An Open Letter to Wendy Harmer and The Hoopla

Published April 12, 2012 by sleepydumpling

Dear Wendy Harmer, the Hoopla Team,

I am writing to you here, in an open letter on my blog, because I have to have control over the environment that this is published in, and what kind of content is posted in the comments.  I don’t do this to prevent anyone from having their say, they can already do that in their own space.  I do it because I am a human being, and I need to have SOME space in the world that I am protected and feel safe.

I am deeply, deeply offended at your decision to publish the piece today by Philip Barker*.  Not simply because he chooses to further stigmatise fat people by repeatedly implying that we are sedentry, gluttonous, unwilling to take personal responsibility  and out of control – people say that all the time about fat people, we’re used to it.  I am deeply offended because you allowed him to use me, to comment on me and my life, in a way that connects anti-fat rhetoric to me personally.

If Philip Barker had simply written an op-ed piece about how he believes weight stigma is wrong, but continued stigmatising fat people, I would have been annoyed, but not personally offended.  It’s ridiculous that he would, because he is not a fat person, nor does he have any expertise on weight or health, so why is he having his opinion on the matter published by a major online magazine such as yourself?  Why is some guy who works in marketing given space to give his opinion on obesity?  What relevance is obesity to Philip Barker?

To be honest, I could care less about Philip Barker – he is no authority on anything to do with weight or health, he is just a marketing man who thinks he has the right to define which bodies are “ok” socially and which bodies are not.  I am sure Philip Barker could find better ways to use his life… or maybe he can’t, I don’t know.

But you published, and included my name and photographs, a piece that does absolutely nothing but minimise the vitriolic anti-fat rhetoric aimed at myself and people like me, which will directly affect me.  Already, just in the comments of the piece alone, people are making assumptions about my health, how my body feels and works, and who I am.

You are not just “encouraging a conversation” when you publish pieces like this.  You are making the lives of myself, and people like me even more difficult than they already are.  You are putting already vulnerable people right in the line of fire of some horrible, horrible hatred.  You are contributing to an environment where people think it is perfectly acceptable to tell me to kill myself, to tell me I am revolting, to publicly harass me, to send me death and rape threats, to contact my employer to make vexatious claims, to send me anonymous messages of hate and to harass me in my spaces online.

And because of your allowing a piece that directly names and stigmatises me personally, you directly cause these things to happen to ME.

You have a duty of care as high profile media professionals to ensure that your publication does not cause anyone direct harm.  You have power that I do not have to match you with.  You are a media organisation, headed by a high profile media personality.  I am an IT librarian from Brisbane who has a blog.

The thing is, this fat activism business is not a hobby I do just to fill my time.  It is my fight to live.  It is my fight to keep my self esteem and not be completely crushed by the hatred that is spewed in my direction for simply living in a fat body.  It is my fight claim the space I need to live my life to the fullest with whatever cards I am dealt in life.  I don’t do this because I need to fill time and enjoy it – I do this to keep myself strong, healthy, happy and alive.  The alternative to my being a fat activist was crippling depression and absolutely no self esteem, which led to my attempting to end my life on more than one occasion.  It’s only that I found fat activism that I am alive today.  It’s only because of fat activism that I continue to thrive and live my life to the fullest – mostly because of my community of fellow fatties who understand what it is like to be hated for your body, and who are always there to listen and offer support.  They are my family.

It is my life we’re dealing with here.  Not conversation, not debate, not public interest.  My own life.  And my life is representative of many other people who live in fat bodies just like mine.

It is my greatest wish to be able to hang up my fat activist hat and never have to write or lobby about this subject again.  It is my greatest wish that there would be nothing for me ever to write about on the subject of fatness.  Because for that to happen, it would mean that I, and people like me, would be treated as human beings.  That we would never open a magazine or newspaper or turn on the news and see an article vilifying us.  That I could go through my life without being publicly scrutinised, judged and abused.  That I could find everything I needed without it being suggested that I am “promoting obesity” by wanting clothes that fit, equal access to public transport without being bullied for “taking up too much space” or by just living my life comfortably and happily.

By publishing that piece today, you took that away from me for even longer.  You made the fight all that much harder.  You made my life that much more of a fight for dignity and respect.

I think I deserve an apology.  I certainly deserve to be acknowledged as a human being whose life today was impacted negatively by your publication of that article.

*I will not be linking to The Hoopla until further notice, as I do not believe in giving web traffic to a site that directly causes me harm.
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117 comments on “An Open Letter to Wendy Harmer and The Hoopla

  • This does feel so much more personal because the attack is personal. If they were just talking about your posts in general it might be different but to name you and put your photo up is uncalled for. I have so much love for you, so much happiness from the fact that you speak out so vigilantly about fat stigma and are in this fight with me.

    • You’re absolutely right fatbodypolitics – it’s personal because it is directly connected to me. And one would only have to read the comments to see JUST how personal this shit is. Wendy Harmer and The Hoopla have directly enabled someone to publicly troll me, and to dogwhistle more people to troll me further.

  • I still say that I thought your original piece was fabulous Kath and I think Philip is just one of many who is very new to your struggles. I think, along with many readers, he has learned a lot and the debate has been very valuable in opening the door for understanding. I’m sorry that you don’t agree and I apologise for your hurt feelings.

    • Wendy, this is not about “hurt feelings”. Please do not minimise what is happening here by suggesting I have my “fee fees hurt”. This is about people directly vilifying and abusing me because you chose to publish that piece today. This is not just a matter of me having my feelings hurt. You have changed my life negatively directly because of your choice to publish that piece.

      I don’t give a damn about what Philip has learnt, or what he thinks. I care that you and your publication contributed to taking away the peace and quality of my life.

      • Kath, you absolutely deserve an apology. Also, if you have the ability to edit comments, I think it would be totally reasonable to redact the Hoopla article link above so as not to give more traffic to something that is specifically attacking you. If people want to read the article, this post gives them more than enough keywords for a Google search.

    • Wendy,
      As a professional and the owner of the blog, you have a responsibility to do no harm to others. You have caused damage and distress to Kath. You should perhaps be apologising for that, not for “her” hurt feelings. I am remarkably disappointed in your attitudes and behaviours and have certainly lost your credibility in my eyes.

  • I am sorry this happened Kath. I went to the article, and I read the comments which a freaking awful. some days, I just don’t like people.

    • It’s very hard for me to like people most days Sweeny – because I cannot remember a day I walked through my life without being treated like shit because of the size of my body.

  • Dear Kath, I just wanted to say that I support you and your writing means a lot to me. I’m so sorry that the Hoopla chose to publish this article which was so hurtful to you.

  • There truly are some horrible, hateful individuals that seem to look for any excuse to inject their venom. Too bad they can’t get a life. This is why I had to pretty much stop blogging before I even started. I couldn’t take the vitriol.

  • I ended up stumbling on the article and told him what I thought of his using your image without your permission that way. Unconscionable. I couldn’t even read all the comments, it was too damn triggering. :-(

    • The Real Cie, it is The Hoopla who used my image, not Mr Marketing Douche. I gave them permission to use it for my article, but not any others. If it wasn’t already a personal jab at me, they made it so by adding that photograph without asking me first.

      And you highlighted what this kind of thing really does – it silences people from telling their stories. I am so sorry that you were silenced. I will not be. Not by Mr Marketing Douche or The Hoopla.

  • What a sleazy business. What a sleazy bunch of vulgar exploiters. And I’ve written for the Age. This is why interacting with the mainstream media is never worth it…they treat people’s lives as if they were piles of refuse for them to sort through and pillage. Wendy Harmer should be thoroughly ashamed of herself. What a dirty, rotten hypocrite.

    • I have done a lot of serious thinking about interacting with the mainstream media. Sure, this one went in a direction that was most definitely sleazy. But not all of them do, and even when they do… if I get through to one person who is where I was 5 years ago, then it’s worth it, you know?

      After all, with all this crap with The Hoopla – I have no regrets for MY behaviour. I have no regrets for MY actions and choices. I’m glad that piece of mine was published there, because it gave some people a different perspective on themselves. I don’t care what the anti-fat people think, it’s my fellow fatties I am reaching out to.

      The regret with this whole scenario is regret that I once admired Wendy Harmer and that I had hoped The Hoopla would be different – but it is rapidly turning into Mama Mia. Exploitative and shaming and worst of all… SHALLOW.

  • I am so sorry The Hoopla has allowed this to be done to you. I read your original piece and the subsequent comments were appalling. If I remember correctly Wendy Harmer waded in to the comments to remind people to keep themselves nice.

    Then this? The Hoopla allows your story about the damage fat hate has done to you to be repackaged as a story about why shouldn’t “I” have the right to express “MY” opinion about OTHER PEOPLE’S BODIES, about OTHER people’s individual responsibility to be healthy, whatever the FUCK that is? To cast YOU and anyone who supports you as the bully, the villian in the piece? This man as the victim? Wow! Just Wow!

    When I last looked at The Hoopla they were running a banner about this guy’s article with ‘come join the debate’. Now Wendy Hammer’s apologising here for ‘your hurt feelings’. Did The Hoopla really think that this article would illicit different, less personal, more respectful comments about this subject? About you, personally, given your face, your pain, your words are right there front and centre? Does it really think it ends there, with the comments on its website? Does it really think that it’s commentors don’t migrate to your blog site and twitter where you have to deal directly with comments all the more menacing and hateful because they know you are the only moderator, the only person likely to see them?

    Perhaps The Hoopla should encourage a discussion about it’s notions of responsible journalism, on running a responsible web magazine, on it’s resonsibility to you as a private person, a contributor to the website and how The Hoopla allowing this article written by this man to appear on it’s website fits into The Hoopla’s idea of professional and personal responsibility.

    • You know Gina, that’s the thing that pisses me off the most – Mr Marketing Douche doesn’t even have the skill to write a decent op ed piece – instead he reconstitutes my work (after watering it down considerably) and bulks it out with quoting the comments from it. Is that the standard The Hoopla lets through? I feel shitty for spending time writing a measured, thought out post for them, I could have just knocked anything together.

      And the whole thing of “Come join the debate.” is SO offensive to fat people. So we’re “debating” over whether fat people should be treated as human beings now? Are we going to be “debating” whether fat people should be euthanased next?

      • You have hit the main point here— Does anyone have a right to debate how another person is treated? The universal answer is NO when you are talking about one’s race, gender, sexual orientation or mental defect. I hope by the time I leave this world there is another item added to the list above: size.

        Kath– you are an inspiration to this “almost sixty year old” fat woman. I only wish that activism like yours had started many decades ago. But I guess we have to fight one battle at a time. I appreciate that you have thrown down the gauntlet to say: Enough.

        • I agree, no one has the right to debate about the rights of any group of people, it doesn’t matter any characteristic you have there is no debate about how people should be treated, we are supposed to be equal, bullying anyone based on anything is not something that can be justified.
          (I hate to say but the answer is a big yes for mental defect, I will not go into details but there are creepy stories about this.)

        • That’s right A Brady – nobody has the right to debate how other human beings are treated simply because of who they are. It’s disgusting that anyone would even consider it a “debate”.

          And thank you, your support and encouragement means a lot to me.

  • When I read all the horrible things that happen to fat people in the US and Australia, I really wonder whether it is a coincidence that the people who are most obsessed about being thin end up the fattest eventually. I am a fat woman living in Germany and have never, ever experienced anything like being mooed or even spat at on the street or having stuff thrown at me from cars! While there is surely also fat stigma in Germany, people seem to be much more willing to see you as a person.
    This really supports my theory that there is nothing better to make you fat than dieting and being obsessed with weight …

    • Ossi I have a fat friend from Germany and am always amazed at how pragmatic she is about her own body and other people’s. It’s definitely a cultural difference, one that we in Australia, the UK and US could all learn from.

  • Fuckin’ right on, sleepydumpling. It is so beyond the pale for Harmer (ironic!) to come into your space and insist that you, and your readers, should just understand that Philip Barker is just “new” to this whole “treating other human beings with basic respect” thing – and insist on posting a link to the article which you explicitly said you did not wish to do!

    Boundaries: how do they work?

    • Yeah that’s pretty rich isn’t it? Expecting us to cut him some slack because he’s “new” to the concept of treating other human beings, regardless of their bodies, health or appearance with respect and dignity. Poor Mr Marketing Douche.

  • That’s terrible, I read in the comments here about hurt feelings but this has nothing to do with feelings, this is just wrong.
    You have my support.

  • As always Kath you have my support. I am disappointed that you are a target and a pawn in something not of your choosing. That’s what is wrong about this, it is not about hurt feelings. It is a commercial interest drawing attention to themselves that benefits them at your expense. Anything which places a person in a negative light for someone elses gain is never ok. Not now or ever.

    So here’s a memo to those who aren’t FAT:
    Fat people are not second-class citizens. They are not here for your amusement to deride and ridicule or to be discussed as if they don’t exist. Fat people don’t need your pontificating concern and sky-is-falling rhetoric. If you are thinking of posting any comment that includes ‘but it’s about their health”, just don’t. If you’re thinking about posting all your nutritional and fitness exploits to make yourself feel better and show those fat people how it’s done, stop now. If you believe that fat = unhealthy go away and do some actual reading on the subject and if you need some ideas then ask.
    Bottom line is, people are people regardless of size, race, sexual orientation, ability, age etc and all people deserve respect and to be treated with dignity and equally. If that bothers you then you are the one with the problem.

    • HAESCoach I love that statement “Fat people don’t need your pontificating concern and sky-isfalling-rhetoric.” That’s absolutely right. We don’t need it, we don’t ask for it, it’s not up for debate. It’s our lives, we’ll navigate our way through the world, thank you very much!

  • The “conversation” over on the hoopla is not a conversation at all; it is an all out attack on people who happen to have fat bodies. It is a stream of thin privilege, from people who don’t even know they experience thin privilege. I live in a body very similar to Kath’s, I have to constantly be on the defensive because people who DO NOT KNOW ME feel they have the moral obligation (and medical knowledge, apparently) to learn me on how to be a better human being by not being fat. How many different ways do we need to tell people that this is not cool!

    People who are far slimmer than me are allowed to live unhealthy and sedantry lifestyles because they are slim and therefore ‘appear’ healthy (at least what our society believes health to look like). I, on the other hand, have to defend every morsel of food, every moment on the couch, every hour in bed, every movie watched, every game played because it is not contributing to reducing the size of my body.

    FUCK THAT!

    Kath, I love you, you are an amazing human being. I am deeply saddened that this has brought negetivity to you. I truley hope that you can fight through this and come out better and more fabulous than ever.
    x

    • Thank you AnotherFatPrincess. I totally agree, what is happening in the comment threads on that piece is not “conversation”. It is out and out hatred towards fat people, and it’s a whole lot of judgement on which bodies are “ok” and which are not. As if some deserve to be treated as human beings, but others don’t. It’s disgusting and we should all be beyond that kind of shit in a civilised society.

    • Yep Feminista. I wrote for them a piece about the stigmatisation of fat people, and then a week later they let someone who has no expertise or experience of fatness use my article and my photograph (and the comments on it – there’s almost no original content in the piece) to post something that further stigmatises fat people, and is a dogwhistle for people to tear me down.

      “Professional journalism” are not two words that I would use in this case.

  • Hi Kath,

    I’m so, so sorry this happened to you. If you read Phil’s “Rules of Fat” comment (to which I can’t link, sadly) it’s clear that this was a hit piece directed at fat acceptance advocates. I doubt Phil is on the fence about fat acceptance or his perception of weight and health and ‘personal responsibility’ (as a liberty advocate I LOATHE when people misuse that phrase!). He also seems quite anti-feminist, given his tongue-in-cheek “goddess” usage.

    He’s a marketing man who believed he could write a piece to excoriate fat activists under the guise of providing ‘balanced debate.’ It’s basically a long-winded, “But duh eat less move more silly stupid corrupt lazy fatties!”

    • I also want to mention that he dared to imply (using the weasel method of quoting one of his ‘coworkers’) that there’s a “fatwah” against him in the comments to his article.

    • Thanks Big Liberty – believe it or not I don’t give a shit about Phil. Other than the fact that he’s outed himself as the biggest wuss on the planet by claiming he’s “scared to give his opinion on obesity” – I mean, nobody else on earth is scared to do that, are they?

      My beef is with Wendy Harmer and The Hoopla. Who failed to show any professionalism in their use of my name, my work and my photograph in an article that directly stigmatises me, not to mention other people like me.

  • I have never seen The Hoopla and I’m guessing that I don’t really want to check it out but I must say it is disappointing to read the not-pology from Ms Harmer.

    Yours is one of my favourite fativism blogs and I hope that you keep doing the fine work you are doing.

  • Thank you for being a strong woman who can articulate what some of us struggle to say.

    I would like to add that as well as directly contributing to asshats targeting you and possibly your safe spaces online they are underestimating the damage that hurting someone’s feelings does.

    The bruises I got at school over being weird could be shown to the teachers (who were awesome and did their best to acknowledge and minimise bullying) but the hurt you feel from someone or a group of someone’s taking a large amount of time to specifically target you for harassment until they find something that triggers a reaction stays with you for years.

    I refuse to go swimming alone as I get paranoid that people are pointing and talking about me (my b/f assures me that I’m not paranoid, quite a number of them are). This is a direct result of being emotionally injured as a developing teen who was not skinny. I can only go swimming at all as I know the leisure centre I go to has a zero tolerance policy on harassment and I the one time a group of pre teen girls had a go at me to my face they were warned that their behaviour was unacceptable and they’d be banned if they were caught doing it again. If these girls felt that they could treat an adult stranger in this manner I shudder to think how they were treating girls their own age that they don’t like.

    I am slowly getting fit again, but I’ll never be an athlete or thin, I will however always be a great person, intelligent and compassionate even when I have trouble articulating what is going on in my head.

    Once again thank you for being you <3

    Pyx

    • I can relate to the not wanting to go swimming alone–only since I work at a place that has a therapy pool as part of the wellness center, that is the ONLY way I’ll go swimming. I work the night shift, so I come in a bit early so I can work out in the therapy pool.
      One night when I was emptying the old bladder, one of my co-workers came in and since I was in my swimsuit, I refused to leave the stall until she left. Damned if she wasn’t in there a good twenty minutes or so, putting on makeup and singing to herself!
      I was ashamed that I didn’t have the wherewithal to just stroll on out of the stall, say “howdy,” and go to the pool. But the conditioning is still there and I just couldn’t muster the will to let anyone see me in a swimsuit.

      • I’m not bothered about how I look in a swim suit, it’s pretty sure not flattering, but that’s because I want to be able to move without having to check where my boobs are every second. It’s the almost heard comments, they make me twitchy and feel like I’m paranoid. If it’s one on one or to my face where I have something I can deal with I’m fine.

        Having other people confirm that people are being rude really does help remove the feeling of paranoia, of course then you have to deal with the fact these sad people have nothing better to talk about than the size of my ass (I know I’m awesome, but I really don’t think my ass is that interesting)…

    • Pyx, I completely understand. It took me years and years to get to this point, where I can put the blame and shame for that kind of bullying back on the shoulders of the people who dole it out, rather than carrying it myself. I know those feelings, those fears and that pain all too well.

  • Ugh, I’m so sorry this happened to you, Kath.

    And as for that, “I’m sorry for your hurt feelings” bollocks. I’ve seen some fauxpologies in my time but that one takes the biscuit. Miss Harmer, (oh, such an apposite name), how’s about you embrace the concept of Personal Responsibility fat bashers like to throw around so much?

  • Strength, Kath. You are an invaluable human being.

    Looks like Philip Barker got his fee-fees hurt by having people disagree with his portrayal of fat people as unrepentant overeaters and underexercisers. Poor guy!

    It’s so hard when some of your power and privilege is handed back to marginalized people, and when you can no longer voice stereotypes with impunity. So, so hard.

  • It’s funny in a way, I have a childhood friend who has a cleft lip and pallet who was isolated and depressed because she never saw people like her in a positive light in the media, only as freaks and in medical shows….. Then Wendy Harmer started on The Big Gig….. Such a small thing really, but helped her and other people accept her for what she was, just another person. Surely Wendy would know how it feels to be different to the rest, and not cause harm or hurt, regardless of the whys and what’s of how someone is not ‘perfect’

    • I remember feeling the same way, all those years ago Lebay. Wendy represented “real people” (as opposed to fabricated TV people) for so many years. Makes this all the more disappointing.

  • I don’t know you Kath, but I can’t stop thinking about you, and how this has impacted your life today. People like you fight for the rights of yourself and others, and as you say, we all have the right to live a happy, carefree existence, just as others do. Thank you for all you have done for the movement. I am a size 26/28 woman who struggles with depression, feels isolated, and definitely not ‘included’ (lame assed attempts by govt agencies to ensure social inclusion – what a joke!). I have fallen through the cracks and can’t seem to find the will or want to get up. The want part of it is seriously not wanting to parktake in the shit pageant any longer. Like my spirit can’t take anymore and the release I would experience leaving this vessel would be so liberating – so I don’t have to endure any longer. The only thing that keeps me here is my son. The ‘you deserve less wages, you deserve to be laughed at, you deserve nothing until you are a size……..’ All the things that people talk about in terms of fat oppression, I experience (as I have read do you and many other fat women). I heard ‘but you’ve got such a pretty face’ just today! Where do I go? The brain manipulation of society is an embarrassing joke. BMI is bullshit. Living in Australia really is becoming unbearable – the culture and small mindedness is driving me insane! Even the queers have left us with their new found acceptance! Life as a fat woman is so debilitating, and I’m not talking about physical ailments, but of a heart that is hurting so much to know that every day that I step outside my door, someone will sneer, or point. Last weekend I went to a winery and a mother whispered to her 9yo? daughter and they both giggled. I don’t get it. What is she teaching her? Even my 14yo son is affected – we haven’t been seen in public together (other than my driving him somewhere) for over a year. A counsellor who said to my husband (totally nothing to do with the context of the sesssion) ‘does her weight bother you’ – I feel no-one understands and they never will unless they live it. Sorry for the rant, it’s how I feel and I imagine how alot of other women feel in the same situation. Thanks again for your greatness Kath – you are wonderful xxx

    • You are wonderful also Amanda, I am saddened that the value of a person has been reduced to a “size”. You deserve happiness, love and laughter. Do not worry about those who laugh or jeer, that is their problem! Not yours. I feel for you and I wish you the very best.

      Emma.

    • “Shit pageant” is a fantastic term! And always remember that there’s millions of us out here who do understand – and “the queers” include lots of fat people like me.

      • Thank u Lilacsigil – no offense re queers comment, but you must admit image is everything – I was part of the scene since I was 16 and I never had any gay women fancy me.. I’ve even had a lesbian message me on a dating site to ‘get some dignity’ based on my profile pic… I tore her a new one.. Where do I put myself? I’m going to the theatre tonight and really am dreading it.. That’s not normal… I’d go to therapy but no one gets it.

    • Oh Amanda, I have been there, I really have. That was the point I reached when I realised that either things had to change, or I couldn’t keep going on in life. Thankfully, I found fat activism and things changed. With lots of help from the FA community, a great doctor and a damn good psychologist, I’ve been able to slowly rebuild my self esteem. A lot of that is through writing here for you all – reaching out and talking to people who know what it feels like.

      Emma is right when she says that the burden of people treating us badly is not ours to bear. Hand that back to them. Hold your head high, and remember – no matter what size your body is, at least you’d never stoop so low as to ridicule someone for how they look. You are the better person. You are worthy, and you are valuable. Don’t ever forget that.

      BTW – I’m a size 26 to 28 woman too!

  • I’m not going to read the offending article out of respect for you, Kath, and for my own sanity. However, I just wanted to say how grateful I am for everything you do for me and all the other fats who don’t have the guts to put ourselves out there like you do.

    I think you are an incredible person and love to see your posts in my inbox. Thank you

  • Kath, you’re making history … as per “well behaved women seldom make history”. Your passion and activism is not only appreciated now, but also into the future when Phil’s gucci loafers are pointed at the sky. ‘Joining the rows of tuckshop arms to support you.

  • This piece of crap is offending in so many ways that I won’t even dignify it by my time and attention. However, you do deserve a serious apology both from the website and the so called author of the article – as a minimum. Also my definition of conversation is not attacking/bullying, often on a personal level – that is happening in the comments and the article. I’m so sorry that something like this happened to you and I wish that, maybe, this will begin some kind of change. You’re a wonderful human being, a kick-ass woman and I know that you can use all the negativity to create something positive. As always

    • I agree Agnieszka – but I’ve never received a real apology or even an acknowledgement of their participation in this vilification of fatness, and me personally.

  • It constantly astounds me how many times bullies will throw around the “but YOU’RE bullying ME” defense.

    It constantly astounds me how many people write “I ate lettuce and worked out 30 hours a week and lost 70 pounds so I KNOW YOU can too!” Why is it so hard to understand that your personal experience is NOT someone else’s experience?

    At the end of the day, the owners of The Hoopla can “apologize” all they want, but they got what they needed. They got traffic and an article with over 90 comments that I’m sure looks good to their advertisers. (Assuming they have them, I’m not familiar with the site.) And it wasn’t difficult to find, I went to their main page and that particular post was the very first thing I saw.

    Kath, I’m sorry this is happening to you. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to be on the front lines of this fight. I admire you so much for being willing to put yourself out there.{{{hugs}}}

    • Thank you Pange. You’re right – The Hoopla used me and my personal experiences to get traffic. Disgusting. I don’t know if this is what Wendy Harmer envisioned for something she has put her name to, or if she needs to fire her editor. Either way, they’ve ridden me for enough publicity. They can go somewhere else to find it.

  • That is awful that you were singled out that way by a fat-hating asshole on a major news source such as this. I totally understand you not wanting to link to this, and I hope you can edit what’s-her-face’s comment to get the link removed. Have you considered reporting this to the Rolls Not Trolls FB group for some guerilla commenting? xoxoxo

  • I made the mistake of reading the comments on the article and it hurt. Especially the comment made by your ‘stalker,’ so I can’t even imagine what you’re going through right now. Please try not to let it get you down though. The ignorance in the comments just shone through, it’s as though people were willfully ignoring what the eloquent fat advocates were saying to make their own bullish, dehumanising remarks. But you have so many people backing you, so many people who support you and love you not only for the person you are but for all of the awesome hard work you do. I know your blog has often picked me up when I’ve been low and I’m sure the same can be said by most of your commenters here, I hope we can do the same for you.

    • Yngie I am sorry – nobody should read all of those comments, they’re just so damaging. Let me send you a virtual hug – you’re a brave person to read all of that bile. I always laugh at that “stalker” – she claims she isn’t stalking me “Just Googling someone I hate.” How hilarious is that? What kind of sad life does someone have that they spend their time “Googling someone they hate”? Sheesh!

      And yes, thank you and to all my commenters here (who I am slowly responding to individually, it’s taking time!) for being my support crew when crappy things like this result from my activism.

    • Thanks hon.

      I actually think we HAVE to deal with mainstream media. It’s bloody hard, and yes there are risks, but we can’t cloister ourselves away and never push the boundaries. Of course, not everyone has got the spoons to be able to do it, but I think if possible, more and more and more of us need to be challenging the mainstream media, and where possible, engaging with them positively. If they fuck it up, that’s not ours to wear, it’s theirs, and we never work with them again if they do.

      When I first started doing this, the mainstream media didn’t even bother to consider an alternative paradigm. Three years later, they are. Sometimes it doesn’t work out – because of unscrupulous editors and journalists. Sometimes, like the interview I did with Nick Galvin of the Sydney Morning Herald back in January (published a couple of weeks ago in the Sydney Sun Herald), go exceptionally well and bring more fat people to question how they are treated by the world. Just this week, thanks to that Sun Herald piece and this blog, I recorded interviews with ABC Radio and the Australian Women’s Weekly, both with journalists who treated me with respect and asked intelligent, responsible questions.

      I don’t regret anything about MY involvement with The Hoopla – what I do regret is that those at The Hoopla chose to behave unscrupulously and without any acknowledgement of the effects on me personally.

      But in the end of all of this, fat activism is the one that comes out on top. The Hoopla are the ones who stink, not us.

  • I sympathize, Kath. This is not a “debate,” it’s ugly hate-mongering and proof that you did a fabulous job of standing up and demonstrating what pride, respect, and actual wellbeing looks like for fat people. I don’t need to read the 100% not at all okay response to know that its writer felt threatened and sought revenge.

  • I didn’t read all of the comments, because… gah… how could I and why would I? But you and Big Liberty did a great job of standing up for yourselves and each other, and trying to get some sense into some willfully thick heads. If there were other people from here commenting there I just didn’t recognize your names, and skimmed past. But all of you… great job and great response to a stupid awful situation.

  • Kath I stand with you wholeheartedly. Seeing Phil’s article up there suddenly made the whole thing feel like a ‘sting': like some sort of setup. And to include your name and image! I wondered for a moment if it was some type of social experiment, or a nasty attempt to generate some sort of deliberate furor. Got that nasty feeling in my (ample) stomach.

    I am glad though, to have read your excellent original article and to be given the opportunity to air my feelings on the subject. It was wonderful to read yours and Big Liberty’s far-sighted and clear responses in the comments.

    I can’t imagine how awful that must have been for you but I pray it at least had the effect of educating a few people, and maybe letting some other fat readers know that they don’t stand alone.

    • OMG, is this the Len from the comments on the Hoopla piece? I need to say this–YOU ROCK! What an awesome, awesome comment. Snark done well, done right, timely and well-measured. Well done!

      • Gosh! (Blush, squee …) You and Kath are such heroes to me. I wish you amazing people could truly understand how much your courage and activism means to me. Thank you!!!

    • I agree wholeheartedly! I’m late, as usual, but I quit banging my head and left them to their diatribe. Your comments did wonders for my self esteem. Thankyou.

    • Len! You’re my new hero!! Big Liberty alerted me to your AWESOME comments on the article and I skimmed down and read them all. What a legend you are, love your work. I am so glad you commented here so I could personally thank you and tell you how awesome you are.

      I’m doing good. As I said, I have no regrets about my conduct, and none of the stink rubbed off on me. A good healthy dose of anger at the shittiness of it all does me good.

      • Oh Kath, you’ve been my hero for ages. Thanks for this. I was determined to follow the comments to the bitter end but after that teacher started carrying on about hiding fat and thin bodies from children I couldn’t take it any longer. Sometimes you just have to retreat into the space when you know people are capable of rational thought!

  • I’ve never commented here before, and yours is the first blog to actually get me to do so. I’m a lurker by nature, largely because of things like what has just happened to you.

    It’s incredibly hard to think that there are people out there whose only goal seems to be to make you feel like crap. But the truth is those people stop thinking about you the second they’re done with their noxious personal attack. The gratification they get extends only to a smug satisfaction, a breif “I’m better than you” before they move on – in the case of internet attacks it’s also about how many people they can get to agree with them. Bullies are always so much more vocal online, where it’s socially acceptable to spew hate at people for practically no reason at all.

    They are not better than you. You are SO much better than them. You and your blog inspire me, all the time. You make me feel like it’s ok to be myself, like it’s ok to dress and act the way I want regardless of what other people might think of me. Without people like you, people like me would be hermitlike shut-ins who get teary at the idea of interacting with strangers.

    I hope you keep making waves and challenging people’s expectations. And if I ever meet you in person I’m going to shyly ask for a hug and an autograph, because that’s how awesome you are.

    • Fox, I’m very honoured that you would feel comfortable enough to de-lurk! And thank you so much for your support and encouragement. It’s because of those of you out there that come along and get it that I keep going.

      It’s absolutely true – it’s ok for you to be yourself, it’s ok to dress and present yourself the way YOU want. It’s better than OK – it’s awesome!

      And you don’t have to be shy, come up and say hello, I love meeting new people.

      Hugs!

  • Wow. That sucks. I’m so sorry that happened to you, and I wish I could do more than let you know I stand with you and send you long-distance hugs if you want them. Stay strong, and remember: you are a terrific, amazing person, and you are loved.

  • Dear Kath, you are a brilliant, articulate, compassionate and totally awesome person. You have positively helped so many people out in the world in ways you may never know. What happened to you is disgraceful and I only hope you are able to move forward and put the negativity behind you.

    One observation I have to make though is all the ‘Anti-Bullying’ campaigns directed at children. People get up in arms shouting bullying is wrong, shouldn’t happened, etc. But what kind of message are children receiving when they see those same adults openly bully someone for being fat? The hypocrisy makes me sick.

    • Thank you so much Irisa.

      And I absolutely agree. It seems it’s perfectly fine in our culture to bully fat people. Only they refuse to call it bullying, it’s framed as shit like “telling it like it is”.

  • Hi Kath. I’m sorry that this awful thing has happened to you. I posted a response over on the article, but it has been removed. I have no idea why.

    • Eselle, I daresay that your comment isn’t the only one speaking up against the article and The Hoopla that got removed. They want to paint us as angry and unreasonable for demanding to be treated as human beings.

  • Fascinating the way Wendy Harmer characterises bullying as “debate”. Accepting the dignity of all people is not a “debate”. Publishing hatred is not a “debate”. Good on you for fighting on!

  • I just want to add my voice to the others and say, thank you for sticking up for us! And we love you! I have not looked at the article because I know it’s too upsetting. Some days it’s hard enough to leave the house without things like that going through my head. You are so brave. Thank you!!

  • Is it at all possible to bring legal action against these Hoopla people, Wendy and Phil or whatever? I know it’s on the internet so it’s a lawless land or however that works, but this goes way beyond opinions and freedom of speech. This is appalling and totally unacceptable! How do these people live with themselves? They think it’s totally ok that you are being threatened with bodily harm because of their actions. Kath, you are an inspiration. These people are scum.

  • I have never commented here before, despite being a long time reader. I just wanted to say I am so sorry you are the focus of such vitriol, and I commend you for your braveness.

  • I’m so sorry that they have done this. I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said so articulately by those above, but wanted to let you know I admire you very much, and hope for strength.

    Keep doin’ what you’re doin’. x

  • Kath, I’m so sorry that your efforts to educate have been rewarded with ignorant, privileged bullcrap. I have learned so much from your posts and I hate to think that the very content used to enlighten people who support fat stigma is being used to justify some fatphobic half-wit’s sorry excuse for journalism. To make matters worse, a piece that is clearly judgemental and ill-informed (he would have flunked my freshman junior journalism class, to be sure!) somehow made it past Miss Harmer’s editorial filters.
    I know it may be little comfort when your image and your personal life are abused for the merriment of haters, but I hope you know that for every stubborn troll that leaves a terrible comment, there is someone like me who has been blown away by the joy of discovering your blog and learning from the words you put here.
    Thanks for all that you do.

  • Kath I can’t express any better what’s already been said but I do have to say thank you. I read your blogs and tweets every day and it never fails to make me realise that there is nothing bloody wrong with me whatsoever. It’s impossible to convince yourself that you truly do love yourself when everybody around you is telling you that you’re wrong.
    I’m truly sorry that you were antagonised by the post on the hoopla and I did read it, i was disgusted and still tried to give a well thought out response to a bunch of people who weren’t prepared to hear it bar picking out the nit-picky things that they could dive on and twist to their way of thinking.
    I agree with many people here, the work you do is bloody fantastic and this is one fat chick you’ve reached out to without knowing it. Thankyou.

  • Your writing and this blog give me courage, thank you. I used to be a fat hater. I was ignorant, uneducated, and bigoted. Now that I am fat, that hatred turned inward. Fat hate is systemic, endemic, and causes more harm to society than the so-called “obesity epidemic”. Hate is hate, no matter what “scientific” facts one hides behind.
    Finding you has been part of my healing and my education. The Hoopla, harbouring mainstream ideology, would’ve defended the same bigotry towards other targets of discrimination in other decades, no doubt. Barker would’ve been saying that though it’s not cool to poke fun at Jewish people, they could try to be a little less Jewish. Religion is a choice, after all.

  • This so enraging. And a previous commenter hit the nail right on the head when they called attention to the “debate”/”conversation” aspect of it. Since when do we “debate” whether or not human beings should be treated with respect? Why do we have to have a “conversation” about the basic dignity of a group of people? The bottom line is, the people who want to “debate” or in prettier terms “have a conversation about” fat people’s right to respect do not think we *are* human beings with basic dignity. To them we are an epidemic, a problem, an inhuman scourge that needs to be dealt with. And until the “obesity debate” recognises that fat is *an adjective for people* and not some kind of disembodied plague, this sort of awfulness is just going to happen again and again, and we will keep being expected to cut fat-hating arseholes slack for “being new” to treating other people with respect. I am so angry this has been done to you.

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