ignorance

All posts in the ignorance category

No More Hoops

Published January 6, 2013 by sleepydumpling

Over the past few days there have been loads of pieces from awesome fat activists on fat and health, mostly in response to a couple of studies that reports that fat and fit are not mutually exclusive and that fat is not an instant death sentence.  It has been really heartening to see so many responses from fat activists that highlight how important access to health care is for fat people and the prejudice that fat people face both in the health care industry and because of the myth that fat automatically equals unhealthy.

However, I think we need to stop and reassess what we are doing here.  Yes, conflating weight with health has been a very pervasive myth that many people have used to justify fat hatred and addressing that is important.  But I don’t think that it is going to help fat people in the long run as much as we need it to.  Because no matter how many myths and stereotypes you bust, those who hate fat people are ALWAYS going to find a way to justify their disgusting attitudes.  Be it health, fitness, appearance, the cost of mittens in America… there will always be something used to justify fat hatred.

We need to let go of constantly trying to meet the bar set by fat haters.  If they say it’s because poor health, we spend our time proving that fat does not equal poor health.  If they say it is because we’re lazy, we spend all our time proving that we are not.  If they say it is because we are gluttonous, we spend our time policing and justifying our own choices for eating.  The list goes on and on.  No matter what myth or stereotype we respond to, there will always be another.

It is time we stopped looking to ourselves to be the ones to change to fight fat hatred.  It is time we started demanding that those who hate fat people are named and shamed for what they are – ignorant bigots who sincerely believe that some people are sub-human and do not deserve to live their lives in peace and dignity.  We, as fat people who are the victims of fat hatred have absolutely no obligation at all to modify our lives or our behaviours to suit those who hate us and to justify our existence.

You know who else believed that some people were not human?  Heard of untermensch?  How is it any different that some people believe that fat people are sub-human or inferior because of how they look and their bodies than it was believed that some people were sub-human/inferior because of their skin, hair or eye colour?  Is not the belief that thin people are superior evidence of the belief of a “master race”?  No decent, ethical human being would ever hold this belief.  Honestly, what kind of person would sincerely believe that they or others are somehow superior to other human beings?

That’s what bigotry is, the belief that there is some kind of hierarchy of human value based on those with power and privilege being higher up than those without.  It’s bullshit and we really need to stop buying into it – both externally AND internally.

Not to mention that every time we engage in the health argument, we are not only setting ourselves up to have to meet some kind of arbitrary requirement of health (which we owe NOBODY) but it’s also incredibly ableist.  What about fat people with disabilities or chronic illness?  What about anyone with disabilities or chronic illness?  How about someone in a coma or other incapacitated state?  Do they not get treated with respect and dignity simply because they’re “not healthy”?  How about those thin people when they inevitably get sick or injured?  Do they forfeit their right to dignity and respect at that moment?

Even if we buy into the whole thing that fat people “choose” to be fat (yeah right, like anyone would choose a life full of discrimination and hatred), that still does not justify the mentality that we are sub-human or somehow inferior to thin people.  Lots of people choose to do things that lower their life expectancy – for fuck’s sake merely driving a car statistically drops YEARS off your life, let alone all of the wild and extreme things human beings do to their bodies.  Just because someone smokes or skateboards or jumps out of perfectly good planes doesn’t mark them as lesser human beings, so why should it apply that way to fatness?  Because again, it’s not at all about health.  It’s not at all about life expectancy.  Fat hatred is simply about a fairly young (only about a hundred years) cultural stigmatisation of people based solely on their appearance, because someone, somewhere decided that money could be made by frightening people into trying to control their appearance.  All because someone saw money (and power, let’s not forget the intersectionality of the control of women in fat hatred) in getting people to buy products, diets, gadgets, pills and schemes to change their bodies, we now have a culture that marks fat people as sub-human.

No, this is about creating hoops for fat people to jump through so that we are not allowed to EVER live our lives with the freedom and dignity that is our right as is every human’s right.  And we must stop engaging with it.  We must stop believing that we have an obligation to prove our health, to prove our lives meet some kind of arbitrary standard placed on us to prevent us being marked as inferior.  Instead of arguing that fat people are not unhealthy/lazy/gluttonous/etc, we need to be repeating over and over and over that to label any human being as inferior based on their health, their appearance, their size, their choices in food or physical activity or any other arbitrary measure that is nobody’s business but their own is bigotry.  We need to be naming and shaming people who honestly believe that they have the right to label us as sub-human/inferior.  We need to be reclaiming our right to live our lives in our own bodies without interference or intervention from anyone.

But most of all we need to believe that of ourselves.  We need to be able to walk through this world that is rife with prejudice against us with our heads held high in the knowledge that we are not sub-human, we are not inferior, that we are as valuable and worthy as any other human being on the planet.

YOU are as valuable and worthy as any other human being on this planet.  Your life is yours.  Live it for you, not to prove that you’re not a stereotype.

My Fat Body is ME

Published October 23, 2012 by sleepydumpling

Earlier today this post raced through my online networks like a brush fire.  With good reason, it’s an excellent piece that really lays out how fat hate has permeated so many people’s attitudes, and makes clear reasons why people need to think about what they are saying and what kind of stigma they are placing on the shoulders of fat people.

But, as is always the way with these pieces, the comments kick off with someone who simply doesn’t get it and makes the situation worse.  This person, who calls themselves a feminist (yeah right, as Flavia Dzodan says, my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit) says:

But I’m also a public health scholar. I’m doing my Master of Public Health in Maternal Child Health. Obesity is a chronic disease that we talk about in nearly every class. We talk about markers for childhood obesity, what leads to adult obesity, and how to curb this epidemic.

The comment does go on further and she argues with several people who call her out on this fat hating crap.  You can go and look at it if you like, the link is up there in the first sentence.  You can see how spectacularly she misses the entire point of the piece for yourself if you like.

I won’t go into the ableism and classism of the attitudes of people like the commenter here, as they both deserve posts of their own.  What I want to do tonight is address the attitude that “obesity is a chronic disease” and that we need to “curb this epidemic”. *cough* eugenics *cough*

Not about how this is complete and utter bullshit that other people have busted more eloquently and thoroughly than I could ever do, but how people like this woman are so fucking blind to the hate that they spew.  I mean, this bigot has just compared fatness (I refuse to use the word obesity to describe our fat bodies – same goes to any other medicalised word to describe physical size) to “cancer and heart disease and communicable diseases”.  I shit you not.  How anyone can fail to see this as hatred is beyond me.

Let’s break it down with some statements…

  • My fat body is not diseased.
  • I do not have/suffer obesity.  I am a fat person.
  • I am not a diseased person because I am fat.
  • My fat body is not something to be prevented, cured or eradicated.
  • I do not need anyone, be they organisation, company or individual to try to rid me of my body.
  • My fat flesh is part of me, it is not some parasite to be excised.
  • My fat flesh is not a virus to be vaccinated against, it is my body.
  • I will never again give anyone the power of starving my fat off my body, with absolutely no regard to the damage the methods of starvation cause on my body long term.
  • I will never again allow anyone to force me to apologise for my body.
  • I will never again kneel in subjugation to those who feel they are superior to me because of my fat body.
  • My fat body is not a contagion to be quarantined from “decent” society.
  • My fat body is not an affliction, a blight on humanity.
  • My fat body is not a mark of shame, or an indicator of failure.
  • My fat body is not a communicable disease, nor is it a cancer.
  • My fat body is ME and I have a right to live my life without vilification and stigma.

Anyone who seriously believes that fat bodies are any of the things above or that fat people have a debt to humanity to starve or punish themselves to meet other people’s aesthetic standards is a fat hating bigot.  It’s time we stopped dancing around the subject and named them for what they are.  No one of us has to be polite or respectful to people who believe that we are lesser than others because of the size, shape, ability and function of our bodies.  We don’t have to justify our existence, our happiness, our peace, our dignity to ANYONE on this earth.

It’s time we cut the crap with the whole “agreeing to disagree” rubbish and allowing people to be “entitled to their opinions”.  No, I don’t have to agree to anything with a person who treats me as sub-human.  Nobody is entitled to an opinion that vilifies and stigmatises another human being.  Our rights as human beings get priority over opinion, every single time.

Keep Telling Your Story Until Someone Listens

Published September 25, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Let’s get something REALLY clear.

When someone says they “respect your choices” as a fat person, but continues to publicly vilify fat people in general… they actually DO NOT respect anything about you.

I know!  It’s a bit of a bombshell, isn’t it?

But this is the same thing I come up against every time I or anyone else in the Fatosphere (or our allies) challenge someone who speaks publicly about the fat stigma they are spreading.  It almost always goes like this:

  1. Public persona is published in the media talking about how unhealthy/sedentary/uncontrollable/irresponsible/costing the taxpayer fat people are and how society needs to take control/shame/tax fat people to make them “wise up” to the ZOMGBESITY CRISIS!
  2. Fatosphere says “Other people’s bodies are none of your business, and what you are saying stigmatises fat people.”
  3. Public persona (and their fan club) says “But everyone knows fat = unhealthy!”
  4. Fatosphere says “Health is not a moral imperative, and you cannot judge someone’s health by their size.  Shaming or hating someone for their own good doesn’t help.”
  5. Public persona (and their fan club) says “But I don’t hate fat people, I want to HELP them!”
  6. Fatosphere says “Help them by reducing fat stigma, and allowing them to advocate for themselves.”
  7. Public persona says “But I respect your choices!  I just wanna help those who need help!”
  8. Fatosphere says “By vilifying fat people in the media, you are not helping them, you are shaming them.”
  9. Public persona says “But I don’t hate fat people, I want to HELP them!  I respect their choices!”

See where I’m going with this?

I’ve said before, the problem we have here is that these people are not listening to us.  Oh they might be hearing the words, but they are not actually listening to what we are saying.  They’re not hearing that their words and actions are harming people.  They’re not hearing that they are hindering us, not helping us.  Whether this is because they don’t want to hear these things, or that they just cannot fathom that there is a disconnect between what they are pushing and reality or it is because they’re too horrified at the thought that they might have to be responsible for the things they say that harm people, I don’t know.  But I do know that when we see this pattern over and over and over, it is because we are not being listened to.

It makes me think of a friend of mine who is a school teacher, and she would say to her very small students “Now, do we all have our listening ears on?”

Just this week I’ve been reading the most beautiful book, Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill.  It is peppered with the most wonderful quotes about oppression, justice and personal experience.  I particularly fell in love with this quote, that just fits perfectly with the post I am writing tonight:

The abolitionists may well call me their equal, but their lips do not yet say my name, and their ears do not yet hear my story. Not the way I want to tell it. But I have long loved the written word, and come to see in it the power of the sleeping lion. This is my name. This is who I am. This is how I got here. In the absence of an audience, I will write down my story so that it waits like a restful beast with lungs breathing and heart beating.

Is that not the most beautiful paragraph?

I am struck with the thought that despite this being the words of an African woman sold into slavery over 200 years ago, it rings true for many marginalised people even today.  How many people SAY that they consider us their equal, be we women, fat people, people of colour, people with disabilities, queer people or any other marginalised people, but  yet they do not hear what we are saying, and cannot even identify us individually?  To how many people are we still the obese, the disabled, the homosexual, the blacks, etc, rather than people, their true equals?

While I would never compare my life to that of the character of Aminata Diallo from Someone Knows My Name, I too have long loved the written word, and understand it’s power.  I too believe that while people are not listening to us now, we can write our stories, share our experiences and talk about how we are affected by the behaviour of those who see us as “other”.  The more of us who do so, who put down our stories somewhere for others to read it, those stories accumulate and grow in power.  And they will also provide a record in later times, when people start to understand the damage being done now.  That while there may be many who do not listen to us now, we are reaching those who do, and by telling our stories we reach even more, and leave a legacy to those who follow us.

After all, marginalised people have spent their whole lives listening to those who oppress them.  We’ve had no choice but to do so.

Temporarily Rendered Speechless

Published September 20, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Yeah, only temporarily.

Ok Heffalumpies, I need to put my ranty pants on, so brace yourselves!

Y’all know I bought a Thermomix a month or so ago right?  Well I did, and it’s awesome.  I have a lasagne cooking in the oven right now that took me about 20 minutes to put together, INCLUDING cooking both the bolognaise and bechemel sauce from scratch.  That puppy is going to feed me for about a week.

Anyway, I’ve been following quite a few Thermomix blogs, forums and Facebook feeds since before I bought it, and so far they’ve been fantastic and very inclusive, with no judgment about weight or food or eating, but lots of great recipes, from the ultra efficient tummy fillers to delicious indulgent treats.  I’ve really loved that about the Thermomix community, that I’ve felt included even though I’m a big fat person!

Anyhoo, imagine my shock this afternoon when I see one of the prominent Australian Thermomix bloggers (who I am not going to name here, I don’t want to give them any traffic) post this horrible article to their Facebook page, with this comment: “Oh wow, these people need to find [redacted], the chocolate appetite suppressant…”

Trigger warning on that article lovelies, there’s a headless fatty on there and a whole bunch of fat hate. I’ve redacted the name of the “chocolate appetite suppressant” because I’m not giving that stuff any promotion.

So I left a comment and asked could they please keep it to cooking/Thermomix and not bigotry against fat people, because fat people both a) have Thermomixes and b) read their blog.  I also talked about my eating disorder past and how my Thermomix has been instrumental in helping me learn to eat competently and reclaim my right to enjoy cooking and food.

Said blogger then sent me a message saying that they hadn’t intended to offend (yeah right, by suggesting that “obese people” need a damn appetite suppressant), that they would remove the post, that they shared it because it would be “interesting for those who care about eating proper food” and could I please email them privately.  I did so, expanding on how my Thermomix and the online community has been fantastic for helping me in my recovery from an eating disorder, outlining the problem with the article they posted, and expanding on my highly disordered past with a history of abusing appetite suppressants and other diet products, both natural and chemical.  I even said, and I quote:

Fat people don’t need chocolate appetite suppressants, we need to be able to live our lives without stigmatisation and shaming, and to find the healthiest ways to feed and move our bodies as they are, and not hold off on life “until we lose weight”.

I also sent them a link to my earlier post about the topic.

Well, you can imagine how speechless I was to receive a response offering me a sample of the “chocolate appetite suppressant”!!

This is akin to offering a recovering alcoholic a drink, or a recovering drug addict a shot of heroin.  It is both irresponsible and tactless, and actually, it’s dangerous.  I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m well enough down the road of recovery that I can say no, and do so without being triggered horribly.

When I did a bit of research into the “chocolate appetite suppressant”, I discovered the active ingredient is Theobromine, a caffeine like stimulant (alkaloid).  It is the ingredient in chocolate that is harmful to cats and dogs.  It is not “entirely harmless” to humans, and can cause illness and even death if consumed in enough quantities.  From Wikipedia:

The first signs of theobromine poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination. These can progress to cardiac arrhythmias, epileptic seizures, internal bleeding, heart attacks, and eventually death.

Now if someone has admitted to you that they have a history of abusing appetite suppressants, are you going to suggest they try something that if abused, can lead to the above?  I should hope not.  It’s like handing an addict a loaded needle.

It goes to show that people shilling these products really don’t care.  They don’t do the research, they don’t listen to people and they don’t take responsibility for how their snake oils might be abused by vulnerable people.

How I didn’t tear them a new orifice in my response email, I don’t know.  My God, am I actually learning restraint???  Say it ain’t so Heffalumpies!

Needless to say, I’ve removed that particular blog from my RSS reader, unliked their page on Facebook and will be avoiding them like the plague.

We’ve Done Our Time

Published September 19, 2011 by sleepydumpling

A little questionnaire for you all:

  1. How many years of your life did you put into trying to be thin?
  2. How much of your life did you put on hold while you tried to be thin?
  3. How old were you when you first remember being told you were fat?
  4. How many diets have you been on?
  5. How many exercise “plans” have you been on?
  6. How many years of your life have been taken up with eating disorders?
  7. How many people have told you that you are fat?
  8. How many people have treated you badly because you are fat?
  9. How many years did you spend counting calories, watching the number on the scale or the size label on your clothes?

Now tally the sum of all those years, all that time, all those diets, all those times you made yourself sick in the effort to get thin, all the punishing exercise regimes, all the hurtful experiences add all those numbers together.

Take that number, write it down, look at it for a minute, and ask yourself…

Don’t you think the fat haters should invest the equivalent amount of time, the same number of years, in trying as hard to be a decent human being, as we fat people invested in trying to be thin?

Fat people are not the ones with the problem, or who are in denial.   Fat people are not in denial of being fat.  We know we are fat, and in choosing fat acceptance, we accept ourselves exactly as we are, and we accept others exactly as they are.

You can let go of all those numbers now.  Set yourself free of the pain that those numbers represent.  You’re off the hook – you’ve done your part.  Close your eyes and imagine that all those instances of trying to be thin, or being bullied and shamed for being fat are balloons, filled with helium.  Imagine them in your hand, bobbing above you, all different colours.  Now open your hand and let them all go.  You don’t have to carry them any more.

This isn’t giving up.  This is letting go and deciding that YOU control your life, not other people who feel they have the right to judge you.  This is about deciding to live your life to the fullest you can.

People who think that fat people are somehow worth less as human beings as thin people, that fat people deserve to be shamed, discredited, their experiences denied and generally just shamed and bullied for being fat are the ones who have the problem.  They just can’t get on with their lives and let people be who they are, as they are.

We are not the ones in denial, it is the fat haters that are in denial.

Denial that they are in fact… arseholes.

*Post inspired this post by Ragen of Dances with Fat.

 

If You Could Magically Become Thin Overnight, Wouldn’t You?

Published May 23, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Hands up if you’ve had this question.  If you’re a fat activist I’d say the likelihood is pretty high.  I hear it pretty regularly myself.

It’s usually followed by “Of course you would!” before I even get the chance to respond.  Which tells me from the outset that my answer to the question was actually irrelevant, since I wasn’t even given the opportunity to answer for myself.

I’ve just had another round of that question fired at me.  Anonymously of course, though it hasn’t always been so.  This time the asker hit me up in several places (Tumblr, Formspring, in the comments on this blog…) with the same question.  Seems they really want to tell me that “Of course you would!”

The thing is, it’s a redundant question.  There IS no magic way to become thin, either overnight, in a week, a month, a year, a decade.  The asker assumes that the concept is really worth entertaining because they believe that if I really, really wanted to, I could become thin.  But I know, and it’s becoming increasingly documented in science, that no matter how much a I could possibly want it (if I did), I can no more become thin than I can become a unicorn, the President of the United States of America, or marry Hugh Jackman.

Well, there is an outside, remote, very distant chance I could marry Hugh, but even that is more of a likelihood than my becoming thin.

However, there are some things I would like to happen, and I do believe are possible right now, without any magic, is for people with fat bodies to be treated with dignity and respect.  For our bodies to exist without being treated as objects of derision, fetish or ridicule.  And for fat people to be allowed to live their lives without the intrusion of strangers and the general public on our own private matters, such as health, sexuality and comfort.

I would like to see all bodies, regardless of their size included in all aspects of life.  I would like to see all bodies included in public spaces, on transport, in education and health without moral value being attached to them.  I would like all bodies to have access to clothing, furniture, safety gear and sporting/recreational equipment equally.

But most of all, I would like to see people in general focus on the wellbeing of their own bodies, rather than intruding on the wellbeing of other people’s – even fat people.

This is what could happen, without “magic”, and without wishing for something that is simply a fairytale.

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.


It’s Easy… Just Starve

Published April 10, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Last night I was reading blog posts through Google Reader, and somewhere in my reading travels, I read a commenter I think, relating something a thin colleague of hers had said to her. (I’m sorry I can’t find where I read it, if anyone knows let me know and I’ll link it up)  It went something like this:

My doctor says that it’s easy to lose weight, all you have to do is stop putting anything in here. *Pointing to mouth*

I can’t quite express how it made me feel.  It HURT at first.  Then it made me unspeakably angry, the red mist really formed before my eyes.  Then sadness, and some more hurt.  Followed by a big old mix of rage and pain and sorrow that all came flooding at once.

Because it’s not the first time I’ve heard the opinion that fat people should simply stop eating, AT ALL.  I’ve had it directed at me personally time and time again.  Let me share with you a couple of instances that stick in my mind.

More than a decade ago.  I was severely depressed, dieting (actually, pretty much starving myself) and generally just hating myself for being fat.  I was at the local shopping centre and I was so hungry, I was close to tears.  I hadn’t eaten all day, and I decided I could let myself have a small tub of fruit salad.  I bought the fruit salad, and was sitting on a bench eating it, when an elderly couple came by, pushing a shopping trolley.  The woman nudged her husband to look at me and said, loud enough for me to hear, “Look at that!  People like that should never be allowed to eat.”

I simply lowered my head, and cried.

About five years ago.  I was out on a date with the guy I was seeing at the time.  We were having dinner in a cafe.  I had improved a lot with my eating disorder by this time, but was still “watching what I ate”.  I am eating my dinner, a chicken and mushroom thing with a side salad and a pineapple juice.  He is eating his dinner, a burger with the works, large chips, a strawberry milkshake and a large serve of deep fried, crumbed calamari.  He is tall and very lean, I am average height and very fat.  Two women walk into the cafe, see us and as my date leans over, kisses me and helps himself to some of the food off MY plate, one woman says to the other “That’s disgusting, how can she just sit there eating in front of him?”

My date didn’t hear, but I did.  I fought back tears, and could not enjoy the rest of my date.

It happens all the time, not just the “stop eating” but everyone seems to be an expert on what fat people should do with their bodies, without any real knowledge at all about those people, their health, their bodies, their lives.  Everyone out there is an expert on fatness, you only have to take a look at the hashtag that has been busy on Twitter today #thingsfatpeoplearetold We suffer people telling us how to diet and exercise, as though we have never considered it in the past.  We suffer people commenting on what we are eating, how much (or how little) we are eating, how we are eating, when we are eating and why we are eating.  We suffer people making snap judgements on our bodies simply based on what they see before them, and their own fucked up assumptions about fat.

There is this fucked up thinking that if fat people simply stopped eating, ceased consuming any food at all, they would no longer be fat and the problem would be solved.  How we’re supposed to do that, when you know, humans need food to live, to survive, I don’t know.

I think the assumption is that fat people can just “live off their fat”, that if we stop eating, our bodies will just consume the fat on them and go along as per usual, without any negative consequence.  But it simply doesn’t work like that.  Ketosis for one, can be highly damaging to a body that is consuming it’s own fat, particularly to the liver.  Bodies that are not receiving nutrition can quickly become malnourished and begin to break down their own muscle and other vital materials rather than the fats stored.  It raises the risk of osteoporosis later in life.  And most of all, starvation makes people lose their ability to function generally throughout the day.  One cannot think straight, focus, remember etc when one is starving.

But all of this is considered acceptable by some, if it means you’re losing weight.

The thing is, weight loss is not guaranteed with starvation dieting.  In fact, I’m living proof that it simply doesn’t work, in fact, makes you fatter.  I starved myself, for long periods, on and off from when I was in my teens to when I was in my 30′s.  I rarely lost weight.  Sometimes I lost some, only to have it come back, even without going off the starvation diet.

Of course, it’s really not about health at all.  It’s about the sight of fat bodies being offensive to some people.  Because no matter how healthy you are, if you’re still fat… well then you are not doing it right.  You must get rid of your fatness, or at least hide it.  Cease to be fat, and if you can’t do that, cease to be.

But what really bothers me is not so much the epic wrongness of these assumptions, but the sheer injustice of being expected to live a life of deprivation, starvation and unhappiness, simply because my body is fat.  That to these people, I am never allowed to taste anything, to celebrate with food, to spend time with friends, colleagues and family over a meal, to experience the world through it’s cuisine, to enjoy food and eating, and most importantly, I am not allowed to make my own choices when it comes to food and eating.

I get angry that there are people who believe that my fatness negates my human right to live my life as I choose to do so.  There are those who believe that simply because my body is fat, that they, or society, or someone, needs to intervene in my life to direct me in how to take care of myself.

Well fuck that shit.  We are grown adults.  We are not stupid, or lazy, or somehow morally corrupted by our fatness.  We are capable of making our own choices when it comes to food and eating, particularly if you let us do so without ramming diets, or general fat loathing in our faces.  When removed from all the hateful messages society shoves on us about food and fatness, we can even become competent eaters.

If you are concerned about fat people eating, then don’t be, because it’s none of your concern.  Be concerned about your own eating.  We don’t need you to be concerned about ours.  I promise you, if fat people are left alone to eat as they wish to, without your concern, they won’t eat everything and leave you nothing.  The world won’t end.  You won’t miss out on that delicious thing that you are craving.  The economy of the planet is not going to collapse.  Children won’t suddenly drop dead from heart attacks.  You’re not going to see human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

What will happen is that grown adults, regardless of their body size, will make up their own mind about food and eating, and that will be ok.

On Being an Argumentative Killjoy

Published March 13, 2011 by sleepydumpling

So I read this piece on Tumblr recently:

You know, the “PC” one? Who “has a problem with every little thing”? And “Doesn’t have a sense of humor” and “doesn’t get that it’s just a word,” etc.? Her? Yeah. I hate being her. I mean, I’d rather be straight up hated, really, than perceived as a nuisance and cause for avoidance and eye rolls and resented and thought of as someone who thinks she’s better than everyone else.

I mean, if you’ve been That Person, you know The Look. The one that everyone gets on their face when you start to take issue with something fucked up they’ve said AGAIN, and the way they all look at each other like “Oh. Her. There she goes again, being all ‘political’! Sigh. Is she done yet?”

I don’t know why that look terrifies me so much. It’s a lot worse than a snarl and a combative stance, to me. I can yell back and argue with the best of them, if I want to. But that sense that I am just a giant pain in the ass and it’s best to just ignore me and why can’t I shut up and stop making everyone uncomfortable already … just inevitably makes me feel so small.

That means I’m often bad at saying something when I want to. Fear of that look. Even online — no, especially online, because where The Look happens in real life or not, I won’t know, and so will just assume that it has happened anyway. And then, inevitably, I end up hating myself for it.

by Cara aka Tangerine Trees and Marmalade Skies

I totally understand where Cara is coming from.  I too have been That Person.  No, not have been, I AM That Person.  I’m the one that people consider a killjoy because I call them on what they say.  Even when they are “just making a joke”.

I understand The Look.  The eye rolls, the sighs, the face like you’ve taken a shit on their dining table in the middle of dinner.  I’ve heard all the lines too:

“Calm down, he/she was just making a joke!”
“Why do you always have to start arguments?”
“Why are you picking on me?  Why are you making me look so bad?”
“You’re so ANGRY all of the time.”
“You’re making something out of nothing.”
“Stop being so political.”
“Nobody can have fun when you’re around.”

Sigh.

The onus is always back on those of us who call it out.  Like we’re the ones with something wrong with us, like we’re the ones who are behaving in a way that harms people.  When the fact is, making a comment or joke that is at the expense of others is just plain shitty behaviour.  The only person causing friction, the only person making something out of nothing, the only person stopping the fun, the only person making anyone look bad, is the person who is saying the inappropriate thing, be it joke or not.

Like Cara, there are times that I think to myself that perhaps it would be just easier to shut up and go away.   That it would be easier for myself, not just other people, if I wouldn’t point out when people are saying something that is at the expense of someone else, joke or not.

But I can’t.

I can’t live with myself when I just shut up and go away.  I can’t let go of the feeling that it was wrong of me to just sit there and not say anything.  I can’t carry that on my conscience, because I know that when I just shut up, and don’t say anything, people think I AGREE with them.  They think that I feel like they do, that it’s OK to make jokes or statements at the expense of others.  When I “let it slide”, I feel like I’m sanctioning that racist comment, that joke at someone’s body shape/size, the sexist statement, the classist jibe.  And those who are suffering at the expense of those comments/jokes, are hurt by my silence too.

Just like I’ve been hurt when someone has made a fat joke or sizeist statement in front of me, and everyone has sat there silent, even though they clearly know it was the wrong thing to say.

I read the Tumblr blog Microaggressions every day.  It serves to remind me just how little comments, a “bit of a joke” hurts people every single day.  It reminds me that the reason I do speak up, the reason I risk The Look or any of those jibes about being humourless/argumentative/angry/political etc is because these little comments and jokes hurt people.  And they permeate our culture so thoroughly, that people think it’s ok to behave and think like that.

It is NOT OK, it’s not funny, nor is it acceptable, to make jokes, assumptions or comments at the expense of ANY other human beings.  Ever.  Don’t fucking do it.  Think about what is coming out of your yap before you open it.  The same goes for things you post online.

It doesn’t make you a killjoy to think before you make a joke.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a laugh, or be silly.  It just means using your damn brain before you open your mouth.  You can still have a wicked sense of humour, you can still laugh at the absurdity of human behaviour, you can still make fun of yourself.  But when it comes to making jokes about other people, are you making a joke about how someone looks?  The colour of their skin?  Their religion?  The shape of their body?  Their gender, sex or sexuality?  Their race?  The clothes they choose to wear?  Their health, physical abilities or mental state?  If the answer is yes to these (or anything else about a person’s general state of being), then don’t fucking do it.

As for any other statements, think about what you’re saying/writing.  Are you using language that belittles someone or a group of people?  Are you perpetuating a stereotype that harms someone?  Are you making assumptions about someone based on their state of being?  Then don’t fucking do it.

But most of all, when you do screw up, and yes, we ALL do it, own it.  Take responsibility for how your words affect other people.  If you don’t know the correct way to talk about something, say so.  Use the best language you know how, in the most respectful way you can and if someone gives you advice on how to do it, then learn from it.  We’re all learning, finding our way.  I look back across things I used to say and think, and cringe at how ignorant I could be.  I know I have a long way to go.  We’re all learning about how other people experience the world we’re in, and we can’t get it 100% of the time but we can all put the bloody effort in.  Anything else is willful ignorance.

If that makes me somehow unpleasant to be around, an inconvenience to little jokes and conversations, if it makes someone feel uncomfortable, then tough.  I’d rather be known as an argumentative killjoy than sit back while others say things that hurt others.

Respecting Realities

Published February 14, 2011 by sleepydumpling

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our realities as fat people are so regularly questioned, doubted, or denied.  I guess the triggers have been a few things.  From the repeated “just put down the cheeseburger and get some exercise” comments on the threads stemming from the fabulous Frances’ page on Triple J Hack being promoted on Facebook, to a commenter suggesting that “If you can’t seem to find clothes I think you’re trying the wrong size. :)” (Complete with passive aggressive smiley face – don’t you love when people tack those onto the end of a rude statement?), to friends suggesting that “perhaps you’re imagining it” when I try to talk about the way I am treated in public by some people, it’s something that is constantly done to fat people.

I don’t know about you, but I get bloody sick of it.

I get sick of people who have never lived in my body, never seen what I did to it for 30 years to try to get it thin, who don’t know how my body feels or what it is capable of, insisting that they know a) what I am eating and what I am doing and b) how to make my body thin c) that my body is somehow in pain and incapable of doing what I want it to do.

I get sick of people who have never tried to buy clothes to fit my body, who’ve never been with me when I’ve been shopping for clothes, or never seen me try clothes on, insisting that there are “plenty of options” for clothing for my body.  I get sick of them not trusting my judgement when they suggest an item of clothing that I know won’t fit me or won’t be comfortable for me to wear.

I get sick of people who don’t live in my fat body tell me that I’m imagining the woman trying to sneakily take my photo on her mobile phone as I eat my lunch in a cafe.  Of people saying “But I’ve never heard anyone say anything hateful to you!” refusing to acknowledge that it doesn’t happen in their presence because fat hating shitweasels are usually cowards who wait until I am alone to have a go at me.

I get sick of people who look at my body and assume that I am in pain because of my fatness, without ever asking me how I feel, or even seeing me show any signs of pain.

I get sick of people who dismiss me when I say I feel better now than I ever have, and that my body performs better now than it ever has, now that I have accepted that I have a fat body and I am best to just love it as it is.  People who don’t know anything about my health, people who dismiss my past and the experiences I have been through.

But most of all, I get so very, very sick of people who cannot accept that my reality is different to their reality, and that fact in no way minimises their reality.  Those who cannot fathom that if someone else needs fairness and equality, it doesn’t mean they will be missing out on “their share”.

I saw a good quote on Tumblr today, not sure where it originated, it wasn’t credited:

Equality is extremely threatening to people who have always benefited from the lack thereof.

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