A good friend of mine on Facebook posted in one of our mutual forums today about a “friend” of hers. Evidently MY friend had posted several articles recently talking about size acceptance and the fact (and it is) that the terms fat and fit are not mutually exclusive. My friend found an update in her e-mail that said the following: “<Friend> shared your link: ‘You know, she can find all the articles she wants, but weighing 400 lbs is NOT healthy, no way. Ev-er. Yeesh. I am such a bitch. xoxo'”
She was hurt and upset with her friend’s reaction, especially knowing that she carelessly sent this out with her as a recipient. What a jerk, but more on that later.
As you all know, I’m one of the people who makes a point of commenting on anti fat photos and videos that get posted all over the internet. Hell, I’ve even defended people on the People of WalMart website. I have a thing about those who have who think they have a sense of superiority over those who have not. The same holds true for those who think they KNOW more than others. I can’t help but come to the defense of others.
So, while I cannot respond to my friend’s friend, I can make an example of her idiocy on the internet. Any joke that is based on ignorance of facts is wrong, plain and simple. These pics and memes that ridicule fat people always get a response from me, some nice, and others not so nice. In every case however, I leave the readers with something of fact that they can reflect on. I don’t think that it will necessarily change the mind of the ignorant, but it might be of use to someone who’s reading who’s actually trying to learn before forming an opinion, or for the person who may feel like they’re a victim of size prejudice & bullying, who might read my responses and learn something that might give them more confidence moving forward, or at the very least let them know that other people don’t feel the same way the ignorant do.
In most of these cases, I will always see the comment made that “It’s just a joke, lighten up!”. Why does that statement make what’s left of the hair on the back of my neck stand up? I look at the internet, and I see people make these “jokes” from the comfort of their homes. I often ask these fools what would happen if they were to say the same things they type in a public place, like a bar or a movie line. Would they expect to have some sort of accountability for their statements or actions? In almost every case, I’ve been told no. So my question is always why would you do it on the internet.
They tell me it’s because they feel safe.
You know what also may feel safe for them? Giving out incorrect information about fat people. Yes, in the name of “humor”, these people spew out stats that are often wrong, or have been supplanted by contemporary research that clearly prove their claims wrong. Yet, these people feel safe by perpetuating stereotypes about fat people from the comfort of their keyboards.
Sometimes I feel like the new sheriff in town.
About 6-7 years ago, a guy who knew of my then wife (who was/is a webmodel) through her paysite and lived in New Jersey, encountered her when he was registering for college, and had to fill out some paperwork. After talking with her for a few minutes, he left, and never mentioned that he knew her. Several hours later, there was a post in a forum that we participated in that he had met her, listing where she worked, and her real name. The next day she was deluged with calls from trolls who wanted everything under the sun from her.
I ended up contacting the guy thanks to my then wife supplying me with HIS information, explaining to him as calmly as I could that since I had HIS information, I’d be heading up to where he lived to pay him a visit, and strangely enough, I wasn’t in a good mood.
IN OTHER WORDS, I MADE HIM ACCOUNTABLE FOR HIS ACTIONS.
I offered him an out, which was a chance to avoid the beating of his life if he simply removed his post from the forum, and that I never heard anything from him again. Strangely enough, he disappeared.
That’s part of the problem with the world wide web…….too many people feel safe making these comments. I feel it’s part of my responsibility to make the commenters unsafe, and some of those who I defend think that my verbal drubbings of people aren’t always the best way to go.
And they are right.
When I read things like this, I always ask myself if the person involved will at least engage in constructive dialogue, and might be willing to learn the facts about obesity, not the ones you see Dr. Oz talk about, but by many respected medical and nutritional experts in the medical community. If I think they might, it’s the first thing I offer to them. If the answer is no however, I will verbally rip their heart out and show it to them as they do a slow internet death. It’s mean spirited, I agree, but I’m fair in judging before I dole out any punishment.
For my friend, it appears she’s taken the softer approach, which is to attempt to reason with her friend. Her plan for now is to let her know how her ugliness has affected MY friend in the hopes that she never does this to anyone else.
And that might happen, assuming that she’s actually willing to sit down & listen. Otherwise, she can learn the verbal assault from me.
One thing my friend said that really got me thinking was the following comment: ”
And just maybe God’s lesson for me is that I’m reaping all the negative gossip and bodyshaming *I’ve* sown over the years.
What it has me wondering is how much of that negative gossip and bodyshaming goes on within our own community. How many times do you hear someone who’s fat call another fat person a “fat slob” or “fat bitch”? How many events have you been to where cliques formed, mostly with evil intent to make fun of those who are not part of the clique?
Do you do that, and then get online and talk about how fat people are maligned? See, that double standard shouldn’t exist. Now I’m not saying that if you don’t like someone that you should hide that. If that dislike is based on some personal experience that’s brought you to the point of dislike, that’s great. We can’t all get along.
I’m talking about the snarky comments when someone walks by. The hurtful shit that is said when that person isn’t around……the gossip. Several years ago, I was told under no uncertain terms that a mutual “friend” had horrible hygiene. I had never met her before, but I sure was told by everyone that she just plain old stunk. I met her at one of my events, expecting the worst. They were all wrong. Yet despite the fact that they were wrong, they held their noses every time she walked through the hotel lobby throughout the weekend. Did this person know what was going on? Did someone tell her at some point? I don’t think so, because I’ve found during my time in the fat community that some of those who comprise it are very good at being friends in front while they stab you in the back. I don’t know the reasons for it, but it’s unnecessary and hurtful.
I’ve often felt that there are several segments to the fat community. Those who have suffered from fat prejudice and bullying who feel a need to work towards size acceptance, those who are just her for the sex, and those in between. My suggestion to all is my dad’s wise words “Don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house”.
My dad is a smart man.