Yeah I know, I shouldn’t bite. But I did. On Facebook of all places. I jumped on into the debate about “Obesity in Australia” set up by the Triple J Hack programme. Frances from Corpulent/Hey Fat Chick and Dr Samantha Thomas (love you two!) were both on the radio programme yesterday afternoon (did an amazing job, go listen) talking about the stigmatisation of fat people.
So I won’t go into all the deets about the discussion, it’s mostly the same “But what about your health!!??” malarkey that we always get. However, I do want to talk about a repeat message or sterotype that I kept seeing from those who were vehemently anti-fat.
That repeat message? That fat people just sit around all day eating.
It seems that is the exact image that many people have of fat people. We just sit around all the time, doing nothing but eating, and usually eating something laden with sugar or fat. There is also an assumption that fat people have never ever heard of dieting, have no knowledge of nutrition, and don’t know anything about exercising.
It’s not just in this particular case either. I see it come up over and over and over. It came up during the John Birmingham thing. I was reading an article on ABC the Drum some months back about “obesity stigma” and a commenter said “I feel sorry for fat people, their lives must be so boring, all they do is just SIT.”
Where on earth to these people get these ideas about fat people? Well, television and movies mostly. The fat character is almost always portrayed as some lonely fatty, at home shoving food in their face. Then there’s the headless fatty footage of fatties sitting on park benches or in fast food joints. The print media sell that image too.
I don’t know about you, but getting the luxury of time to “just sit” is pretty bloody rare in my life. Even while I’m on holiday at the moment, I’m keeping pretty busy, when I really should be spending time “just sitting” a little more.
So how do we go about changing this perception of fat people? How do we get the message out that fat people are no different to anyone else? That we live our lives the same as anyone else? We work, we go to school, we care for families, we spend time with friends, we shop, we laugh, we have hobbies, we play sports, we dance, we actually live full lives that are the same as non-fat people live. The only difference is that our bodies are fat.