People Of Walmart

You know the pictures.  People in Walmart, very often fat people.  They might be dressed in tight or scant clothing, or their hair is in curlers etc.  Someone photographs them, puts them on a website for comment and then they get passed around Facebook where today I saw no less than four people who claim to be size acceptance advocates make fun of them.

Let’s look at what we know about the people in these pictures:

1.  They got dressed for the place they were going at the time they were going there- they had no intention to be photographed.

2.  They were probably photographed without their knowledge or consent.

3.  They have no opportunity to speak up on their own behalf unless they happen to find their picture and all the bullying, abusive, shaming language that is with it.

4.  They are people, deserving of basic human respect even if they make choices that are different than ours.

This is no different than the fat administrative assistant who goes to McDonalds to get lunch for her office and ends up in a picture without her head carrying twelve bags of McDonald’s food and getting ridiculed all over the internet.  Maybe the person in the Walmart picture can’t afford other clothes, maybe they had to rush their baby to the emergency room and they are at Walmart for medicine in what they were wearing around the house when the baby got sick, maybe that woman is sitting in a shopping cart because she is disabled and there were no scooters and she didn’t want to inconvenience her ride by making them wait until there was a scooter, maybe that’s just how that guy wants to freaking dress.

Regardless, why is it considered ok to take someone’s photograph without their consent for the express purpose of giving perfect strangers who weren’t there the opportunity to ridicule someone just because the way that person looks isn’t considered by some to be socially acceptable?  This seems especially significant for Size Diversity activists who ask that people please stop ridiculing us because the way we look isn’t considered by some to be socially acceptable. So I think it would be great if we were the ones who lead the charge against this practice.

Maybe when we see these photos posted we could stand up for the rights of people to be treated with basic human decency even if they make different fashion choices than we do, even if they they don’t look the way society thinks they should look or act the way society says they should act. Maybe we could stand up for a world where nobody is ridiculed for how they look, especially since we’d like to start being included in that group, and the road to respect is probably not paved with hypocrisy.

So when you see one of these on Facebook or Reddit or wherever, consider speaking up for someone who does not have the chance to speak up for themselves.

Some ideas of what you could say/do to get involved:

  • Comment:  I am for a world where nobody is photographed and shamed on the internet.
  • Comment:  I think it’s a shame when people get their entertainment by bullying and abusing others.
  • Suggest a possible story that humanizes the person in the picture.
  • Message the poster privately and share your concerns.
  • Post something on your own page against the practice.

Maybe we can get our Facebook entertainment watching  little pugs that can’t run or looking at pictures of kittens, not bullying and shaming other human beings.

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I do size acceptance activism full time.  A lot what I do, like answering over 5,000 e-mails from readers each month, giving talks to groups who can’t afford to pay, and running projects like the Georgia Billboard Campaign etc. is unpaid, so I created a membership program so that people who read the blog and feel they get value out of it and/or want to  support the work I do can become members for ten bucks a month  To make that even cooler, I’ve now added a component called “DancesWithFat Deals” which are special deals to my members from size positive merchants. Once you are a member I send out an e-mail once a month with the various deals and how to redeem them – your contact info always stays completely private.

So if you find value in my work, want to support it, and you can afford it, I would ask that you consider  becoming a member or supporting my work with a  one-time contribution.

The regular e-mail blog subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is always completely free. If you’re curious or uncomfortable about any of this, you might want to check out this post.  Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on August 31, 2012 at 10:09 am  Comments (81)  

81 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for this Regan. I feel like I’ve been fighting an endless battle aginst this People Of Walmart crap. It really grinds my gears. It is offensive and unacceptable on so many levels.

  2. Hi Regan. I have shared this on Facebook as it’s written so succinctly. You have truly spoken up for those who are forced to have no voice due to these folk who decide that they can only get a laugh at other’s expense. Thank you so much for doing this work full time and for your STRENGTH to do it. It can’t always be easy. Flick

  3. I also thank you for posting this and it will also go on my Facebook. I usually don’t speak up when I see these posts, but you have given me some ammunition to do so. I have long disliked the postings for the exact reasons that you mention.

  4. THANK YOU for this. I hate those kinds of posts. They are so mean-spirited. I often do comment about them, and it has very occasionally led to real discussion. I don’t always have the energy to reply, but you’ve helped here by recognizing the matter and offering suggestions.

  5. Thank you so much for writing about this topic! I shared this on FaceBook. Maybe it will help me show my otherwise liberal friends how harmful it is to post images that ridicule people for their size, clothing, gender presentation, or other aspects of their appearance.

  6. Thank you Ragen!

    How have we as a society sunk so low? It wasn’t that long ago that I would snicker at photos snapped of someone wearing what I considered to be a ridiculous outfit. I’m ashamed of my own past behaviors, and wish to be a steward of “people” acceptance. I realize now how childish and wrong it was. And really, I should have totally recognized that earlier.

    How could I have sat back and judged others for their personal choices? I know that I am judged, for I do not fit into everyone else’s idea of “normal.” I know that I do not like it.

    Thank you for your words, they are inspirational. I wish to live my life in such a manner that it gives me, my family and friends joy and does not harm others. You are definitely giving me tools to be a better “neighbor” to my fellow humans. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for saying what needed to be said. i find it hurtfully ironic that people who would be the first to defend the rights of underpaid and overworked Walmart workers to organize (and more than a few of them are fat, as I am, as many of us are) would then make fun of people who shop at Walmart -whether fat or slim or in-between- and who are probably paid no more than Walmart workers.

    And of course taking photos of people without their consent -whoever they are and whatever they are wearing- is simply not permissible. Even more so if you plan on making fun of them, for whatever reason. This kind of voyeurism should be illegal.

  8. Thank you so much for writing this. I find these photos/websites profoundly upsetting and it’s so hard to find things to say in return when the promoters of same are busy saying “but it’s just in fun… why can’t you take a joke?”.

  9. As soon as I saw your headline in my inbox, I got sad. I never look at those pictures. Many of those people are very likely poor. Why the heck should anyone care how they’re dressed? They don’t live these peoples’ lives! Argh, it makes me so sad and angry. Thanks for this Ragen.

    • Just like health, our bodies (and what we wear on them) don’t reflect our economic status. That’s no less a stereotype. ;-)

      • I don’t think the point was necessarily that they were poor because they were fat. The point could have been that they were poor because they were at Wal-Mart.

      • Nonetheless, dress is an indicator of class. And one of the root causes of this behavior is classism.

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying what my heart has felt for a long time. And PS. to parents that laugh at stuff like that: Your children are watching you.

  11. Great post. A world without shaming people’s appearance would be a much better world, I am sure of it. And I like the dog picture – that dog is not gonna take any crap.! Love it.

  12. Regan – this issue really bothers me. I am documentary filmmaker and was considering a project where I find and talk to people who have been photographed for the site and its juvenile spinoffs. It’s not just the fatphobia, it’s the horribly prosaic mindframe behind the site, the classism, etc. that bug the hell out of me. I’m really glad you mentioned it.
    I also find quite a bit of cultural insensitivity toward southerners there. The people they seem to find so amusing were people that I saw around me every day when I lived in certain places. I struggled with heat exhaustion every summer in the south. I took cold baths every day for 9 months out of the year in Austin. It infuriates me that anyone would ask someone to cover up their body in that weather just for the sake of small-minded douchebag “aesthetics”, when doing so could actually be quite dangerous – especially now that global warming is making life so much fun.
    Have you seen the part on the site where they claim not to accept pictures of disabled people? Funny, I saw some obvious ones. I also love how they magically know who is or is not disabled just by sight, right?

    Yeah, I better stop there – the site pisses me off on so many levels, it’s almost not possible to articulate them all.
    One more comment – since I know you were in Austin for a while – pretty sure Leslie would have ended up on People of Walmart if he ever went there.

    • I’m glad to see someone mention the classism (I wanted to, but hadn’t put together the words yet, myself). That seems to be the entirety of the site’s basis–”hurr hurr, look at the gross POOR people!” Never mind that not all Wal Mart shoppers are poor, nor can you even tell that sort of thing by looking at a person.

      • Agreed. Really clever and useful humor instead pokes fun at those in power, especially those who abuse that power.

    • I also love how they magically know who is or is not disabled just by sight, right?

      QFT.

    • Given that my own doctors and therapist say I can pass for normal and healthy on a good day, I’d love to see PoW know I’m disabled. Granted, on a bad day, it’s obvious for all to see (either I can barely move, or I just plain panic if anyone comes near me), but even on a good day, I may or may not be able to work the zipper on my jeans, depending on what the weather is like. Hence, I may be wearing, say, loose striped tights and a pull-on miniskirt. Depending on the state of my joints, I may be fat and riding a motorized cart (which I hate, I really just need to buy a cane). Hence, what people think they see is a fat college student riding a cart for fun when she should really be walking. What they really see is NONE OF THEIR GODDAMN BUSINESS.

      Anyway, hands hurt from typing. Gonna go mitigate my annoyance levels on some deserving tabouleh ingredients. :)

  13. This.

    there is a big difference in pictures of an incongruous situation like a bloke in a full Elvis regalia buying pop tarts and the vile asshattery people of Walmart put forth.

    • Asshattery is a great term for it. I personally don’t see what’s so fascinating about Elvis impersonators shopping, but that’s another matter. If I did make such a project, I’d love to talk to attention seekers as well as people who felt unfairly targeted. Both are quite interesting. Sometimes people that are seen as flamboyant just want to be left the hell alone – others seem to like (at least positive) responses. When I first saw the site, I thought it was celebrating flamboyance and oddness – I looked closer and found out otherwise, unfortunately.

  14. “…maybe they had to rush their baby to the emergency room and they are at Walmart for medicine in what they were wearing around the house when the baby got sick”

    That happened to a friend of mine. She was half laughing, half embarrassed by it, later… Single mom, midnight, sick child (luckily not ER,) the doctor called in the prescription. She thought she was going to a drive-through pick up window, which was closed, late at night. So there she was, the preacher’s widow, waltzing around the store in her pajamas, hoping she didn’t meet her late husband’s congregants… but she’d already hauled the poor child out once, she wasn’t going to do it again so she could dress and come back!

    Look – I live in the East Village in NYC. I routinely see people with extensive tattoos and piercings. I personally don’t think that’s attractive – but, you know – they’re not doing it to please me, and there is no reason they should. I see tourists looking out of place in shorts among all the suits on Fifth Avenue. I looked out of place myself in a sundress among all the shorts and tees at a country fair…

    I will argue that people should dress appropriately for a business situation. (And that appropriate dress changes considerably, depending on the job…) But no one should feel they have to dress up to get a quart of milk, or a bottle of cough medicine, or…

    And no one should mock another person for anything they are, or anything they do that doesn’t willfully hurt anyone else. That’s the bottom line.

    • I find this to be somewhat cultural too. Out west and in parts of the south, there are people who go shopping in their pajamas. Not so much back east, in my experience. My relatives moved from rural NY to rural Virginia, and they were fascinated by the fact that their neighbors went out to check the mail in sleepwear – it was just that weird to them.

    • But even if they choose NOT to dress appropriately for a business situation, that’s between them and their employer, you know?

    • I had a similar experience, thank goodness there was no “People of RiteAid.” 4 year old twins with chickenpox, 1 prone to febrile seizures, pregnant w/ child #3, somehow no Tylenol in the house. Called all my friends who were not home except for the 1 who was on her way to (literally) turn off her mom’s life support. My ex was, oh nevermind. Hot day of housecleaning before interrupted by illness so I’m sure I was wearing something especially fetching.

      We drove to the store, I gave the kids strict instructions not to touch or breathe on anything or anyone. Tylenol in back of store, by which time seizure-prone child decided she was too sick to walk another step and sunk to her knees. I ended up dragging/sliding her to the checkstand with both of us crying the whole way.

      Meanwhile the older women customers in the store were clucking their tongues. I finally looked one in the eye and said “Help or shut up!” I’m sure it would have made a lovely picture with hair askew, fat rolls flying, tears, red bumps, bra straps and maybe a couple of sweat stains showing!

      • Oh, wow. I am so sorry you had to do all that alone. :(

      • O… kay. Did it never once occur to those old biddies to get an empty cart and help you get your daughter into it so you didn’t have to drag her? People confuse me.

        Sorry you had to go through that. :( Now I feel really bad for all the times my mom had to take me to the store when I was sick.

  15. People of Walmart also has a site called People of Public Transit where they make fun of those who ride mainly buses and subways, mostly people who are fat and/or people of any age and size who wear clothes they think are weird. There are also a lot of pictures of people sleeping for some reason too.

    Not only is there a lot of fat shame, there’s also class shame, as many people who shop at Walmart and/or ride public transit have low incomes. I ride public transit to work every morning except when I’m off, like today, and yeah, I’ll admit I do see some interesting characters now and again, not everyone is going to look like they came straight from a Vogue shoot, and why should that even be expected? It’s just people living their lives, so why can’t others mind their own business?

    • There’s a related site called train pigs – where they take pictures of people eating on the subway – most are not fat, however. I’ve only done preliminary research, but it seems this site has spawned an entire genre, if you can call it that.

  16. THANK YOU. I absolutely loathe that wretched site. I don’t know why they weren’t more honest about the name, it ought to be “Anonymous Bullies” or “Feel Momentarily Better About Yourself– Bash These Strangers!” or something. It’s every kind of ‘ist you can imagine and frankly, it tells us a lot more about the commenters/posters than it does any of the people whose photographs they’re taking and posting without consent.

    • I like your name a lot better.

      • Hey thanks! I love yours too. :D Neither handle would make much sense for the title of a site about bullying people though. Thank goodness! ;)

    • Yes, it tells me the posters need to grow the $&*#(@ up. There’s something really damned immature about the whole thing – and sadly, the people I know who are fond of it are all approaching middle age. I think it has a lot to do with their own insecurities.

  17. Not to derail the topic, but Loca the Pug is the most adorable and sweet thing I have seen in forever. Thank you for sharing her!!

    Also, well done – WELL DONE – on this post. Brava, once again! You have the knack of saying what’s in my heart.

    • I agree! The only problem is I now have “The Pug That Couldn’t Run” stuck in my head and I’ll be humming it all day. :)

  18. I totally agree! Thanks so much for calling this out. oxoxoxxo

  19. Thanks for bringing some light here. That site and others like it do burn my biscuits!
    Interestingly, DH’s dear friend, who is quite the hipster, wanted to share something from POWM and I had to take the time to tell him why it wasn’t welcome or a good idea. He seemed genuinely surprised at first that I would have an issue.
    That’s when I pointed out he might feel differently about seeing photos of his brother who has a significant cognitive disability offered up for comments online. Talk about an ah-ha moment……

    I don’t have the time or inclination to seek out this stuff, but have no problem calling it out for the bullying it is when I do see it. Thanks for the strategic tips.

    • Great way to help DH’s friend see the light.

    • Oh, that is an EXCELLENT strategy! I love it. (This is where that stray comment was meant to go.)

  20. Yes! I HATE those posts. I’ve gotten into discussions with several people over those posts. I seriously do not get how anyone thinks that it is ok to sit and make fun of strangers. Many of my FB “friends” that I’ve seen post and say mean things are parents. These are the same people who post articles about bullying in schools. They speak out in disgust at what kids do to one another and they wonder why this is happening. Then they follow that post up by making fun of some random person online. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist. I was really sad when a close friend took a photo while she was out to eat and posted it for all to see. She was at lunch with her young son and saw another mom bend over, revealing the top of her thong. She posted that pic on FB and everyone started making really rude comments. I couldn’t believe it. This is a woman I like and respect and who I never would have thought would be so rude. I know another woman who lost a ton of weight. You would think, giver her situation, she’d be understanding but she is one of the worst when it comes to posting and making fun of people. Like I say, whenever I see those posts, if you have to get your jollies making fun of someone else then you need to take a closer look at yourself because the issue is with you.

  21. I live in Southern California. Here, appearances matter even more than other places I’ve lived. I’ve always thought it must have something to do with being so close to Hollywood home of the entertainment industry for which the importance of appearance is excessive. Because I am female and weigh over 400 pounds I stick out here even more than I would elsewhere. In short, people have always stared, sniggered and pointed.

    With the advent of cameras built into cell phones I began to experience this feeling that I was being photographed. I dismissed it as being paranoid. I mean when people are forever pointing and staring and stuff, you get a little bit sensitive that way. Then one day I caught someone doing it for sure. He wasn’t even trying to hide it. The young man with the cell phone was digging his elbow into his buddy’s side, and they were both sniggering as he took the picture.

    Should I have gone over and confronted them? Probably. Maybe now I would. But that day I felt so ashamed and crushed. I cried all day. I wondered what might have become of that picture and I cried more. I was so afraid it would end up on some hate page where I would be ridiculed for having dared set foot outside my home.

    It was some while after that incident that I first encountered The People of Walmart page. I was horrified. I had no idea that such nasty, cruel websites existed. For a long while I didn’t go into Walmart because I was afraid that there would be another kid with a cellphone and that my image would indeed end up posted there.

    After a while I realized that I couldn’t live my life afraid that way. I started to go to Walmart again (who would ever have thought that going to Walmart would indicate personal growth). I would (and still do) joke with my husband that getting a photograph on The People

    • Sorry but I have problems your message system…

      I joke with my husband that getting a photo on The People Of Walmart site would mean that I have “arrived”.

    • I am so sorry that you have had to deal with that kind of true ugliness. *hugs*

      • Thank you Helena Handbasket. (I love your nick) This whole new culture of online abuse needs to be stopped. It is too easy for people to wound others without consequence since they can be anonymous in their abuse.

        • I meant to add that I agree with the bizarrely anonymous voyeurism it promotes. I have a half-written blog post about that. Anonymity on the internet can be poison.

    • Eselle, that’s terrible you have to experience that sh*t. do you have a phone? I have found that just holding it up like you are taking their picture (whether you get it or not) tends to stop a lot of bad behavior. People aren’t so willing to do stuff if they aren’t anonymous.

      • BRILLIANT!

      • That IS a good idea. But no, I don’t have a cell phone. But should somone photograph me again, I shall let them know that I KNOW what they are doing and how I feel about it. I’m not quite as shy as I once was.

        • The last time (about a month ago) a dude snickered at me and nudged his friend to also have a look, I couldn’t resist myself and made a face at them when they looked. They started giggling but also blushed and looked really embarrassed. I, on the other hand, felt four years old and really pleased with myself. :)

          • Way to go!!!

          • That is a great response!

            • I’m currently the source of amusement. I’m a tourist in Asia with blonde hair. No one around me is as pale as I am. People come up to me to photograph me or just hug me. I don’t cover my hair with a scarf since it wouldn’t help to cover my pale freckled skin.

  22. To continue….

    I think it is an excellent idea that we who know so well how it feels to be ridiculed and marginalized for something as trivial as appearance should be in the vanguard of acceptance for EVERYONE. Our world doesn’t need more normative messages and pressure to conform. The people who think outside the box, live outside the box and do things outside the box are usually the ones who advance our culture and society anyway. Even if like Galileo were at first told to sit down and shut up. eventually their contributions changed the world.

  23. I’m afraid I’ve watched Loca’s video and I’m completely unable to think of anything but adorably brain-damaged doggies right now. Your post was something about… uh… um… *goes to watch the cheerful singing pug again*

    (In other words, yes, spread cute animal videos around, and it will COMPLETELY overtake People of Walmart, which I only occasionally read for pictures of Willy the Pimp, whom I want to hug someday, and to go, “Dude, that outfit’s AWESOME,” because there are some truly spectacular outfits found on that site. Pointing and laughing is stupid. Live and let live, yo.)

  24. I think this body/clothes snarking has an unrecognized effect of making us hate OURSELVES more. When you go around making fun of others’ appearances you become more critical/worried about your own appearance. And you wonder what other people might say about YOU.

    I’m all for pug videos. MORE CUTE PUGGIES PLEEZ! I have two pugs and their adorable silliness always brings a smile to my face.

    • Oh, that is an EXCELLENT strategy! I love it.

    • I totally agree- it is really hard to judge everyone except for ourselves. Most people are their own worst critic.

  25. This is such a good email!! I totally agree with you. I “heart” you and your work, Ragen!!

    Pat

    Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2012 10:09:55 +0000 To: pblake52@hotmail.com

  26. THANK YOU! I’ve been feeling this all along but never knew how to articulate it. Now I can point folks here when I see it…

  27. Just a quick note to say I’m going back for my third Loca fix today. :)

  28. I really hate it when this happens on the internet – people assume they know someone’s lifestyle (and worse, his or her character) based on a single moment from that person’s life, or from the person’s appearance, period. Although my personal feeling is that Wal-Mart is bad, that’s clearly not the issue at hand. I really feel bad for the people in those photos.

  29. The POW meme always always inspired the same in me… everything you said. I live and work in a high tourist area (Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood), I was always being photographed without my permission. Once a woman, actually lined up her friends in front of me for perspective (and pretending to be photographing just her friends) and was visibly upset, surprised and embarrassed when I stepped quickly out of the shot just before she snapped the pic. I have no doubt there hundreds of people around the world showing people the HUGELY fat American woman and laughing.

  30. Thank you for this. I have been feeling the same way about this for a long time. Seems like just about everyone needs a group of people they can consider beneath them. Irony is, I have privileged, non-FA acquaintances (with whom I disagree about many significant things) who still have the decency to recognize that laughing at the “Walmart photos” is inhumane and morally wrong.

  31. I feel very fortunate to have never seen the Walmart people pages. I have always been uncomfortable when people are mocked. Period.

  32. As bad as those pictures are, the fact the “fact acceptors” are some of the people in on this makes me sick.

    I guess even fat people need to make fun of worse looking fat people in order to feel superior. Sad.

  33. This is yet another reason I don’t have a Facebook account. The fact that something like People of Walmart exists makes me even sadder, not just because I think that everyone deserves basic respect as human beings, regardless of what they wear to Walmart at 2 AM, but because I would always worry about one of those pictures being of someone that I know, and that it’d be one of the people who’d feel really shitty about it. But even if the person in the blurry cell phone photo was someone who wouldn’t care who made fun of them (and I know a few people like that, too), the point about everyone deserving basic human respect still stands.

    And I’m sorry for the Text Wall of Doom.

    • Just to let you know, POW is not a Facebook phenom. It’s just a website. :)

  34. This.

    I hate that site with a burning passion. I can’t Coijt the number of times I’ve had to run to wal-mart and I was dressed less than spectacularly. this morning is a great example, my six week old ran out of formula, I thought I had another can, turns out I didn’t. hungry baby plus very little sleep meant leaving the baby with daddy and running to the store in my spit up stained pjs with my hair a frizzy mess. the cashier gave me a dirty look and said something about breastfeeding and how I wouldn’t have to be out in public looking that way if I were breastfeeding. it took all my strength not to punch him.

    • Big fat hugs – you didn’t deserve or need that. Good on you that you didn’t punch him (I want to punch him too, btw!) Keep on being an amazing mom. Peace!

    • Oh, HELL no. THAT one requires a phone call or letter to the manager. In fact, I think that’s where I would have stopped in my tracks, looked him dead in the eye, and loudly said, “Excuse me – I cannot have heard you correctly. WHAT did you say?” Then I would have insisted he call his manager over immediately, made my complaint right there with him in front of me, given my name and number, and said I would expect to hear from them later, but I had a hungry baby to get home to.

      If I felt I had to leave before making the formal complaint, I would have followed his answer with the statement that he’d best get his story in order because I would be back later to make a formal complaint.

      What a bastard.

      • Totally agree. That’s extraordinarily personal, completely unprofessional, and beyond inappropriate. He definitely deserves to be chewed out by his boss for being that much of a jerk.

    • That ain’t cool, yo. He had no right whatsoever to comment on how you choose to feed your child. Maybe your baby is intolerant to something in your milk. Maybe you’re like my mom, and your milk dried up due to stress. (She tried to BF me, and she dried up at three months due to a car accident.) Maybe it’s just none of his fucking business. Yeah, that one! Did you talk to his manager? Though I totally understand if you didn’t. Six weeks of no sleep plus upset, squalling miniature human is a good recipe for just wanting to get the hell home and feed the miniature. {{HUGS}}

    • I did talk to the manager later that day after I got my monkey fed and happy. funnily, I know all of the managers at that store, during tax season I work in a Jackson Hewitt kiosk inside the walmart. the cashier got in major trouble.

      I had about a dozen things run through my head but I knew if I said any of them I’d just stand there and yell. I had an emergency csection because I had appendicitis. my csection and appendectomy at the same time. I breastfed for 3 weeks and then got an infection and had to stop.

  35. A stranger took my picture this summer–that’s the first time it’s happened to me (that I’ve noticed). I was in a Hannaford, not a Walmart, so not sure if it would have gone up on People of Walmart or some similar site, or shared with his FaceBook friends, or just went into his “pervy pics of strangers” stockpile. I was on vacation in Maine and had come directly from the beach and was wearing a tankini top and board shorts–pretty modest by bathing suit standards–and had a sarong tied around my waist. It’s possible, though not likely, that he was actually taking a picture of a display of chocolate bars. I wish that I had done more in the moment, but my disbelief kind of kept me from decisive action. He wasn’t even being particularly surreptitious about his picture-taking. I glared at him for several seconds, but he was studiously avoiding eye contact and just looked at the floor. (This was what convinced me that he most likely was taking my picture.)

  36. The people of Walmart images were actually sent to me as forwards on my email. Every time this friend of mine sent me those forwards, my day always got drearier and I always felt much sadder. It just wasn’t very funny. All I could see were people, mostly these heavyset people who simply were just confident about themselves or didn’t care about their way of dress (and they’re not obligated to) being paraded around on an international stage treated like a freak show. It was like a massive Internet jerk circle and I couldn’t stand looking at it. Even when I didn’t know about fat acceptance or I was still very problematic in the head when it came to food and physical appearance, I always knew something was wrong with those emails. They didn’t look any different to the hate groups, the trolling in forums, or any other bullying tactics I’ve seen before. You’ve pretty much just expressed and detailed more coherently what I thought of and felt about the POW images.

  37. I’m always appalled to see some women posting apparently secretly filmed videos of overweight people using gym equipment incorrectly. The women who post and share these videos are usually members of fitness model Facebook groups and they just think it’s absolutely hilarious and if you challenge them, which I always do, they do the usual and tell you it’s probably not real, it’s just a bit of fun, I have no sense of humour etc…..They have no idea that by sharing and mocking these videos they are diminishing themselves and not the people in the films. They also really give truth to the adage that beauty really is only skin deep.

    • I’m reminded of well-to-do people who mock the poor. It terrifies these people to think that they, too, could become unattractive/poor due to circumstances beyond their control. (Some of them are also ex-fat or formerly poor, of course.) The mocking of “lesser-value” strangers is an attempt at warding off a perceived evil. I find this phenomenon pretty easily observable. It would be easy to feel sorry for these people if they weren’t such absolute thoughtless creeps.


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