injury

All posts in the injury category

Falsely Filling in the Story

Published January 19, 2013 by Fat Heffalump

Firstly I want to share the amazing work of Rachele aka The Nearsighted Owl with you.  Rachele has been doing a series of “shame loss” artworks, which I think are absolutely brilliant.  You can check them out on her blog, or you can find them on her Tumblr.  I want you to go and look at them on her sites, so I’m only going to share the one with you all now, because I want to talk about it.  It is this take on the crappy Special K ad:

Image courtesy of Rachele of The Nearsighted Owl

Image courtesy of Rachele of The Nearsighted Owl

Isn’t it fabulous?  I am loving that Rachele is creating lots of intersectional images of fat folk – people of colour, people with disibility, across gender and of varying shapes and sizes.  Some of them are naked, some are clothed, the variety so far has been great and I look forward to the others she comes up with – I really do hope she comes up with more!

The reason I’m singling out this piece is because of the horrific healthism and ableism that has come out of people responding to the artwork.  Most predominantly, that this fat woman “did it to herself” because she must have diabetes and has had a leg amputated because of it.  I know, can you believe just how fucked in the head the thinking is around the image of a fat woman with a prosthetic leg that they’ve invented a whole fucking scenario for her… from a drawing!

Let’s ignore the logic of the whole thing that she’s clearly a young woman and people who suffer amputation due to diabetes are almost always elderly and it takes many years of suffering from vascular issues before things get as drastic as amputation.  Not to mention that it’s a drawing, not a fucking photograph of an actual person.  Logic clearly doesn’t come into play with these people.

Let’s focus on the bullshit attitude that somehow because she is a fat woman she “did it to herself”.

Let’s imagine that the image is exactly the same, only she is thin. What scenario do you think these people would dream up for her prosthetic leg then?

Car accident?  Well let’s ask if the car accident was her fault?  Did she “do it to herself” then?

How about through some kind of extreme sport/thrill accident?  An accident base- jumping?  Mountain climbing?  Snowboarding?  Surfing in shark infested waters?  Would that come under “did it to herself”?

How about some of the cancers that are caused by lifestyle?  Did she sunbathe?  Smoke cigarettes?  Live somewhere near radioactive material?  Does that come under “did it to herself”?

I could go on.  But what I’m really getting at is that if this was a picture of a thin woman with a prosthetic leg, there would be no question of “she did it to herself” and the image would not be met with the disgust and dreamed-up diabetes amputation scenario that came with it as it is above.  There still would have no doubt been ableism, but the “fat chick did it to herself” people would have asked how a thin woman came to have a prosthetic leg, or assumed it was congenital, or some “tragic” circumstance

Only fat people get accused of “doing it to themselves” when it comes to disability or illness.  Fat people are never allowed to have tragic circumstances, accidents, congenital illnesses or any other reason for their disabilities, no, it’s assumed that we must be unhealthy and have “done it to ourselves”.  Even with NO information other than the person in the picture is fat and has a prosthetic leg, fat haters invent their own story for the person laying the “blame” on them.  As Amanda at Fat Body Politics says on her post Speaking Hypothetically:

Attacking a drawing, that doesn’t depict a real person, gives people who are blinded by their own prejudice an ability to try and remove their own responsibility that is connected to the harm their words cause. The issue really isn’t that they are reading a drawing of a person that was meant to be positive, but that they are trying to negate the reality that their words have been said about real people, with real bodies that live in reality. Their lives and body should never be used as a hypothetical situation.

But what REALLY pisses me is that regardless of body shape or size, what if it was a picture of someone who had an amputation because of diabetes? (Since thin people get diabetes too – ie, my paternal uncles)  It is disgustingly healthist and ableist to suggest that they “deserve” to be treated poorly.  Every single human being, regardless of level of health, physical ability, size or general quality of life, deserves to live their lives in peace and dignity, without being vilified and bullied because of their bodies.

I don’t care if someone is the fattest person on the planet and they cut their own leg off for kicks, they still deserve to live their lives in peace and dignity, and to see themselves represented and accommodated in society – fat, with a disability and any other identifying features – as valid human beings.

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Holy Crap – What a Roller Coaster!

Published April 27, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Hey!

I know, it has been awhile since I blogged last.  But this post is going to be all about what has been going on in my life since the whole Hoopla debacle and I want to clear a few things up too.

So, things have been kind of chaotic for me.  The big thing is that I’m moving house in a week’s time.  Which for me is a seriously big deal – I’ve lived in my little place here for fourteen and a half years – the longest I have lived anywhere in my life.  But I’m also moving across the city, not to mention doing almost everything on my own (but I do have a couple of awesome friends who have been really helpful – love youse!) and I’m moving because my current landlord is kicking me out, not for any negative reason, but because I no longer meet their criteria to rent one of their properties, which really sticks in my craw.  So the whole thing is really massive for me.  That said, I have a lovely new place lined up to move into that has lots of fabulous things that I don’t have here.  My own private laundry!  An east facing balcony!  A lock up garage (lots of storage for me because I don’t drive)!  Proper wardrobes, linen cupboard and kitchen pantry!  Just the storage alone is making me excited.  But best of all, I will be living by the sea.  I am moving to a bay side suburb, and my new flat is only metres from the foreshore.  I can’t wait to be able to ride my bike and walk up and down the waterfront at any time I choose.  Not to mention those gorgeous sea breezes.

Yeah, so that’s the biggest upheaval.

But as well as going through a full residential relocation, I’ve had so much else on in the past few months.

There’s the shiny new library we opened at the end of March.  I always think bringing a new library into the world is somewhat like bringing a new baby into the world.  There is a long, uncomfortable gestation, then a difficult labour and intense birth, but then you have this beautiful newborn that you love like no other and are already beginning to think you might like another one!

I also sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago.  Walking to my bus stop, moved aside to let a cute little old couple that looks like Santa and Mrs Claus by on the footpath, hit an uneven bit of concrete and turned my ankle.  Went down like a sack of spuds, landed on my right knee and sprained  my left ankle.  I’m healing ok, was very limpy for a couple of weeks there and am stuck in a compression bandage for another two weeks yet, but I’m thankful I’m strong and in robust health so that I can heal well.

Y’all know about the Hoopla drama.  And in the thick of all of that, an interview I did back in January was published in the Sun Herald (Sydney).  I had seen the online version, but when a friend left me a message to tell me that there was a “huge” photo of me in the print version, I was kind of “Oh yeah, that’s nice.”  Then she sent me the paper copy:

That’s a library card sitting on top of the paper to give scale (same size as a credit card).  I’m about half the page!!  I sent it to my Grandma, she was tickled pink.  I like how it shows off my gold We Love Colors tights and the leopard print Chucks my friend Kylie found for me in the UK.

And then there has been more media interest… Kelli Brett from ABC Radio Melbourne’s The Main Ingredient interviewed me for her programme.  The podcast hasn’t gone up live yet but I’ll share when it does.  Plus a news editor from the Australian Women’s Weekly interviewed me a couple of weeks ago, for a piece that I think will be in the June or July edition.  More on that in a minute.

I do just want to clarify something.  There has been some suggestion from several people that The Hoopla publishing my piece some weeks ago is the reason that these media gigs have been coming my way.  I would just like to make it very clear that this is not true.  I was interviewed for the Sun Herald back in January (on Australia Day, January 26th, to be exact, and photographed in the first week or so of February) and any subsequent media contact has come from either this blog or that Sun Herald article.  One of the recent interviewers had never even heard of The Hoopla, the other wasn’t interested in it.  As much as there might be people that would like to claim that they are the reason for my “overnight success” (after over 3 years of slogging away at this stuff as a second, unpaid, full time job), it is simply not true.  The Hoopla did not “discover me”, I contacted them and asked if they would publish my writing.

Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way!  I am very lucky to get these opportunities, but that luck is coupled by my own hard work.

As well as being interviewed by the Australian Women’s Weekly, they have set up a photo shoot on Monday, which I am both nervous and excited about.  They’re going the whole kit and caboodle with a studio shoot, with fashion stylist, make-up and hair and Autograph Fashion are kindly loaning us the clothes for the shoot.  I am so excited, because what fun is it to get all dolled up!  But I am very nervous and anxious, as I’m suffering some impostor syndrome about it all.  I’ve been labelled the “ugly fat chick” my whole life, and it’s just bizarre to think that I’m doing a photo shoot with AWW, a magazine that I read my mother’s copies of as a kid.  As I said on Twitter this evening “I’m in your magazines, smashing your beauty standards!”

And the other big, exciting news for me is that I’ve found a way to wangle the finances to attend the Massey University, Palmerston North Fat Studies: Reflective Intersections Conference in New Zealand!  I am SOOOO excited, not only am I taking a holiday (two beautiful weeks) to New Zealand, but I’m going to be able to get all fab fatty at the conference.  I’ll get to see friends I made at the last conference, and hopefully make some new friends.  It’s worth putting myself into hock for!  Of course I promise to blog all about it, take lots of photos and I have also submitted an abstract for a paper I am writing.  Cross fingers it gets accepted so I can present it.

So, there you have the absolute roller coaster of chaos that my life is at the moment.  I’m knackered, a bit sore, sneezy from all my allergies stirred up by packing and cleaning, and in desperate need of a decent night’s sleep and a couple of days relaxation.  But I’m also  excited, challenged and happy.

Hope you are all in positive places in your lives too!

Genuine Concern vs Concern Trolling

Published January 4, 2012 by Fat Heffalump

Quick housekeeping – I’ve started a Tumblr for all of the troll comments I get here on Fat Heffalump.  Behold – Trollapalooza.  Be warned though, you may find it triggering, as there is an awful lot of fat hatred, threats of violence, healthist bullshit and general nastiness that comes my way.

Now, on to today’s post!

I think it’s time to talk about concern.  I’ve noticed a phenomenon, one where people don’t seem to recognise what is legitimate concern for someone’s wellbeing, and what is concern trolling for the sake of sticking your nose up in someone’s business, or using it as an excuse to shame them or make oneself feel superior.

So let’s talk about it, and learn to recognise what is genuine concern, and what is concern trolling.

Genuine concern is ok.  In fact, it’s part of what bonds us as social beings.  When someone we care about, a family member or friend, or even a colleague, is not their usual selves, when something just doesn’t seem right, or when we actually know they are unwell, and we are worried about them, we are genuinely concerned about them.  That friend who seems to have lost their energy, the colleague who has gone from calm and productive to stressed and struggling, the family member who just isn’t their usual self.  Or someone you know who is actually suffering illness (because they’ve told you they are).  It’s perfectly acceptable to ask after their wellbeing.  Things like:

  • Are you ok?
  • You don’t seem like your usual self, is everything alright?
  • Can I help with anything?
  • If you want to talk, you know I’m available for you ok?
  • How are you coping with [insert illness or injury they have told you about here]?

Do know, that you shouldn’t do it because you’re curious, but because you genuinely want to help.  And also know, that if someone says they’re fine, the answer is not to nag them about it, but to say “Please know that I’m here to listen/help if you need it ok?”  Sure, sometimes “I’m fine.” is a way to fob you off when someone doesn’t want to bother you, or because they’re ashamed/embarrassed about needing help, but sometimes it’s also just “I’m fine.”

However, it is not ok to suggest someone has an illness, or that they might get an illness due to their behaviour or body.  It’s not ok to say to that friend eating a donut “Be careful, you’ll get diabetes.” or any other illness or injury.  Even if you know someone has an illness or injury, unless they have spoken directly about it in your presence, it’s not ok to question them on it.  For example, I can’t tell you the number of people who have actually asked me what my blood sugar readings are like since they found out I am diabetic.  NONE OF YOUR FUCKIN’ BUSINESS PAL!

Now, on to what constitutes concern trolling – a little 101 on how to prove yourself nothing but a trolling douchebag who doesn’t give a shit about anyone’s health but wants to shame people for their weight:

  • Stating that someone being fat is unhealthy – and then suggesting they kill themselves to save us all money.
  • Stating that someone being fat is unhealthy – and then bitching about how much it costs the taxpayer money.
  • Stating that someone being fat is unhealthy – and then diagnosing by looking at them (or a photograph of them) that they are going to explode from hernias, high blood pressure, heart attacks, arthritis and any other number of illnesses often correlated (but never causally linked to) fat.
  • Shaming someone for suffering any injury or illness by pointing out that they “caused” it because they are fat.
  • Stating “I’m concerned about your health!” without knowing ANYTHING about that person other than they have a fat body.
  • Attributing laziness or gluttony to someone just because they have a fat body.
  • Accusing someone of being irresponsible about their health because they have a fat body.
  • Demanding people prove their health, or give you information about their health and wellbeing.
  • Claiming people are “in denial” about their health, or their future health.
  • Insisting that you know about their health better than they do.

If you do any of the things that I’ve just listed above, you are nothing more than a bully and a troll.  There, I’m saying it out loud and clear.  I’ll say it again:

If you engage in any of the behaviours in the list above, you are a bully and a troll and you need to stop that shit right now.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I have to keep saying it over and over and over again – If it’s not your body, it’s not your business.

It’s not a difficult concept.

Next time you feel like commenting on or judging someone’s health or wellbeing, ask yourself “Is it my body?”  If the answer is no, then shut the fuck up and mind your own business.

Fatties – the next time someone tries to concern troll you, just ask them – “Is it your body?” Again, if the answer is no, tell them to shut the fuck up and mind their own business.

You don’t have to be nice, be polite, be pleasing, to anyone who concern trolls you.  You don’t have to tolerate their behaviour.  You don’t have to “respect their opinion”.  You don’t have to “not rock the boat”, or “don’t take it seriously”.  If someone is up in your business telling you what to do with your body and your health, rock the damn boat all you like, and take it as seriously as you feel you need to.  It’s YOUR body, YOUR health and YOUR life.  You get to choose what you do with it, and who you allow to have any interaction with it.

Take no fucking prisoners!