douchebags

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Post “Fat Pig” Debrief

Published June 18, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ll give you a heads up that this is going to be a bit of a stream of consciousness blog post tonight.  I have just got home from seeing Neil LaBute’s “Fat Pig” by the Queensland Theatre Company, and need to debrief a little or I will never sleep tonight!

Now, let me just start off by saying that the play is wonderful, with a fantastic cast, though the two support characters are a little caricature-like to really take them seriously.  The leads, Amy Ingram and Christopher Sommers however bring depth and an honesty to their characters that more than makes up for the one dimensional supporting characters.  I loved the play, it’s an honest, confronting story and really blows open some issues around fat hatred and bigotry that I feel gets the subject out in the open.

However, right now, I am filled with such a blinding rage, an anger so intense that it had me sobbing hysterically in the theatre at the end of the play, fighting to just express how fucking furious I feel right now.

I think my two lovely friends at first thought that I was so upset because I was sad – the play confronts a lot of painful issues for fat women, especially around romantic relationships.  And yes, those moments are sad in the play.

However, they were so over-ridden by the rage I felt not at the story, or the cast, or anything to do with the play.  What I am so angry at, what makes me almost physically sick, is the reaction of a not-insignificant portion of the audience.

Without spoilers, I can tell you that the two sub-characters in the play are full of some pretty vitriolic fat hate.  That’s the point of them.  They’re the antagonists in the story.  What I didn’t expect was that quite a few people in the audience actually cheered them on, not because of the actors particularly good acting, but because these characters were saying things that those audience members clearly approved of.

There is one particular scene where Jeannie, played by Paige Gardiner, throws a rather theatrical tantrum, and lets spew with a whole string of hateful, vitriolic, bigoted bitchiness about the heroine of the play, Helen.  Paige plays this woman as particularly vicious and shrill, which to be honest, is the kind of woman that just makes me want to take a dump in her handbag and give her something to really bitch about, but as she stormed off stage, there were say a quarter of the audience, who applauded, not to acknowledge the actress, but instead as though they were offering a “RIGHT ON!” to Jeannie’s loathing of this fat woman.

And while most of us were laughing and cringing at the sheer ludicrousness of Carter’s (Steven Rooke) shallowness, there were two young women sitting next to us who, at a somewhat shocking and hateful reveal on his behalf, thought it was delightfully funny… while most of the audience were gasping with shock at just how vicious his behaviour was.  These two young women weren’t the only ones I’m sure.

I guess what has me so angry is that despite this fat woman, this lovely Helen, being given a face and a name and visible feelings in this wonderful play, despite the play pointing out the offensiveness of bigoted behaviour (not just towards fat people, but towards gay, disabled, old, and others as well) – there were a portion of the audience that just didn’t get it.  There were these people who just continued to think that behaviour like this towards fat people was perfectly acceptable – despite it being pointed out to them very clearly in this beautifully honest play, the despicable nature of their attitudes.

That’s what we’re up against in fighting fat hatred.  That’s the biggest fight we’ve got in front of us.  Not the good people who just let it slide because they don’t want to rock the boat.  Not those who feel discomfort about the bigotry and don’t quite know what to do, so they avoid the topic.  Not those who are just ignorant and buy into what they’re sold by the media and marketing.  But those who openly believe it’s totally acceptable to display hatred towards fat people, who normalise this behaviour as if it’s funny, or should be applauded or encouraged.

And that makes me so very, very angry.

Thanks for listening folks, the debrief has done me good.

Handing Back the Hate

Published April 26, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Yesterday I got an email from a friend (you know who you are *waves*) terribly upset because she’d been yelled at by some douchebags in a passing car again, and wanted to talk to someone who knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such bullshit.

My heart hurts for her, because yes, it happens to me pretty regularly, and I know how it can really pierce through to a very vulnerable spot.  I remember the humiliation, the hurt, the shame, the tears, the shock very clearly.  And I remember just thinking “Why?  What do you have to gain from being so hurtful to me, a complete stranger?”

I sent her an email telling her what an awesome friend she is, and how the opinion of random douchebags on the street is no reflection on her as a person.  But I know it’s still hurting and that her self esteem has taken a pretty full on hit.

The thing is, knowing why someone has to randomly hurt a stranger doesn’t help.  Even if you were given the opportunity to ask knowing that the answer you would get would be honest (and let’s face it, douchebags are not really forthcoming with the honesty huh?) the answer wouldn’t be enough to you and I, to those of us on the receiving end, to justify being targeted with such hate and humiliation.  Because usually, it’s such a pointless reason that we can’t imagine someone would hurt another person for it.

My friend asked me how I stopped it happening to me, and how I got to the point that it doesn’t hurt any more.

It doesn’t happen any less to me now that I have stronger self esteem and confidence.  It still happens pretty much on a daily basis.  Sometimes it still hurts for a bit, usually with the shock, you know?  Though why I still feel shock when it happens, I don’t know.  You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

But what has changed is me.  I’ve found a resilience I didn’t know it was possible to have.  Though I didn’t just lift up one of the sofa cushions and there that resilience was, I had to learn a lot of lessons and practice.  I still do, believe me, I fall off the resilient wagon from time to time.

Plus any of you who blog will know, having a presence on a blog as a fat woman is always target to trolls and douchebags.  Thank God for WordPress huh?  It cleans up so many of them so effectively.

A valuable lesson I learnt is that when someone treats you badly, it’s not your fault and it’s not your baggage to carry.  It’s not about you, you’re just the whipping girl/boy they’ve singled out to dump their baggage on.  You’re not the one that is flawed or broken… THEY ARE.

I have an analogy I like to use.  I was sharing this one with another friend recently, it’s a little more blunt than most therapists and other professionals would express it, but it works for me so I’m going to share it with you.

When someone is hurtful to you, think of that hurtful behaviour as a big steaming turd.  I told you it was blunt!  Think of the hate, or anger, or nastiness they are slinging you as a big steaming poo.  Now ask yourself “Did I do anything to earn this big steaming turd?  Was I nasty or rude to this person?  Did I say or do something to them that would have hurt them?”  Usually the answer is no, because hey, they’re a random douchebag right?

When the answer is no, as it usually will be, think to yourself “No, that is not my big steaming turd.  I didn’t produce it.  It’s yours.” and metaphorically hand it back to them.  Refuse it in your own mind “I am not taking on your shit.  It is yours to carry.”  Imagine yourself handing them back that big stinky poo, on the end of a shovel so you don’t get any on yourself, and washing your hands of it.

It works.  In two ways.  Firstly you hand back all the hate, negativity, anger, prejudice and bad behaviour to the person who owns it.  And secondly, I always get a giggle out of thinking of some douchebag standing there with a bit stinky turd in his or her hand!  If the douchebags of the world knew what I was thinking about them!

It’s wrong that we have to deal with this.  It’s wrong that we have to suffer through people treating us badly for whatever reasons – but it happens and you can only deal with it as best as you can.

Feel free to try my method – if it works for you, I’m really happy to have shared it.  If not, have you found another method that helps you get through douchebaggery?

Fuck You BBSize.com

Published February 23, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I was just going to post a quick video tonight because I’ve not been well for a couple of days (just a stupid head cold, somebody breathed their germs on me) but I came across this little bit of insanity and just had to share it.

It’s a blog post on a website called BBSize.com: Pure Fashion for Plus SizeWomen

Let’s hit you up with the link so you can go and have a look:

Non Slimming Fashion: Bold but not so Beautiful

Ok, now you can take a few deep breaths, pick your jaw up off the ground and give yourself a good mental shake.

Can you believe it?

This is a blog that is supposed to be body positive, and all it does is post a whole pile of fat hatred, spouting how fatties should be dressing “slimming” and “flattering” and actually shames a whole bunch if innocent fatshionistas that they actually STOLE the photographs from.  You heard it right – none of the women in the photographs listed as what fatties shouldn’t do in the name of fashion were asked permission to publish their photographs.  Well, none that have come forward anyway, but I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet.  Not to mention that they’ve used photographs from various other catalogues and sites and there seems to be no permission on those either.

Yeah BBSize.com – fat women should be in black or navy shapeless sacks, hiding ourselves from the world because you don’t like seeing fat bodies.  Fuck you BBSize.com, I say.

It would be good if you all left a comment over there stating just how wrong this kind of post is, and if any of your photos are on there, demand that they take them down and publish an apology (and know that you look fabulous, no matter what those douchebags say).

Too Many Arseholes

Published January 23, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I can feel a bit of a rant coming on.  I’ve been feeling it building for awhile lately, noticing something happening and becoming more socially acceptable as more and more people get into things like Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube etc.  And it sucks, so I think it’s time to speak up about it.

The thing that I find really, deeply offensive that a lot of people seem to think is ok, is this practice of photographing or video recording complete strangers, and then putting that image/footage up on the internet with criticism about their clothes, body, hair, etc.

I don’t know what goes through people’s heads when they think it’s ok to do this.  To snap a pic on their phone of someone who is wearing a very short skirt and post it to Twitter, to take pics of people in Walmart and send them to a blog that does nothing but ridicule complete strangers, to video some drunk stranger in a bar and post it to their YouTube.  To photograph a fat person or someone they consider ugly and post it saying “Look at this hideous person!”

Do they think the subject doesn’t know?  Quite often they do know.  And usually they’re too upset, horrified and embarrassed to say “Hey, fuck you douchebag!”  Or even if they don’t know this is being done to them, what happens when some friend or relative says “I saw a photo of you on the internet!”

Do the people who post these things even give a second of thought as to what happens to that photo as soon as it’s uploaded?  Or do they not give a shit at all?

Thing is, doing stuff like that is pure and simple douchebaggery.  Even if someone does have a really freaky outfit, or they’re dancing like a drunken fool – who are you to photograph/record them and post it to the internet for people to laugh at?  Have you never had a shit fashion moment?  Do you not have flaws about your body or looks?  Never made an idiot of yourself at a bar or a party?  How would you feel if someone posted pics or photos of you like this?

Thing is, I know what it feels like.  It happened to me.  I got on the train one morning to go to work, minding my own business, and there were a group of young guys, about 18-20 years of age.  One of them thought it would be REALLY funny to photograph the fat lady (me) and text it around to the other guys.  I knew he was doing this, but I was so embarrassed, mortified and hurt that I wasn’t able to say anything to them.  This was pre-confident, assertive me.  All I could do was try very, very hard not to cry while they made barking noises and looked at each others phones, knowing full well it was me they were texting around.

By the time I got to work I was a mess.  Sobbing my heart out.  I was lucky, my colleagues were super supportive, and one of my bosses at the time asked me lots of questions about what the guys were wearing, what they looked like.  For some reason, I remembered a logo on their shirts.  She Googled it, found the company and called them, demanding to speak to the manager.  She got him.  She told him in no uncertain terms that she wanted answers and that she wasn’t going to rest until someone was held responsible for this douchebag behaviour.  She was AWESOME.

The upshot was, the manager worked out who it was, put the guys on performance management and in his words “Tore them each a new arsehole.”

But not everyone is able to see anything being done about when it happens to them and they know it.  To this day, I don’t know if there are photographs of me still on people’s phones, still going around, or if they’re going to pop up on the internet.  It still makes me feel bad, and I’m a hell of a lot more self confident and assertive now than I was then.

I don’t care if you’re a woman doing it just to criticise someone’s fashion choices.  That’s no better than photographing someone you think is fat or ugly or any other reason – it’s all ridicule.  And it’s douchebag behaviour.

Maybe it’s because the paparazzi are so well ensconced in our culture now, that people think it’s ok to whip their camera phones out and photograph strangers.  You know what?  The paparazzi suck.  Even though they’re often stalking people who have chosen to live their lives in the public eye, they still suck for harassing those people, for stalking them and for making money off the negative stuff about those people.

But someone just photographing or filming a complete stranger on the street or in a shop, bar, or any other public place with the intent to post those pictures publicly and ridicule or criticise them is nothing short of a complete and utter arsehole.

Stop doing it.  Stop supporting it on websites and blogs that collate this kind of shit.  Stop being an arsehole.  You’ll thank me for the good karma later.

A Relationship With Yourself

Published December 1, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

I found this lovely little video on YouTube today:

Isn’t he a cutie?

Did you listen to the lyrics of the song?  A sweet little tune, a love song to himself.

I love this because it’s quite accurate in summing up a healthy relationship with oneself.  It’s not all saccharine sweet, there are moments of self loathing and doubt.  But when it all comes down to it, yourself is the one person you will always, ALWAYS have in your life.  So you have to learn to love yourself, to be a healthy individual.

I am learning to love myself.  Most of the time, I do ok.  Sometimes the old recordings of self loathing come back, and it gets REALLY difficult.  Sometimes other people’s recordings come in.  Like my parents, or my brother, ex-boyfriends or even strangers who have been hurtful and hateful towards me.  Those old recordings make it harder to love myself too.  But I know now that they are just that – old recordings, that I have the power to switch off.

It’s hard for anybody to love themselves.  We’re taught not to.  Not to have tickets on ourselves, not to be “up yourself” (good Aussie term there), to be humble and self deprecating.  Of course, we add those supposed to’s to the insecurities and harmful words of others, and we end up with a big pile of self loathing.

For we fatties, it’s even harder.  People tell us every day that we’re somehow worth less than others, less than those who aren’t fat.  It seems the bigger our bodies, the less our value is in our culture.  We’re dehumanised, demonised and devalued.  Facing that makes loving yourself REALLY hard.

But the thing is, we’re as worthy as anyone else.  More worthy than the douchebags that get their kicks out of trying to hurt us.  And you CAN love yourself if you are a fatty.  You don’t need to be thin to love yourself.

For me, it was the realisation that I judge myself harder than I do any other person on this earth.  When I realised that I demand things of myself that I would never expect of a friend or romantic partner, it was a huge leap towards being able to love myself.  When I started listing the things that I found wonderful in other people, it had nothing to do with their physicality or shape or size.  The things I have the most love for in other people are their intellect, their humour, their kindness, their respect.  When I started asking myself if I met those criteria myself, I was surprised at how much of it I did.

Though, as I said, it is, and probably will always be a work in progress.  While douchebags don’t get me down like they used to (though they try, the poor, sad things), sometimes the self criticism gets a bit beyond the healthy range.  At least I recognise it pretty quickly now and re-train the brain back in to the right path.

What about you?  Do you think you’re able to love yourself?  Or do you need to find a way to make that happen?

 

Desperate and Dateless? I Think Not!

Published November 14, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Following up from my last post about the whole world of fun that opens up when a woman declines a man’s attention, I want to talk a bit more tonight about fat women, dating, romance and sex.

Now I don’t proclaim to be an expert on the subject in any way, because it’s such a bizarre thing that is totally individual to every person on this earth.  But I do have my experiences and the bits I’ve learned, and I know there are a lot of fatties out there that are completely baffled by the whole subject, so let’s talk about it a bit, and maybe get some things right.

There is this perception that fat women are desperate and dateless.  That they’re at home on a Saturday night pining over their lack of prospective romantic partners.   Hang on, I AM at home on a Saturday night!  Oops!  But that is out of choice after a long tiring week, not because I’m some sad lonely heart.

Guess what?  Fat women aren’t desperate and dateless.  They’re not completely ignored by men because “nobody will have them.”  In my experience, and remember I am post-35 years old, I’ve never had any time of my life where I haven’t had some male attention.  That’s not always been the kind of males I would like attention from, but no more than receiving attention from the males that I do want the attention from.  Fat women get married, have hot sex, are seen as beautiful and do live happily ever after.

Yes, I am still single.  I am aware of this, so you don’t need to leave the whole “But you’ve not got married yet, so you’re still desperate.” comment.  Had that one before, surprise, surprise.  YAWN.  But being single is not some failure to find a partner.  Being single is about where you are on the road of life, the people who have come into your life and at what point, and a whole lot of choices.

What I think many fat women do lack is confidence and good self esteem.  They are often more “gun-shy” than their slimmer counterparts, simply because when they have suffered rejection (and every single human suffers rejection, not just fat people), it has been particularly nasty and cruel.  The guy who rejects the slim girl is less likely to insult her as viciously about it.

And when you consider how attractive confidence is, it’s no wonder that fat women often feel very intimidated about the whole dating thing.  It becomes a vicious circle.  Fat woman is rejected horribly, loses confidence, avoids the situation, loses more confidence, feels unattractive and worthless, and so on.

I know, I have been there myself for large chunks of my life, until I started to gain the confidence and stronger self esteem that I have built up today.  It’s a tough place to be in, but there is life outside of that.

The thing is, there are plenty of great men out there that love fat women.  I don’t mean fetishists, though of course we all know they exist.  But good men who love the shape of their beautiful, bountiful fat women, and who find women attractive for more than just some magazine media/Hollywood ideal of beauty.  If there weren’t, April Flores wouldn’t be such a popular porn star!

I’ve been on dates with (and in some cases, dated exclusively) all kinds of men.  Young men, older men, fat men, thin men, sporty men, men that would be considered “super handsome”, men who have big old issues and even a few douchebags.  It’s all a process of elimination really – meeting guys and eliminating those that aren’t suitable for whatever reason.

One of the difficulties of being a fatty in the dating world is that low confidence and self esteem often have the fat woman thinking that there’s no way that the guy who has just paid her attention is interested in her.  She tells herself he’s just being nice, or he’s gay (cos let’s face it, fat women and gay men go together like strawberries and cream – I have so many gay male friends, it’s awesome.) or that he’s a douchebag setting her up to be a jerk to her (who hasn’t experienced that one in high school, hmmm?)

What happens is she doesn’t believe that the guy paying her attention is genuinely interested, so she rejects him out of self protection, and then he’s hurt too.  See the vicious cycle forming?

As fat women, we need to find some confidence in ourselves.  Because often that’s the strongest thing that holds us back.  When we encounter the douchebags, we need to hold our heads high, look them in the eye and say “Fuck you!” and remember that THEY are the douchebag, not us because we have fat bodies.  When a man is kind to us or pays us positive attention, we need to accept it as just that – kindness and positive attention.  Smile and say thank you and enjoy it.

Recently I struck up a conversation with an attractive man I was seeing in my day to day travels regularly.  He was always very polite and friendly, and one day he made it clear he’d like a chat.  So we talked.  Each time we saw each other afterwards, we talked some more.  He mentioned that he may not be in the same place for awhile, as his circumstances might be changing, so I figured “What the hell, I’ll give him my card.”  I handed him my card and said “If you disappear from the regular spots, here’s my email address.”

I would never have done this a few years ago, simply because I didn’t have the confidence and was terrified of rejection.   But with the confidence and stronger self worth I have built over the past years, my thought was “What the hell, life is short and he’s nice, I’m pretty sure he won’t be a douche.”  And he wasn’t.  But if he had been, I could have handled it too.  Now I’m enjoying a new friendship, some flirtation and who knows where it will go.

The thing is, there are a lot of people in this world, and everyone has really wide and varied tastes, values, needs and stages in their lives.  Don’t let the douchebags of the world put you off living your life, and believing that there are people out there who see you for the amazing person you are.

Under No Obligation

Published November 10, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

This isn’t just a post about being fat.  It’s also a post about being a woman.  The two are very much linked together, because fat actually is a feminist issue.  It’s not only a feminist issue, but it is still one.

One of the problems with being fat and being female, is that in Western society at least, and probably in others, women’s bodies, and women themselves, are often considered public property.  Women’s bodies are commented on and critiqued.  They are touched, felt, groped, stood over and dominated.

Even when it’s not intended to be a menacing thing, women’s bodies are public property.  Ask any woman who is, or who has been pregnant what it’s like having complete strangers paw over her belly, comment on her shape and ask inappropriately personal questions.

When a woman’s body is fat, it’s subject to judgement and derision, comment and criticism.  A woman’s morals are judged by her body.  Slender, pretty women are “lovely, sweet, take care of themselves, angelic” etc.  Fat women who don’t fit traditional beauty standards are “lazy, gluttinous, slothful, sloppy, dirty” etc.

Of course, it’s totally wrong.  Body shape and physical attributes have absolutely no reflection on the morals and values of the person within.

Because women are so often treated as objects, not people, we have to endure a lot of behaviours from men that we shouldn’t have to endure.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE MEN.  Whooooweee, do I love the fellas.  Not only cos I find men sexy creatures that I would like to do sexy things with, but also because I generally enjoy the company of men the most.  Except for those men that exhibit the attitudes and behaviours that I’m about to talk about.

If a man speaks to a woman in public, and she does not respond, or is not interested in him, she is not a bitch, a slut, whore, fat cow or a lesbian.   She is under absolutely no obligation at all to respond or pay attention to any man.  Her avoidance or disinterest is not an invitation for that man to aim hostility, ridicule or abuse in her direction.  It is simply what it is – disinterest, and she is allowed to be disinterested.  It is not a crime.

Guys – if a woman buries her nose in her book, or plugs in her iPod, or turns away from you – leave her alone.  This is her way of telling you she does not wish to be disturbed by you.  This is not an invitation for you to harass her, insult her or assault her.  Women are taught from a very young age not to argue, to not make a fuss, to behave in a “ladylike manner”.  So these are her cues to leave her alone.  It’s likely she’s not going to say “Go away.” or “Leave me alone.”  because she has been taught to “not make a fuss”.  Or she has had an experience where she has told a man to go away, and he has actually got MORE abusive, MORE persistent with her, so she’s trying to avoid that.

If she is talking, laughing, or paying attention to another man, this also does not  mean that she has to pay attention to you by default.  She is allowed to choose which men she gives her attention to, just as you are allowed to choose which woman you pay attention to.  That does not make her a bitch or a snob, it just is her choice.

If she is a fat woman, she is not desperate.  She does not have to be “grateful” for your attention.  Or anyone else’s attention for that matter.  She is not just waiting for someone, ANYONE to pay her attention.  She is not an easy target for you to sleep with either, because again, she is not desperate.  She is just fat.  Just because you think she is unworthy or somehow deficient for being fat, doesn’t necessarily mean that other people, indeed, other men feel the same way.

If a woman is not interested in you, she is not interested in you.  Move on.  Behave like a decent human being, and you may find the next woman you approach will be interested in you.

It is not true that nice guys never get the girl.  They do, they just don’t behave like a douchebag about it.