It started nice enough about a week ago. A fat activist (and great lady) by the name of Amanda Levitt (Please Google her if you don’t know who she is) came up with the hashtag #notyourgoodfatty.
Essentially the hashtag was used to articulate the systematic discrimination directed towards fat people by others. Why #notyourgoodfatty? Pretty simple, really. It relates to the assumption by those doing the discriminating that those discriminated against (the obese) will not react to the discrimination, in other words, be a good fatty.
Um, my friends aren’t having that.
With that said, a tremendous amount of tweets in support of the hashtag, positive affirmations, and an overall sense of community was felt by all who participated. Of course, the trolls began to make their voices heard, in an effort to diffuse some of the progress made by those using the hashtag. It was the usual cries of “you’re all gluttons”, to “you’re at higher risk for diabetes, heart issues, and cancer”, to just “you people are disgusting”. All of this is part of the reason that the hashtag was created to begin with. This blog won’t get into the actual discussion of the barbs thrown by trolls. That’s been done in the past, and in the effort to get to the point, if one wants links to the more contemporary research disproving many of the accusations of the trolls, you can see them on my “Edumacation/Edification” page.
One of the friends I made on Twitter recently is a lovely fat activist who has spent far more time participating in this Twitter campaign than I have, based on my recent work constraints. This morning, I posted the following meme, with the following caption: “Used often, but SO true”
Less than 5 minutes after I posted it, my Twitter friend began to respond to me. Here’s what she said over several tweets:
fat is part of my identity. I can’t take it off and put it on. It doesn’t get trimmed every few weeks, like nails.
for many of us fat folks, though, being fat is part of our definition. It’s not something we can change or ignore. I can’t go into the world without considering how it will treat me: bathrooms with enough clearance? Sturdy chairs w/out arms? Etc.
and we must steel our minds against thin supremacy messaging. The world isn’t fat-friendly. Most folks see our fat first. if we’re lucky, they’ll take time to see us as people. Most don’t. (Ref: thin supremacy agenda)
I was floored. Not because I thought she was off the mark with her response. I was floored because in all of my fat activism, I forgot about many of these things. She was absolutely right!
Those of you who know me know I’m not fat. I exercise daily, and I’m very aware of what I eat (thanks to onset diabetes & a bilateral pulmonary embolism several years ago). Other than being engaged to a wonderful fat girl, I don’t have a horse in the race. My only connection to fat activism has been based on people I loved who happened to be fat, and seeing how poorly they’ve been treated. Don’t get me wrong, my fiancee’ and I have faced up to some very harsh fat discrimination (which you can read in my earlier blogs). The thing is, if it’s not seen on a daily basis, one can forget how harsh that discrimination can be.
Sure, I can react to trolls on Twitter, but it’s not really worth it because all one has to do is see the volume of tweets & compare it to the number of their followers to know that their impact is minimal at best.
I thought back to the days when I was running the New Jersey BBW Bash with Berna. Prior to every event, we’d check the hotel to make sure the accommodations would accommodate the obese. We needed to make sure the hotel had several elevators, that our patrons had rooms close to them. We would sit with the caterers prior to the event to make sure that everyone’s dietary needs were met at the luncheons & dinners we hosted. We talked with the staff at the hotel to ensure that they were “fat friendly” (we didn’t want our guests to hear whispers or snickering if they walked past a maid or hotel clerk). We hired security to ensure that our private pool parties remained private (I can’t tell you how many cameras I confiscated from trolls who tried to sneak pics of the fatties in bikinis so they could show their friends). We would do the same thing at the restaurants that we patronized, we’d check tables & chairs for sturdiness (no booths, please). We’d talk with the wait staff. EVERYTHING was done to make our guests feel like we’d considered everything in making sure they were accommodated.
My friend’s comments today caused me to think that perhaps I’d forgotten about a fat persons needs & expectations, and made me wonder why, since it’s not that difficult to do, people don’t just be considerate that way in our daily lives. Is it really that hard to sit next to a fat person on a plane for a couple of hours and not bitch because their fat spills over into your “territory”? Is it necessary to watch a fat person eat in a restaurant or at a mall and not stare, give disapproving looks, or lecture them on “healthy eating”? Most important, do you really have to add your two cents to the #notyourgoodfatty hashtag because you feel that their fat is somehow affecting YOUR life?
Really, it’s not. I can assure you of that. In fact, your trolling, looks of disapproval, pic taking, mocking, and fat bias are starting to affect MY life, and I don’t like it. Here’s a good idea for those of you who somehow take pleasure in it. Come up to me and do & say those things to my face, and see what happens.
Come at me, bro…..
PS…..thank you Dayna for making me think about all these things today!