The Questions that Need to be Asked

Published April 1, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Dear Thin, White Women of the Media*,

I have to know.  Why are you so threatened by the idea of it being ok for fat people to just be themselves, as they are?

Why do you feel that it is your place to speak for fat people, to intervene in our lives?  What is so abhorrent about the idea of leaving us alone to advocate for ourselves?  Why are you so determined to make fat people the scourge of society?  Why do you feel the need to discredit us, denounce our ability to advocate for our own lives, our own health, our own standards of living?  Why do you feel the need to post articles that only draw more fat stimga to us, without ever moderating the comments so that we are subjected to even more loathing than we already suffer?  Why do you feel the need to make jokes about fatness, without any care or concern what the fallout of those jokes might be?  Why do you feel that our bodies need to be publicly discussed and criticised, when you are outraged when your body is treated this way?  Why do you say you are concerned for our health, when you know absolutely nothing about any of us, how healthy we are, what our histories are, and what it feels like to live in our bodies?  Why do you think it is acceptable to draw attention to extreme behaviour from some fat people, as though all of us live the same way, that we are all somehow “freaks” that should be pointed at, as though you’re shouting “Look!  Look at that fatty over there!  She’s WEIRD!”

Why do you talk so much about positive body image, but make it clear that fat people are to be excluded from positive body image?  Why do you speak about how as a society we should be talking about obesity, but the minute a fat person speaks, you shut them down, tell them they are not allowed to give criticism, not allowed to give their perspectives and discredit their experiences?  Why do you feel the need to imply that fat people are of a lower class by referring to the correlation of class and weight, without any acknowledgement of how society as a whole pushes fat people further down the class ladder by denying them employment, equal wages, clothing, and general social status.  Why would you do that unless as a way to highlight that fat people are somehow inferior to others?  Why do you fail to engage with any fat people unless it is on your terms?

Why do you feel the need to speak about us, to label us, to put words in our mouths, without ever listening to what we have to say, or asking us what we are really saying?  Why do you feel the need to twist what we are saying to make us look like a flock of fat harpies, intent on swooping down to peck at your bones?

Why are you interested in us at all?  Why aren’t you living your own lives, merrily on your way, but are instead so intent on denouncing us as unattractive, unhealthy, unworthy, the crux of all societies problems?  Don’t you have full lives that you have to live, to focus on?

Do we make you feel threatened, thin, white women of the media?

Are you worried that you might get fat if you don’t denounce us, denigrate us, demonise us?  Are you concerned that if you let your guard down for just one minute, the fatness might creep up on you?  Are you concerned that fatness is contagious?

Do you feel that if you have to “work so hard” to keep yourselves thin, that everyone should have to?  That if someone out there dares to accept their fatness, they are some how cheating at the game of life?  Do you feel resentment at the thought that there might be fat women out there not agonising over their bodies, not loathing themselves when you feel you should for any fat on your body?  Is it that you feel that if you have to spend your life watching your weight, that it’s only fair that everyone should have to?

Do you worry that if fat people are allowed to advocate for themselves, you might miss out on something?  That they might get something that you don’t?  Does it worry you that if someone is left to look after their own health, and health needs, that they might get a little more medical attention, or a little more time in a doctor’s office (instead of being told to lose weight and shunted out the door, with no addressing of their actual health issues) than you do?

Is it just about attention itself?  Are you concerned that if someone is paying positive attention to the fatties, they may not pay positive attention to you?

Or is it more sinister than that?  Do you feel that if someone is paying attention to fat women for something other than to demonise their fatness, that they might stop paying attention to you?  Are you concerned that if society in general stops judging women by how well they fit into a size 8 pair of jeans, and focuses on their wit, intelligence, style, kindness and skills, that you will lose that superior edge that being thin affords you over fat people?

I would genuinely like to know just what it is that brings you to the point in your life that you have to denounce, discredit, demonise other human beings just for existing as they are.  After all, the Fat Acceptance activists you are so quick to shout down don’t harbour any desire for thin people to go away, to cease to exist, to shut up, to be eradicated, to be cured of their thinness, like you desire of fat people.  Instead what we desire is a world where people of all body types, fat, thin and in between, can be left alone to find their own peace, their own health, their own happiness without being vilified for existing in the forms their bodies naturally take.  Where people all body types are valued for who they are, not what they look like.  Where people are allowed to be just that, people, not a symptom, a shape, a size, a number.

We don’t take up fat activism because we’re unhappy with our lives, we take it up because we want to reclaim our lives from those who would have us shut down, disappear, cease to live our lives to the fullest.  We take up fat activism because we want the same rights afforded to all others.  We are activists to celebrate our lives, not demonise the lives of others.

What is it that brings you to marginalising and vilifying other people based on their bodies?  What is happening (or perhaps not happening) in your lives that makes this a cause you take up?

Yours sincerely

Kath aka Fat Heffalump

*And before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, I am not referring to ALL thin, white women of the media, just those who spend time vilifying fat people.  If you don’t do that, it’s not about you.  I am addressing those who spend quite considerable amounts of time doing all of the above, and this past week we have seen quite a bit of them.  I have tagged the main culprits if you wish to know EXACTLY who I am referring to.

24 comments on “The Questions that Need to be Asked

  • Great post, as usual. Awesome followup to the last post.

    You know what I think is part of the dynamic driving some thin, white women of the media to pick on fatties? I think it’s this cultivated notion of physical appearance being the hallmark of a woman’s worth. Really. It just boils down to high school — it never left. If these particular thin, white women of the media let fatties get positive attention, too, then their worth is reciprocally diminished.

    • I think you’re right with that one. Sometimes I wonder if there is a deep sense of “Well, there are lots of people who can do what I can do, but I’m the best looking, so I’ll always get the advantage.” If you challenge the notion that the most valuable thing of a woman is her looks, it really makes some women uncomfortable.

  • To be quite honest with you, I think a lot of the women you’re talking about know deep down they really aren’t all that talented, and that if their jobs came down to actual talent rather than a certain hard-to-achieve look, they’d be all kinds of screwed.

    Or, what Big Liberty just said.

    I think Marilyn Wann nailed it all those years ago: She said a lot of this boils down to, “How dare you eat what you want and still be happy? If you can do that, it means I’ve suffered all this time for nothing.”

    I’m right there with you. We’re not even part of the conversation, for the most part. It’s like they think we don’t have actual human brains, that we’re literally pigs who just think, “doooonuut…doooooonuuut,” and that that’s the extent of our thought processes.

    • Meowser I have to admit I actually laughed out loud at the “doooonuut…doooooonuuut,” Made me think of fat zombies, rejecting the healthy brains for a good old fatty fat fat donut.

      And yep, Marilyn summed it up beautifully I think.

  • Thanks for this as usual. the more i get into FA the angrier i get at the whole thing. im ANGRY at the big food companies. I’m ANGRY at the diet companies lying to people over and over and over and NEVER being called out for it. I’m ANGRY at holier than though skinny bitches sneering at me to lose some weight….or calorie in, calorie out…or eat less move more. i dare them to spend a week in my life, eating what i eat, doing what i do with my metabolism. what i wouldn’t give for the ability to give people the perspective of a tall fat woman in this society for just a day

    • Anger is a really normal reaction to this shit Erylin, and we all feel it. The important thing is to channel that anger, for your own self preservation. When the red mist forms before my eyes I have to take a moment, stop and direct it somewhere that isn’t going to erode me at all. Which is what this blog is all about. Taking my anger and turning it into questions, passion and unpacking the status quo. Otherwise I’d give myself a migraine on a regular basis!

  • I think a lot of it has to do with the attitude of “I work so hard to look thin and beautiful, so should everyone else.” When they see pictures of fat people looking good, when they read fat people not caring about calorie contents of food (for superficial reasons) and exercising not for weight loss but for physical enjoyment, when they read and listen to fat people fighting back, it angers them. To them, we don’t work hard enough and we’ve let ourselves go so they try to get even by writing continous articles about how horrible we are.

    Frankly, this obsession over bodies belonging to people they don’t even know is disturbing and pretty petty. If you care so much about what a person weighs, what they wear or what they eat, it’s time to grow up, get a life and take up a new hobby. And also quit writing and get a new job!

    • That’s what bothers me so much Bree, the obsession with other people’s bodies. The fact that there are people out there who feel the need to publicly vilify my body, as though they are an expert on it, and hide it behind the guise of “public health issues”. They don’t give a fuck about anyone’s health. Not a flying fuck. It’s all about their eyes being offended by our fatness.

      • ive always known that the fat hatred thing is not about health at all–its a “beauty” issue—and i put beauty in quotes because beauty really is in the eye of the beholder—fat women only became ugly around the turn of the last century, we had always been beautiful before that—renoir painted some lovely fatties, dont U think? its also pure-D sexism—female bodies are fatter than men’s

  • Thank you for this wonderful post. You are so inspiring! All bodies can and will be accepted. No amount of money, insecurity, or hate can stop you and all of us in the FA movement.

  • “Don’t you have full lives that you have to live, to focus on?”

    No, they don’t. Clearly. If they did, they wouldn’t feel the need to belittle others.

  • Great post, I was tempted to write a huge long comment but I will keep it short and sweet. =0)

  • I think there are so many of these women, I presume you are referring to features wrtiters, bloggers and tv personalities, is because most women want to at least see what they have to offer. Womens’ magazines have several diet exercixe and and weight loss articles in every issue and usually a resident “expert” as well. The target audience is not exclusively thin women. Very few women are satisfied with their bodies or are not interested in loosing some weight. I am not saying I agree but as long as there is an audience there will be thin white women hawking diet or “health” information.

    It just amazes me how many people are still interested in their snake oil. Fear of fat must be so strong that it keeps people from seeing the failure rate of diets. Of I forgot, it is the fault of the dieter never the diet or helpful advice.

    • Yes, I am referring to the women in the media who are public figures and have the power to have their bigotry and narrow-mindedness published to a wide audience. And by media, I mean THE media. The mainstream media that reaches far beyond the blogosphere, right into people’s homes where the message of fat hate sits most virulently.

  • Riots not diets!

    This is an awesome post. And yes, there’s plenty of medium-sized or thin women out there who have no interest in policing other women’s bodies because they have, as you say, better things to do.

  • Predictably, a group of thin white ladies NOT listed in the tags of this article, nor even working in the media, have made this all about themselves and decided that I am giving them a bad name.

    I don’t need to give them a bad name, they seem to be able to do it themselves.

  • Well, OF COURSE they have! It is a very sensitive nerve you’ve rushed up against. So those whom you were SPECIFICALLY ***NOT*** addressing would respond anyway. Especially when they recognize in themselves the characteristics you questioned (exposed) above.

    KInda like having a ‘without naming names’ office meeting about missing supplies and one of your co-workers suddenly jumps in to declare “It WASN’T me!!”. . . . Uhhhh, sure.

  • Also, what about the ‘weight loss tv show as freak show’ aspect. Note each time on any program where the ‘fatties’ show their regular diet it’s usually something like 3 BBQ chickens and a loaf of bread for lunch, whole suckling pig for dinner etc. This bullshit perpetuates the myth that all fat people eat this way and if only they would eat like ‘us normal people’ they wouldn’t be so fat. If only it were that simple.

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