bullying

All posts in the bullying category

You Have No Power Over Me – The Futility of Trolling

Published September 1, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

The bulk of this post was written a week ago, and I had intended to publish it then.  However with my coming down with some kind of stomach bug at the end of last week, and then other topics coming up, it waited patiently in my queue, ready to be posted when I got a moment.

However, over the past 48 hours, I’ve been hit by a wall of trollery both here (mostly at people pissed off that I and others keep saying that no matter how fat someone is, they still deserve nice clothes) and on other social media sites of mine – particularly my Tumblr.  So this topic became all the more relevant for me.  I was also preparing to post it tonight when I read this beautifully honest and heartfelt piece from Gluten-free Girl, which I cannot resist linking back to here.

So, I’m going to talk about a subject that is often considered taboo in Fat Acceptance spaces.  It’s often taboo in many social justice spaces.  That is the subject of trolling.

I bring this up because of a comment on an earlier post about someone being attacked by trolls, and because I read this excellent piece by Melissa over at Shakesville about the level of hate that is aimed in her direction, and Ragen from Dances with Fat often mentions the same issue.

There is this unspoken (or rarely spoken) understanding that to talk about the amount of hate and trolling that we get, we are somehow feeding the trolls, that by acknowledging their presence, we’re encouraging them to continue their shitty behaviour.  However, what nobody acknowledges is that they troll anyway, whether you ignore them or out them, whether you keep silent about the hatred or you speak about it.

Just existing feeds the trolls.

To me, this results in a real feeling of solitude, as though we stand alone in dealing with this.  But the truth is, we don’t.  It happens to all of us in the Fatosphere at some point, and the more visible you are, and the more you stand up and speak out about the injustice of fat stigma, the more they do it.

The real irony to me is, it seems that the happier you are, the more comfortable you are in your skin and in your life, the more vicious and nasty the trolling gets to be.

That’s the bit that I don’t understand.  I actually have people, not just random anonymous trolls who pop up for a bit of “You suck, fatty boombaladah!”, but people who have met me somewhere (either through work, or through friends or other things I’m involved with, or they know who I am through someone else) and they are so angry that I’m happy, that I’m confident and have strong self esteem, that they have to troll my blog, and various other social media sites and try to tear me down.  They spend their precious time (and I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have enough hours in the day!) watching my every move, keeping notes on what I say on Twitter, Tumblr, here on my blog and other places, and saving them up to try to use them against me to make me feel bad or something.

These people have so much time on their hands, and are so fascinated by me and my life, that they spend inordinate amounts of time following everything I do, trying to find a way to make me angry or feel bad or something.  Here are some examples of things I’ve discovered my own little posse of trolls doing.

  • They go through BOTH my entire Twitter streams (I have two Twitter accounts, I keep a separate one for work stuff) and catalogue every single time that I mention I’m tired and any other statements they can use to try to prove that I’m unhealthy, and tried to fling that back at me.
  • They spent several hours one evening signing me up to every weight loss clinic, gym, diabetes organisation, personal trainer and diet company they could find in Brisbane.  Those poor businesses had so much time wasted in contacting me back, but I was happy to hand the culprit’s IP address over to their internet service provider’s fraud investigation team, as I’m sure the businesses I gave that IP were too.
  • They spam my Tumblr and Formspring with the most boring, inane questions, like “How much do you weigh?” and “How much time do you spend on the computer?” (Zzzzzzzz)
  • They send childish, passive-aggressive notes, pretending to be my “friend”.  Bwahahahaa!
  • They Google my name and find out as much information about me as possible, and then they troll me saying they hate everything about me (and list it off, every bit of it!)
  • They search for where I have commented on other blogs or news articles, and leave personal comments hating on me.
  • They go through my Flickr stream and look at every photograph of me, leaving insults and bitchiness on my photographs.
  • They comment on Facebook pages for anything about obesity saying that there is this horrible blog called Fat Heffalump that is hating on thin people and “promoting obesity” and urge people over here to “Stand up against this bully!” and troll me further.
  • They are even stupid enough to log on using their work email or on their work internet access to leave nasty comments here on Fat Heffalump… where I can see their IP address, and can put in a formal complaint about them to their employers with concrete proof!  You can get fired for trolling people’s blogs and websites on your work internet.

And these are just some of the examples of just how much time and energy these people put into directing their hate at me.

Here you go darlings.  You don’t have to pour over my Flickr or Tumblr or Twitter, here’s a photo JUST for you:

Check out my big fat middle finger Trolly McTrollerson!

My experience with being trolled is by no means isolated.  Many in the Fatosphere experience all of this and more.

However, do you know what I think?  When people do this kind of stuff at us, they don’t hate us at all.  I know I don’t actually hate anyone (nobody is worth that kind of passion if I don’t like them) but I can’t imagine spending hours and hours examining someone online, looking for any little thing you can pick at them on, reading everything they write and share and looking at every photograph of that person in detail when I don’t like them.  The first thing I do if someone gives me the shits is block them, wipe them totally from my view and move on with my life to all those awesome people I do really love and enjoy.  I don’t have enough time in the day to keep up with all the awesome people and stuff out there, let alone waste it on those I don’t like.

But these trolls, they spend hours pouring over every thing they can find, compulsively checking every single iota of online presence.

I think they actually admire us, but they’re too scared to admit that they’re not happy and wish they could be like us.  I think they fear us, and worry that somehow, by our being happy and confident, they are missing out on something in life.   I think they are jealous of us, because they see our happiness and joy, our successes, the praise we receive, the community we hold and the fact that we simply refuse to hate ourselves because of what other people say about us and they want that.  I think they wish they could be as outspoken, passionate, funny, intelligent, respected, honest, confident and bold as we are.

I think they are sad, frightened, angry, lonely and envious.

That must be the case, because I can’t for the life of me think of any other feasible reason why someone would devote so much time and energy to reading, viewing and interacting with someone they actually didn’t like, let alone supposedly hated.  I’ve said it before, but people with full, happy lives don’t need to hate on others.  They are too busy, too otherwise engaged to do that.  They don’t feel hate in their hearts, or feel the need to make others feel bad.

We fascinate them, we fatty unicorns.  That’s what we are, those of us who refuse to buy into the fat loathing and hate ourselves for being fat, those of us who stand up and say “I won’t apologise for my size, and I deserve the same rights as every other human being.”  We’re fat unicorns.  There aren’t that many of us in comparison yet (though we’re breeding rapidly, which must be a mix of terrifying and fascinating to these people) and we have special powers.  We have the power of confidence and self esteem.  We have the power of the Fatosphere, our very own community of fatty unicorns around us.  We have the power of self respect.

I know, that it gets hard dealing with these people sometimes.  In the past it used to hurt me terribly when I got that kind of crap turning up on my blog or social media pages.  Nowdays I mostly find it funny, or just ludicrous that someone would spend so much time watching me so closely.  But the thing that really twigged in my head a while back was that these people have no power over me.  For all they think that they’re going to bully me into hating myself, or shut me up from talking here on my blog or any of my social media accounts, or change who I am or what I do, they have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually doing any of that.

Because they are completely powerless.  That’s why they do it – they know they have no power in their everyday lives, so they try to exert power over us online.  But it’s completely redundant.

The only person who has the power to make us change anything about ourselves, is ourselves.  Promise me you will never forget that lovelies.

No Doing – Just Being

Published June 18, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Sorry it’s been quiet on the blog front my lovelies, I’ve been sideswiped with a cold that went down into a chest infection this past week and a bit.  Damn bug raged through the office a couple of weeks ago and I assumed I was spared the infection… but it got me after all.  Thankfully I’m starting to see some improvement at last, hopefully this means I can get all the ideas that have been burbling around my head this past week or so (I’ve read so much, no energy to do anything else while coughing until I saw stars) together and start some discussions here.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the haters and trolls and general disbelievers we fat activists get.  Mostly spurred on by a concerted attack on one young woman on Tumblr that I could see was deeply upsetting her, simply because a group of people think they have the right to bully and belittle someone simply because she is fat and doesn’t meet some arbitrary standard of attractiveness.

I get my fair share of trolls, haters and general disbelievers and troublemakers, both here and on my other social media accounts (Twitter, Tumblr, Formspring etc).  Once upon a time they used to bother me, but nowadays, I mostly pity them.  Or find them funny.   Mostly because they have this inflated sense of their power over me by thinking that by posting something hateful on my Tumblr, or trolling this blog, they can shut me up and chase me off the internet.  It’s pretty hilarious that someone would see such importance in themselves.

Of course, it has the opposite effect to the one they intended – it makes me more argumentative, more obnoxious and a whole lot more outspoken.

It’s very timely then that Ragen over at Dances with Fat would write her recent post “The Trouble with Proving It“.  Ragen highlights that every time some narrow-mind bellows “Prove it!” at her, and she does, over and over and over, they are still disbelieving of her reality.  No matter how much evidence she shares, it’s never going to be enough for these people.

I’m often called to do the same thing (for different reasons) and I have seen many other fat activists attempting to prove their own existence and realities over and over and over again.

Reading Ragen’s post reminded me of something very important.  I am not doing this fat activism to “convert” other people, to answer the haters criticism or to shout down the trolls.  Those things are not important.  I, and all other fat activists, and fat people and fat allies have no need to DO anything.  We are in debt to no-one.

What we need is to simply BE.

Simply being ourselves is a radical act in this fat-phobic culture we have found ourselves in.  Being alive, being happy, being active, being confident, being self-loving, being outspoken, being fashionable, being talented, being funny, being awesome… no matter what you as a fat person are being, simply being you is AMAZING.

For those of us who choose to spend time online sharing our lives, our thoughts, our opinions, our fashion, our images, the important part of that is being visible, being audible, being tangible.  In a world where fat people are silenced, discredited and openly loathed, being visible as a happy, confident fat person is a powerful message to send out into the world.

As I said to Ragen on her post, if it hadn’t been for my stumbling into the fatosphere, I probably wouldn’t be here today.  The people who took up fat activism before me and went public with it, being all the amazing things they are, really rescued me in a dark time of self-loathing and shame.  Just by being visible, they showed me that there was an alternative for me, that I didn’t have to spend my life buying into the fat-phobic lies that our culture perpetuates.  They showed me that I can be happy, have fun, live my life to the full and most importantly, that I, and all other human beings, have value and deserve respect.

That’s why I’m here, and why I do what I do.  I want to give that back to the world.  I want to show other people who are in the dark, frightening place that I once was, that it doesn’t have to be that way.  And that they too are awesome, radical beings, without DOING anything.  To simply live ones life happy and full is the most radical act you can possibly engage in.

And best of all… it really pisses the haters off.

“That’s the best revenge of all: happiness.  Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone have a good fucking life.” 

Chuck Palahniuk

Words: Use Them as Firewood and Let Them Burn

Published May 7, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

To every one of you who have felt the pain of someone’s hateful, hurtful words.  To every one of you who have been bullied, humiliated, shamed and trolled.  To every single one of you who have been told you are ugly, horrible, disgusting, gross, worthless, less than, or any other hurtful thing just because your body doesn’t match what someone thinks is acceptable, this song is for you.

Words

*original photo courtesy of (UB) Sean R on Flickr

On Expressions of Dismay and Disbelief…

Published April 11, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

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.


Too Little Too Late

Published March 17, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Many of you may have seen or heard about the case of Casey, a 16 year old boy from New South Wales (Australia) who having being bullied repeatedly, retaliated by body slamming the younger boy who had been hitting and taunting him, into the ground, while other boys taunted him and videotaped the bullying.  If you haven’t, here is a link to an article (which includes the video, please watch with caution as it may be triggering to some).

I have written before about my own experiences at the hands of bullies, and like Casey, I had a moment where it simply became more than I could tolerate, and I lost control and got violent with the girls who were bullying me.  And also like Casey, I was punished for that incident, not the bullies.  Even though my parents, teachers and other adults knew that I was being bullied long term.  I was punished at a moment when I hated myself more than ever, for resorting to the one thing that I never, ever wanted to do, but in desperation found myself with no other alternative.

Since the story went viral, there has been overwhelming support for Casey, but also there have been countless people weighing in on what should be done about bullying, what they think of Casey’s behaviour, and what they believe Casey should have done.

I think most of the advice being given, or the solutions being offered, are too little too late for Casey.  And for countless others who have suffered, and are suffering, like Casey has.

The repeated message I keep seeing is “Violence is bad, mmm’kay?”  Over and over, I hear things like “I feel for Casey, but he shouldn’t have resorted to violence.”  I’ve seen people suggesting he take martial arts or self defence lessons.  That he get counselling because of his violent retaliation to the bullies.   That Casey should have behaved this way, or that Casey should have done something else.

What I want to know, to ask all of the people who are full of suggestions for Casey, is where were they when Casey was being bullied?  Why does it take a young man of 16 to completely snap, before everyone jumps in with solutions to his problem?  This false sympathy, this sense of “You poor thing, but you still did it wrong.” is to me, one of the main reason bullying continues to be a problem.

It boils down to two things for me:

1) Casey should not have suffered as he did.

2) The onus should have been on the bullies to change their behaviour, NOT Casey.

If it’s so all important to prevent violence, we need to be focusing on the bullies right now, not when the victim is finally pushed to a point of retaliation.  We need to be teaching kids (and a whole lot of adults too) that the responsibility is on them to not bully anyone, that if they do bully someone, they are the ones who are going to suffer the consequences, and we need to follow through with that.  This means a complete zero tolerance on bullying in all environments, coupled with real repercussions for those who do bully.

Over and over, we hear kids being told that they should learn to defend themselves, learn appropriate responses, change their behaviour, practices and routines to prevent bullying.  Why is the onus on the victims, and potential victims to take action, rather on those who are, or might be, perpetrating the bullying?

This is a recurring theme in our society, that it is somehow a responsibility to take preventative measures against bullying, rape, and other acts of violence or violation, rather than it being a responsibility to not commit bullying, rape or other acts of violence or violation.

Why are the victims being expected to make changes, when all the victims really want, at the very heart of the matter, is for the violence/abuse/violation to cease?

To me, there is something fundamentally wrong with our society for this to be the norm.  This has to change, or we are never going to see any improvement in the rates of violence, bullying, rape or any other kinds of assault/violation.  So long as the responsibility lies on the shoulders of victims/potential victims, the perpetrators are going to believe no fault lies with them.

In short, we are going about it ass backwards.

So we end up with kids like Casey.  Kids like I once was myself.  Who in a moment of sheer desperation of wanting to just make it stop, take that step too far.  They find themselves like cornered animals, lashing out simply to just end the abuse.  They find themselves behaving in a way that they never wanted to behave, simply because they feel they have no other alternative.

Kids like Casey, don’t need lectures after the fact about what they did wrong, how they failed.  They need to know that we, as a society, as a community, have failed them.  That we failed to protect them, we failed to ensure that they can go through their young lives safe and without fear of bullying, and we failed to put the responsibility of preventing bullying on the shoulders of the bullies, instead of the victims.

It’s our responsibility as adults to stand up and make it very clear that there is to be no tolerance of bullies in our society, and that there will be real repercussions to those who do behave in this manner.

Silk or Leather, Or a Feather

Published February 25, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I just found myself having a little surprise cry.

Every night I scroll through Tumblr and have a look at all the bits and bobs people post.  I love Tumblr*, it’s full of inspiration, cuteness, discussion, news, cupcakes, fat positive photographs, laughs and food for thought.  So tonight I was scrolling through and came across this post from Marianne Kirby**, where she explains what she would like to have as her next tattoo.

I read the sentence that she has chosen to be part of her next tattoo, and my world stopped still just for a moment:

 

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

 

For those of you who don’t recognise it, it is a lyric from an Adam and the Ants song, Prince Charming.

As I read that sentence, something in me just clicked.  My 13 year old heart started beating so hard in my 38 year old chest.  A flood of memories came back to me, and I was almost instantly transported back to the early 80’s and my pre-teen/early teens.

And I cried.  I’m still crying on and off as I write this post.

I am not sure how I came to forget that sentence, that lyric.  It meant so much to me once.  I clung to it so hard, I repeated it over and over and over in my head.  It’s no secret that I was a bullied kid, nor is it a secret that I came from a background of domestic violence.  And I remember.  Oh how I remember, the feeling that nobody in the world cared about me, that everyone was cruel and hateful and that I was worthless.  But I also remember the lifeline that song threw me with that one lyric.

 

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.

 

When I was feeling at my very lowest.  When I was being beaten, bullied, humiliated, shamed… that lyric would pop into my head, and I would hear that song in my mind, and I would just escape.  Escape into a world of dandy men and powdered and pouffed women, with their faces painted in bright colours, a world of silk or leather, or a feather.  A world that was bright and beautiful, a world where ridicule was nothing to be scared of.

I think that part of me shut that memory out.  It hurts so much to remember that time.  Because the PTSD is always close to the surface and sometimes it’s easier to forget than acknowledge things and let the emotions come back.  Thing is, something as simple as a lyric, or an image, or a piece of music, or a scent, brings it all flooding back.

But the thing is, that lyric STILL means a lot to me, just for different reasons.  Because after a lifetime of using the lyric to escape, I realise now that it’s reality, not escape.  Ridicule IS nothing to be scared of.  I used to be terrified of people making fun of who I was, so I hid in a persona that was not me.  I dressed how I thought others wanted me to dress.  I behaved how I thought others wanted me to behave.  Only to be absolutely miserable, and people ridiculed me anyway.  So I came to a point (with thanks to therapy and the Fatosphere) where I figured if I was going to be ridiculed, then I may as well be ridiculed for being, wearing and doing the things I love. The surprising thing was that being ridiculed ceased to be painful.  It became a reminder that I was doing something that was important to me.  Even if I had forgotten the source of that belief, the lyric that taught me that no matter how much fun people made of me, if I’m doing something that makes me happy, there is no reason to be afraid of that ridicule, to be shamed by other people’s narrow-mindedness.

And that’s what makes me able to get tattoos of fat ladies, shave my head for charity and wear bright colours and kitschy accessories.  I’m confident enough to wear silk or leather, or a feather.  Thanks to the knowledge that ridicule really is nothing to be scared of.

So thank you Marianne, for sharing your next tattoo idea.  I have to apologise though, because at some point in the future, we’re going to have the same sentence tattooed on us.  I feel like I can’t not get it permanently marked on me now.  But I promise that it will look nothing like yours and I’ll tell the story of how an old memory was brought back to me and reminded me of my strength.

Oh look, have the song while we’re at it.  It’s so camp and theatrical, I still love it:

*This is my Tumblr blog if you want a look.
**Marianne’s main blog The Rotund can be found here.  It’s one of the best blogs you will read.

An Epiphany

Published February 2, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Last night I really struggled to go to sleep.  I felt so angry and bullied by the afternoon/evening’s events online.  I won’t link to John Birmingham’s blog post, simply because while he does give a hat tip to Fat Acceptance, he just continues the “but you’re not healthy!” rhetoric that frankly, I’m sick of hearing and sick of responding to.  I will however link to a fabulous response piece over on Spilt Milk, that I think you should all go and read if you haven’t done so already.  We’ll wait…

Fab piece huh?

So anyway, I went to bed really late, and just couldn’t settle.  I’d had hateful tweets come my way, some nasty troll comments here on Fat Heffalump and I’d seen some of the others that my fellow fats had suffered.  It does hurt, and I don’t think John Birmingham quite understands what he unleashes on us every time he carelessly throws out a bunch of assumptions about fat people.  If he does understand, then he’s a fucking douchebag for not taking responsibility for his actions… but to be honest, I don’t really think he knows.  Trolls and haters are cowards, they don’t do it where someone like he can see it, and if any of us report it, then we’re accused of being the ones seeking attention.

I’m laying in bed, thinking about all of the hurt and anger I saw from fellow fats yesterday, and thinking how sometimes it would be just so much easier to give up on Fat Acceptance and go back on a fucking diet, or at least shut up and pretend that I buy into the bullshit than it would be to put myself out there time and time again and get slapped with hatred time and time again.

But then I had an epiphany.

Fat haters hate fat people no matter what they do.

They hate us for being visible.  They hate us for wearing clothes that show any of our bodies.  They hate us for living life to the full.  They hate us for speaking up and demanding respect and fairness.  They hate us for eating.  They hate us for being in public.  They hate us if we dress fashionably or alternative.  They hate us if we appear in public.  They hate us if we speak out about the futility of dieting/fat shame/anything at all.

But guess what?  If you buy into what fat people are “supposed” to do, then they hate us for that too.

They hate us if we diet, they hate us if we try to exercise, they hate us if we mutilate our bodies with weight loss surgery, they hate us if we use diet pills, they hate us if we dress in boxy, dark clothing, they hate us if we have eating disorders, they hate us if we shut up and sit in a corner trying to disappear.

I know they do, because they aimed that hate squarely at me when I tried to do a lot of those things that fat people are “supposed” to do.  And I’m quite sure I’m not the only one.

The only thing fat haters want us to do is cease to exist.  It is the only thing that would stop them from directing hate at us, not being here.

But don’t despair.  There is a second part to my epiphany.

If you love yourself, you are absolutely guaranteed of one less person hating you.

No matter what we do, as fat people we’re going to draw hatred from some shitweasel* who just can’t live and let live.  Some douchecanoe* who has nothing better to do with their lives than bully, hate and harass people either on the internet or in the street.  I can’t imagine what kind of pathetic little life a person must live to need to do that.  Hell, there are people I cannot stand on this earth, but I want to get as far away from them as possible, not spend any time anywhere near them, following them online, or harassing them etc.  I don’t have enough time to read all the stuff on the internet that’s awesome, let alone stuff I don’t like.

But the best way to deal with those shitweasels and douchecanoes, is to live.  Be happy.  Laugh.  Love and be loved.  Have fun.  BE. Cos it drives them fucking spare with frustration that they haven’t made you cease to be. It sticks in their craw and gets up their butt.

While you’re doing it, be kind to yourself.  You’re ok, you’re not the one who spends your time harassing people online, or directing hate at people.  You’re just getting on with your life.

You are worthy of your own love more than anyone else in your life.

*Fabulous new cursewords courtesy of Hanne Blank

Your Emotions are YOURS

Published October 30, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

My friend and Cyster Jenn reposted something I said on Facebook as her status update last night, and while of course I was very honoured, I took the statement I had made away for awhile and have been rolling it around in my mind, thinking about what it means to me and how best to expand upon it.  I guess the best way to start is by sharing it here:

It’s not about allowing people to hurt you, it’s about your right as a human being to be treated with basic respect, dignity and fairness. We need to stop blaming the victim with the attitude of “they only hurt you because you allow them to” and put the onus back on to the perpetrator.

What I keep hearing, over and over, as a response to anyone who complains or calls out bigoted behaviour towards fat people are statements like:

“Don’t take it so personally.”
“They only hurt you if you allow them to.”
“Why are you always so angry?”
“Don’t let it get to you.”
“Just laugh at them.”
“Just let it go.  Get over it.”

And many other similar pieces of “advice”.

I really need to express my objection to this kind of attitude.  People who are harmed by others, be it physically or emotionally, have every right to be angry, hurt, dismayed, feel violated and any other way they happen to feel about the harm that has been laid at their feet.  They also have the right to expect that the perpetrator has to be the one to take responsibility for their behaviour, not them as the victims.

For too long, we’ve been practicing the old “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” attitude.  The truth is, words DO hurt people, and it is NOT acceptable to just say whatever one likes about others without taking the responsibility of the results of making those statements.

I also saw people responding with things like “Well it depends on the case…” suggesting that there are some kind of rankings for violation/abuse.  We need to let go of that attitude that there is some kind of gradient that means we should shut up for some things and speak up for others.  Yes, abuse is varying in it’s degrees, but that doesn’t mean we should just let the small stuff go.  Because what happens?  The big stuff gets bigger and more and more gets swept under the carpet.  Instead, put it back on the heads of the perpetrator.  The responsibility is with them and the level of repercussion is theirs to bear, not ours.  Violation is violation and there have to be repercussions for all of it, not just the worst end of the spectrum.

Yes, pick your battles, but that doesn’t mean you have to hide that you are hurt by the violation if it isn’t as violent as another violation.

You don’t have to pretend that their words don’t hurt.  When people tell you to just get over it or to not allow others words to hurt you, what they are doing is minimising your feelings, effectively telling you to be quiet and not complain.  They’re also minimising the responsibility of the person who has hurt you.

You can be angry. I’m not saying that you should be letting anger consume you, or other people’s behaviour from stopping you living your life to how YOU want to live it, but you have every right to feel anger and hurt and to express that.  As Marianne Kirby says in her recent post:

How dare people try to stifle our hard-won anger? Especially when we have every right to BE angry in the first place. You DO have every right to be angry. It is not wrong for you to feel that way. It’s important to find constructive ways of dealing with that anger but the anger itself is not usually the problem, okay? You are right to be angry at the people who want to abuse fatties.

She’s right on the nail.  With anger, I can fuel a whole lot of things.  That doesn’t mean that the anger controls me in any way, quite the opposite.  Anger is not the problem, the abuse is the problem.  Make the abuse go away, and off the anger goes with it.

In reference to the Marie Claire debacle of this week, the amazing Marilyn Wann tweeted yesterday:

Marie Claire says: “The opinion was that of a blogger, not the magazine. She posted an apology…We consider this matter closed.” Nuh-UH!

The prejudice-monger (Marie Claire) doesn’t decide when we’re prejudice-free. The prejudice isn’t gone until the FAT LADY says it’s gone!

Oh how I love how Marilyn can get right to the nitty gritty and say it so succinctly.  The perpetrator doesn’t get to choose how people react to their behaviour.  They also don’t get to choose when they’ve fully taken responsibility for that.  The person/people they have wronged do.

Don’t let anyone diminish how you feel.  Don’t let anyone tell you to just “get over it”.  How dare they?  Are they the ones harmed by the behaviour?  Even if they are, they choose how THEY react to it, and how they feel about it, not how anyone else does.  Your emotions are YOURS, and nobody has any right to minimise them.

*BTW: Do read Marianne’s post, it’s good advice on keeping yourself emotionally healthy and strong in the face of fat hate.

It’s About Human Rights, Nothing More.

Published October 28, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit fragile after the whole Marie Claire debacle.  I’m not going to link to it, or go into any more detail, for a couple of reasons.  Firstly because I think Marie Claire should shove their free publicity up their arse.  Secondly because delving into it any more than I’ve already seen on all the other fabulous Fat Acceptance blog is only going to do my head in further than it’s already been done in by the absolute tidal wave of fat hatred that has washed over us for the past day or so.

Read pretty much any Fat Acceptance blog or Tumblr and you’ll find links if you really want to read it all.  Actually just go over to Fatshionista and let Lesley take you there – she handles it all beautifully.

I basically just want to talk about how I’m feeling about the waves of fat hate washing over us right now, and get my own thoughts and feelings out of my head and down somewhere that I can put some distance between them and myself.

I’ve been having a great week.  Monday was my birthday and I got the most awesome tutu in the world.  Tuesday I heard from an old friend that I hadn’t heard from in ages.  Yesterday I found out that I won the Ben and Jerry’s “Free Scoop Friday” competition for my office.  Today I went and ordered my new glasses, which are objects of retro-style awesomeness.  But for the past 24 hours or so, even though I’ve consciously tried to skim over all of the fat hatred that’s been borne of the Marie Claire debacle, it’s still been there, hanging around my neck like a millstone.  I’ve tried very hard to distance myself from it while still offering support to those who’ve decided to take it on and fight, and for those who are just struggling with how all of this shit triggers so many painful, difficult feelings in them.  I wish I could be there more for others, but right now, I have to be there for myself.

The thing is, to be a fat person in this world is to have vast amounts of violent, vicious, frightening hate directed at you.  Whether directly or indirectly.  One only has to read the comments on any obesity panic article published on a newspapers website to see just how much pure hatred is being sent out into the world towards fat people.

Now I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of the whole fat/health thing, what anyone thinks about how much fat is costing taxpayers or who or what is at fault for fatness, or whether or not people choose to be fat.  Think what you want to think, because we all talk about it over and over and over and over again, sending facts and studies and evidence out to support our arguments for these topics, and either people behave like intelligent, critical-thinking adults and go and investigate that for themselves, or they continue on their narrow-minded, prejudicial, bigoted path to believe the propaganda they are being sold by the mass media and those who rake in a lot of money from the misery of fat people.

What I do give a shit about is that these are human fucking beings they are directing this hate at.  Every single human being placed on this earth by God (or however you personally choose to believe human beings are placed here) deserves basic respect, and has the right to live their lives without fear, prejudice, demonisation, hatred or discrimination.

It is a right, not a privilege, for all humans to live their life peacefully, with respect and fairness.

It’s that simple.  Seriously.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who tries to remove that right from other people loses the right for themselves.

We’re Not Making this Shit Up!

Published October 24, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I know plenty of other fatosphere bloggers have talked about and shared this piece by sugaredvenom over on Tumblr and I’m not sure I have much more to add to what has already been said.  But because I get someone pretty much every day commenting that I should just “get over” being fat in this world and quit being so angry/political/whiny/vocal and so on, I just want to put it out there again.

Because I get very tired of hearing the same old “you’re just imagining it” thing over and over.  We’re told we’re paranoid, that we read too much into what people say and do about fat bodies and fat people.  We’re told that we’re the ones creating animosity about fatness.  But I think sugaredvenom has found some very clear proof that we do not imagine the hateful attitude towards fat people.

Just because I believe in having a look if I can replicate the results myself, and to follow her advice and look to see if there were the same amount of negative ones for thin people (there are not, Brian over at RedNo3 demonstrates this) I was doing some Google searches myself.  I came up with the same results as sugaredvenom for the searches she ran, but found a few doozies myself.

How about this one:

why are fat people

Then there is this one:

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Smaller brains and no reason to live hey?

This one suggests we use more gas as well as being unattractive and ugly:

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Just in case we didn’t know, we make people sick and must die.

fat people m

And of course we’ve all heard how gross we are and that we should just go be fat somewhere else, and again, we’re to blame for global warming.

fat people g

It’s pretty clear that fat hatred is well entrenched in our culture.  If enough people are entering those search terms that they are trending on Google to make your searches easier, then I think we’ve got enough proof that fat hatred is a valid thing that people suffer at the hands of others on a daily basis.  Just looking through the Google search terms that brought people to this very blog, the most prominent searches over the past few months have been the terms:

fat sluts; fat women don’t deserve happiness; shut the fuck up fat bitch; fat should kill themselves; fat women suck; fat people ruin everything; fat people take food from thin people; bitches are fat; nobody will fuck you fatty; fat bitch from Glee; kill yourself fat…

and a whole bunch of other terribly misspelled terms along the same lines.  One thing about fat haters… a lot of them have really awful spelling!

Fat hatred is rife.  Nobody is making it up, or being paranoid by speaking out about it.  Those who minimise or dismiss the very real feelings of pain, anger and fear that many fat people have are simply adding to that fat hatred and hostility.