A couple of days ago, while washing laundry, I came out of the bedroom and walked quickly through the living room, naked, to get to the laundry room. Two days later, the neighbors next door are moving out, without any notice.
I believe these two incidents are, I hope, unrelated.
A month or so ago, I was reading an old article of mine on the internet that was a rebuttal piece to someone who had written an article basically stating that fat people were the cause of every bad thing happening in the world from war to people starving in third world countries, even going so far as saying obesity was a threat to national security. Okay, so she never said fat people caused the war, but she did actually say fat people were a threat to national security. It was poorly researched and it was nothing more than rantings by a person with an obvious bias against–not obesity as she claims–but against fat people.
This is an important distinction, I think. I don’t like obesity. I would imagine most overweight people probably don’t like obesity either. But there’s a big difference between not liking obesity and not liking fat people, and this is a distinction haters don’t make. I don’t like cancer, but I don’t hate people who have cancer. In fact, one of my favorite people in the world has cancer. Again, I hate cancer. But I don’t hate people with cancer.
Now some might say that no one did anything to give themselves cancer, but fat people made themselves fat. Both of those things are untrue. Someone can certainly do things to cause cancer, and not all fat people are that way because they did something wrong.
Like any other ‘group’ that is bound loosely together by shared characteristics, characteristics they might not even be aware put them in a ‘group’, there are people in this world who lump anyone who looks like a triangle into the triangle group, never bothering to see if they might really be a trapezoid instead. In other words, whenever we label anyone by superficial stereotypes, we lose the essence of what makes them–and us–human… we lose our humanity.
Not all rednecks drink beer and live in trailers and go bowling and beat their wives. I mean, my family does, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s does. It’s not only disrespectful for the people you put into the groups, but it’s also disrespectful to the people in the groups who do fit the stereotype. Us rednecks have feelings too, you know.
Fat people are one of the latest groups to be discriminated against. There will always be discrimination and some ‘group’ being discriminated against. And you know, discrimination is something I can deal with. I grew up a skinny little rich white girl with red hair and freckles in a city that was predominantly Hispanic, whose parents were still married to one another after 28 years (during an age of divorce, where all my friends in school were part of a broken home in some way), and whose skinny white 6’1″ tall father sported a white-man’s afro. I know what it’s like to be made fun of.
I know what it’s like to be different. I have always embraced my differences, made them even more a part of who I am. So discrimination I can take. I can fight discrimination, or, as the case may be, I can choose not to fight it.
We each have things we discriminate against. We might or might not say that out loud, but in the deep dark of night, when we’re honest with ourselves about our self-talk, we all have our own prejudices and things about which we discriminate. Discriminating tastes, you see, is considered someone who has good tastes, who picks and chooses carefully, knowledgeably. There’s nothing wrong with personal discrimination, even if the things you believe are different than the things I believe. I don’t know your story, and I can only judge you by your story, not mine. Discrimination is up to you–as long as we can all agree that everyone deserves equal treatment in work, in law, in practice, and you are willing to defend those freedoms even if it’s for someone you don’t personally like, then you can have all the prejudices you want for yourself, as long as you allow me mine. It’s not what I’d prefer. I’d love for everyone to truly love everyone else, but since that is a pipe dream, I’ll allow you your prejudices.
So I can tolerate discrimination on an individual basis, provided there is equality in all else. What I cannot tolerate is hatred.
Back to the original topic: fat people.
It’s okay if you have a personal prejudice against fat people. That’s your right. If you want to be the type of guy who says he doesn’t want to date the fat chick and he only wants to date girls who are thin as boards, that’s your right. If you have a personal prejudice against obesity or touching, hugging or kissing a fat person, that’s certainly your right too. But it’s not your right to take that personal prejudice and put it out there for the world to see as hatred.
Back to the article I wrote. I hadn’t visited that article in a long time, so I had missed some of the more recent comments. Many of them were basically calling me a fat cow, saying that the only reason I would have defended fat people so much is because I am one, and some other unsavory comments too, all about me personally, with very little commentary about anything I had said in the article. No one disputed my data. No one debunked my facts. All they could find to do with their hatred was to call me names and accuse me of being fat.
So I followed some of these comments out to where one of the thread topics originated, a place where someone had posted my article’s link on Yahoo! Answers. The original question had to do with whether or not being obese should be or is considered a disability. Some of the answers were interesting and were at least mostly on topic, such as the one commenter who said obesity shouldn’t be a disability because it was something the person had done to themselves. Another commenter came back and said that if a man were to get wasted and plow his car into a brick wall, paralyzing himself, he would still get disability, and he had done that to himself too, so that argument didn’t hold water. And this came from a person who didn’t think obesity should be a disability, but that they couldn’t find any legal reason why. I like people like that who can say what they believe but then also state the law and the way it is, and be willing to go with the legalities even if it goes against what their own personal opinions. We need more judges like that on the supreme court, but I do digress…
Then the subject changed to fat people using handicap parking stickers or placards in their cars, and even the sensible people before were railing on that one, about how fat people shouldn’t be given closer parking spots, how they should have to park far away and walk some of their lard off. One of the people commenting, who identified herself as an obese woman, tried to explain how her obesity had begun and all the aspects of her life affected by obesity, and why those aspects are disabling. She went on to say that medication and bed rest for her conditions had caused her to gain weight rapidly and that limited mobility and ability to exercise had kept her that way. Suddenly, some of the people changed their tune and said that it was okay if someone was disabled and obese because they were sick. They were, of course, only pissed off every time they saw a lazy fat person doing it, not a sick one. They even went so far as to say they couldn’t believe fat people who were so f*ck*ng lazy they couldn’t even bother to walk anymore and just went out and got free scooters from the government so they didn’t have to use their fat legs anymore.
I had held my tongue long enough, or in this case, my fingers, and I finally typed, “How do you tell the difference? When a fat person gets out of a car in a handicapped parking spot and then gets into one of the scooters, you said it was okay as long as they were sick and not just lazy, so how can you tell the difference?”
No one answered me. In fact, no one continued talking on that question after I asked it. I believe it finally was locked, and the only person whom I ever told about the discussion was my best friend.
But it made me wonder at people who make assumptions. We see a man who is clean-cut and wearing a bomber jacket and is missing a leg and he’s in a wheelchair and we assume he must have been injured in the line of duty, active military. We see a man covered in tattoos with a shaved head and piercings, and he is missing a leg, so he must have also been in the military, right? Or is it more likely one might think he was in a drunk driving accident, with himself as the driver?
I’m not saying everyone thinks this way, but I do think it’s always good to question our own and others’ pre-conceived notions.
Back to the hatred part, and then I’ll let you go. Before you walk away from this blog today, I want to leave you with some of the comments made about fat people I have found in the comment sections of blogs or questions around the web. If you are a larger person, surely you’ve seen this. If you’re not, think about your mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, daughter, son, nephew, niece, aunt, uncle… someone you know and probably love who is obese, and ask yourself, how do you think they would feel to read this about themselves:
Laziness + time = Fat + Lazy + More Time = Morbidly obese
Now add mental prob’s caused by being too fat to walk or wipe and bamm SSDI checks in the mail.
And this one:
Peoples metabilism the way their bodies use fuel etc can be different, BUT obesity is caused by ignorance. Look at it this way. Your car has a 10 gallon gas tank on it, do you try to shove 20 gallons just because the gas looks pretty or smells good??? obesity is a problem but it is self induced, no different then smoking drinking or taking drugs. Don’t want to be obese quit pigging out and get off the couch, PERIOD!!!
Or this one:
I have a friend that retired over 6yrs ago is collecting her pension and eats and looks like a fat cow and now with the help of her dr has applied for and is most likely going to get a $1700,00 disability check. He should get his butt kicked and she should have her mouth sewn shut. That will solve everything!
I’m glad I’m not their friend, for sure. Or this one:
I hope you fuckers DIE of a premature heart attack from all that polyunsaturated fat you goofballs seem to like to ingest on a regular basis. For you imbeciles the drug of choice isn’t beer or pot, its MARGARINE. Go to your mommies and whine!
And then there are the generic names, all of which I found on one webpage that has the specific goal of venting anger toward fat people: “stupid whale girl.” “OBESE PIG” “Fat people SUCK” “fat losers” “FUCK YOU FATTIES! I HOPE YOU DIE IN THE FILTH YOU CREATED FOR YOURSELF” “UGLY, FAT ASSES” “nasty sweaty blubber rolls” “overweight, balding pathetic jerkoff LOSERS” “How much food can one pig woman…” “Shamu” “fat, overweight slobs” “blight on society”
Mostly they start to repeat themselves after that. I love it when the hatred is so overwhelming that they can’t even insult creatively.
And these are the tamer ones, in fact. I wouldn’t put the really nasty ones up on my blog.
I had always been a relatively thin person growing up, and as an adult, I was curvy but still in smaller sizes, and I loved my full figure. When I got sick in 2008, I put on some weight. After a year of fighting cellulitis and septecemia and a week in the hospital, then recovery time, and then the start of another condition that wasn’t diagnosed until just last week, and then hypothyroidism, severe, and a bunch of other things, topped off with the whipped cream and cherry (don’t you think food analogies and metaphors are appropriate?), double and triple doses of prednisone (that stuff does a number on a body!) and you are going to find that the body I had back in 2003 ain’t the body I’m left with today. I’m overweight. I know it.
But I never know quite so painfully as when I read comments like these, and I know there are others who struggle more than I do with weight, and I can’t imagine how that must feel, to every day be looked at, gawked at, joked about, made fun of, and treated like you aren’t even a human being. Nowhere is the hatred of fat people more prevalent than on the internet, where the people lacking in humanity, the cowards, can hide behind a keyboard and a monitor and talk like they aren’t human and they have no feelings and it wouldn’t bother them if someone talked this way about someone they loved.
But you are human. And you do have feelings. And those feelings matter to me. And they matter to other people too. The cowards are simply more vocal, more stupid in their ‘look at me, I’m making myself look good by making someone else look bad’.
When I was 18, 25, 30 and slender, I never once thought I’d be where I am today. I believed it wouldn’t happen to me. I did everything right, ate good foods, healthy, exercised, stayed active, kept busy, and I looked good. I watched my weight go up some, and then worked damned hard to get it off, only to watch myself get sick and the weight come on and stay. Will it ever come off? I don’t know. Mostly, I’ve learned not to care, because my health is so much more important than a few pounds, and my goal isn’t weight loss anymore at all. My goal is to be as healthy as I can be, and if that means I’m healthy and fat, I can so live with that. If it means I can be healthy and thin, then so much the better too.
Try going to Google and typing in “fat people are” and see the suggestions it offers.
I don’t understand this. I don’t understand this type of anger. I don’t understand this type of hatred. I don’t understand why people can’t show the slightest bit of human compassion.
Part of me wishes upon each of the haters that they have to go through what I and so many others of you out there have had to go through, just for a week, just so they could see. Then I think about myself at 25, and I say, “Some day, they just might realize firsthand…” They don’t think they’ll ever be fat, ever have to battle the bulge, ever have to struggle just to maintain status quo, never get sick. They are young and invincible, and there are so many worse things to be than fat… and being a hater in my book is one of them.
And yet, I wouldn’t wish their hatred on anyone, even them. But then, I still have my humanity intact.
Anyway, wasn’t really going anywhere with this. Was mostly just thinking out loud, but if you’re one of those people who have ever said something in hatred like this, how do you live with that type of hatred? How can you issue blanket statements without even knowing a person and stereotype like that? No, really, I want to know. How do you live with yourself behind all that hatred?
And to those who have struggled with weight, surely you’ve seen these things. What does it do to you inside? Emotionally, does it break you or make you more resilient? How do you handle it? Do you have any tricks, hints or tips for others?
Share your thoughts…
Love and fluffy stuff,