One thing that I find really upsetting is when someone wants to draw attention away from a discussion, they play a game of “look at the fatties.” I’ve been thinking about this because the petition to get Barneys and Disney to abandon their plans to make Minnie Mouse into a 5’11 size 0 Super model has received over 137,000 signatures and a number of celebrity endorsements. It is getting a lot of media coverage and eating disorder experts, child psychologists, and body image experts and others are talking about how images like this and the unattainable photoshop beauty that girls are under a crushing pressure to attain are dangerous for girls’ health. But often one of the first comments is “What about obesity?”
I’ve seen this won’tsomebodythinkofthefatties technique used in discussions from global warming to contraception to politics. It goes like this – someone writes a blog or article that says “here is my well thought out opinion on this issue that has nothing to do with fat people.” Then someone literally leaves a comment that says “But what about obesity?”
What about it? Dude, this has nothing to do with obesity. You might as well have said “What about the new Smurfs movie?” It’s exactly as relevant. Besides which, obesity is a body size – it’s not an eating disorder, it’s not a diagnosis, it’s not the problem, and it’s not part of the discussion. It’s a body size.
The first problem with this is that it’s derailing – even if you massively don’t get it and believe obesity is a problem, there are other problems and it’s ok to talk about those problems with absolutely no mention of other unrelated problems. If you don’t want to discuss whatever the actual issue is that is being discussed, feel free to go find a forum to talk about whatever you want to talk about.
What’s worse about using obesity to derail a discussion is that obesity isn’t the new Smurf’s movie, nor is it an abstract concept, it’s people. People who are ceaselessly shamed, stigmatized and bullied in our society for how they look. People who should have a reasonable expectation of being able to engage in a dialog on the internet without someone suggesting that they are a worse issues than whatever is actually being talked about, or that they somehow compound every problem by their mere existence. It seems like some people take joy in the idea that they can bash fat people all they want and justify it because, hey, that’s what everyone else is doing. There are people who just want to take every opportunity to treat a group of people poorly with little fear of repercussion. Look – making assumptions about people and/or attempting to blame them for things based on how they look is bigotry, straight up, there is nothing that can justify it.
Fat bashing for the purpose of derailing a discussion is still fat bashing and it has to stop. If you’re up for a little armchair activism, you can always call that out when you see it. Either way, if you’re fat know that it’s completely inappropriate.
I’m Putting on a Happy HAES Holidays Workshop – Registration is Name Your Own Price
Normally I get between 100 and 200 e-mails a day. During the holiday season that climbs to 200-300 from people asking about everything from how to set resolutions that aren’t about weight loss to how to deal with the family food police. I’ve put together a group of speakers to give you information to support you through the holiday season. Details and registration are here, registration is name your own price.
Like the blog? Check this stuff out (and you can help support my work which I would really appreciate):
Check Out my Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual. The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here to order
Buy the Dance Class DVDs (hint: Free shipping was supposed to end on Monday but I haven’t had a chance to make the changes to the pricing so there’s still free shipping until I get it done)! Click here for the details
Become a Member and Get Special Deals from Size Positive Businesses
I do size acceptance activism full time. A lot what I do, like answering over 4,000 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 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.