Once again, George Takei has used his massive social medial platform to encourage fat shaming. (Scroll down for the update to this.) George has almost 9 million followers on Facebook, a massive platform, and today he chose to use it to post that ridiculous “Fattest Thing I’ve Ever Done” meme. (Basically it’s story after story of people who ate a lot one time.) Then he encouraged people to post their own “fattest thing” in the comments. I’m a fan of George Takei and his civil rights work, and so it’s particularly upsetting to me that he keeps post stuff like this despite fat people asking him to please stop.
First of all, eating a lot one time is not “being fat” it’s just eating a lot one time, something this meme shows that people of every size do from time to time. Fat is a description of body size, not of behavior – it’s an adjective, not an adverb. The practice of judging other people’s eating, then associating that eating with a body size, then justifying stigmatizing people of that body size based on that platform of judgment is wrong from the beginning and, not to put too fine a point on it, some bullshit.
Despite his broad civil rights and anti-bullying work George cannot seem to work out that bullying and shaming fat people is a problem. The post today is unfortunately the latest in a history of cheap fat jokes that he has posted on his Facebook page.
Those of us who point out these issues are subjected to more fat shaming, the use of the term “Politically Correct” to minimize our request to be treated with basic human respect, as well as being told that we are oversensitive and can’t “take a joke.”
First, I can “take a joke”. His Facebook post did not affect my self esteem. I know that fat shaming is the problem and I am not. That doesn’t make it ok to stigmatize me or people who look like me. I think it’s a bigger problem that we as a society are comfortable telling groups of people that they need to “toughen up” and become better at being stigmatized and made fun of without complaint, so that other people can laugh at our expense without having to feel badly or have their bullying behavior pointed out.
When we suggest that some fat shaming is ok because some people think it’s funny, then we set ourselves up to constantly have to argue about where the line is between fat shaming that’s “hilarious” and fat shaming that is hurtful. The fact that something is not the most egregious type of fat shaming doesn’t mean that it doesn’t support a culture where fat shaming (including the most egregious kind) is ok. I think it’s far better to say that fat shaming is not ok in any guise and that people who want to be funny should have to do better than relying on cheap stereotypes, shaming, and bigotry. And that includes George Takei.
Immediately after I commented on his Facebook that said:”Fat is an adjective, not an adverb, fat people are just as varied in our habits and behaviors as any group of people. You are a civil rights hero to me and I’m so disappointed that you would use your platform to encourage people to engage in stereotyping, bigotry, and body shaming. At the time I’m posting this over 7,000 people have shared it. That means that in addition to your own almost 9 million followers, the fat friends of 7.000 people got fat shamed courtesy of George Takei. It’s exponential online bullying. What a shame..”
George Posted: “Friends, please keep it civil. We all have overindulged, and this isn’t an opportunity to lash out, nor pontificate. My own husband Brad, who once was a svelt marathoner, now struggles with his own weight. I just tell him there’s more of him to love. Carry on.”
So he posts something fat shaming, then asks people not to fat shame, then adds in the old “I have fat loved ones” defense. Such a disappointment.
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