*Trigger warning* – fat hatred, healthism and general douchebaggery about fatness.
I did something very foolish today. I read the letters to the editor in response to the article about Zoe and I in the U on Sunday magazine. I know, I know, I should know better, but I had been told that they were “overwhelmingly positive”, so I had hoped to see a few gems in there to restore my faith in humanity.
Ahh but how wrong I was. Out of the five letters published, one was overwhelmingly positive, three of them pulled the old “I applaud Kath and Zoe but…” switcheroo (if it wasn’t “but”, it was “however” or “nevertheless”) and one claimed to know that we are “hiding behind” our fat positivity and endangering ourselves and others.
It makes me wonder – can these people (other than the positive one, thank you Cathy Forbes of Twin Waters – YOU ROCK!) not read? Do they have comprehension issues? Did they even read the article?
Firstly, let’s address the but/however/nonetheless phenomenon. If you are saying one thing, and then tacking on a but/however/nonetheless afterwards, you’re actually negating the first part. So if you say, and I quote FJ Mead of Seventeen Mile Rocks:
“While I feel happy for these large women who are comfortable with their size, it is ignorant to believe they will not be a burden to the health system later in life.”
FJ, FJ, FJ… you are in fact NOT happy for us at all, as you think we are ignorant and will end up being a burden to the health system. You can’t have both m’dear. Either come out and say it and show your loathing for fat people, or shut up. Don’t hide behind false statements of “I feel happy for them” when you clearly do not. FJ also thinks that we “aspire” to morbid obesity, or are encouraging others to “aspire” to it. Sorry FJ, the only thing we aspire to is to be treated like human beings and not have random strangers decide what our health is simply by looking at us.
Then there is D. Hudson from Park Ridge who knows my body, and that of every fat person better than we do ourselves. D. states “For fat people, every movement is an effort…” Really D. Hudson? This is the first I’ve heard that every movement I make is an effort. Aren’t I lucky you came along to tell me at almost 40 years of age that I don’t in fact feel great, that I have been wrong all along and am in fact struggling under the effort of having a fat body. D. is also absolutely adamant that our lifespan in general is shortened. Really? So like some kind of fat Logan’s run, the minute a fat person gets to a certain size, the little light switches on and off we must go to have our lifespans shortened. Don’t mind me, I just have to go pick up my 83 year old fat grandma, she’s over-lived her stay! D. also believes that it’s our fault that we can’t find stylish/affordable clothes and that some of us (though D. seems to sweep all fatties into this pile) may find sitting in a cinema or plane uncomfortable. Perhaps D., it’s the fact that society refuses to include us as people that causes the lack of stylish/affordable clothing and seats that are comfortable, not our actual bodies? The real irony is that D. Hudson says it’s “great to see they are also committing themselves to a life of healthy eating and activity” (no I’m not, if I want a donut or a lie in, I’ll have one, the same as if I want a salad or a ride on my bike, I’ll have that too) and then goes on to blather all of the stuff above, as if despite our supposed commitment, we should somehow still be ashamed/unhappy because of our fatness. How does that even make sense?
The same goes for Matt Smith of Kedron, who states “Ultimately, excessive weight will always adversely affect one’s health.” Really? You know that for 100% of cases Matt Smith (are you a Doctor Matt? Wait, aren’t you THE Doctor??) that every single fat person will have negative health CAUSED by their weight? Because as the article states, there is no proof of causation of negative health by weight. So clearly, Matt Smith, you must be better qualified than every other academic who has researched the topic and found the opposite to your claims. Why aren’t you publishing your findings Matt? Strangely, Matt then ends his letter by wishing us well, despite having labelled us “irresponsible” and then wished us negative health simply because we’re fat and he wants it to be true that we will suffer poor health.
The big fat cherry on the top goes to Katie Tartare (OMG, do you know the calories in tartare sauce??) from Kanimbla in Cairns, who has decided that Zoe and I are “hiding behind” our self esteem. Katie equates living in a fat body with endangering our health through excess alcohol or drug intake, as though fatness is some kind of addiction. Perhaps Katie thinks we are “addicted” to food, a common misconception among fat hating douchecanoes, despite repeated studies showing that fat people eat no more than not-fat people, and in fact some studies show we actually eat less, especially those of us who reject dieting and attempting to lose weight. Not to mention that food is vital to life.
I think I know the problem. We fat activists dare to believe that we’re people. We dare to believe that we should be able to live our lives with as much freedom, respect and dignity as any other person. We dare to believe that our health is our own business, and that health has no moral value. We dare to believe that we know our own bodies, what they are capable of and how to look after them in whatever shape or form they happen to be at any given time. And finally we dare to be present in the world, without hiding ourselves away in shame and apologising for our bodies.
And we can’t have that now, can we?
Look, if you hate fat people, and are all grossed out by our icky fatness and don’t want your eyesight marred by something that you find so repulsive, then just come out and say it. Have the guts to be honest, not just with the world, but with yourself. Stop hiding behind “What about your health?!” bullshit, you honestly don’t care about my health, or that of any other fat person. You couldn’t give a flying fuck about what it feels like to live in a fat body, what happens to fat people and whether or not we die early. In fact, it would suit you just nicely if we were to all just up and die this minute, because then you wouldn’t have to see our fatness in the world, you wouldn’t have to deal with those gross fatties at all. Let your friends, family, colleagues and other life acquaintances see just what kind of person you are, stop pretending that you CARE. Because you could not care one bit about fat people other than to remove us from the world.
But most of all, have the guts to own up to being an arsehole who thinks that other people have to be attractive to YOU to deserve to inhabit this world.
Firstly, I am extremely disappointed in the feedback. Did I expect better? No, but one does always hope.
Let me just take the super huge effort to lift my deathfat arm and give all the fatphobics a big, fat middle finger! And now that’s done I shall return to my arse groove on the couch and pop another bon bon. Promoting obesity sure does take it out of you.
Sarcasm aside, I fully appreciate the message you and others like you spread, because it saved my life and my sanity. So please don’t lose heart! The people that need you do hear you!
Thank you Fat Additives (great username BTW). Flip that bird babe!
Yes!!! a squillion times to your response here! I loved the article itself, though, and ADORED the photos. So joyous and so great to look at. Also, I want your clothes.
Len, pretty much all of the clothes worn in the photos are our own! They did have some clothes there for us, but we favoured our own over almost all of them.
I was totally coveting your red polka dot dress!!!!!
It’s a Leona Edmiston “Leona+” range from Myer. They’re still available, and they’ve brought it out again in the new season range in a more coral colour. Woot!
Yes, thank you for taking the message up to people. I am disappointed at the response to the article, but not surprised. No matter how rationally we present our arguments, people who have already closed their minds will always try to knock us down. Well, fuck them, I say. You and Zoe were great in that article!
Yup, there is no changing the minds of those who are happy to wallow in ignorance. I’m here for my fellow fats!
I’ve just read the article, and I thought it was well-informed, fun and you girls look AMAZING. I love your smiles. I’m sorry some of the responses to the article were from people who probably don’t love themselves, and therefore can’t understand how someone not in the shape THEY deem attractive could possibly love themselves. I know, shocker, right?!
I’m fat, and I’ve been fat for my whole life apart from a few months where I existed on satsumas and carrots. I love myself. This is the only life I have and I’m not going to waste it hating myself. Jeez, can you imagine the deathbed scene. Not ‘Oh, I really wished I’d loved harder and seen the Grand Canyon’ but ‘Oh God, how I wish I’d experienced all of life’s wonders from a slim body!’ Ain’t gonna happen.
I’m really thankful to people like you who are out there being an activist and challenging viewpoints. Not everyone is cut out for the heat a person gets when, like you, they are visible and risk being hated upon by people who don’t understand we’re humans who deserve all good things in life like everyone else. Thank you.
Leah that’s my thought too – when I get to the end of my life, whenever that is, am I going to regret that I didn’t have a thin body, or am I going to regret that I spent my life’s energy trying to become a body that I am not?
It’s “hard to believe” that ANY of us, of whatever size, mightn’t be a burden to the health system later in life. Because when we get older, things cease to function as well. I have worked with the geriatric population since 1988. (sarcasm ahead) Of course I have never, ever, taken care of a single thin person who was in dreadful health. Nope, it was only fat people. Thin people never get strokes or have heart attacks or Alzheimer’s disease. And surely they never, ever have osteoporosis. Yep. The way to live forever in perfect health is just to be thin. Don’t us stupid fatties realize this?
Truth is, I assist people of all sizes who are in varying states of health. The greatest threat to health other than a life threatening illness such as cancer is AGING. Size has very little to do with it.
Ugh, old people are a burden to our health case costs! Those old people are clearly irresponsible in their aspiration to age. They shamelessly endorse aging! Won’t they just go away already? I’m sick of looking at them.
Exactly The Real Cie! Every one of us, so long as we’re not cut down by some horrible accident in the prime of our lives, will live with disability at some point, and will need increasing health care. Every single one of us.
I think you’re right about some people, but I don’t think you can generalize that to everyone. Some people completely accept others who are a little larger, but still worry. I don’t think it’s true that everyone is completely like that.
You find me one whovianoftheshire and I’ll revise my statement. But in my 39.8 years I’m yet to find someone who GENUINELY cares about my health when they are shaming me about my fat. Shaming is not a caring behaviour.
I’m not saying shaming is, those people are jerks. I’m just saying there are some people who genuinely care and AREN’T complete jerks.
Then why are they sticking their nose in other people’s weight? Why are they carrying on about “health” when we are clearly telling them that there is NO basis to do so?
Nope, not caring at all. They (or you) may not call it shaming, but pulling bullshit about people’s weight is shaming, no matter how pretty you dress it up. And shaming people = jerk.
I’m also not talking about random strangers… For example, I know nothing about you therefore I have no right to tell you about your body. But I just don’t like generalizations because you don’t know what they’re like, what’s gone on in their life to make them how they are. Maybe they had a family member die of high cholesteral and they link that to weight. That’s incorrect, but maybe that could be explained to them in a more loving way. Hate doesn’t breed love and tolerance and acceptance and intelligence, it only breeds more hate and ignorance.
Ugh, I don’t give a shit if it’s a complete stranger or someone’s own “loving” mother, NOBODY who claims to care for your health will focus on your weight. If they do, they are not genuinely caring about your wellbeing. No matter how many times you try to shine the turd, it’s still a turd.
This is not something I invented to suit myself, if you took the time to educate yourself, you might learn about concern trolling.
And don’t you dare police my or any other fat persons responses to fat loathing. Anger is not “hate and ignorance” – in fact the only ignorance I see here is your own.
Now stop wasting everyone’s time – if you don’t like it, LEAVE. In fact, any further attempts to claim that there are acceptable methods of concern trolling will have you blocked from this site. Same goes for anyone else.
That’s so condescending. Why would you care about someone you don’t know? It’s prurient busybody behaviour, not care.
Also, why should you accept someone who is a “little larger”? Why do they need your acceptance?
I tell you what, put black person at the end of each of your statements and see if they still ring true or whether they just reek of othering?
You’re right, it did sound condescending and while I did not mean for it to come out as that, it appears that what I do not have the words for what I do mean. So, I would just like to apologize for that, as it has obviously not been taken how I was hoping and is enraging and offending a lot of people. This will be my last post on here, so congrats with what you wrote, even though you don’t need my approval or acceptance, as Carolyn was right to say, and I never meant you did.
I think it’s fantastic that you were able to think about what you’d written and apologise. If only members of the media would take the time to do the same.
It can take a long time for people to get to the place where they not only understand Fat Acceptance and practice it, but will stand up for it and publicly declare they stand behind it. So you will have reached people that are not ready to go public with their support.
I took another step towards making an on-line hangout of mine a size friendly place and you are one of the reasons I did so.
I tend to try to be non confrontational as I prefer it and I don’t want to spoil the fun for other people, but I was pissed off and you are one of the people that reminds me I am allowed to be and I can speak up about it. Several people supported me in not only admitting to being fat and fabulous, but not liking being discriminated against. The person who sparked the conversation wasn’t trying to be nasty, but I’m not inclined to let ignorance make me uncomfortable. The whole thing turned out pretty well, wasn’t too drawn out and sparked some conversation. It also left me feeling good about speaking out. If I hadn’t been inspired by you and others I’d still be sitting on the sidelines, being too scared to speak up.
Pyctsi it would be nice to reach those people who get it and support it but yet aren’t ready to speak up about it.
But that said, the people I REALLY want to reach are my fellow fats, who are still in the place that they believe they are worthless and cannot have a full, joyful life. Every one of those I reach makes all the haters worthwhile.
And thank you so much for your kind words and support.
Yeah! Let ’em have it!
In a way it’s actually progress that there was one letter published that got it. That’s truly sad, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.
As for the rest, they represent an increasing group that cannot back up their statements but feel compelled to do so, all the same. I love the idea that you’re ‘hiding behind’ self-esteem and positive body image. It’s sort of like saying that Michael Phelps is hiding behind his amazing swimming so nobody will learn about his inability to float in water.
Does. Not. Compute.
And if these people could see their own prejudices for what they are, they would never stop cringing at what they’ve written.
You know what kills me too? A burden to the healthcare system? I have my own health insurance…I pay my own way. I don’t ask anyone else to pay for me. Even if I were asking for a handout or free treatment, they still wouldn’t have a right to comment about my size.
I posted this somewhere else, but on the news the other day, they did a story on a doctor here in the U.S. who publically announced that she would no longer take any patients that weigh over 200 pounds. This is due to the fact that anyone larger than that is a danger to her and her staff. What??? This just does not compute. Yet, she is allowed to get away with it. If this were a racial, gender or sexual-orientation discrimination issue, holy hell would be raised. But, discrimination against us fatties – a non-issue to “them!”
Kath, I really appreciated your article. You have taught me so much in the past couple of years. It was because of you that I decided not to spend anymore of my life hating myself, putting my life on hold and hiding. I will be 50 years old this year and I am freer and happier than I have ever been in my whole life. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! Keep on with what you are doing. You are touching so many more people than you probably even know about!
Thank you LA. I agree with you on the whole “burden on the health care system” too. I pay for my own private health care, that I use every second year when I get new glasses. That’s it – the rest is “just in case” I need it some day. A decade of paying for private health insurance means nothing to these people, even though I seldom draw on it. Not to mention that as an Australian, I’m covered for Medicare, which is the public health cover – which I use almost nothing of as well. And that doesn’t acknowledge that I pay a massive tax rate (higher than most of my peers) on top of that.
It’s such bullshit!
Ugh. I’m sorry to hear about this Kath. Do people even think before they write? Stop hiding behind your happiness and self-esteem damn it! Excuse my French, but what the duck?
I can kind of relate. This week I found the courage to blog about my story about the emotional abuse I suffered as a child due to my mother’s disapproval of my weight. I got a very rude message from a young woman claiming that I had “offended” her because she has suffered emotional abuse from her parents even though she is “thin and attractive” and who did I think I was pretending this was a problem only fatties have? WHY WASN’T I THINKING ABOUT HER!?!!? She also informed me that maybe my mother was just “trying to help” when she called me a “hideous, fat sack” that was an embarrassment to the family name. Riiiiiight.
UGH, I’m sorry you copped that Clara. I have too many times. The privileged are not happy with their own spaces and stories, they want to control ours too.
Thank you for writing this. Love your site, your article, and I am so grateful for the help you have given me by doing what you do so well in calling this bullshit as it is. Thank you. Those commenters have my pity, and I am working on my compassion. You have my admiration and true appreciation. Thank you!
You are most welcome Sary, and thank you for showing your support, it means a lot to me.
I kind of want to hit my head against a wall repeatedly. People are stupid. People can be so so stupid. I mean, OF COURSE they know better then anyone how someone else feels. I think some peoples closed minds are more harmful and unhealthy then my fat will ever be.
I love you, I love everything you write and how you manage to get your point across so well. I can never find the right words. Thank you!!
SOOOOO bummed that mine was the only positive one. So many people in the community with closed minds. I love you guys and I loved the article. If others cant see how AMAZING we are, then I feel sorry for them.
Cathy Forbes from Twin Waters – that’s me 🙂
Cathy!! You’re my favourite! I’m so glad you sought me out here at Fat Heffalump. You ROCK lady!
I think YOU ROCK TOO!!
I think these people are truly threatened by us fat people who refuse to diet, refuse to be seen in anything other than sweatsuits and tent dresses and are positive and unforgiving about their size.
They want us to constantly feel horrible and self-loathing and when we don’t, they go on the attack, becoming prophets and predicting what we eat and all the diseases we’re going to get, if we don’t already have them now. It makes them feel better that they are somehow living a superior life.
When that is challenged, they go on the defensive. We’re shattering their stereotypes and they don’t want to face facts that fat people are actually people, not some collective monster with a hive mind that only thinks about the same things. We’re scaring them into places they don’t want to go, and that needs to be done.
I think sometimes they react like that because they are afraid to admit they’ve been taken in by snake oil salesmen and spent all that time and emotion on a useless product. Pride can be a terrible thing, look at the Emperor and his New Clothes…
I think you might be right Lifeonfats. I think you just might be right.
I thought the article was interesting and you both came across well. Photos were also fab. Such a shame the letters are the usual dross. Read any online comments and they are mostly filled with ill informed rubbish.
I don’t for one second think Matt Smith is THE doctor though, he would never be such a dick.
Thanks Carolyn. And yes, I think commenter Matt Smith should change his name, he doesn’t deserve to rock that one.