a dehumanization thing. People are seen as object, not individuals. There is a serious lack of empathy going on here….even when the fatties aren’t headless, it doesn’t matter. The bully is not seeing their eyes.

  4. Judybat25 permalink
    April 8, 2014 11:56 am

    “Why would anyone think this is acceptable or funny in the first place?”

    Yes. I really don’t understand that. I never have.

    I have a friend who used to love that horrible People of Walmart thing. It surprised me because she is a good person. We talked about it and I explained how much I hate it and why. I guess she never really thought about it before. She’s very thin privileged and middle class and just didn’t think about how it serves to try to make certain people seem less human. To make them the Other. To make them a stereotype and a joke. She doesn’t like it any longer and she thanked me for saying something about it to her.

    This gives me hope.

    We all have blind spots, but I hope we all can learn to see. Cruelty is never about “helping” and people aren’t in this world for our judgement or entertainment.

    • lifeonfats permalink
      April 8, 2014 5:01 pm

      I see People of Walmart (and its sister site, People of Public Transit) as mocking those who are poor and/or working class. A lot of fat people do get singled out but then again fat people will get singled out no matter what they do in public. There’s a whole stigma towards people who shop at Walmart and other places like Goodwill and dollar stores and towards people who take public transit. Apparently if you don’t have a car or can’t afford/choose to shop at discount stores, you’re somehow inferior.

      • April 8, 2014 11:47 pm

        I was once informed by a wealthy liberal woman on a feminist board that nobody who rode the bus, rented their domicile, or owed money on a student loan was fit to hold public office.

        Yup. Scratch a “good liberal feminist” and find a tight-assed, pompous, patrician asshole who thinks that only those who will never feel the real-life impact of poverty should have any power to shape public policy on it. GAH. That was fifteen years ago, and to this day I can still feel that same urge to reach through the internet and slap that jackass silly. There are so many like her around here, too.

        • Dizzyd permalink
          April 29, 2014 3:58 pm

          If anyone would know how to make good policies regarding poverty, it SHOULD be those who lived through it and know how devastating it can be. I hope that bitch didn’t get into office!

        • April 30, 2014 11:21 am

          Dizzyd, I don’t think she had any political ambitions for herself. She just enjoyed getting to be a gatekeeper, like a lot of the clueless and affluent do.

  5. April 8, 2014 3:01 pm

    Even beyond the fat paradigm, there is the whole issue of adult/child commenting. Why does an adult feel the need to pick on a child? I’ve seen this happen in real life and can’t understand it. These adults have serious issues beyond thin privilege. When an adult begins to bully children it borders on the pathological…

    • Dizzyd permalink
      April 29, 2014 3:58 pm

      Bullies ARE pathological! Anyone who picks on somebody they think can’t fight back just to get their jollies is sick!

  6. Bethany permalink
    April 8, 2014 5:13 pm

    I appreciate what the cousin was trying to do, but even if the little girl wasn’t suffering from health problems, she still doesn’t deserve to be mocked/bullied for her size. Which you all know, but I just wanted to say. 🙂 Thanks!

  7. April 8, 2014 11:50 pm

    Maybe Fowler the Dickweed should parley his newfound fame into a diet book and/or talk radio show or something. He can go on tour with that Doctor whose proud of always being hungry and that oily dudebro who thinks he’s God’s gift to Womankind. A threesome made in media heaven. What’s he waiting for?

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