non-fats

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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.


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Accepting The Reality of Fat

Published September 26, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I just have to share this.  I was just reading a bunch of posts and links that I’d saved for later, and found this piece on thin privilege.  It’s a list of things that people who are not fat experience every day, and many take for granted:

Everyday as an average sized person …

I can be sure that people aren’t embarrassed to be seen with me because of the size of my body.

If I pick up a magazine or watch T.V. I will see bodies that look like mine that aren’t being lampooned, desexualized, or used to signify laziness, ignorance, or lack of self-control.

When I talk about the size of my body I can be certain that few other people will hope they are never the same size.

I do not have to be afraid that when I talk to my friends or family they will mention the size of my body in a critical manner, or suggest unsolicited diet products and exercise programs.

I will not be accused of being emotionally troubled or in psychological denial because of the size of my body.

I can go home from meetings, classes, and conversations and not feel excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped, or feared because of the size of my body.

I never have to speak for size acceptance as a movement. My thoughts about my body can be my own with no need for political alliance relative to size.

I can be sure that when I go to a class, or movie, or restaurant that I will find a place to sit in which I am relatively comfortable.

I don’t have to worry that if I am talking about feeling of sexual attraction people are repelled or disgusted by the size of my body. People can imagine me in sexual circumstances.

People won’t ask me why I don’t change the size of my body.

My masculinity or femininity will not be challenged because of the size of my body.

I can be sure that if I need medical or legal help my size will not work against me.

I am not identified by the size of my body.

I can walk in public with my significant other and not have people double take or stare.

I can go for months without thinking about or being spoken to about the size of my body.

I am not grouped because of the size of my body.

I will never have to sit quietly and listen while other people talk about the ways in which they avoid being my size.

I don’t have to worry that won’t be hired for a job that I can do because of the size of my body.

It really resonated with me because every single one of those list items are things that I’ve never experienced.  As a woman who is deathfat (yeah, morbidly obese by the redundant BMI scale), every single one of those items on the list above would be an absolute luxury for me, and a totally new experience.

When those who are not fat say they don’t understand what we Fat Acceptance activists are “going on about” and suggest that we should just “move on”, they’re ignoring the fact that we cannot ignore our fatness and move on, because every day we’re reminded by the behaviour of others towards us.  We don’t imagine this, this is our reality.  Those with thin privilege need to accept that this is the reality that fat people have, and acknowledge it.

Until all bodies can experience the above items, whether they are fat, thin or somewhere inbetween, I can’t just move on.  I have to keep doing what I do.

Coming Out of the Fat Acceptance Closet

Published May 8, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Well, it’s been an interesting week.  The big news of course for me is that my submission for the Australian Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference has been accepted and I’ve been invited to give a presentation at the conference in Sydney in September.  Not only am I honoured to be invited, but I’m also thrilled that as far as I know, this is the first time that fat people have been asked to participate in the discussion with academia.  Normally folks talk about us, not with us, you know?

One of the things I’m having to come to terms with is coming out of the closet so to speak as a fat acceptance blogger/activist in my day to day life.  Mostly at work I don’t talk about fat acceptance or the stuff that I do as an activist in the cause.  This isn’t because I’m ashamed of it or embarrassed by it – but simply because I’m mostly too busy at, and there is an element of “this is my workplace, I can’t piss people off here”.  And I know that my passion for fat acceptance over-rides my tact sometimes, so I kind of just take that hat off at work a wee bit.

However, with my absolute beside myself excitement over the Fat Studies conference, and a few other things lately, I’ve found myself quite proudly wearing that fat acceptance hat all the time.  It’s such a fabulous hat, you know?  I don’t want to leave it at home.

In response to my talking about fat acceptance amongst friends and colleagues, a few times someone has said to me “You are so brave to put yourself out there.”  I’ve felt a little uncomfortable with that, because I don’t feel brave or anything.  But then I was listening to the Two Whole Cakes Fatcasts that Marianne Kirby and Leslie Kinzel are doing at the moment, and I found myself thinking “They’re so brave.”

And they are.  So am I for that matter.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there on the subject of fat, simply because there is so much loathing, fear and hostility around it.  But I don’t do it to be brave, and while I can’t speak for Marianne and Leslie, it seems neither do they.  I think we do it because it’s the right thing to do, and because we want to make a difference.  Ladies, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Something Leslie said in the first fatcast really stuck with me.  Forgive me as I’ve paraphrased it, but basically “every time a fat woman gets out of bed, gets dressed and leaves the house she’s being an activist”.  It’s bloody true!!

Fat women are supposed to be apologetic for existing.  We’re supposed to be invisible, demure, quiet, ashamed and embarrassed.  We’re supposed to dress in shapeless, dark colours, apologise for taking up space in the world, shrink down (both figuratively and literally), pay more for everything (clothes, seats on airplanes, underwear, health care, you name it), to make excuses for ourselves, to be invisible.

So when we’re not invisible, when we talk about being fat, when we accept ourselves for who we are, as we are, when we live life to the full, bold and brilliant, when we are outspoken or confident, when we choose to clothe ourselves in things that make ourselves noticeable, we’re even more of an activist than just existing.

It isn’t easy.  Not only are you dealing with your own demons, a lifetime of fat hate heaped on you that you have to battle to re-claim your self esteem and confidence, but you’re scrutinised and inspected to the nth degree, just in case you make a mistake, or have an error in something you say, or are misinformed.

You’re also dealing with a whole lot of hatred in the form of the trolls you get on your blogs and anywhere else you’re active.  Some fatosphere bloggers don’t have much problem with it, but some of us get hammered every day by some douchebag who posts comments spewing their narrow minded hate.  Even when you have a good platform to deal with them, and get rid of them individually pretty quickly, there is another to take their place.  Why on earth anyone would want to waste their time on trolling blogs I’ve never understood, but one has to have a strong self esteem to deal with these morons.

But we keep going.  We keep blogging, talking about fat acceptance, feminism and body politics.  We keep doing it because it’s important to us.  A quote I love (and that I can’t work out who said it originally, sometimes the internets make it harder to find information than easier) and that sums up the whole shebang for me:

Courage is not the absence of fear but the awareness that something else is more important than fear.

I’ll talk more about the results of my coming out of the fat acceptance closet as time goes by and I find out how more and more people in my life react to it.

Are you active about fat acceptance in your day to day life?  How do your family, colleagues, friends etc respond to your fat acceptance activisim/beliefs?

Fabulous Friends

Published January 31, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

What a week it has been!  My last post got the most hits I’ve ever seen on any of my blogs, and a couple of days later the BBC World Service contacted me asking could they do a phone interview with me on fat prejudice and discrimination, particularly in relation to airline seating.

Unfortunately they left the messages at midnight my time, wanting an interview at about 2am from what I could see, and of course I was tucked up in bed by that time and didn’t get the messages until the next morning.  But it was still quite a delight that they contacted me at all.

So, tonight I wanted to talk a little bit about friendships of fat folk.  (Alliteration!)  I saw a post over on Fatadelic on Fat Women, Social Denigration and Social Rituals that really got me thinking about some of the “friendships” I’ve had in the past and how that has changed a lot as I’ve found my confidence and strong self esteem.  There was also another post somewhere, which I’ve sadly lost the link for, on a bridezilla who ditched one of her bridesmaids because she was fat and would “ruin the photographs”.

I wanted to talk a bit more about the friends we have as fat women in particular, and how our non-fat friends can stay our friends/be good friends.

Because we fats are plagued with low self esteem and confidence, we often tend to accept behaviour from “friends” that many other people would not accept.  I knew I certainly have in the past.  Right from downright nastiness (the bridezilla I was bridesmaid for who said to another bride, in front of me and the other plus sized bridesmaid “You’re so lucky to have thin bridesmaids.”), to insensitivity (the older female friend who said “You’re so lucky, fat people don’t wrinkle.”) to those who mean well, but are casting their own insecurities on to you, and not being supportive of you (“Are you sure you should be into this fat acceptance thing?  I worry that you’re just using it as an excuse not to diet and exercise.”)  Quite often, we accept this because we think we deserve to be treated this way, after all, aren’t we fat?  Shouldn’t we be grateful for the friendships we have.  Maybe nobody will be our friend if we’re fat and don’t accept how people treat us.

Well, I’m here to tell you that if you love yourself, regardless of your body shape and size, and only surround yourself with people who treat you well, you WILL have fantastic friends, no matter what your size or shape.

There is nothing selfish or conceited about holding the expectation that your friends will be supportive and respectful of you.  After all, isn’t that who friends are?  Your support crew?  When I think of the amazing friends I have now in my life, especially in comparison to those I had when I was younger and lacking in self esteem, they are my ultimate support crew, as I try to be theirs.  I honestly never would have believed that I would have friends like I have now back a few years ago, because I really didn’t think those kind of awesome people would like me, a horrible fatty.

To those of you out there who are non-fat friends of fatties, firstly, you’re awesome!  Awesome for not buying into the shallow shit that so many other people do, those charming folks who seem to think they’re better than someone just because of the size or shape of their body.  But I have a few things I’d like to ask you to remember when being a friend of a fatty.

  1. Please don’t criticise your body.  Not only does it do you no good, but how do you think it makes your fat friend feel when you say your smaller body is “too fat”?
  2. Please don’t talk about how “sinful” or “naughty” food is.  Food has no moral value, and when you refer to food in this way, it implies that your fat friend is sinful or bad for eating at all.
  3. Suggesting your fat friend should find more “flattering” clothes is a big no-no.  Flattering usually means “hides your fat” or “makes you look thinner”.  Fat people don’t have to hide their bodies away or not wear certain things because they don’t make them look thinner.  If you like an outfit that a fat friend is wearing, say so.  Otherwise, it’s best to stay Mum.
  4. Don’t exclude your fat friends from events and activities under the assumption that they won’t be able to keep up or participate.  Ask them.  They’ll say no thank you if they don’t want to participate.
  5. If someone insults your fat friend in front of you, or engages in douchebag behaviour towards your fat friend, speak up if you can.  If it’s not safe to do so, make your your fat friend knows that you are horrified at this and that they have your support.  One of the worst things I suffered for many years were “friends” that would either laugh along, go quiet and pretend it never happened or suggest I was overreacting to douchebag behaviour.  It was always so hurtful.
  6. Most of all, remember that your fat friend has probably had a whole lot of shit heaped on them for a long time just for having a fat body.  Some understanding and support will go a long, long way!

I am sure there are a lot of other things that my fellow fatz out there appreciate from their friends.  Feel free to leave them in the comments if you have any to add.

What I guess it all boils down to for me is that the best thing that ever happened to me was the realisation that I am a worthy person to have good, caring, supportive friends, and that I don’t have to settle for people who use me to either make themselves feel better about themselves, or people who feel sorry for me.

Real friends are awesome, but faux friends just aren’t worth the time and energy.

A Letter to the Friends of Fat Single Women

Published September 20, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

An open letter to all non-fat friends of single fatties.

Dear non-fat friends,
I love you all, even those of you who are not my friends but the friends of other fatties. You’re awesome, because you don’t buy into the shallow bullshit that a lot of other people do. Fatties are used to people avoiding them because they either think fat is contagious, or that fatties are not “cool enough” for them. So kudos to those of you who don’t buy into that and love your fatty friends.
But I want to talk to you about the way you approach your single fat friends with the subject of dating. Cos some of you get it really wrong. And I want to help you get it right!
  • It is ok to arrange for us to meet single guys that you know, so long as you ask us first. Either blind dates or introducing us at an event.
  • Ask yourself “Would I date him?” If the answer is no, then don’t suggest him to us. We are fat, we are not desperate.
  • The guy that lives with his mother… is he caring for her or is she caring for him? If she’s caring for him, don’t suggest him to us.
  • Do not suggest that we are lesbians unless we have expressed desire for women. Fat women are not all closet lesbians. It’s an insult to everyone to think this way.
  • If you know that we are a lesbian, it’s ok to introduce us to other lesbians. Do not introduce us to other fat women on the assumption that we will just get our fat on together and become lesbians.
  • Do not suggest that we may get more dates if we “just lose some weight”. We don’t want to date the kind of men who won’t date us as we are.
  • Do not tell us “But you have such a pretty face.” when we complain about being single. This implies the following sentence “Despite your fat body.”
  • When we are out together, and some guy behaves like a douchebag towards we fatties, do not then give him your phone number, flirt with him or have sex with him, no matter how hot he is. This tells us that some douchebag is of more value than our friendship. Besides, if he treats us badly now, he’s probably going to treat you badly later.
  • Do not suggest that we should cover up any of the fat bits of our bodies before we go out. Yes, I know I have big fat arms. I don’t care, it’s hot and this sleeveless top is pretty.
  • Don’t ask your fat friends for dating advice, and then dismiss it because they are fat and probably don’t get any dates anyway. They’re used to having to think more about how other people behave, they probably have the best advice.
  • Remember, if you wouldn’t go out with him, don’t suggest him to us. Just gotta make sure you understand that one.
  • If you double date with a fat friend, don’t comment on her food or your own. Nobody really cares but you, and you’ll just make your friend feel bad for no reason.
  • Don’t ask your fat friend how she got a date with the great guy. She got it because she is awesome and he’s smart.
  • Most of all, treat your single fat friend the same way you would treat any other single friend.
Again, you’re an awesome friend and we know you mean well, but sometimes it’s hard to understand that something can be hurtful when your intentions are good.
Thanks for being a great friend.
The Fatties.