Quick housekeeping – I’ve started a Tumblr for all of the troll comments I get here on Fat Heffalump. Behold – Trollapalooza. Be warned though, you may find it triggering, as there is an awful lot of fat hatred, threats of violence, healthist bullshit and general nastiness that comes my way.
Now, on to today’s post!
I think it’s time to talk about concern. I’ve noticed a phenomenon, one where people don’t seem to recognise what is legitimate concern for someone’s wellbeing, and what is concern trolling for the sake of sticking your nose up in someone’s business, or using it as an excuse to shame them or make oneself feel superior.
So let’s talk about it, and learn to recognise what is genuine concern, and what is concern trolling.
Genuine concern is ok. In fact, it’s part of what bonds us as social beings. When someone we care about, a family member or friend, or even a colleague, is not their usual selves, when something just doesn’t seem right, or when we actually know they are unwell, and we are worried about them, we are genuinely concerned about them. That friend who seems to have lost their energy, the colleague who has gone from calm and productive to stressed and struggling, the family member who just isn’t their usual self. Or someone you know who is actually suffering illness (because they’ve told you they are). It’s perfectly acceptable to ask after their wellbeing. Things like:
- Are you ok?
- You don’t seem like your usual self, is everything alright?
- Can I help with anything?
- If you want to talk, you know I’m available for you ok?
- How are you coping with [insert illness or injury they have told you about here]?
Do know, that you shouldn’t do it because you’re curious, but because you genuinely want to help. And also know, that if someone says they’re fine, the answer is not to nag them about it, but to say “Please know that I’m here to listen/help if you need it ok?” Sure, sometimes “I’m fine.” is a way to fob you off when someone doesn’t want to bother you, or because they’re ashamed/embarrassed about needing help, but sometimes it’s also just “I’m fine.”
However, it is not ok to suggest someone has an illness, or that they might get an illness due to their behaviour or body. It’s not ok to say to that friend eating a donut “Be careful, you’ll get diabetes.” or any other illness or injury. Even if you know someone has an illness or injury, unless they have spoken directly about it in your presence, it’s not ok to question them on it. For example, I can’t tell you the number of people who have actually asked me what my blood sugar readings are like since they found out I am diabetic. NONE OF YOUR FUCKIN’ BUSINESS PAL!
Now, on to what constitutes concern trolling – a little 101 on how to prove yourself nothing but a trolling douchebag who doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s health but wants to shame people for their weight:
- Stating that someone being fat is unhealthy – and then suggesting they kill themselves to save us all money.
- Stating that someone being fat is unhealthy – and then bitching about how much it costs the taxpayer money.
- Stating that someone being fat is unhealthy – and then diagnosing by looking at them (or a photograph of them) that they are going to explode from hernias, high blood pressure, heart attacks, arthritis and any other number of illnesses often correlated (but never causally linked to) fat.
- Shaming someone for suffering any injury or illness by pointing out that they “caused” it because they are fat.
- Stating “I’m concerned about your health!” without knowing ANYTHING about that person other than they have a fat body.
- Attributing laziness or gluttony to someone just because they have a fat body.
- Accusing someone of being irresponsible about their health because they have a fat body.
- Demanding people prove their health, or give you information about their health and wellbeing.
- Claiming people are “in denial” about their health, or their future health.
- Insisting that you know about their health better than they do.
If you do any of the things that I’ve just listed above, you are nothing more than a bully and a troll. There, I’m saying it out loud and clear. I’ll say it again:
If you engage in any of the behaviours in the list above, you are a bully and a troll and you need to stop that shit right now.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I have to keep saying it over and over and over again – If it’s not your body, it’s not your business.
It’s not a difficult concept.
Next time you feel like commenting on or judging someone’s health or wellbeing, ask yourself “Is it my body?” If the answer is no, then shut the fuck up and mind your own business.
Fatties – the next time someone tries to concern troll you, just ask them – “Is it your body?” Again, if the answer is no, tell them to shut the fuck up and mind their own business.
You don’t have to be nice, be polite, be pleasing, to anyone who concern trolls you. You don’t have to tolerate their behaviour. You don’t have to “respect their opinion”. You don’t have to “not rock the boat”, or “don’t take it seriously”. If someone is up in your business telling you what to do with your body and your health, rock the damn boat all you like, and take it as seriously as you feel you need to. It’s YOUR body, YOUR health and YOUR life. You get to choose what you do with it, and who you allow to have any interaction with it.
Take no fucking prisoners!