Fat Hate 101

Ulanda Williams is a social worker in the city of NY.

Several days ago, Ms. Williams was standing, waiting for a bus in NY, when the sidewalk beneath her began to collapse beneath her.  As the ground crumbled, she fell into a hole, about 6 feet deep.  Interestingly, she could have fallen deeper, but the hole below her was more narrow, and her girth prevented her from falling further.  With that said, she was wedged in the hole,  and the FDNY had to use a crane and cargo net to haul her to safety. She was then taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she was treated for her injuries and later released.

As it turns out, The City Department of Buildings inspected the damaged site and found that a 4-by-6-foot section of sidewalk had collapsed into a vault cellar. Further investigation revealed defective steel doors leading to the vault. In addition, a first-floor staircase was loose.  The owner of the building was issued a violation for failing to maintain the property.

“It was horrible, absolutely horrible,” said  Ms. Williams, who broke her arm in two places and suffered bruises and cuts on her face and neck. But it could have horribler, she acknowledges. “Thank God, my size was the only thing that saved me.”

And her size became the focus of the news reports.

In every newspaper in NY, as well as the online news services, the focus was on her weight, and girth.  Don’t believe me, check the following links to online reports:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2263219/Rupert-Murdoch-mocks-fat-lady-fell-sidewalk-New-York-City.html
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/too_big_to_fall_Fz8VbWLT2tMkq9gvShHF0J
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/ulanda-williams-falls-through-sidewalk-400-pounds_n_2479624.html

There are lots more links, but I think you get the idea.

More important, the comments made after these articles were posted were beyond reprehensible.  Take a gander at the following “words of wisdom”:

The only time when an extra 300 pounds comes in handy. They should leave her there to fill in the gap. Lol!!

I think sidewalks should be constructed to handle much more than 400 lbs, but her weight is a problem for pretty much everything else; airplanes, life, walking, steps, chairs, sitting next to me on public transit, sweat, smell, ruining couches, health costs, I have to look at her multiple fat rolls, and I cant even make fun of her for not being able to hunt or gather like any animal should be able to do for it’s own survival.

yeah it’s not o.k. to be 400 lbs for any reason. get off the couch. you are probably lazy and have zero self discipline. it’s your fault.

Again, while there are many similar comments, you get the idea.  Even Rupert Murdoch, the “genius” who owns the NY post, had to weigh in on the story.  “How did fat lady who fell thru street get to 400 lbs? Welfare, stamps, etc? Then leave us all with 20yrs immense health bills.”

Rupert Murdoch's tweetMurdoch’s tweet

Not only did he assume that Williams was on welfare, but he may have missed some of the details in his own New York Post, which had noted that being fat may have been to her advantage.  I’ve always wondered if this twit reads his own newspaper, and now I know that even HE can’t read the garbage that’s in it.

So WHY all the hate for this woman?  Let’s take her out of the equation, just for a moment.  Let’s make it two men who each weigh around 200 lbs, and fell through the same sidewalk.  I think the media would be reporting this story with a different focus, making the NYC property owner who didn’t maintain his property the villain.  It certainly wouldn’t be the two men.  There might be a comment made about 2 guys from NY who haven’t obeyed Mayor Bloomberg’s edict about drinking 32 oz. drinks, but not much more.  I also think that if this was a tackle for the Jets or Giants who went through the sidewalk, there would be an outpouring of sympathy.

Not so with Ms. Williams.  She’s cursed.  She’s a woman, and she’s fat.

FACT.  Women are judged about their bodies more than men.  FACT.  Fat women are judged & criticized more than thinner women and all men.

It’s almost as if it’s open season on fat women, a season that seems to never end.

I belong to a group on Facebook called “Rolls, Not Trolls”.  Most of the members of this group are fat women, women who have grown weary of body judging, fat hate, and the open season on fat women.  They are fighting back.  Ragen Chastain, who runs the group and publishes a blog called “Dances With Fat”, receives hate mail on a daily basis.  She doesn’t deal with it quietly, and neither does the group, whose goal is to be a “group of people who want to spread a positive message of body love to the darkest corners of the internet: the comments sections of major news stories. This is a very specifically purposed community – we exist to 1. post body positive comments in body negative spaces on the internet, and 2. support each other in that specific activity.”

Support against fat hate.  A noble cause, a cause that I and many other bloggers and fat activists share.  We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.  My messages, while supportive of my friends in the group, don’t always reflect a positive message of body love, but sometimes resembles smacking the commenters in the face with the stupid stick.  My goal as a poster isn’t so much to try to change the minds of those who engage in body shaming & fat hate.  It’s highly unlikely that anyone can do that, since you can’t rationalize with someone who’s irrational.  My real goal is to appeal to someone who might be on the bubble of fat related topics, trying to figure out where they personally stand, and to offer support to other people who are on the receiving end of all of this hate & prejudice, letting them know that not all people are fat haters.

My girlfriend called me earlier today to relate a story to me about something that happened at lunch today.  In her words:

I had the most amazing experience today while I was out to lunch with my best friend. We frequent a local Chinese buffet, and today it wasn’t super busy, but an Asian couple came in and was seated directly to our right. We noticed them, but went about eating. After we had our lunch, and were going up for dessert, I heard them speaking to each other rather fervently in their language. ( Chinese I think ) So we go get Ice Cream and come back, and the woman starts screaming at him in English.

She said ” How dare you make fun of those two women. Your whole fucking family is fat. I happen to think they are beautiful. You are a disgrace to the United States. This is what is wrong with the world today. She started berating him again, and then she walked over to our table and apologized to us.

She also mentioned the size of his penis, and something about taking it back home to his country of origin, but the point here is that it was really reassuring to Lissa that someone who was not fat spoke up, and do the right thing, rather than keep quiet and go with the flow.

Just remember, the fat activists and bloggers wouldn’t exist without fat prejudice, body judging and hate.  Please put us out of work soon.

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