Hate the Fat, Not the Fatty?

Today I want to talk about the people who say:  “We shouldn’t treat fat people badly, but they are unhealthy and we need to help them get thin and prevent other people from becoming fat.”  I understand that the person is trying so I also try, really hard, not to say “Hey, fuck off.”

I’m not going to make the entire health argument today, suffice it to say that the evidence is not nearly so cut and dried as people think when it comes to weight and healthy, and my health is between me and my chosen healthcare providers, not me and anyone who has an internet connection and an opinion.

While I appreciate someone treating me well, what I truly value is people respecting that I am the best witness to my experience. So when I say that my body is fine, that I’m happy with the path to health I’ve chosen, the proper response is “awesome”, not “Well, I don’t think you should be treated badly, but I do want to eradicate everyone who looks like you from the Earth and make sure that there are no more.”

I don’t intend to speak for anyone else, but for me – I am my body.  The actual body that I live in.  Someone either respects my body and my choices, or they don’t.  Loving the thin woman they believe lives inside me is unacceptable to me.  Because I know that there is no thin woman in there – I’m a fat woman who deserves to be treated with basic human respect regardless of what someone believes I could or should look like. I am the best witness to my experience, if someone wants to know about me – they should ask.  They should not guess, or worse, have the audacity to think that they know better than me about me.

When it comes to me, you cannot hate the fat but not the fatty.

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Published in: on April 15, 2012 at 7:01 am  Comments (18)  

18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Why is there anything about fat which needs or deserves to be hated? I don’t even particularly want people to hate my cerebral palsy. It is part of me, part of what makes me, ME. And fat is a normal, natural part of everyone, a part of what makes life possible. It is only because of the way people in our culture are trained to see fat that anyone sees it as even ugly, & they see it as unhealthy only because people who make a great deal of money from that belief system keep promoting & selling the idea. I am who I am & my fat & my disability are both part of who I am. I would not deliberately choose to have a disability & it is a bit more understandable that people want to eliminate disabilities, but once you are disabled, it is part of you & should not be hated. And fat is generally pretty innocuous tissue & even protective, & some of us have more than others. It is not a cause for all the hatred & all the campaigns to eliminate it. And the fact is that those who want to eliminate it want to eliminate fat PEOPLE; in almost all cases, it is impossible to eliminate the fat & not the person. And the truth is that those who profit from fat hatred do not truly WANT to eliminate fat; to do so would be to wipe out their source of income. The only want to promote hatred of fat, self-hatred, shame, desperation, so that they can continue to rake in the profits.

    No, don’t hate me (though, whoever we are, some people WILL), & don’t hate my fat. My fat is not a disease or a lifestyle, it is not a defect to be ‘fixed’. Respect me as a human being & I will do the same for you.

    • Very cool post, very thought provoking. Kind of philosophical. I think my fat is me but I am not my fat. It is a physical aspect of me like my skin, eyes, hair…all of which I could augment, if I chose, with varying levels of cost, success and difficulty. Telling me you hate my fat is like telling me you hate my hair – that’s your problem and my body’s reality isn’t your business. Even if you try and argue health and not aesthetics – once again: my body not yours, my health not yours, my business not yours.

      There are billions of dollars to be made on people’s dissatisfaction with how they are.

      Take my fat away and I am still me – I would just weigh less I would not *be* less…or more for that matter.

  2. This is like the whole “love the sinner hate the sin” argument with gay people. And then the people who do that wonder why homosexuals are reacting with “fuck you” to the so gracious concession that they shouldn’t be beaten up and called names.
    Not that I foresee it happening on a large scale very soon, but instead of deciding that someone else is bad or wrong and being oh so “open hearted” as to “love” them anyway, why not ask them what their experience is?
    Of course there are people who do horrible things, and I can’t bring myself to “love unconditionally” the kitten murderers and child rapists of this world. Nor am I too keen on Internet trolls. As far as everyone else goes, I’m good. They don’t have to be the same as me to be just fine as they are.

    • This is like the whole “love the sinner hate the sin” argument with gay people.

      Agreed. In order to subscribe to that framework, one first has to subscribe to the idea that my queerness — or my fat — are “sins.” It’s still inherently casting judgment.

  3. I have similar problems with people who want to “cure” my autism. No, there is no neurotypical person “trapped” in my brain who wants out. I AM AUTISTIC. And I like my wiring very much, thanks – the only time it sucks is when people are trying to tell me that being who I am is wrongity-wrong.

  4. Ooo Ragen, you must have linked psychically with meowser: http://fatfu.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/can-you-hate-my-condition-and-not-hate-me/
    You are both awesome! 😀

  5. I used to get ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ directed at me by a bunch of evangelical Christians I knew (mainly for my ‘alternative’ beliefs but, as time went on, also for my sex life). And I’ve had the secular equivalent – ‘I love you, but I don’t like the way you live’ – from a family member. And I really think it’s the kiss of death to any kind of relationship, because the hatred of the ‘sin’ ends up justifying all sorts of assaults on your autonomy and privacy which aren’t the slightest bit loving.

    Ragen, your comment about ‘loving the thin person inside of you’ hits home because when someone claims to love (or respect) you but demands you change, what they’re doing is exactly that – loving (or respecting) their imaginary version of you, someone who doesn’t even exist. It strikes me that HAES starts at the moment when you decide you’re going to love the body you’ve got rather than wait to love the one you might have if you lost the weight – what we need is for other people to have that same realization.

    • “It strikes me that HAES starts at the moment when you decide you’re going to love the body you’ve got rather than wait to love the one you might have if you lost the weight – what we need is for other people to have that same realization.”

      THIS. One thousand times over.

  6. This whole issue of fat hate as Patsy just commented on has been on my mind (and in my blog) of late…and needless to say it generates heated feelings and discussions. Your post today is also hits home. People make the mistake of thinking that it’s like, “I don’t dislike you I dislike your behavior” when someone has thrown a punch at another kid on the playground. But it is different. Our bodies are not separate from ourselves they are ourselves, plain and simple…and our actions also by a certain age are ourselves as well. I have experienced first hand being treated differently depending on which point of my weight cycling I was at over variious times in my life, and I knew I was the same person. Being treated differently because I was fatter or thinner depending on which starvation diet I was on at the time was as stupid, hurtful and superficial as treating me differently because of which shoes I happened to be wearing that day. I am all the components of my self…every fat fucking one of them. Thanks Ragen!

  7. This is the reaction I often get when I speak to health-care professionals. Sympathy and outrage about the mistreatment of fat people, but still a relentless push towards weight loss “for their own good,” and often a lack of willingness to believe your accounts of your own experience re: the futility of weight loss attempts.

    Thank you for articulating something that’s been stewing in my mind for quite a while.

  8. Right on of course. When people start using this line of thought, that they love the “real” you (who is thinner), then they can continue to treat you like a headless fatty or non-person because, after all, you haven’t achieved real personhood yet by being thin. Like you’ve said in the past, the mistake here is not in pushing people to be thin so that they won’t get treated like a non person, it’s to start treating all humans, regardless of size (and so many other things) as people from the get go. I think I’m starting to get a handle on this 😉 Thanks to you continued attention to this topic. Ragen, I am amazed at your ability to tackle this subject every day!
    Allison

  9. I really been taken aback lately by how much push-back I get from people when I suggest that they’re not using facts when making the fat=unhealthy argument. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, people get attached to their beliefs no matter how delusional and unrealistic they are. But when I’m reading an article that uses a deluge of fat-shaming rhetoric surrounding overweight children and suggest that the author do some research before shaming large children and telling them they oughtn’t exist, I really am appalled that everyone and their mother swoops in to tell me, “We’re just concerned for their health! Obviously you aren’t!” Sounds like the “hate the fat, not the fattie” argument to me. I me, have these people ever even HEARD of “concern trolling”? “Concern” is a nice lil exit chute for folks who want to be judgmental while still seeming totally sympathetic.

    And I really loathe the idea that there is a skinny girl inside me trying to get out. I mean, unless she crawled into my mouth in the middle of the night…

  10. Thank you for writing this blog, Ragen. I just got the super-pushy You Are FAT And You Must Do Something About It lecture from my mother, because “Your doctor is going to bring this up and you need to be prepared!”. Knowing that somebody understands gives me strength.

    People are always telling me to be myself- except when it comes to my body. That, apparently, needs to be whittled down by any and all means possible.

  11. I had an experience on Saturday at an arts festival… I got to talking in a friendly manner with a woman, complimenting her on the hat she had just decorated at the workshop I was helping with, and suddenly out of the blue she started talking about weight (she would be considered somewhat but not very overweight) and how she is concerned about all the fat around her organs and how it’s very unhealthy, and I don’t remember her words, but the tone of it was not just about her if you get my drift–about some weight loss method and offered information if I was interested. I said something along the lines of, “I’m not interested in talking about this.” And when she stated that it’s clearly unhealthy to carry excess weight, I said, “I don’t believe that to be true, so we have a difference of opinion there.” I didn’t feel extremely poised or confident, but am glad I said something.

  12. Seeing fellow human beings as less human or as non-human has enabled some of the greatest atrocities imaginable.

    I’m thinking specifically of the Nazi medical experiments right now. The horrors inflicted upon those innocent, helpless captives mainly by Mengele (spelling?) are almost unbelievable…almost.

    I’m not trying to compare the plight of fat people to that of these victims, so please forgive me if it comes across that way — I am merely referring to an extreme example of what can happen when we view people as non-human or less human.

    These men were able to carry out their gruesome experiments in part because they saw the captives as less than them in not only the human department but likely others as well. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please don’t Google it if you have a weak stomach.

    I asked a fellow member of Reddit why they used what I believe to be a dehumanizing term to describe fat people and got attacked myself within a couple of minutes.

    Why don’t they have specific names for entitled, rude and obnoxious thin folks?

  13. Great post!

    This might be a little off topic, but your post also reminded me of some research I did a couple weeks ago while writing a paper for a class (I’m studying special education,) I saw that Iceland has been for at least the past five years testing every pregnant woman to see if the baby will have Down syndrome and if yes, they strongly encourage the woman to abort the baby. So far, every woman has and they are so proud to not have had any babies in five years born with Down syndrome. Then I realized that although most “civilized” countries don’t go as far as Iceland, that this type of testing still goes on and it was something like 90% of pregnant women decide to abort when they get a positive result. I was just thinking how terrible for people with Down syndrome to hear this and realize that most people in these countries (probably in the world,) do not believe that people like them are worthy of life. That they do not deserve to even be born and exist at all. This is so heartbreaking. I feel like this too as a fat woman. That most people don’t believe I am worthy of life, and that I am just taking valuable resources away from thin people. And I just know the day will come when they create some sort of “fat vaccine,” or they identify some of the genetic markers for fatness and test unborn babies for this. Will people abort babies who will end up being fat? I think they will, and I am sad for when this day will come.


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