Well! What an afternoon. Normally I don’t blog about other blogs, cos it’s kinda redundant usually, I think it’s better to just not read them any more if they piss me off or I disagree. But this one has mentioned me personally, and is about a conversation I have been having with it’s author, so I think I’m going to break tradition.
Now, let’s get one thing straight. Author John Birmingham, who’s original tweet I challenged, and who is the author of the blog post I’m talking about here, has apologised for his original tweet, which I admire anyone who can apologise for something said hastily. It takes a person with grace and dignity to do that. I also admire JB as an writer (his books make me pee laughing) and quite often he hits the nail right on the head with a blog topic on his rather cool blog Blunt Instrument. He has also been respectful and polite to me personally during this whole discussion/debate.
So I would like anyone reading this to take a moment before getting stuck into JB, remember, we’re all adults and can have a discussion without getting disrespectful or nasty.
Ok, so, what I’m going to talk about here is JB’s attitude (and many others with him) towards fat people. In particular, a few quotes from his blog and response comments to me. (Note: I haven’t read the blog comments on his post except those between him and myself, too high a risk of douchebaggery and I don’t need that shit.)
And I’m not discussing here that JB doesn’t believe in fat acceptance or Health at Every Size (HAES) – that’s for another blog post – and he’s entitled to disagree. It’s a little deeper than that.
Let’s start with these comments in response to my asking him to keep the “fat hate” to himself regarding his comment on this tweet.
I have been morbidly obese. It nearly killed me.
my morbid obesity was entirely my own fault
Ok, so JB believes his obesity was his own fault, and he’s been able to lose weight so he is no longer morbidly obese. That’s fair enough, and I believe he has been very fortunate to be able to do that. When I challenged him that he would be in the vast minority of morbidly obese people (actually overweight and obese people too) who could actually achieve that, he responded with:
I’d dispute that 5% my understanding – & I did lots research b4 embarking on weight loss- is that 30% simply can’t lose weight…
So this is where I wasn’t happy. Because he’s instantly assumed that because I haven’t been able to stop being morbidly obese, that I haven’t done lots of research. Which kinda tells me that he assumes NO Fatty McFattersons have ever done lots of research either.
On the simple assumption, that because I am a fat person who is staying fat, and doesn’t believe that I can stop being fat, I must by default be lazy/unintelligent/uninspired and have never done any research of my own. Let alone “lots”.
It really is falling into the whole Wooo! I lost weight and you can too!!* malarkey.
*If you just stop being lazy and gluttonous.
Now to be honest, I don’t think JB is being blatantly discriminatory and prejudiced. But it shows to me the deep seated belief in our culture that fat = bad, and that fat people are somehow less than non-fat people. Subconsciously at least, JB believes this. Because in his comments on his blog, he actually says:
You are not differently-abled when carrying around excess weight. You are disabled. I’ve carried enough to know.
Now I’m really getting offended. You know MY body do you JB? You know how I live my life, how able I am in my life, and what my body can and can’t do? You know what I could do with my body before I was fat, and what I can do with it now that I’m a very fat person do you?
See this is what drives me nuts and gets up my arse. The assumption, on looking at a fat person, that you can sum them up and know what’s best for them, how they live and what is right and wrong for them. The equation of not being fat to being morally superior.
He concludes his response to my comment with:
Kath, I am living a completely different life. A better life.
That’s bloody fabulous JB! Good on you! But you’re assuming that your life is somehow better than mine (and any other fatty boombahs) because you are not fat and I am fat. You’re assuming that as a fat person, I’m living this horrible disabled, lazy, idle life of misery.
Well, contrary to what we’re sold in shitty TV reality series hauling out the crying fatties to compete, nay, perform like monkeys for money prizes, pap magazines full of celebrities announcing how miserable they were while they were fat (while accepting nice fat endorsement cheques from Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers and the like), and newspapers whoring themselves over “BOOGA-BOOGA-OBESITY-CRISIS!” and so on, fat people aren’t pathetic or miserable because of our fat.
Fat people suffer because of non-fat people. Fat people suffer because of self-hating fat people. Fat people suffer because our culture judges us on sight alone, without ever knowing anything about us. And when we stop accepting the world treating us like that, when we stand up and say “I will not accept anything less than respect and dignity, and fair treatment.” then the suffering goes away. The shit doesn’t stop from the outside world, but it does stop hurting.
When we stop hating ourselves, and start realising that perhaps the rest of the world is not the best authority on OUR bodies, but WE are, then the suffering eases.
I’d love to have a coffee with JB. Skim latte please, full cream milk makes me fart. I’d love him to meet me “in the flesh” (I’ve got lots of it!) and to just ask himself after meeting and talking to me if he still thinks of me as disabled or morbid or broken or in any way less than any other human being.
I’ll leave you with my final comment to JB in his blog comments:
My life completely changed too. A far better life, a far happier life, a far healthier life, a far, far more productive life. It changed when I stopped accepting the bullshit that my body is “disabled” or less worthy than someone who is not fat.