On Expressions of Dismay and Disbelief…

Published April 11, 2011 by sleepydumpling

It has been a bittersweet couple of days for me.  If you’re not on Twitter and involved in Fat Acceptance, you might have missed the absolute flood of tweets with the hashtag #thingsfatpeoplearetold.  The hashtag originated some time ago with Brian at Red No. 3, but was resurrected a couple of days ago after Catherine Deveny tweeted this damn offensive statement.

And it just took off.   I think the last time Brian tallied up the tweets he could find in a search there were over 2000 original tweets in less than 48 hours.  Mid afternoon I asked Brian to send me the word document he has been compiling, and the document is open here beside me as I type this, 216 pages long, with an average of 10 tweets per page.

I got into it, because it felt like an opportunity for me to vent all of the stupid, senseless, narrow-minded, ignorant, hateful, bigoted things that have been said to me over the years.  As the day went on yesterday, my feelings swung between bitter and sweet.  Bitter because reading all these tweets, and sharing my own, dredges up the hurt, anger, disgust, sorrow, frustration and general outrage I have felt at how I, and other fat people, are treated at the hands of general society.  But also sweetness, because not only was it amazing to hear all of these people finally have a voice, and a considerably powerful one, but there was also a strong sense of community and fellowship building over the past two days.  I gained dozens and dozens of new followers (though I also shed quite a few, who don’t like hearing the truth about the shit fat people are subjected to), and followed many new people myself.

But what I found most telling were the reactions from people who are not fat to many of the things that were tweeted under the hashtag.  And in a way, it makes me angry that so many people are only horrified now at these things.  I feel like “What the fuck have I been saying for the past two years if you’re only getting how horribly fat people are treated now?”

I’ll give you some examples of tweets that horrified some of the people who are not fat that I encountered today:

  • @fatheffalump: [well dressed woman physically pushes me over on an escalator] Well you shouldn’t be so fucking fat! #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @Nocturnal_Nyx said to me – fat people should kill themself and make more room for the normal people. #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @lisa_n: No one’s ever going to love you if you don’t do something about that #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @Mrs_Sprat: You should feel lucky you were raped. How else would someone sleep with you? #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @fatheffalump: “Go away, lose weight, find a boyfriend and come back to me when you want babies.” (a Dr to me, aged 19 & in pain) #thingsfatpeoplearetold
  • @fatheffalump: “Keep walking ya fat cunt!” Yelled at me from a passing car as I went for an afternoon walk. #thingsfatpeoplearetold
These are just a few that I tweeted or retweeted that got horrified reactions from some of the not-fat folk I follow.


What people aren’t getting is that this shit isn’t one offs.  This shit isn’t something that happens on rare occasions.  It happens to lots of us, all the time.  I myself am literally spat at, have things thrown at me from passing cars, have shit called out at me, am mooed and barked at, have people call me a fat cunt, am photographed in public without my permission, particularly if I dare to eat in public, am laughed at by strangers on the street and receive death threats here on this blog, all of these things several times per week.  AND.  I.  AM.  NOT.  ALONE.   Over 2000 tweets in 48 hours give testament that this shit is happening to fat people, every day, every where.  God knows how many people out there are suffering without ever giving voice to the things that happen to them.

Simply because we are fat and we exist in this world.


Yet people are still surprised when we talk about this stuff.  There are still gasps of horror, exclamations of surprise, and declarations of “How can people behave like that to another human being?!”


You know how?  They can because to the people who do this shit, we are “the obese”.  We are not considered “people”, we are considered an “epidemic”.  Governments and the media declare a “war on obesity” – who do you think that war is on?  It’s on US.   We are those headless fatties you see on the news.  We are the “the obese” that the newspapers refer to when they wring their hands over how we’re costing the average taxpayer millions.  We are the “obese women” that journalists write pieces about how we should be ashamed of ourselves, hate ourselves and be shamed by society for being fat.  We are “the obese” who are shamed for daring to want to travel anywhere in a plane and told that we should pay more, buy two seats, not fly at all.  We are the ones who have no decent quality, attractive clothes provided for us at a reasonable price.  We are the ones who are represented on television by fat characters gorging themselves or bullying the “heroes”.   We are the ones that “non-profit organisations” have in mind when they say that childhood obesity is the equivalent to childhood abuse.  We are the ones our own governments set up to be bullied as children in the name of “public health”.


We are the ones who are reviled, shamed, ridiculed, bullied and abused at every fucking turn by the media, the weight loss industry, the beauty industry, the entertainment industry, even the fucking government.


Why else do you think we are treated like this?  Because we are not considered human beings, we’re considered sub-human, and that message is repeated over and over and over again, day in and day out.  So much that most of us spend our lives repeating it to ourselves.



So I want to say this to all of the people who are horrified at the things they read in these tweets.  Don’t just shake your head, gasp in horror, and cluck your tongue at how terrible people are to the poor fatties.  Stand the fuck up. Say something when you hear fat hate.  Speak up when you see someone being treated badly because of the size of their body.  Challenge those articles you see in magazines, newspapers and on television that perpetuate myths about fat people.  Ask questions of the “facts” you see spouted that shame fat people, think about who might just benefit from fat phobia.  After all, fat activists have been doing just this for decades.


Use your voice and join us in speaking out against sizeism.  How many of you will stand up and speak against the mistreatment of animals, yet just change the subject when you hear fat hate against your fellow human beings? How many of you won’t buy a product because it’s not idealogically sound to you, but will happily support an organisation or company  that shames fat people simply for existing in their bodies?


Look, your sympathy is nice.  I appreciate that you feel dismay that fat people are treated badly.  But ultimately we need more than your sympathy.  We need your solidarity.  We need you standing beside us and speaking up to all of society, to say that these are not acceptable ways to treat another human being.  And we need your vocal and obvious support.


We need more than quiet statements of dismay or disbelief.


We need shouts across the rooftops at the injustice of how fat people are treated.




I would like to dedicate this post to Dr Samantha Thomas, a woman who embodies what it means to be a true ally to fat activists, and who sticks her neck out and stands up for the rights of fat people every day, from getting her gorgeous mug on the telly to speaking up when she hears fat stigmatisation in public.  I feel blessed to have her stand beside me and other fat activists in this fight, and even more blessed to call her friend.


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36 comments on “On Expressions of Dismay and Disbelief…

  • thanks so much for this post! I think sometimes people who hear about FA are often appalled but then think “well, what can you do” and move on. I have a very close friend who I talk about FA to, and she understands what I’m saying, often agree’s with me but then she’s just like “well that’s just how the world works” as if that’s just the end of it! It gets me so upset to see this kind of additude, as if we are powerless, as if we should just let everything the world happen.

    I understand she see’s it as fighting a losing battle, especially since I am the only person she knows who is in to FA and HAES, so her world is completely different. I also know that it can seem like a sardine trying to turn over a tide sometimes, like when I’m having a bad day or somebody or thing just gets to me. However I think an important thing to remember is that it’s not just one battle we are fighting, it’s like we’re trying to fill a bucket one drop at a time. The more drops going in, the greater chance we have to fill it up. So it’s basically what you stated, say something, do something, even if it affects only one person, you never know. I wasn’t born accepting my fat, I wasn’t even close 5 years ago, and 10 years ago I could’ve been somebody saying some awful shameful thing about fat people (despite being one).
    So obviously something changed MY mind, your mind, Lesley Kinzel’s mine etc.

    thanks again for the inspiring post,

    Stay strong my fat friend <3

    • Thanks metermouse. What really bothers me though is not that someone doesn’t understand FA, or thinks it’s futile. Even if they generally disagree with the philosophy that fat can equal healthy, how can they stand by and allow another human being to be treated like this, regardless of their health, their body size or shape? How can someone EVER think that it is acceptable to behave like this to another person? What posesses someone to just let that slide or to ignore it?

      I think OUR minds are changed because we ARE fat. But those who are not fat… it’s so easy to go “It doesn’t affect me, so it’s not my problem.” When it IS EVERYONE’S PROBLEM.

      • Thanks for the response. I think what I find so perplexing about the situation with my friend is that she IS fat. We stuck together in our mutual fatness since 6th grade. I know she see’s how wrong fat hate is, but she can’t stop internalizing it, as being HER fault. She’s stuck on the “if I just work out more, if I just ‘xyz’ I’ll become ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable'”.
        I hope that she’ll stop with the self hatred one day, but I can’t force her to change her thinking. I just keep doing what I do, and saying what I say, never apologizing for my fat, and try to diffuse the occasional body snarking from her.. I also gave her “Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere” but she’s been avoiding reading it…

  • I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience, but I suspect that it is very difficult for someone who isn’t fat to imagine these sorts of things since they don’t experience them themselves. It is very different to read your blog with its excellent, well-articulated and thoughtful writing on these subjects, and to imagine these sorts of insults and general abuse being hurled at you every day on the street by strangers. Most people are optimists and are inclined to give fellow human beings the benefit of the doubt and believe in the goodness of human nature and all of that.

    I myself was saddened, but not surprised by the stuff I’ve seen on that hashtag. I’ve been reading a lot of FA blogs in recent months, but I think more importantly I’m not an optimist or a believer in the intrinsic goodness of human nature. I’ve had my own experiences that made enough of an impression on me that I will probably never be surprised by anything strangers can say to a person, no matter how awful. I once got accosted in a grocery store by a well-dressed, much older man who seemed to be fixated by the fit of my jeans, and when I made clear I wasn’t interested finally left after telling me exactly how much “I’d love to f*** your ass”. This was just one of many times I’ve experienced the ‘joy’ of what it means to be a young woman who fits somewhere in this society’s range of acceptable body shapes and sizes. I leave my home every time expecting this stuff. I don’t leave my home much. And I still count myself as lucky because unlike many other women, I’ve never been sexually assaulted; harassed, yes, many times; but not assaulted, not yet at least.
    I am not in any way trying to compare my experience to yours or say that I know what it’s like to be fat: I know I don’t. But I know the sort of cruelty that can be visited for absolutely no good reason by people who think they have some sort of right to you, whether strangers or people you know. And however much people try to deny that this is so, women and their bodies are still considered public property in so-called civilized societies, so everyone thinks they have a right to say pretty much anything they want to you, whether it’s supposed to be for your own good because you obviously haven’t realized how fat you are, or because you should be so flattered to know in detail how much some random stranger would like to f*** you – because you’re so attractive and wow it’s so awesome to be you that every woman should go on a diet and do every other thing ever advised in ‘beauty and health’ magazines until they’re all thin and conventionally attractive and can have these awesome experiences of being public property that men find desirable to look at.

    I apologize in advance if this seems like a rant or if anyone is offended by any of it. This is just my opinion and my experience, and I’m not a good writer so my point probably got lost somewhere. I think I pretty much just wanted to say that a person’s reaction to reading things on the hashtag would depend on their personal experience and if that experience does not include being visibly fat, it is very difficult to truly comprehend the enormity of all the terrible treatment visited upon fat people in every walk of life. Spending several days reading that hashtag would give someone a good idea though, so I think in that way in particular it could be incredibly useful. And I definitely agree that everyone who is an ally, who cares about fellow human beings being mistreated, should act to do something to stop it, and hopefully that is something everyone will get after reading and not think that just showing sympathy is all that’s required to change things for the better.

    • You seem not to understand that fat women are also constantly harassed sexually. So, yes, you do understand part of what fatheffalump and other fat women experience every day of their lives, because they get the same shit you get—but you don’t understand that there’s a whole other piece of being harassed that you’re not experiencing.

      • Just adding that if you’re fat and get sexually harassed, the harasser will often act as though he’s doing you a favour – because fat chicks must be desperate, right?

        So there’s another layer on top of the day-to-day sexual harassment that other women experience.

    • I’m with Jupiter on this one. Your comment reads like you’re implying that you have a “different” kind of harrassment, but harrassment just the same. What you’re missing is that fat women are sexually harrassed just the same as any other women, but they ALSO have another whole level of bullying laid on their shoulders. Imagine that, being harrassed just as you are, but also being bullied just for who you are by other women, children, men, the government, the media, marketing… you name it.

      You can be as pessimistic as you like, that doesn’t absolve you from standing idly by and allowing another human being to be treated like they are somehow less than others.

      • That is not what Alexa said at all. She acknowledged from the beginning that she COULD NOT know what it is like to be harassed because one is overweight. [I think] She was just trying to say she DOES KNOW what it feels like to be harassed for being “just as you are” period.

        And I thought the article in question is discussing a “different” reason for being harassed – being overweight which the nonfat cannot understand – not the many reasons one is harassed at all. So it is not at all inappropriate that she makes the distinction between her experience with harassment and that of an overweight person’s. I thought this is what the article is trying to point out to begin with.

        Finally [once again my interpretation] Alexa is agreeing that being harassed for any reason IS one and the same. And that is why she can relate to the hurt others feel and why she also agrees that no one, fat or nonfat, should “idly” stand by when another is being harassed.

        What I find upsetting is that people who are trying to contribute in a positive way can be bashed by the bitter even though they begin with the acknowledgment that there is something missing from their argument that they will never be able to empathize with. I hope you don’t believe that overweight people are the only people who are repeatedly harassed and others cannot be equally miserable for a number of different reasons. Good people are just trying to show their support and understanding in the way they know how.

        • Ugh, nobody is “bashing” anyone. This is the reality of entering the space of a marginalised person – you are going to be made uncomfortable by being challenged in your thinking. It is not a personal offense to have your thinking challenged, it is NOT the same thing as “bashing”.

          THIS is what the problem is, people swan in with their privilege ablaze, with no acknowledgement at all of the fact that they have considerable advantages to the people trying to advocate for themselves, and expect us to just go “Yes, yes, we know it’s hard for you too.” But when you challenge that thinking, when you ask them to acknowledge their privilege and understand that there are a whole host of added issues on someone who is both fat AND a woman, you’re censured for it.

          What this article is saying is that I’m as tired as fuck of people saying “There there, I sometimes get called nasty names too.” when they do not have the experiences of being reviled by all aspects of society as some kind of sub-human being. It’s saying that I’m tired as fuck of sympathy, clucks of disbelief, head shakes of dismay and the sweeping under the carpet of the enormity of fat hate in our culture.

          Alexa’s mistake (which pales in comparison to your own) was to fail to acknowledge that fat women also receive sexual harrassment (her implication was that while we receive harrassment for being fat, she has to deal with sexual harrassment for being attractive, as though we fatties wouldn’t ever experience that), and she was rightfully challenged on it.

          However your accusations of “bashing” and our bitterness and the failure to recognise the enormity of the systemic bigotry that fat people face in our culture are a far greater offense. Fuck anyone who thinks that our weariness of being pilloried and reviled by society at large, as well as others’ failure to acknowledge their privilege is “bitterness”, and fuck anyone who considers a challenge to that privilege as “bashing”. You “Doubtful” are exactly what I am railing against in this very post.

      • sleepydumpling :
        Ugh, nobody is “bashing” anyone. This is the reality of entering the space of a marginalised person – you are going to be made uncomfortable by being challenged in your thinking. It is not a personal offense to have your thinking challenged, it is NOT the same thing as “bashing”.
        THIS is what the problem is, people swan in with their privilege ablaze, with no acknowledgement at all of the fact that they have considerable advantages to the people trying to advocate for themselves, and expect us to just go “Yes, yes, we know it’s hard for you too.” But when you challenge that thinking, when you ask them to acknowledge their privilege and understand that there are a whole host of added issues on someone who is both fat AND a woman, you’re censured for it.
        What this article is saying is that I’m as tired as fuck of people saying “There there, I sometimes get called nasty names too.” when they do not have the experiences of being reviled by all aspects of society as some kind of sub-human being. It’s saying that I’m tired as fuck of sympathy, clucks of disbelief, head shakes of dismay and the sweeping under the carpet of the enormity of fat hate in our culture.
        Alexa’s mistake (which pales in comparison to your own) was to fail to acknowledge that fat women also receive sexual harrassment (her implication was that while we receive harrassment for being fat, she has to deal with sexual harrassment for being attractive, as though we fatties wouldn’t ever experience that), and she was rightfully challenged on it.
        However your accusations of “bashing” and our bitterness and the failure to recognise the enormity of the systemic bigotry that fat people face in our culture are a far greater offense. Fuck anyone who thinks that our weariness of being pilloried and reviled by society at large, as well as others’ failure to acknowledge their privilege is “bitterness”, and fuck anyone who considers a challenge to that privilege as “bashing”. You “Doubtful” are exactly what I am railing against in this very post.

        There are so many things in your last statement I would like to respond to but that would take me much more time than I am willing to spend communicating with someone who will always find something wrong with what I say because it is not congruent with their own opinions.

        But I would like to point out that I have read pieces by Dr. Samantha Thomas and I have recently seen her on T.V. She is a perfect example of how to bring to light such a trying topic in order to discuss it calmly and reasonably and to get things done.

        If you want everyone who does not agree with your line of thinking to “fuck off” then I don’t see the point of your blog at all. You will not receive much serious attention from people who are in a position do something about your problem if you start out by making them defensive. You will gain a minority of support from those in similar situations. You will get a lot of hate and resentment from groundless imbeciles. And you will alienate, what I believe to be, the majority of the people who genuinely want to learn about your cause and want to do what is right. This is another reason why I will no longer be responding to nor take notice of your blog or any others like it. This is a reason why many people chose to ignore problems. They don’t want to get involved in something where they constantly need to apologize, be defensive and watch what they say or do so they don’t unintentionally offend people. If I am really the target of your railings in this entry then your time and efforts are wasted and your resentment is misplaced.

        In closing I would like to point out that many of your entries make sweeping generalizations about nonfat people. And from my interaction with you it seems as though you don’t believe that there are any other populations in many societies that are “reviled by all aspects of society as some kind of sub-human being” for similar reasons, in that they cannot be helped, such as race, gender and sexual orientation. Your mistake, one that Alexa did not make by assuming something about fat women she does not personally know to be true, is that you in your own sense of privilege and entitlement as a victim of abuse and harassment assume that I or anyone else who challenges what you say, know nothing about harassment and abuse. This is my perception of your response and if any of it is true then you are no better than ignorant racists, arrogant chauvinists and even those who victimize you. Maybe your perception of Alexa’s well-meaning implication could also be as incorrect, therefore necessitating retraction of said challenge?

  • My great aunt was morbidly obese, in a time when it was extremely rare, so she got the abuse and then some. Eventually she had what was then called stomach stapling – and she died from complications.

    As far as I’m concerned, she was hounded to her death.

    • The very sad thing is that your great aunt isn’t the only one, and wasn’t the last, and there will be more to come. It’s heartbreaking.

      Whether it’s from complications from WLS, complications from the cocktails of diet drugs, lack of adequate medical care (the old “go away and lose weight” cure for all), suicide or even direct violence, fat people are being hounded to death on a daily basis.

      And that doesn’t even factor in the lower quality of life we’re forced into generally.

  • This is an amazing post, Kath.

    I’m not a twitterer so I haven’t joined in with Brian’s stirling project but, when I was 20, I went on a crash diet before posing nude for an artist friend. The artist’s wife, who saw me naked many times during this period, asked me shortly afterwards, “Oh you have such lovely skin tones but don’t you ever wonder what it would be like to be – well – you know – normal?”

    I weighed 129lbs and was a size 16.

    • I think Brian is composing some kind of place for all of these Buttercup, if you wish to contact him, follow the link in this post, I’m sure he’d add your contributions too. All of us need to have our voices heard.

  • I read some of these to my roommate, and she was horrified asking how people could say things like what people were posting. The really sad thing is that most of the posts that I put up were said by her. Its crazy to me that she doesn’t see what she is saying is just as bad.

    • One of the things I think this hashtag has given us, is a response to deeply ingrained fat loathing. I intend to simply say “Things fat people are told” at anyone who makes these comments at me. Perhaps in a slightly patronising manner!

      I’m sorry you have to deal with this from a roommate.

      • Thanks, most of it is directed at nameless fatties because I am the representative of all fat people in our apartment…lol She never says things to me about me but I have since told her that it is a hard limit and cannot be talked about anymore. It is working so far.

  • reading the truth and writing the truth was so cathartic for me. It also gave me a sense of all the fat people who got the same shit i did and I knew i was not alone. i am ready to stand together with whoever can stand with me and SPEAK UP!

  • Seeing the stuff on that hashtag…I didn’t know whether to cry or scream, if only because I’ve heard that kind of stuff all the time. Directed at me, directed at friends, directed at relatives. And I have friends and relatives who directed it at themselves and blamed themselves for illnesses time and time again.

    And if someone says “but growing your own veggies is so easy” or “You could be ‘normal’ if you worked at it” (being a “smaller” fat, I get many, many variations on the “you could be normal” line), I think I’ll just do some verbal violence to that person.

  • There are so many things in your last statement I would like to respond to but that would take me much more time than I am willing to spend communicating with someone who will always find something wrong with what I say because it is not congruent with their own opinions.

    But I would like to point out that I have read pieces by Dr. Samantha Thomas and I have recently seen her on T.V. She is a perfect example of how to bring to light such a trying topic in order to discuss it calmly and reasonably and to get things done.

    If you want everyone who does not agree with your line of thinking to “fuck off” then I don’t see the point of your blog at all. You will not receive much serious attention from people who are in a position do something about your problem if you start out by making them defensive. You will gain a minority of support from those in similar situations. You will get a lot of hate and resentment from groundless imbeciles. And you will alienate, what I believe to be, the majority of the people who genuinely want to learn about your cause and want to do what is right. This is another reason why I will no longer be responding to nor take notice of your blog or any others like it. This is a reason why many people chose to ignore problems. They don’t want to get involved in something where they constantly need to apologize, be defensive and watch what they say or do so they don’t unintentionally offend people. If I am really the target of your railings in this entry then your time and efforts are wasted and your resentment is misplaced.

    In closing I would like to point out that many of your entries make sweeping generalizations about nonfat people. And from my interaction with you it seems as though you don’t believe that there are any other populations in many societies that are “reviled by all aspects of society as some kind of sub-human being” for similar reasons, in that they cannot be helped, such as race, gender and sexual orientation. Your mistake, one that Alexa did not make by assuming something about fat women she does not personally know to be true, is that you in your own sense of privilege and entitlement as a victim of abuse and harassment assume that I or anyone else who challenges what you say, know nothing about harassment and abuse. This is my perception of your response and if any of it is true then you are no better than ignorant racists, arrogant chauvinists and even those who victimize you. Maybe your perception of Alexa’s well-meaning implication could also be as incorrect, therefore necessitating retraction of said challenge?

    Boo hoo, you will no longer be supporting me. My world is simply over.

    You are so very full of your own self importance that you honestly believe that your opinion of me, and your contribution is actually of any value to me? I know you want me to go “Oh wait, you’re right! I didn’t understand until you came along!” But that’s not going to happen.

    Whether you “sanction” me or not, I’m still going to be here. I’m still going to be saying the things I want to say. Sometimes it’s not going to be nice to hear for those of you who do feel that you have any right to tell me how to behave or think. And I’m still going to be ruffling someone’s poor little wounded feathers of self importance, whether it’s you or anyone else.

    Go away and lord it over someone else. I have better things to do than fart about arguing with someone who so clearly believes they are superior to me or anyone else and that we have to play by their rules or they’ll take their bat and ball and go home.

  • Just a heads up – I’m deleting any further “You fatties get offended too easily, you need to be nice to us or we won’t support your cause!” trollery.

    We’ve all heard it a bazillion times, it’s not bringing anything of value to the conversation and to be honest, you all don’t deserve to be subjected to that kind of crap.

    • ” They don’t want to get involved in something where they constantly need to apologize, be defensive and watch what they say or do so they don’t unintentionally offend people.”

      That response reminds me of something that my LGBT studies prof said on Monday in class. We were sharing narratives (I shared my kick ass virginity story) and he started out by telling everyone how he came out as gay for the first time, in a classroom, during the first session of teaching this class. He said that it was then that he decided that he would be in his own words a ‘gay prick’ because to try and be understanding to someone being homophobic can actually make things worse and create a dynamic in the classroom where people are not comfortable enough to speak or share their experiences. So instead he just doesn’t tolerate it and calls everyone out who makes an insensitive comment, what has happened is a space where people are really comfortable sharing themselves.

      Thats why I don’t think that being ‘understanding’ to someone making a racist, homophobic, or fatphobic comment is ok. Its not, and if that makes someone uncomfortable I would ask them why it does. Everyone should understand that the words they say have meaning, and to act like we are expecting too much out of them to not say offensive things is pretty childish.

      • Beautifully said fatwaitress.

        None of us have to “understand” someone who is perpetuating marginalisation.

        Every single one of us on this planet needs to watch what we say and do, simply out of respect to our fellow human beings. Particularly those with privilege. Thing is, we’re always going to cock up, but the difference lies in how we react to being challenged on that.

        We can either realise that we have privilege over someone for whatever reason (in this space, we’re talking about thin privilege), and take that on board, or we can throw a hissy fit and demand that the people we have privilege over further bow to that privilege.

        I think it’s quite obvious which is the respectful thing to do.

        I think what many fail to grasp when they rail and carry on in a FA space, is that they are coming into our territory, and they don’t have the right of way here. Which must be really tough when you’re used to having the right of way everywhere.

  • As usual Kath you hit the proverbial nail on the head. You are insightful and eloquent and I thank you for giving those of us who are living with this abuse every day a voice. And I dont mean just verbal abuse – psychological and emotional too – the lot. We are strong to be able to keep living our lives in spite of all the fat hatred and I for one take more strength knowing that there are people like you in the world.You’re awesome!

  • Hi kath

    Can I borrow you over here for a while. I am in need of some boot camp training in the area of which we speak. I need some go to comebacks when confronted by misguided individuals who need to meet me in a hospital setting in about a weeks time. I can bet my bum that I will be asked “how did you get this big”. I never know how to answer that in a one worde sentence. Previously I would launch into when I was a kid…
    And really I am over it and can’t be fucked going into it. And anyway is this going to help me or them? Don’t think so.

    I love you Kath and your straight talking-just my style.
    Wish we lived closer, you rock woman and I could do with a daily dose of Kath’s Wisdom.

    Thanks for your great writing.

    • Jan, we are right there beside you. You carry those of us who do this in your heart. Right when you need it, YOU will roar like a lion and insist that the world treat you as the valid human being that you are. Because you see it, you get it. It’s right there honey, don’t you ever forget it.

  • It’s interesting. I think honestly I didn’t understand really how much of this existed for a long while-I’d always been a little on the heavy side, but more the type of being 165 instead of 150. Then I wound up taking medication that caused me to gain 70 pounds in a year. Immediately I went from someone who was treated well wherever I went to someone who wasn’t. I’m a sexual assault survivor, which is one reason I started the medication in the first place, and when someone saw me after I had gained the weight, they did post publicly about how no one would ever want to sexually assault me. My long-term partner did break up with me for a very skinny girl, and she felt entitled to tease him about how he had ever been with me. She didn’t start worrying about me at all until she heard that I had started losing weight-because while fat, I was a nonentity.

    That said, though, I have to say that I agree with a commentator above-that mothers worry about their daughters specifically because you are trying to teach your children survival skills in the world that is. Realistically, which is easier-to completely change our culture in the ten years before your child becomes an adult, or to make sure your child doesn’t grow up with a label that will be attached to them that will negatively impact them in so many ways? I struggle with this with my own daughter. I don’t want to shame her-but I don’t want her to grow up fat. Especially after my own experience with it, I want to protect her from that as best I possibly can.

    How do you do this? This isn’t a rhetorical question. This is something I really don’t know how to do. How do you protect your children without becoming what you despise?

    • The first step is to stop despising it. Change your own thinking, and the rest is actually quite easy. Whether or not your child grows up fat is most likely out of your hands. Whether she grows up well adjusted and with a strong self esteem is something you can control. Teach her that her value is more than just her physical appearance, that she is beautiful so long as she is kind, fair, honest, respectful etc. Teach her that people are always going to be narrow-minded, but that she doesn’t need to cater to ignorance. Teach her that no matter what she looks like, no matter what shape or size her body is, she is always precious to you, and that there will always be people in her life who love her for who she truly is.

      The label isn’t her problem/fault. That belongs to the ignorant, shallow people who judge others on their appearance, rather than on their true value. We only need carry the labels that we choose for ourselves, any that others try to put on us, we need not accept.

      Those are the best survival skills anyone can learn, and I wish I’d been taught them as a child, rather than being taught that to survive I would have to make myself pleasing to the eye, at any cost – because that’s a lie.

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