I have heard from a number of fat people with mobility/health issues that things are made more difficult by the idea that using a cane or scooter or getting Type 2 diabetes or whatever is living down to a negative stereotype about fat people.
Somehow it’s become popular for everyone from stand-up comedians to adults clinging to their junior high school playground bully persona, to make fun of fat people in scooters, fat people with diabetes, etc. I just want to ask these people: what the hell is wrong with you?
Their cowardly excuse is typically that somehow these people “brought it on themselves” so it’s ok to make fun of them. This is entirely wrong on a couple of levels. First you don’t know what someone’s situation is by looking at them, and even if you did it’s still just a convenient excuse for being a bigot and I’ll tell you why. I have a friend who was in a wheelchair for a while because she got drunk, jumped from a moving vehicle and broke both her legs. I know a guy who was in a scooter and now uses a prosthetic leg because he got drunk and crashed his motorcycle. I know a woman who had to go to the emergency room repeatedly because she refused to stop eating shrimp though she is allergic. All of these people now admit that their actions were sheer jackassery, but even after telling people what happened they still got nothing but sympathy and offers of help, so methinks the fat hater doth justify too much.
Everybody has abilities and disabilities. As a random hypothetical – some people are unable to walk but completely able to display empathy and appropriate behavior. I would much rather hang out with those people than fuckwits who make fun of people with mobility/health issues.
Unfortunately we are not the jackass whisperer and we can’t make anyone stop this behavior. But we can make sure that we do not perpetuate any of this stigma within HAES/SA community. I would suggest that we should be on the frontlines fighting for respect and dignity for those who use mobility aids or deal with issues that society wants to erroneously blame on their fat.
I understand that I am very lucky/privileged. My body is uniquely built for fat athleticism. I put on muscle (especially Type 2 muscle) very easily which makes it easier to move my big fat body around. I have naturally high proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. I’ve been an athlete all my life which makes things easier. I have had access to amazing professionals who have supported my health and well-being from a Health at Every Size perspective (David Jones, Kate Wodash, Dr. Robin Fuquay, Michelle Burns, Leena Dillingham, I’m looking at you.) Not every body is equipped to do what my body can do. Then again, lots of bodies can do stuff mine can’t. And that’s exactly as it should be.
I also know that, just like everyone else, what my body can do could change. I believe that would make my body different, but no less amazing – still breaking, blinking, heart beating etc – still an awesome body. If something happened and my mobility changed that would absolutely be difficult, perhaps even temporarily devastating, and I think I would have to do some work to overcome the idea that it’s because of my fat. Much like the work I’ve had to do to overcome the cultural idea that everything that doesn’t go my way is because of my fat.
I hope that when the work was done I would name my scooter something awesome; get to work with some glue, glitter, and streamers; put a bumper sticker on the back that says “Got Something to Say About My Size? Dial 1-800-Bite Me”, and roll my way into a sparkly new life on wheels.
I don’t want to tell anyone how to live. I do want people to know that they have the option to celebrate the body they have and declare it perfect as it is. After all, it’s the only one of it’s kind – our bodies are unique and incomparable – so it makes no sense to compare them to other bodies. The body I live in IS my perfect body. For me life is about doing the best I can with what I have and maybe trying to make the world a little better along the way. One of the tricks that I use to deal with situations that I wish were different is to repeat the phrase “This is what’s happening.” It helps me to stop wishing for a different situation and start working on the one that currently exists. Abilities may be different, but I think that all bodies are completely amazing!
So if you’re rocking a scooter, a cane, an oxygen tank, living with Type 2 diabetes or something else that people are blaming on your fat, I say those people can go fuck themselves. For the record, I think your body is amazing, and I’m proud to be on the Team Size Acceptance with you! And if you want someone to hang out and help glue rhinestones to your scooter or put subversive bumper stickers on your oxygen tank, call me!
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