Fatty Whisperers are people who feel the need to give unsolicited advice to fat people (aka concern trolls). Recently in the Rolls Not Trolls Facebook community Christine posted a perfect (ly horrible) example of someone being a Fatty Whisperer (reprinted here with her permission of course)
So I work at a pool as a lifeguard/swim instructor. I love it; I really do, but today one of our regular patrons came up and “encouraged” me to find exercise that I like. He introduced this by saying that he “has a bone to pick with me.” I’m just so upset and offended I could scream. What’s worse is that since I’m at work, I can’t simply tell him to “fuck off.” I just can’t deal with this today. My husband has been in the hospital all week, so I’m already at a breaking point, and I was just crying on the pool deck.
Let’s break this down into it’s absolutely awful parts (also, it’s going to be a heavy swearing day, you’ve been warned.)
Ok, admittedly these conversations can be hard to kick off. After all, it’s not easy to find a smooth opening line to a conversation that is completely inappropriate, based on stereotypes, serves to stigmatize the person who hasn’t asked to have the conversation, and is done completely in the service of the FW’s ego. Still “I have a bone to pick with you” has got to be the blue ribbon loser opening line that I’ve ever heard to one of these conversations.
This phrase is typically used in situations where someone has done something to annoy or upset someone else. The idea that fat people shouldn’t annoy this guy by existing is completely fucked up. And if you’re going to try to use a conversation like this as your contribution to the “Save the Fatties” campaign then how about not starting it off in a combative way, as if the fat person has committed some egregious act against you. This is off to a horrible start.
Next the idea that she should find exercise that she likes. This is wrong in about a hundred ways. Let’s start with the fact that other people’s prioritization and path to health are nobody else’s business. Even if they were, it’s best not to make wild guesses about people based on how they look. Finally if you want to say “hey, I’m a size bigot and as such I’d like you to stop being Fatty McFatterson mayor of Fatsville” then just say it, don’t do this backhanded “have you ever tried walking” bullshit. Have you ever tried shutting the fuck up?
The Fatty Whisperer is almost always working off their stereotypes and bigotry in lieu of actual information, and in addition to not knowing anything about the fatty they’ve targeted, they also typically don’t have any information about the emotional state of their target fatty and how this will affect them, which makes this entire thing incredibly selfish. I think that a lot of the time this is about the FW’s ego and not really about the fat person at all.
As always, each of us gets to decide how to deal with this. If you want to believe that people who do this are well intentioned and that being well intentioned makes it ok then you are allowed to do that. If you want to believe that it doesn’t matter why they are doing it they are going to receive a heaping helping of hatefire in return then you are allowed to do that. If you want to take it case by case, that’s cool too. Here are some ideas to get you started:
“WOW this is not any of your business!”
Backhanded, ie: “Have you thought about walking?“Answer the question completely wrong and change the subject;
“Not very much today, I’ve mostly been thinking about getting a gerbil, they don’t walk so much but they do run on those wheels, I wonder if the wheels come in pink glitter. I think I’m going to name the gerbil Fred. Or Fredda if it’s a girl. Hey, do you know how to tell if a gerbil is a boy or a girl?”
Straight forward ie:”I think that you should lose weight”
Set a boundary and a consequence that you can follow through with.
“You can think whatever you want but I’m not interested in your opinion and you’ll need to keep it to yourself or we aren’t going to be able to talk anymore. ”
“I can’t imagine what would make you think this conversation is appropriate, I’m embarrassed for you. How about you walk away, never do this again and we’ll pretend this never happened.”
“I’m not accepting unsolicited opinions about my body so you can either change the conversation to an appropriate subject, or I’m going to go somewhere else.”
Fatty Whisperer who thinks they are a doctor ie “Don’t you know that blah blah blah blah if you were thinner”
“Really, how do you justify that based on the findings of Matheson et. al., Wei et. al, and the Cooper Institute Longitudinal Studies?”
“I’m happy with my healthcare team and I’m not adding new members.”
If you are in a situation like Christine’s where the use of “fuck off” isn’t appropriate, ” may I suggest a Southern substitution. You just say “bless your heart” whenever you want to say “fuck you” – as in “Bless your heart, nobody ever taught you any manners.” Or “You don’t know what is and isn’t your business, bless your heart,” or just “bless your heart” accompanied by a pitying smile and maybe pat on the head and walk away.
Regardless, know that this behavior is just as wrong as if a stranger came up to you and gave you sex advice. You are fine, they are screwed up. So whatever you say, may I suggest an inner monologue of “Fuck the Fatty Whisperers!”
Like my blog? Here’s more of my stuff!
Fit Fatties Virtual Events: If you’re looking for a fun movement challenge that was created to work just for you, you can check it out here. There’s still time to get in on Early Bird Rates.
The Book: Fat: The Owner’s Manual The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details
Become a member: For just ten bucks a month you can keep this blog ad-free, support the activism work I do, and get deals from cool businesses Click here for details
Dance Classes: Buy the Dance Class DVDs or download individual classes – Every Body Dance Now! Click here for details