Tony Posnanski Should Stop Lying About Fat People

Reality and PerceptionAfter that ridiculous fat bigot posted that ridiculous bigoted rant on YouTube, which included ferociously bullying and belittling a fat child, I started to see a reply floating around the internet from the child she bullied.  And I immediately thought, Tony Posnanski’s at it again.

Tony is a formerly fat, currently thin person who now occupies his time by pretending to be fat people who have been publicly fat-shamed.  It started with an letter chock full ‘o fat phobia, written by someone who claimed to have sat next to a fat man on a plane. A response started making its way around the internet from the fat man himself. In it he took the point of view that some people should have to pay twice as much as others for the same service (a point of view with which I vehemently disagree).  He also explained that he had lost weight, posting before and after pictures of himself.

Eventually it came out that this letter wasn’t written by the actual person but by Tony Posnanski. Tony apologized and said that he “wasn’t trying confuse” anyone when he posted a long letter in the first person, including pictures, pretending to be someone else (which begs the question – if he was trying to confuse people what would he have done? Perhaps a subject for another post.)

Next came the “Fatty on the Westview Track” letter.  Another direct response by the fat person in question who talked about how they were losing weight, another “reveal” that the response was written by Tony.  Then it was the woman shamed at a baseball game. Another response by the woman (with pictures!) explaining how she had lost weight, another “reveal” that it was Tony, borrowing the pictures of a friend.  Now it’s a fat child being belittled, and another response by the fat person in question talking about how they lost weight. Another “reveal” that it was actually Tony pretending to be this person.  I am Ragen’s complete lack of surprise.

This is fucked up and it needs to stop right now.

First of all, fat people are not interchangeable. Doing fat activism well, means acknowledging that each of us can only ever speak for ourselves – people can agree with us, but it’s not ok for anyone to suggest that they represent all fat people (and that goes double for thin people pretending to be fat people, and those trying to eradicate us for profit.)

You may have noted above that each and every story that Tony Posnanski has made up while pretending to be someone he is most certainly not, involves the use of weight loss and “good fatty” behaviors to create sympathy. The argument that people shouldn’t bully and harass fat people because we might be losing weight is more harmful than helpful since it suggests that it would be somehow ok to bully and harass a fat person who hadn’t lost weight, or wasn’t trying to lose weight (a popular view among weight bigots and internet trolls already) and one of the BS reasons not to not bully fat people.

In truth, you simply shouldn’t bully and harass fat people – it doesn’t matter why we’re fat, what being fat means, or if we could become thin – fat people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without shame, stigma, bullying, or oppression, period. I think that the minute we (or someone pretending to be one of us) start trying to justify ourselves as a way to negotiate with our bullies, we’ve already started losing the fight.

Finally, these people have already been the victims of harassment – often in person and then again online – so they don’t also need to be the victims of identity theft. Let’s be very clear about what is happening here – Tony is pretending to be a real person who is in the public eye, then – having no idea about their actual story – is making up a story about them and fooling as many people as possible into believing the he is them and that his made up story is their actual story, and posting it to his website to generate traffic.  This is not ok.

If these people want to tell their actual stories (and remember we have no idea what those are, even though many, many people think they do because of Tony’s successful lying) they deserve the space to do so and they don’t need to be crowded out or shouted over by someone pretending to be them.  They should never be put in the position of having to decide if they want to let this egregious theft of their own experience go by, or if they want to have to speak out, now not only against shaming, stigma, bullying and harassment by weight bigots, but also by some thin dude who thought it was ok to steal their experiences and their voices and remake them for his own purpose and design – including facing more ridicule if their story is seen by a fat-phobic society as less “sympathetic” than the story that Tony has made up.

Perhaps Tony has the best of intentions, but that doesn’t really matter.  Having once been fat does not qualify him to speak to any experience but his own.  As the old saying goes (with perhaps a few liberties taken): Fool us once, you didn’t mean to do it and had the best of intentions. Fool us twice, shame on you.  Try to fool us four times, the captain has turned on the sit down and shut up light.  If Tony wants to write honest responses to fat shaming from his own perspective, he has every right to do that, but it’s time for him to sign his own name to what he writes and stop pretending to be fat people.

The Fat Activism Conference Is Back 

This is a virtual conference so you can listen to the talks by phone and/or computer wherever you are. Whether you are looking for support in your personal life with family, friends, healthcare providers etc. or you’re interested in being more public with your activism with blogging, petitions, protest, projects, online activism, or something else, this conference will give you tools and perspectives to support you  and your work, and to help you make that work intentionally intersectional and inclusive, so that nobody gets left behind. Click here to get all the info and register!

Like the blog?  More Cool Stuff!

Book and Dance Class Sale!  I’m on a journey to complete an IRONMAN triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here!

Like my work?  Want to help me keep doing it? Become a Member! For ten bucks a month you can support size diversity activism, help keep the blog ad free, and get deals from size positive businesses as a thank you.  Click here for details

Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

I’m training for an IRONMAN! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com

A movie about my time as a dancer is in active development, you can follow the progress on Facebook!

If you are uncomfortable with my offering things for sale on this site, you are invited to check out this post.

Published in: on September 24, 2015 at 3:24 pm  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hi Ragen, You wrote: In truth, you simply shouldn’t bully and harass fat people. Which of course is true, and I would add, for those who are completely at a loss about civil behavior, you simply shouldn’t bully and harass people. Period.

  2. Worse than what he is doing to each individual, Tony is making up a set of false anecdotes, which will be used by people who don’t understand how to do research in order to ‘prove’ that fat people become thin, hate themselves, are unhealthy, etc, etc.

    He ought to go work for those people who are making up videos about Planned Parenthood.

  3. Tony Posnanski is a crazy bitch, full stop. If he’d done it once, genuinely thinking it would help, that would be dumb and misguided, but understandable. The fact that he keeps doing it, keeps getting caught, and knows it’s upsetting the SHIT out of people, is the definition of insanity.

  4. I’ve heard it said, by Ragen and others, that fatphobes love to ignore real fat peoples’ real lives and experiences in favor of stories they’ve made up that better fit their preconcieved notions and stereotypes about how a fat person is “supposed” to live and feel about their life.

    Posnanski is an extreme and very literal example of this.

    He’s not the only example, though. Every day, everyone from doctors to media big-shots to Joes on the street look at fat strangers and create elaborate fictions about what they eat, how much they exercise, how they feel about it, and how they think the world ought to react to their presence. They just do it in their heads while Posnanski is putting it on digital paper and sending it out to clutter up your inbox, right next to that one about the overseas billionaire who needs you to pose as his lost heir to claim his frozen fortune and will totally give you a cut for your help.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: