Only Fat People – Dealing with Hate

Today the hashtag #onlyfatpeople trended on Twitter.  Tweet after tweet of “only fat people [insert something cruel]”.  I guess people think that we haven’t had enough suicides contributed to by cyber bullying and hate speech.

I get a lot of hate mail.  I get something every day and I get a death threat about once per week. And it seems like it’s morphing, like a drug who effects wear off the “fix” that people used to get from calling me a landwhale is no longer enough.  Suddenly it’s not enough for them to hate me, they want ME to hate me.  Then they want me to die. They say horrible, cruel things to me. And I’m not the only one.  The fat people I know all deal with some level of this at some time or another.

Let’s be super clear: this isn’t about my health, their tax dollars or anything else. Anybody who says it is – is lying through their teeth.   It’s purely about people wanting to hate me, and wanting me to hate me.  What the hell is wrong with these people?  Who knows – maybe they feel bad about their lives, maybe they think that their value lies in being thin and the fact that I don’t value being thin is a threat to their self-esteem.  Maybe they have that “complete and total asshole” gene that the researchers are all talking about.

Really, I’m less interested in what’s wrong with them – and more focused on what our options are for dealing with this crap.

We can try to hide.  Maybe if they don’t notice us they won’t hate us out loud. That’s not an option for me – as the Reverend Mother says in Sister Act: “That is not a person you can hide.  That is a conspicuous person, designed to stick out.”  Even if I could hide I wouldn’t but I understand people who do work to just blend in.

We can try to argue with them.  Sometimes I do this but, to borrow a phrase I’ve found that the problem with arguing with a pig is that you both get dirty but the pig is used to it and doesn’t mind.  I’m a fan of debate in general but basic human respect and civil rights are not open to debate as far as I’m concerned.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness do not start when we weigh what someone else thinks we should weigh.

We could try to change ourselves to be who they think we should be.  Although I’ve found that bullies are pretty good at finding fault.

I think in the end how we deal with bullying depends on the bully, the situation, and how we feel at the time.  What’s really important is that we realize that what they are doing is wrong, period. We can choose to excuse it, ignore it, challenge it or whatever, but that doesn’t change the fact that the behavior is wrong. It’s not me, it’s you.

I’ve struggled for a while with how to deal with the hate mail that I get.  I don’t want to put it on the blog because I like this to be a safe space.  But I do think it’s important for people to be able to see the kind of crazy stuff that people send me for respectfully suggesting that fat people don’t have to hate ourselves.

Then a friend told me about a Mommy blogger who put her hate mail up on a separate page with ads to monetize it.  That sounded brilliant to me – the idea that the haters will help me fund my world tour to spread the body love and replace all their hate gives me a lot of glee! So I put up a website with some of my hatemail and filled it with ads for awesome Health at Every Size and Size Acceptance stuff that I love.

So, if you want to read my hate mail (and obvious trigger warning here) you can find it at www.danceswithfat.com/hate 

Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 9:16 am  Comments (103)  

103 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Jesus tap-dancing Christ, there are some people with an excessively inflated sense of self-worth out there.
    Interestingly, it’s often coupled with exceptionally poor spelling and grammatical skills.

    Correlation or causation, do you think? }:)

    • I think the thing is they actually have NO self worth. Someone with a sense of self worth would never do something so petty.
      These individuals have the same mind set as the Nazis did. I’ve long said they really would put people they didn’t find beautiful into gas chambers. The heavy, the old, the disfigured–they would happily do it to us all. Because they are so petty and awful and they know they have no real worth.
      I admit that these types got to me. I stopped allowing comments on my blog–which is nowhere near as awesome as Ragen’s blog or a blog like Fierce Fatties or Fat Heffalump’s–because of them. I’m dealing with trying to find a feeling of self worth in a person (me) who has never seemed in any way worthwhile. I deal with suicide ideation and on a bad day, they can really get to me. So while I know it’s a chickenshit solution, I have closed the door on allowing ANYBODY to “speak” to me.
      These are truly horrid “people” and I’m not ashamed to admit that I often hope that something awful happens to them.

      • I meant that they think that their drivel is worth listening to.
        I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with so much crud; for what it’s worth, I think your blog is quite well written.
        Your blog should be your space – not allowing comments isn’t a ‘chickenshit’ solution. It’s the solution that provides the best outcome for you. Good luck, and I hope each day is better than the last :)

    • This is just so sad to see how hateful people in our world really are!
      #onlypeoplethatneedloved

  2. Wow. Just wow. I have never received anything like this. Not even when I was on national TV several times talking about Fat Acceptance (and they linked to my blog). The stuff you and Fat Heffalump get sent to you just does my head in. Keep fighting.

  3. Made with the clicky, bought a book. So the haters supported you, Linda Bacon, and me in one effort. A whole lot of fat happiness for them!

  4. lol thanks. when i was actively solo blogging i stopped because of the trolls. its good to know i wasn’t alone and that trolls everywhere have things in common…an overuse of the word whale and bad spelling/grammar. so funny and i love your snark back!

  5. Love you, Ragen, and I’m so glad I’ve found your site. You could also consider taking a page from the Margaret Cho playbook…she actually published the email addresses that sent the hate mail. This was several years ago, but I think she may have also used an IP address identifier to identify what business the email was sent from, what location, etc. Only problem with this strategy is it might make the hate mail stop or slow down…and you’ve clearly found a way to benefit from it at this point!

    Best to you. Stay strong. We need people like you in the world.

    • Thank you so much for the support! If any of these cowards ever sent it under their e-mail addresses or under a real IP address I would absolutely post it.

      ~Ragen

  6. You know, I thought I was going to be more offended going in, but I ended up laughing more than I anticipated. What unfulfilling lives these bullies must lead. And it was a great idea to post their comments because it inspired me to donate! Good job, haters!

    Also, I think it’s globally recognized that whales are awesome. Did no one see the beluga/mariachi band video? Free Willy?

    • i loved that video!

  7. Monetizing the hate mail is a brilliant idea, and I’ll be signal-boosting.

    However, I hit the donate button, and got the generic login rather than the here’s the place you’re donating to login, and your email address for the site isn’t registered with paypal.

  8. Wow…. I probably shouldn’t have read that but I did. WTF I can’t even….

    People actually SAY THIS STUFF??? To other people? I am appalled times 1 million. WTF is wrong with these people? How can anyone be filled with that much hate and have a happy existence.

    I am so sorry that you get these messages. It makes me extremely sad. However, I’ve gotta say you are an amazing inspiration for the way you deal with these.
    Monetising their ass-hattery is pure brilliance!

    • I think the key here is “say this stuff?” They don’t say it, they type it. Much easier that way.

      • And they hide behind the relative anonymity of the internet while they type it. Its easy to be tough when you’re unlikely to have your target appear on your doorstep with a baseball bat.

  9. Online bullying is something I find interesting and I myself am trying to come to understand. I get quite a lot of hateful comments on a couple of other message boards from time to time. One of them consists of mostly 16-24 year old females, many who are catty and insecure, so when they see me around the community, a little bit older, more accomplished, confident woman, they have serious issues with me and love to put me down. They want me to hate me too, so they put down things they know I am confident about, which would include my body by saying I don’t look as skinny as I say I am, or some might say that I am too skinny and look skeletal.

    The other message board is a type of fat community where I am unwelcome by many because they feel I am a threat to their safe space and anything I say that holds even the slightest possibility of being offensive, they will stretch my words and run with it. I’ve been called several names on there and emailed with many threats as well. I’ve tried to tell them I just want to be among friends but some of them refuse to believe I am there for anything other than to look like the superior skinny chick in a room full of fat kids. I suppose that is their burden to hold.

    But in both cases, hateful comments that are directed towards mere strangers online are often rooted from their own self hate. There attacks are often a form of defense mechanism, to protect and stoke their own egos. A person who is confident, secure, and self loving wouldn’t feel the need to direct such hate towards people they barely know online.

    • I like your blog, Ashley, and I’ve always thought you were genuine. I don’t comment there much anymore because I’ve received hate from other people, not from you. I’m in too sensitive a place to deal with hate.
      It’s an odd thing–I don’t like myself very much at all. But I’ve never understood how it could “benefit” me in any way to be a small, hateful shithead who tried to make other people miserable. Why would I want anyone to feel as badly as I do if they’ve never done anything to harm me?
      On the other hand, those who make these unneccesary hate comments? I do not apologize for my venom towards them. Let them spend a day feeling ten times worse than the people they attack. That is what they deserve.
      I wish I was as strong as Ragen or Ashley or some of you other awesome people. But I’m not. I’m just trying to get by day by day living with a broken brain that’s trying to kill me!

  10. Ragen, what a brilliant idea!

    Can I make a suggestion? I don’t blog enough to get a lot of fat hate mail, though there’s one in particular that I’d love to put up. Do you have a section for ‘guest’ fat hate mail that us other fatty bloggers could donate to you? I’d love to see you make money off my fat hate mail.

    • Hi there,

      That’s a fantastic idea! Feel free to e-mail it to me (ragen at dances with fat dot com ) and I’ll add some “guest hate”.

      ~Ragen

  11. I actually had to stop reading half-way through because it upset me so much. This is why I never turned my blog into a professional endeavor, despite many people telling me I should. I can’t take the haters, never could.

    Last time I checked, whales were the most intelligent species on earth. They’re also the most hunted. So they’re smart and valuable. I’d take it as a compliment.

    • For the record, Yorkie, I always enjoy seeing your comments. And I like whales too! Let’s harpoon the whale hunters and the haters. <3

    • “Last time I checked, whales were the most intelligent species on earth. They’re also the most hunted. So they’re smart and valuable. I’d take it as a compliment.”

      Nice way to turn it around ^_^ Have a cookie.

  12. It makes me extremely happy to see such negative energy redirected into strong support for your fantastic tour!
    I’m hoping be at one of your stops!
    Also, Patricia is super amazing!

  13. Monetizing the hate is brilliant idea, and deserves to be spread around. Going to link to this.

  14. First off – it makes me really sad that you have to put up with such utter crap and hate. Secondly – setting up a page and making money off of it is BRILLIANT! : ) Third – I love, love, love that you answer them. And with intelligence and wit. Which cancels out ignorance and bad grammar and spelling any day. Like pixie dust.

  15. One word….” Brava ! “

  16. My favourite is the medical student who can’t spell. Why does fat hating trolls have such a problem with spelling and punctuation anyway?

  17. Clever solution. I won’t be reading the hate mail, but I love that it’s making you money!

  18. This made me very sad and disturbed me. But I am so glad you shared it, Ragen. I just cannot grasp that people have time in their lives to be so hateful and cruel to someone. They all need a hobby…perhaps dancing?! So they can know the work it takes to be a professional dancer!

    I’m sorry you get this type of stuff. No one deserves it!

  19. Is it bad that that link made me seriously giggle? Some people lead deeply, deeply unappealingly sad and shallow lives.

    If ever I am tempted to link my self-worth to the hating-of-other-people-who-have-never-done-me-any-harm, I will go back and read it again, just to remind me of how damn stupid one would have to be to invest soooo much emotional energy into hating other actual human people just for existing. Or more to the point – daring to be happy.

  20. WOW, I can’t stand that #onlyfatpeople trend! How terrible. I just retweeted your tweet against it. :-)

    Your hate mail made me cry! What terrible posts. I’m so glad that you were able to turn something so negative into a positive. People need to see this stuff, because many people in my life don’t believe that fat hate really exists.

    • Hi Leah,

      Thank you so much for the support, I’m sorry that the hate mail made you cry though!

      ~Ragen

  21. You are an amazing woman, and I can’t express how thankful I am for your blogging.

    I clicked through and bought a book. Take that, haters!

  22. I’d argue that it’s a confidence thing in general. If you’re not miserable like you’re ‘supposed’ to be, then you’re just begging to have the world’s crap thrown at you. I get it for other things (as I’m only barely a BMI fatty cause oh.. I had a baby and bodies need fat for that? *laughs*), but I can empathise on it.

    tl;dr – I admire your grace and humour. Keep it up! :)

    • Thanks Virginia! I think that you’re right – they just want me to hate myself like they think I should.

      ~Ragen

  23. PaHsia, there must be some kind of relation between people who can’t spell and people who are mean mean ol’ bullies. I demand scientific research! Science!

    • Maybe they can use some of the “OMGDEATHFAT” grant money to fund this study!

      ~Ragen

  24. I saw that Twitter hashtag the other day. I was contemplating making a tweet about how stupid it was, but realised that it would only help make it continue to trend, and decided against it.

    As for the hate mail page… wow. Those are the kinds of people that are wrong with the world. They think the world would be a better place if it was rid of people with something “wrong” on the outside. But it’s the people with something wrong on the inside (putting others down for the sole purpose of getting some jollies in their miserable little lives — yeah, we can totally see who’s the better person there) that make the real problems in the world.

    Also, I enjoyed reading your replies! I think it throws trolls for a loop when nobody bites the bait like they hope they will.

  25. My husband came into the room to ask me why I was laughing so loudly. I told him I think I have discovered the wittiest human being on the face of the planet! Seriously, you’d give Terry Pratchett a run for his money.

    The comments from the haters were disgusting.

    Your responses? BRILLIANT

    Making money off the haters? Equally BRILLIANT

    I am filled with admiration for you while you are, quite apparently, filled with awesome :)

    • Thank you so much Lisa! I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett and I consider that high praise indeed. Thanks for all the support :)

      ~Ragen

  26. Those people are pretty horrible. Although I think I might start calling myself the Fifth Baroness of Chubbington. And this should be on a t-shirt: “I’m so fat that it should come with a cape and a secret identity.” I respect your ability to respond with such humor and civility.

  27. Just wanted to say I read you religiously and you are TERRIFIC — funny and thoughtful. I write a column online that regularly triggers buttloads of hate (it’s no FAT, but book-banning and Israeli-Palestinian relations can garner some venom) and my husband makes me repeat “COMMENTERS. ARE. DOUCHEBAGS.” People love to spew their toxins in the anonymity of cyberspace. Of course it sucks that fat hate is such an unexamined, normalized feature of the Real World too.

    In terms of MONETIZING the hate — my brother and his husband belong to the gay and lesbian synagogue in Manhattan. When Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church phuckheads came to picket the synagogue a couple of yrs ago, the rabbi urged congregants and supporters to turn the other cheek (the Phelpses LIVE to engage) but to pledge money for every minute the picketers were outside. The plea went viral, and the synagogue got thousands of dollars of much-needed donations. I believe Rabbi Kleinbaum wrote Pastor Phelps a thank-you note.

    • Marjorie,

      Thank you for your kind words about the blog! I’m sorry that you have to deal with this kind of douchebaggery as well. And may I say that the story about the Fred Phelps pledge-a-thon will make me smile for years to come. That is brilliant!!!!!

      ~Ragen

    • the rabbi urged congregants and supporters to turn the other cheek (the Phelpses LIVE to engage) but to pledge money for every minute the picketers were outside.

      It works. I know that when Westboro came to picket my neighborhood’s amateur theater company for putting on The Laramie Project, I wasn’t the only one to walk into the theater and say, “I didn’t get tickets in time, but I want to make a donation toward your future programming. You shouldn’t have to deal with these bigots.”

      Ragen, I applaud you, for finding a way to use their rancor toward a good end. That is just awesome.

      • Thanks Rachel, I love that you supported the local theater group that way, you rock :)

        ~Ragen

  28. I just checked out your new site on the horrible things people e-mail you. I have a new found respect for you and your bravery. To continue this blog in spite of those horrible ignorant comments you receive? You are just amazing!! Thanks for bringing a bit of hope to me :-)

  29. I love your responses, but it is a bit frightening that people wish to behave violently for no other reason than disliking the way you look.

    “maybe they think that their value lies in being thin and the fact that I don’t value being thin is a threat to their self-esteem” – it’s like any choice that isn’t the same as someone else’s, such as choice of which gender to marry, whether or not to have children etc. Some people just can’t stand it that someone else is happy living their life in a way that affects no-one but themselves.

  30. When I first encountered fat hate speech in the comments section of obesity related articles, I was devestated. It hurt me very deeply to know that total strangers hated people like me just for existing.

    This realization put me into a deep depression that took me quite a while to come out of. It took me quite a while longer to come to terms with the knowledge that anyone I encountered out in the world could be thinking such things about me. I withdrew from the world for a while and stayed home.

    Not wanting to hide from the world, I knew I needed to do something. What I ended up doing was to go back and re-reading the hate speech even though it hurt. I kept reading it until it didn’t hurt any more. .It was something of a painful innoculation, but it has served me in good stead since.

    Reading your comments to your own hate mail was something of a booster shot for me. It made me laugh and we all know that laughter is the best medicine. :)

  31. I on the other hand couldn’t stop reading, I was laughing my fat ass off (LMFAO). Your responses are nothing short of funny as shit. Well done! As for the comments, honestly, they didn’t bother me. That kind of behavior is difficult for me to take seriously. I am looking forward to the hate mail when my book on fat people and sex comes out, you have set the bar for the witty retort. I will start drafting my responses now. I’m very competitive.

    Rebecca Weinstein
    PeopleOfSize.com

  32. Some people are so cruel and ignorant.

    I think it’s important for us to see some of what you experience on a daily basis, and how you don’t let it deter you from doing the important work you do.

    I hope this generates a TON of cash for your tour.

  33. They have the herd gene and your refusal to follow the herd threatens their sense of security. As tolerance extends slowly to each, long held bit of hatred and bigotry, a new form of hatred and bigotry must be found to bolster their sense of being better than something, ANYTHING, To think that they actually might be judged on merit rather than color, sexual orientation, body type or their ability to blend into the herd frightens the hell out of them.

  34. Great idea but reading the hate mail made me feel sick. I don’t know how you handle it on a daily basis; I’d be a miss. you’re really a hero to me Ragen.

    • I meant “mess”, oops!

  35. The people who write the hate comments show their intelligence (or lack of) by their horrible grammar and inability to spell. They obviously have such low self esteem that they can’t find something productive to do with their lives. I love the way you handle them with humor. We certainly cannot take them seriously. Kudos, Ragen, for turning the tables and making money off their comments!

  36. I got pointed to this entry through a link in a LiveJournal blog. Gotta say, I love how you’re making the haters useful for something. :D

    • Thanks Michael, I appreciate it (also I used to be an LJer back in the day so yay for LJ!)

      ~Ragen

  37. God people are assholes now days. Its amazing how they have nothing better to do with there time but talk shit about an amazing person. You go girl!

    • Thanks Monique. Not everyone is an asshole, the internet just gives them a wider reach :)

      ~Ragen

  38. I hope putting the hate mail up on the sub-site both brings in some cash and helps keep the nastiness from festering. Move it through, move it out, get rid of it.

    Also, I really love the icon you used for this post!

  39. I love the monetising the hate page. My partner also just cracked up when I told him. Kudos. I also like the comment above about – why the correlation between the hate and the poor spelling? Causation?

    Seriously, though, why so much hate? I have a theory (completely untested) that it is rising in tandem with the social stress of the poor economy. Even people who still have jobs and so on are feeling the stress, because the tension of it is in the air. But instead of doing something worthwhile about it – agitating for political change etc – people seem to be turning on one another. Maybe it’s a kick the cat syndrome happening, where fat people are the cat.

    Maybe this is the outgrowth of the past decade’s toxic political culture. Hate and spite, everywhere you turn.

    • If you need somewhere to turn your energy into something good go to occupytogether.org and find a protest near your town or city. We could use the energy. We have people of all age, sizes, sexual orientation, etc.

  40. I read a sampling of the hate-mail. My God, it’s astonishing how many idiots are out there. I suspect they spend their spare time wearing white sheets and burning crosses…but I digress.

    Your responses put me on the floor! When you get tired of dancing, you really ought to consider writing comedy material:you’re sharp, funny and, I have no doubt, gifted with superb timing.

    Keep on doing all that you do – all of US appreciate it & love you for it.

    • Thanks! Glad that you liked the responses – it was very cathartic for me to write them. And thank you for the writing encouragement, I appreciate it.

      ~Ragen

  41. PLEASE put up their names and their email addresses. don’t redact.. they feel no shame for saying it.. then they should feel no shame for people knowing it is them. Then when they commit suicide from the amount of abuse heaped their way.. which i will happily contribute to.. we can show up at their funerals, request to speak.. and let their entire family know what kind of person they were.. reading their hate filled speeches to the grieving.. and then let them all know the world is a better place without those worthless pieces of shit on the planet. And then point out every fat family member in the audience.. and make sure they know that the deceased wished those things on them too.. because you know. they weren’t thin enough.

  42. On the one hand, laughable the way these idiots think (especially the ones whose hate seems to be centered round medical care – I’m reassured by the fact that they’re clearly too stupid for med school). On the other, reading these made me want to go and look at a seriously large number of baby pandas to cleanse my brain. Kudos to you, as always, for keeping on doing what you despite this crap.

    And, Alexie, I do think there’s an element of scapegoating in it. Various other groups (immigrants, unemployed people and particularly those on long-term disability benefit) are basically being treated like shit in the UK media right now, and I think it’s all part of the same syndrome.

  43. Ragen I read your blog daily and can’t wait for the Dances With Fat world tour!! My great big sexy fat ass will be in the front row thanking you, clapping, cheering, crying and begging you to let me dance with you!
    On a serious note your blog has helped me walk with my head higher and given me the courage to use my voice to fight the BS when people feel they’re entitled to say things about my body and size. I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight in the last two years and it’s absolutely amazing to me (and not the good kind of amazing) what people think they can say to/about me! I hope that the thanks and love that you get from your loyal readers far overshadows the ugliness and cruelty that you also receive.
    Thank you for pushing me to love myself, dance proudly (while being 5’4 and 290 pounds) and for being so honest & real!

    • Thank you so much – all the reader love definitely overpowers the ridiculous hate! It sounds like you are on a really awesome path to being at peace with your body, and I will look forward to seeing you in the front row :)

      ~Ragen

  44. Oh, I DO love you and your feisty blog! I’m also amazed at the folks who take the time to read and reply with hatred. Do they troll the web for mention of the word “fat” combined with anything? If I called myself a “fat artist” would they come? (and look and then call me names?)
    That stuff is creepy and scary, and you are brave to stand up to it. Which is why, of course, this old-lady-fat-artist loves you.

  45. I can’t understand why people waste their energy reading sites like yours if they hate fat people! Why don’t they look for sites to read about things they like? Oh, maybe because they are so filled with hate that they prefer to spend their time spewing their negativity instead of getting a life. Bravo to you Ragen for writing your blog and dealing with the hate. I don’t think I could take that much hate on a daily basis.

    • Thanks Nancy, I get so much more love mail than hate mail that it very rarely gets to me and even then only for a short time.

      ~Ragen

  46. I am so sorry you have this source of negativity in your life. How horrible that people have forgotten what FREEDOM actual means… Keep your chin up and don’t listen to what they say!

  47. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness do not start when we weigh what someone else thinks we should weigh.” Absolutely awesome quote.

    And wow, some of the things you get, sad that people feel that way, sad that people have THAT much hate. If there is any reason to believe in a hell it is so that I can feel that there is a place for people like that, people who have so much HATE within them.

    You write some great responses to the hate stuff though, loved the whole thing on why they have to keep bringing up land whale when there are fat land animals too. I guess maybe it’s because as far as animals go, I think whales are the largest (at least one species), even compared to elephants. But still! There are plenty of large animals on land! They probably think they sound clever when they say it though.

  48. The one who wrote about a corpse has issues far bigger than yours, no pun intended.

  49. Great post.

  50. The ignorance, immaturity, lack of character, lack of self-esteem, & generally the lack of a LIFE these people demonstrate is mind-boggling. They are too unhappy with their own lives, too bitter, & too blind to understand that what they write doesn’t say a damn thing about you, but speaks volumes about themselves.

    I don’t have my own blog, I just email a few friends, do some online shopping, & read & comment on the blogs, so I miss out on this venom online. And where I live, in Maine, I do not generally encounter it on the streets. I HAVE to some extent, when I was younger & there was more expectation that I was supposed to worry about being sexually viable. I have cerebral palsy, have had since birth, & over 95% of the abuse I have received from strangers has been because of my disability. I have grown up in rural areas for the most part, but lived in Maine’s second-largest city for most of my life (we are talking 35,000 people here, Maine doesn’t run to large cities), & I have, in 43 years of walking these streets (I also have no car or license & walk almost everywhere for transportation as well as exercise), heard maybe 3 remarks regarding my body size. I have been an in-betweenie most of my life, up until I rebounded a few years ago from my last bout of compulsive exercise & finished menopause & became a mid-size fat woman, about 215-220 pounds at 5’6″. The remarks I have gotten on the street have mostly been insults about being a ‘cripple’ or else sexually suggestive remarks because I was, in the words of a friend, ‘built like a brick shithouse.’ I got lots of reactions of the “I want to have sex with you but not be seen in public with you’ variety.

    I am not sure what it is about Maine. We tend to be strong-minded, long-lived, independent people who work hard to survive a lot of poverty, unemployment, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc., but most of us are decent, honest people who concentrate on living our own lives. We tend to be a bit ‘backward’ compared to the more sophisticated places, & largely we live ‘live & let live’ lives. Being a bit eccentric, dressing strangely, etc., is not remarked on much by the majority. Also, as the powers that be vainly try to remind us every so often in their ‘public service’ campaigns to make us worried about our weight & convince us that we need to ‘do something about it’, Maine is a state with a large (pun fully intended) population of fat people. We are also a state where living long is so common that, in some small towns, if you are less than 100 when you die, your obituary states that you died ‘unexpectedly’. Many of us have had grandparents & great grandparents & even further back who were fat also & lived well into their 80’s & 90’s or beyond. Also, making a living in Maine is hard enough so that the majority of us spend much more time worrying about being able to have ENOUGH to eat rather than too much.

    Whatever the reason, I do not experience, nor do I usually witness, abuse toward fat people. I am sure, however, that that does not mean that there are not people from Maine sitting at their computers typing asinine vitriol aimed at total strangers. In my daily life, though, I am obviously more fortunate than many of my fat brothers & sisters.

  51. First of all, I just want to say that in the few weeks I have been ready this blog, it has completely changed my personal relationship with my body in the most awesome way.

    In terms of your query as to “options for dealing with this crap,” I think it’s important to recognize that there has never been a civil rights movement not met with fierce opposition. If you were getting no hate mail, you would have to question how much impact your blog was really having or how much fat people are really stigmatized. The fact that you can dedicate a whole site to your hate mail is a testament to the level of culture change you are actually advocating.

    It just totally freaks people out, at a fundamental level. Especially those who have spent their entire lives associating self-worth with conformity to some random, effed-up beauty standard. Most thin people I know sort of put on this front of it all being effortless, when the truth is that staying skinny is their life’s work. You are really calling all that work into question. In my experience, when people start seeing that their own logic has failed them, they become defensive, angry and awful.

    So I don’t know if there is that much that can be done about it, except stay willing to take the heat. I, for one, am very, very grateful that you are.

    • Thanks Gwen, I appreciate it. Your words are inspiration and I think you’re exactly right – the day I got my first hate mail I remember being so excited because my blog had finally gotten enough attention that haters had found it. There’s a great Ghandi quote “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then the fight you, then you win.” I feel like we’re somewhere between the laugh at us and fight us stage so I consider that progress!

      ~Ragen

  52. Great idea, Ragen! The responses are so satisfying. I decided to “hollaback” today at a sweet, sweet young woman who posted a really offensive cartoon on Facebook today that implied if ignorant fat people would just become vegetarians they’d be thin and beautiful. Felt good to give as nonjudgmental and caring a response as I could, but to also be clear that this stuff is wrong and affects real people, not just some anonymous idea of what fat people are. So, thanks for the inspiration.

    • Yeah… nope, becoming a vegetarian doesn’t result in weight loss. I was a vegetarian for 8 years and during some of that time I was the biggest I’ve ever been. She is definitely misinformed/mistaken.

  53. What fucking losers, seriously.

    To take time out of your day, to travel to someone’s blog on a topic you fundamentally don’t agree with anyway, and then to send unintelligent rantings as hate mail to their inbox. That requires a level of insecurity and desire to put others down that I can’t quite imagine. It’s as if I prattled about the internet all day, sending emails to Tea Party bloggers because I don’t agree with them, and was really really dumb about it.

  54. I’m reading through the vitroil on the hate website and can’t believe it. Some people just need someone to look down on to make themselves feel better. It’s really sad. I think if they want to think that way, this is America and they are entitled to their opinion, but if they come into your personal space to insult you, I think deep down inside, they may actually be jealous and you know what they say about jealous people, jealous people still envy.

  55. Hey Ragen,

    Can I join you at the hate website and kick me some troll ass? It’s kind of fun really, like popping balloons with a well-placed pin and laughing at the resultant explosion. Or are you going to keep these clowns all to yourself?

  56. Oh, you made me laugh so much with your replies to the haters! Thank you! What a good use for hate mail!

  57. Definitely better than having the haters clutter up the regular blog. No trigger warning needed for me – I was belly-laughing through the whole thing.

    Though I think the “landwhale” thing is because they’re thinking of the flopping helplessness of a whale on land. Calling you a rhino wouldn’t work – have you ever seen a rhino move? They may be lumpy and awkward standing still, but they move like they have springs in their feet.

    • Re: animals and movement

      a) I have never seen *any* animal move, regardless of size, and thought they were anything but graceful and natural (only exception was the bear who got drunk on fermented apples but he was amusing lol). Elephants and whales etc. are not overweight. They are powerful majestic creatures. They’re freakin masters of their domains – smaller animals get the hell out of their way! Big animals rule!

      b) Your comment about rhinos “springing” around reminded me of the hippo ballerinas in Disney’s “Fantasia” – now they are dancing through my head and I can’t stop smiling.

      That’s how you take away the power to hurt with words – turn the insults into compliments! Because anyone who calls me a landwhale obviously doesn’t know jackitycrap about whales.

  58. I don’t get it. Elephant’s are majestic. Why on earth would someone argue that fat people aren’t attractive… because of elephants? It just doesn’t make any sense! Would you argue that a hairy man is ugly because you don’t like monkeys? If you don’t like the look of a stick insect, does that make all thin people ugly? And don’t get me started on otters! I don’t know what they look like, but I’m sure it’s a ripe opportunity for bullying!

    • I mean, I know what otters look like, I just don’t know what sort of human to compare them to. A baby mermaid, perhaps?

      • An otter is a slim, hairy man – according to the slang in the gay “Bear” community (which I adore for their celebrating of different body sizes and types!)

  59. Sorry, I couldn’t finish that, what a bunch of bores. I actually burst out laughing at that “stretchmarks” tag. Pitiful just pitiful.

    And to all those who want to punch fat people, why not form that fist good and jump on it; arse first?

    Hey, I can talk trash.

  60. People are so incredibly mean. I read some of the hate comments and they made me cry. I am having gastric bypass surgery soon because I am sick of being fat and sick of being hated for being big. It’s each person’s choice what they should weigh but there is no reason for hating someone for their size. It makes me very sad.

  61. What a bunch of pathetic losers. All that impotent, incoherent rage with no place else to go…there’s a reason they’re called trolls. Good on you for not being afraid to lift up the rocks they dwell under and expose them to the light of day.

  62. You, Ragen, are my favorite Fat Sassy Bitch.

    LOVE this.

  63. I don’t think that in a million years, we will truly understand people who hate senselessly, whatever it is they hate. But what a great idea, to make money from their sickness!

  64. Ragen, I’m so sorry you get this kind of hate. I LOVE the idea of turning it back on the haters and monetizing their vile, incoherent ravings to support your message.

    I saw some ads for stuff I’d be interested in (when I have money, hopefully soon…). I feel like such a whiner, but… they’re all linked through Amazon. I will use Amazon, but I’m not particularly happy with them, for a number of company policies and decisions. Any chance of giving Barnes and Noble some love?

    Also, a thought – maybe link to your Zazzle items on the hate page? Of course, if you’re trying to track visits there from the support page, and that would mess with your tracking, then never mind.

    Love how your mind works, love your blog, love you (in a strictly internet-y and platonic way!) Go, you!

  65. Personally, I think a lot of them are hungry. There are women who starve and starve and starve until they’re gaunt, and then they look at a happy fat person and just go ballistic.

    Most of the men I’ve dated in my lifetime have been men the general culture would consider handsome. You wouldn’t believe the “what’s SHE doing with HIM?” stares I’ve received. A waitress even dumped a dish of salsa in my lap at a restaurant for no other distinguishable purpose (white skirt, too).

    As far as these particular gaunt women go, the ones who are not naturally gaunt but pursue it as if their all self-worth depends on it (which in their mind it does), we put all their starvation and hunger pain in perspective, and they don’t like it.

  66. I love your sense of humor on the “hate mail” page. I don’t think I could maintain my composure (let alone my sense of humor) in the face of such relentless abuse.

    And I only wish I could dance like you. General clumsiness/lack of coordination FTL.

  67. I think my fav was Fatty McFatsworth, Fifth Baroness of Chubbington. Soo awesome, I think I’m going to use that. It totally blows Fatty McFatterson, Mayor of Fat-town STAIGHT out of the water. I want a T-shirt. I will wear it to the gym. So much fun!

  68. Bit late to the discussion (just found your blog and have been reading my way through its wonders the last few days.) But wanted to share a little bit of self-care I’ve practiced lately: I changed my Twitter settings to say I live in Amsterdam. Which I don’t, but that means that most of the trending topics are in Dutch, and I have *NO IDEA* what they mean. It’s pretty awesome.


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