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Funhouse Mirror —

November 12, 2014

Weight LossFat PoliticsFat HealthFat ScienceExerciseEating DisordersMy Boring-Ass LifeDickweedDiet Talk

Trigger warning: The “wacky” in Wacky Wednesday today refers to my public mockery of hateful, ignorant redditors whose comments I share in all their grotesque glory. Read at your own risk.

It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve had to do a job interview, but I can still pinpoint the one question that will make me panic every single time: what is your biggest flaw?

It’s not that I don’t have flaws — I can tick off a list a mile long. The problem is that I want to choose a flaw that is actually a benefit to the employer, like “I work too hard” or “I’m too nice to people” or “I’m willing to subjugate myself to the will of my supervisor, regardless of how demeaning or humiliating the task.”

At a recent parent-teacher conference, I learned that my daughter has the same knack for soft-selling her flaws. When asked what she needs to work on more, she repeatedly told her teacher that she couldn’t think of anything. Her teacher told her anything she wanted to improve would work. As a parent, I would have suggested she continue working on her handwriting. Instead, she went with this:

Self-Reflection

In her defense, she does not “sond “horabl,” she’s quite the talented whistler (although I have no idea how she learned it, as I have come to accept that it is impossible to teach anyone to whistle… when you “just put your lips together and blow” you make a raspberry, not a whistle). But rather than dig deep for ways she can improve in school, she went for the one thing she personally wanted to get better at.

Considering she’s only in second grade, I’d say that’s par for the course.

But let’s say you’re an adult who participates in one of the toxic reddit forums dedicated to mocking people for being fat. What do you suppose the self-reflection skills of this particular subset is?

Recently, a redditor asked the 94,000 subscribers of /r/FatPeopleStories a question that seems fairly simple: “Is there a reason we see many times more female obese people than male obese people in these stories?”

The obvious answer is that our society hates fat women. As a fat man, I haven’t experienced one-tenth of the harassment that women who weigh 100 pounds less than me endure on a regular basis. I’m “off the radar” of fat haters, as it were, despite weighing 265 pounds.

Have I been teased about my weight? Sure, especially when I was a kid and I wasn’t even fat. “Fat” was just one of the many insults lobbed at me in my awkward youth. The difference is that I didn’t have pop culture compounding the fat insult by telling me over and over and over again that I had to be thin to be accepted and attractive. In other words, being picked on general made a greater impression on me than the specific insult that I was fat (whether it was true or not).

When it comes to the dreaded F-word, women don’t have the same kind of safe harbor as men. From an early age, women are told in no uncertain terms that there is an ideal weight for them and any deviation (too fat or too thin) will not be tolerated. As an added bonus, men are recruited to reinforce that stigma by degrading and dehumanizing women who deviate even slightly from the norm.

You may recall the time  Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl Chrissy Teigen posted her photo to Instagram and was fat shamed. If Teigen can be subjected to this kind of behavior, imagine what ordinary women who aren’t professional models have to endure.

And so I read the answers to this simple reddit question and I couldn’t help but laugh at the self-seriousness, the obtuseness, the circular logic used to justify what is clearly a case of weight-based misogyny.

My favorite bit of convoluted reasoning is that reddit primarily targets fat women because of… wait for it… genetics.

Genetics

“Typical hetero red-blooded dude” cites the way women are more efficient at “absorbing food” like calorie sponges, the way they carry their weight, and how their female bodies are constructed. See, it’s not that he’s an asshole, it’s that genetics make fat women the ideal victims. He can’t help it; evolution has simply made fat women more noticeable and, thus, bigger targets (ha ha ha! I made a reddit-quality funny!).

Y’all won’t be surprised to find that the biggest group to blame for reddit’s obsession with fat women is feminism, whether it’s through entitlement or them darned ladyfolks who “shove their feelz down everyone’s throats.” If this subreddit knows what’s good for it, they will reframe this argument as “ethics in obesity journalism.”

For some, that feeling of entitlement isn’t a feminist issue, but a woman issue.

Beauty Entitlement

Now, let’s stop here and ponder a moment: why do women feel “entitled” to feel “feel good about the way they look”? That’s absurd! I mean, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we all know that saying is all about how The Beholder™ is a monolithic agent who has deemed one female size and shape as beautiful and the rest as second-rate castoffs who must accept their lot in life and wallow in self-loathing. I mean, if The Beholder™ weren’t right, you’d probably find articles about the way “perfection” radically changed over the past century.

<DoucheLogic>So why would anyone want to be happy with the way they look if they aren’t appealing to The Beholder™? It just doesn’t make sense, so let’s start a subreddit to mock them mercilessly. </DoucheLogic>

I should also point out the bizarre claim that all the fat man stories are featured on /r/neckbeardstories. For those unfamiliar, neckbeard is basically an insult about the stereotypical basement-dwelling fat man with poor shaving habits. Earlier in the thread, someone made a similar, popular claim. Yet, compare the subscribers to both…

Neckbeard Stories

There’s still ten times as many subscribers to the subreddit that users freely admit is biased against women. So the question remains, why is the most popular fat-hating subreddit so focused on women. One particularly astute redditor claimed that fat boys are bullied for their weight WAY more than fat girls, and have thus accepted their lot in life.

Fat Men Are Mocked More

Hear that, ladies? You simply haven’t been bullied enough into submission. If only people were meaner to fat girls in middle school. This is a common theme to a lot of comments: women are undermined by coddling and feelings.

Feelings

I mean, what is it about our culture that makes women feel as though they have to validate their appearances? Surely the blame lies with women who put waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much emphasis on “self-worth” and that darned media market that’s constantly telling women they’re “high-value.”  Because if there’s anything the media is good at, it’s reassuring women that their value lies solely in their character and not their appearance. (Psych!)

One of the most upvoted and responded-to comments is that (1) there are more fat women out there and (2) women are just bigger assholes in public. Both claims are empirically proven by bagboys and waters:

Women are Ruder

At least one commenter challenged the claim that fat women are the ones most likely to complain. Actually, says the commenter, it’s ALL women. But we tend to ignore thin complainers because they have the “redeeming quality of their appearances.”

While we’re entertaining delusions of objectivity, there’s this insightful gem:

Psychological Issues

These are some of my favorite answers because the irony is that these groups LOVE to claim that Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size® (HAES) are promoters of pseudoscience, yet the most popular answer to the question of “why do you hate fat women so much” is…

It’s not a cultural or social issue, it’s not misogyny or weight bias, it’s just a statistical fact that there’s more fat women who are mentally unstable assholes. Of course, that fact crumbles in the face of actual science.

Chart

Most of these redditors can’t admit to themselves that the reason they love to trash fat women is that they are indoctrinated to believe that that women who are assertive are “bitches,” that women outside of the ideal are of low value, and that women who loves themselves despite being low value are “crazy.” In other words…

Bitches Be CrazyIn fact, one user tries to mate the “bitches be crazy” reality with pseudoscience and creates this projection of “twisted logic.”

Data

Aside from the fact that this person sounds like he’s quoting Todd Snider’s “Statistician Blues,”  they admit that men don’t give a shit. Why don’t they give a shit? Again, they ignore the fact that our culture tends to ignore fat men and zero in on fat women. Whatever “twisted logic” this person is citing seems more like a coping mechanism for a hostile environment than some underlying psychosis that sprouts from genetic inferiority.

Instead, the resilience of men is chalked up to their inherent awesomeness. The logic is unassailable.

For instance, did you know that even though a man may be fat that, unlike women, he can also have other awesome attributes?

Useful Skills

Did you know that an “insufferable obese female” is funnier than her male counterpart?

Fat Women are Funnier

Did you know that men are so brutalized throughout their lives that they’ve become numb to such basic concepts as empathy?

Men are Brutalized

And did you know that society has an underlying, possibly-divinely inspired hatred for fat women?

Underlying Preference

The last paragraph there, the claim that men who engage in fat logic are “more likely to get punched by someone” is reinforced by another redditor who claims that men are simply trained to not be assholes in public. This is why we never see male assholes in public.

Women, on the other hand, are constantly being assholes toward men and if he hits her, then he’s the asshole. Oh the injustice of it all!

Women Should Be Hit More

I guess the logical solution then seems to be that men should start punching women who are rude to them, and rather than be asshole-shamed into feeling guilty for the assault, they should proudly claim that they are simply providing negative reinforcement for bad behavior. Surely the police will pat them on the back and thank them for their service to humanity.

All in all, this thread reads like a desperate attempt to paint the masculine culture that enables bullying and harassment as the rational checks and balances that keep fat men from suffering the inflated sense of self that has become endemic among fat women, and which these redditors are doing their damnedest to fight back against in their noble War on Fat Logic. In other words, “I was bullied when I was a kid and now I’m awesome, so I’m paying it forward.”

Except what they aren’t willing to accept is that it’s not women who have been coddled, but men.

I was born in 1979, so I grew up immersed in a culture that emphasized slenderness for women, not men. And as I said, despite being mocked for my weight, that humiliation was not reinforced by culture. In fact, our culture did everything it could to reassure fat men that they could be fat and loved.

The emphasis on male slenderness is a recent phenomenon, and, as a result, research shows that more and more men are struggling with body image and eating disorders.

According to pop culture, the problem isn’t that women have been coddled for too long, it’s that men have been coddled from fat shaming and the media is attempting to “level the playing field” as it were and make men just as insecure about their bodies as women have been for decades.

In defense of this subreddit, there were a few redditors who somewhat accept this fact, like the one who cited “intersectional privilege” and got “whut” as a response; the one who pointed to Hollywood’s fat husband/hot wife formula; the one who discusses the “male gaze” and its effects; the one who called it a “backlash against traditional standards of beauty”, but then pointed to the fact that there are male models and said “I just happen to have the emotional toughness and common fucking sense to ignore it”; the one who says “Straight up, there is more of a bias against fat females than males” and basically got “nuh uh” as a response; and finally, the one who out smacks down the misogyny contained within all the answers I outlined above.

My favorite response to that last one?

Women More Emotional Science

Got that, ladies? You’re emotional wrecks because of hormones and physiology.

Of the 159 comments contributing to this fascinating discussion of the objective, scientific, irrefutable reasons why reddit hates fat women, I found just two that actually seemed to hit the nail on the head. The first is something I’ve suspected for a long time…

Most Are Tubby Males

And the second is so fucking brilliant, so fucking insightful, so fucking pithy, that I would buy this user reddit gold if they weren’t a willing participant in this douchebag shitshow:

My Favorite

In a world where “not my fault” is the most damning indictment of “fat logic,” the majority of users lack the ability to look critically at their own behavior and determine the source of their gender-specific hatred. They go to absurd lengths to blame their misogyny on genetics, feminism, statistics, physiology, hormones and female entitlement.

In reality, by their desperate attempt to justify their adolescent behavior, these redditors have done nothing more than demonstrate that they have the self-analytical skills of a second grader.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2014 1:16 pm

    Thank you for reading all that so I didn’t have to.

    Ugh. Reddit.

  2. coupondude permalink
    November 12, 2014 5:15 pm

    Putting aside all of the horrible people that wrote those reddit comments, there is a simple mathematical reason for why that idiot sees (or believes they see) slightly more obese woman than men in checkout lines at a grocery store.

    It’s because, on average, more women in a household do the grocery shopping than men. According to recent studies, roughly 40% of grocery shopping is done by men, which is certainly a big improvement over a few decades ago and that’s cool. However, that still means roughly 60% of grocery shoppers are women. So let’s say for the sake of discussion that 30% of all shoppers they encounter are obese. Since 60% of those shoppers on average are going to be women (and obesity rates by gender are basically equal in the United States), that means they are going to encounter approximately 17-18 obese female shoppers for every 12-13 obese male shoppers. It’s just because of the particular venue.

    Conversely, I’m probably going to encounter more obese men than women if I worked at firearms store, or the hunting goods section in a sporting goods store. That isn’t to suggest women don’t hunt or buy guns, it’s just that on average more men buy guns than women, so you’re going to encounter more obese men than women at such a venue.

  3. November 12, 2014 8:43 pm

    It is sad that in 2014 there are people in Fat Acceptance still making statements like “Society tends to ignore fat men”

    Is it any wonder why it is so hard to get fat men believe that Fat Acceptance has anything to offer them?

    • November 12, 2014 10:01 pm

      William,
      The only time you make a comment on our site is to criticize the way I talk about fat men. I AM a fat man, so I have just as much experience with weight stigma as you, and apart from the heaviest of the heavy men (men larger than me), fat men don’t face nearly as much stigma as women. And what I said was “our culture tends to ignore fat men and zero in on fat women” and this is generally true. Until recently, as fat shaming has come under public scrutiny, the negative attention tended to revolve around fat women and very fat men. Now, that changed somewhat with the War on Fat, but by and large men are granted more leniency in terms of what is considered “fat” or not. If you don’t agree with that, then I don’t know what to tell you.

      I do not mean to imply that fat men do not face stigma. I simply mean that statistically speaking, more women are stigmatized than men because what society considers “fat” on women starts at a far lower weight. That’s why there are more women in Fat Acceptance and I believe that’s a big part of why men are not a significant population of FA either — it’s simply not in demand among most fat men. Obviously you have experienced weight stigma and I am in no way dismissing your experience. I’m just saying it’s not as common. Again, that’s not a value statement, just a fact. And it’s a fact seen in the examples above.

      This is no different than the issue of abuse in statistical terms. Yes, men are sexually abused, but women are sexually abused to a greater degree for cultural reasons. To understand why it happens, we have to get to the root of the problem. And that problem is toxic masculinity that values male sexual “needs” above the safety of women. And yet there are men who argue that point and say, “Men are abused too.” Yes, and the fact that they were abused is an individual issue that is just as heinous and despicable as the abuse of an individual woman. But in general, statistically speaking, a woman is more likely to be abused.

      In 2014, we have to accept the reality of our culture and the way it enables certain sociopathic behaviors. The only way we can do that is to be honest about the situation and I believe I am doing so now. If you don’t agree, we’ll have to leave it at that, respectfully.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  4. November 12, 2014 10:14 pm

    Shannon your statement that “………. “our culture tends to ignore fat men and zero in on fat women” is more of a absolute statement that ignores the fat bias that fat men face. The fact that you are a fat man yourself does not make it any more accurate.

    I do tend to respond more to statements made in Fat Acceptance about fat men, I generally agree with most things that Fat Acceptance has to say about the lives of fat women.

    • November 12, 2014 10:52 pm

      “Tends to” is far from absolute. It’s w statement of trends, not absolutes.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  5. November 12, 2014 11:08 pm

    Shannon

    The word ignore makes your statement a absolute statement. You either ignore something or you do not.

    I do say that fat women experience more fat bias than fat men, but I have not calculated the exact percentages.

    • November 12, 2014 11:14 pm

      William, you’re playing semantic games. My meaning is clear: on the whole, society does not summarize stigmatize fat men at the same rate as fat women, period. We tend to be ignored.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  6. November 12, 2014 11:11 pm

    I do not know enough to say what exactly fat men do experience, but I do know that they are not ignored by Society.

  7. November 12, 2014 11:27 pm

    Shannon

    I am judging you on the semantics of your message. “Tends to Ignore” means “Tends to Ignore”. It says nothing about how much fat bias that fat women and fat men experience.

    If fat men were “ignored by Society” then they would experience no fat bias from Society. Messages like these are far too ingrained in the Foundations of Fat Acceptance.

  8. November 13, 2014 5:23 am

    When you write “our culture tends to ignore fat men and zero in on fat women” you are saying that Culture/Society is most likely to totally disregard fat male bodies. I am sorry but I can not agree with that statement or sentiment.

    I understand that you are trying to combat some of the awful things said on Reddit, but that does not make what you said right.

  9. Stacy permalink
    November 14, 2014 12:07 am

    Makes me wonder what the reason behind this kind of behavior is – these people are spending so much time belittling and degrading others, negatively commenting on others bodies, trying to justify their obsessions with fat women. Healthy and happy people don’t do that kind of thing.

  10. November 14, 2014 12:05 pm

    Stacy

    There is so much negativity on Reddit that I have never bothered to post there.

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