trolls

All posts in the trolls category

We’ve Done Our Time

Published September 19, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

A little questionnaire for you all:

  1. How many years of your life did you put into trying to be thin?
  2. How much of your life did you put on hold while you tried to be thin?
  3. How old were you when you first remember being told you were fat?
  4. How many diets have you been on?
  5. How many exercise “plans” have you been on?
  6. How many years of your life have been taken up with eating disorders?
  7. How many people have told you that you are fat?
  8. How many people have treated you badly because you are fat?
  9. How many years did you spend counting calories, watching the number on the scale or the size label on your clothes?

Now tally the sum of all those years, all that time, all those diets, all those times you made yourself sick in the effort to get thin, all the punishing exercise regimes, all the hurtful experiences add all those numbers together.

Take that number, write it down, look at it for a minute, and ask yourself…

Don’t you think the fat haters should invest the equivalent amount of time, the same number of years, in trying as hard to be a decent human being, as we fat people invested in trying to be thin?

Fat people are not the ones with the problem, or who are in denial.   Fat people are not in denial of being fat.  We know we are fat, and in choosing fat acceptance, we accept ourselves exactly as we are, and we accept others exactly as they are.

You can let go of all those numbers now.  Set yourself free of the pain that those numbers represent.  You’re off the hook – you’ve done your part.  Close your eyes and imagine that all those instances of trying to be thin, or being bullied and shamed for being fat are balloons, filled with helium.  Imagine them in your hand, bobbing above you, all different colours.  Now open your hand and let them all go.  You don’t have to carry them any more.

This isn’t giving up.  This is letting go and deciding that YOU control your life, not other people who feel they have the right to judge you.  This is about deciding to live your life to the fullest you can.

People who think that fat people are somehow worth less as human beings as thin people, that fat people deserve to be shamed, discredited, their experiences denied and generally just shamed and bullied for being fat are the ones who have the problem.  They just can’t get on with their lives and let people be who they are, as they are.

We are not the ones in denial, it is the fat haters that are in denial.

Denial that they are in fact… arseholes.

*Post inspired this post by Ragen of Dances with Fat.

 

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

It’s Easy… Just Starve

Published April 10, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

Last night I was reading blog posts through Google Reader, and somewhere in my reading travels, I read a commenter I think, relating something a thin colleague of hers had said to her. (I’m sorry I can’t find where I read it, if anyone knows let me know and I’ll link it up)  It went something like this:

My doctor says that it’s easy to lose weight, all you have to do is stop putting anything in here. *Pointing to mouth*

I can’t quite express how it made me feel.  It HURT at first.  Then it made me unspeakably angry, the red mist really formed before my eyes.  Then sadness, and some more hurt.  Followed by a big old mix of rage and pain and sorrow that all came flooding at once.

Because it’s not the first time I’ve heard the opinion that fat people should simply stop eating, AT ALL.  I’ve had it directed at me personally time and time again.  Let me share with you a couple of instances that stick in my mind.

More than a decade ago.  I was severely depressed, dieting (actually, pretty much starving myself) and generally just hating myself for being fat.  I was at the local shopping centre and I was so hungry, I was close to tears.  I hadn’t eaten all day, and I decided I could let myself have a small tub of fruit salad.  I bought the fruit salad, and was sitting on a bench eating it, when an elderly couple came by, pushing a shopping trolley.  The woman nudged her husband to look at me and said, loud enough for me to hear, “Look at that!  People like that should never be allowed to eat.”

I simply lowered my head, and cried.

About five years ago.  I was out on a date with the guy I was seeing at the time.  We were having dinner in a cafe.  I had improved a lot with my eating disorder by this time, but was still “watching what I ate”.  I am eating my dinner, a chicken and mushroom thing with a side salad and a pineapple juice.  He is eating his dinner, a burger with the works, large chips, a strawberry milkshake and a large serve of deep fried, crumbed calamari.  He is tall and very lean, I am average height and very fat.  Two women walk into the cafe, see us and as my date leans over, kisses me and helps himself to some of the food off MY plate, one woman says to the other “That’s disgusting, how can she just sit there eating in front of him?”

My date didn’t hear, but I did.  I fought back tears, and could not enjoy the rest of my date.

It happens all the time, not just the “stop eating” but everyone seems to be an expert on what fat people should do with their bodies, without any real knowledge at all about those people, their health, their bodies, their lives.  Everyone out there is an expert on fatness, you only have to take a look at the hashtag that has been busy on Twitter today #thingsfatpeoplearetold We suffer people telling us how to diet and exercise, as though we have never considered it in the past.  We suffer people commenting on what we are eating, how much (or how little) we are eating, how we are eating, when we are eating and why we are eating.  We suffer people making snap judgements on our bodies simply based on what they see before them, and their own fucked up assumptions about fat.

There is this fucked up thinking that if fat people simply stopped eating, ceased consuming any food at all, they would no longer be fat and the problem would be solved.  How we’re supposed to do that, when you know, humans need food to live, to survive, I don’t know.

I think the assumption is that fat people can just “live off their fat”, that if we stop eating, our bodies will just consume the fat on them and go along as per usual, without any negative consequence.  But it simply doesn’t work like that.  Ketosis for one, can be highly damaging to a body that is consuming it’s own fat, particularly to the liver.  Bodies that are not receiving nutrition can quickly become malnourished and begin to break down their own muscle and other vital materials rather than the fats stored.  It raises the risk of osteoporosis later in life.  And most of all, starvation makes people lose their ability to function generally throughout the day.  One cannot think straight, focus, remember etc when one is starving.

But all of this is considered acceptable by some, if it means you’re losing weight.

The thing is, weight loss is not guaranteed with starvation dieting.  In fact, I’m living proof that it simply doesn’t work, in fact, makes you fatter.  I starved myself, for long periods, on and off from when I was in my teens to when I was in my 30’s.  I rarely lost weight.  Sometimes I lost some, only to have it come back, even without going off the starvation diet.

Of course, it’s really not about health at all.  It’s about the sight of fat bodies being offensive to some people.  Because no matter how healthy you are, if you’re still fat… well then you are not doing it right.  You must get rid of your fatness, or at least hide it.  Cease to be fat, and if you can’t do that, cease to be.

But what really bothers me is not so much the epic wrongness of these assumptions, but the sheer injustice of being expected to live a life of deprivation, starvation and unhappiness, simply because my body is fat.  That to these people, I am never allowed to taste anything, to celebrate with food, to spend time with friends, colleagues and family over a meal, to experience the world through it’s cuisine, to enjoy food and eating, and most importantly, I am not allowed to make my own choices when it comes to food and eating.

I get angry that there are people who believe that my fatness negates my human right to live my life as I choose to do so.  There are those who believe that simply because my body is fat, that they, or society, or someone, needs to intervene in my life to direct me in how to take care of myself.

Well fuck that shit.  We are grown adults.  We are not stupid, or lazy, or somehow morally corrupted by our fatness.  We are capable of making our own choices when it comes to food and eating, particularly if you let us do so without ramming diets, or general fat loathing in our faces.  When removed from all the hateful messages society shoves on us about food and fatness, we can even become competent eaters.

If you are concerned about fat people eating, then don’t be, because it’s none of your concern.  Be concerned about your own eating.  We don’t need you to be concerned about ours.  I promise you, if fat people are left alone to eat as they wish to, without your concern, they won’t eat everything and leave you nothing.  The world won’t end.  You won’t miss out on that delicious thing that you are craving.  The economy of the planet is not going to collapse.  Children won’t suddenly drop dead from heart attacks.  You’re not going to see human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

What will happen is that grown adults, regardless of their body size, will make up their own mind about food and eating, and that will be ok.

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

But You’re Gonna DIE!!

Published December 27, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve had another concern troll.  You know the usual schtick, the whole “But you’re gonna DIE!” type.  I was reading Ragen’s post over at Dances with Fat on the Vague Future Health Threat (herein referred to as VFHT) and I thought I’d talk a bit about the subject myself.  I think I’ll write a letter.

Dear concern trolls, fat hating medicos, my family and friends, other people’s families and friends, colleagues and random douchebags on the street…

We are ALL going to die.

Yep, one day, we’re all going to reach the end of our lives, and we’re going to die.  Maybe that will be because we got sick with diabetes, or heart disease, or hypertension, or any other of the diseases that you claim “obesity” is the root cause of.  Maybe it will be an accident that takes us.  Maybe we’ll just grow very old and our bodies will stop working and it will be our time to go.  Or perhaps we’ll get cancer.  No matter what the cause of death is, we all have that one thing in common.  We are alive now, and one day, we’re going to die.  Whether we’re fat, thin or somewhere in the middle.

Yes, yes, I know, you say that it’s all about preventing an EARLY death.  Here’s the thing.  I knew this girl.  She was beautiful and took really good care of herself.  She never smoked, never touched alcohol, went to church, worked hard, and did everything you’re supposed to do to be healthy and live a long life.  She was slim and ate well and exercised.  Then at 24 she developed a kind of cancer that is associated with smoking.  Strangely enough, she never once smoked anything.  She died at 26.

I also knew a man, who played sport several times per week, ate healthy, didn’t smoke and only liked a beer or wine or two with friends from time to time.  He loved his family and was kind to everyone.  He died at 49 of melanoma.

Oh it’s about quality of life you say?  Because everyone knows fat people have bad hips and knees, huff and puff going up and down stairs and all that stuff.  Some do, sure.  But don’t assume all do.  Besides, if you care so much about quality of life, how about not bullying people with fat shaming?  How about accepting people as they are, and encouraging them to live their lives to the fullest right here and now, which in turn will enable them to do things like eat well, and be active?  If you’re so fired up about quality of life, you’d be making sure that fat people were happy as well as healthy.

See when I was 12, I went to the doctor with terrible period pain.  He told me that if I didn’t lose the weight before I was 13, my periods would stop and I’d never have a proper puberty.  I didn’t lose the weight.  My periods didn’t stop and puberty came along as it should have.

When I was 16, I went to the same doctor with more terrible period pain, as well as some other menstrual issues.  He told me that if I didn’t lose the weight by the time I was 18, I’d have diabetes.  I didn’t lose the weight.  I’m 38 and still don’t have diabetes, or even pre-diabetes.

When I was 19, I went to a new doctor with debilitating menstrual issues (see a pattern here?) and he told me that I should go away and lose weight, find myself a boyfriend and have a baby.   Good advice for someone in pain who has bled for 18 months huh?

When I was 21, I went to a doctor with a skin problem.  He told me to lose weight and they’d go away.  I went to another doctor, and he made them go away without me losing a pound.

When I was 25, I went to another doctor because my periods had stopped.  He told me that it was because I was fat, and if I didn’t lose the weight by the time I was 30, I’d get diabetes and my knees would give away.  I lost the weight, then gained it again, then lost it again, then gained it again… all I got for that was bad teeth, a whole lot of stretchmarks and the continuation of a very long term eating disorder.  No diabetes or bad knees.

When I was 30, I went to a doctor with menstrual troubles again (see the pattern here?) and she told me that if I didn’t lose the weight, I’d never have babies, I’d get diabetes and have a heart attack before I was 35.  She told me that my depression would go away, my periods would come back regular (and be pain free) and I wouldn’t have any more acne.  She gave me lots of different types of weight loss drugs and treatments to try.  I did lose the weight.  A LOT of weight.  What I got was more depression, my period disappeared altogether, my skin got worse and I tried to kill myself repeatedly.

I gained the weight back.  I went to a doctor who came highly recommended.  I was 32.  She diagnosed me with PCOS.  Over the past 6 years we’ve been working through my health together.  We tried a lot of things, worked out what was best for me, and went with it.  I am now strong and healthy and emotionally happy.  We have figured out the PCOS stuff and all of that is working well for me.  My weight is only a factor when it comes to dosage.  I’m 38 and I still haven’t developed the diabetes (or even pre-diabetes) that has been predicted for me since I was a teenager.  My vital signs are all fabulous.   I am full of energy and life is good.  My doctor is happy with my health.  Should that change, then my doctor and I will assess things again.

The thing is, you don’t know my body.  You don’t know anyone’s body except your own.  You’re not really concerned about my health, because you don’t know what my health is.  You just don’t like looking at fat people.  But you think by camouflaging your fat loathing with concern for health, you can pass comment, or make judgement.  You can’t.

You worry about your health.  I’ll look after mine.

Regards

Fat Heffalump

P.S.  Here’s a special image for you all:

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Take Back the ‘Net

Published October 4, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Ok, I’m declaring war on all of the trolls and bullshit artists I get on this blog, and my other blogs for that matter.  I’m royally fed up with these cretins coming into MY space and trying to bully me, intimidate me, hate me, annoy me, post with fake names/accounts (sock-puppeting) spam me with fake concern about my fatness, waste my time and/or do any or all of the above to my respectful readers, you’re about to get what you deserve.

There is this culture in blogging where writers are expected to be civil, be respectful to anyone who comes to their blog and comments.  You’re supposed to “give them the benefit of the doubt”, “encourage discussion” and “keep an open mind” when it comes to commenters on your blogs.  However, it’s a totally one sided concept.  Because every day when I log on to WordPress, I’m confronted with this bullshit, even though I’ve tried to keep civil and give people the benefit of the doubt, nobody calls the trolls on this.  Where is their civility and respect for me?

99% of the troll comments I see on my blogs never see the light of day.  They get relegated to my spam filter quick sticks and in most cases, when they don’t see their comment go public and don’t get a reaction out of me, they go away.  The real pisser though is that for every one that goes away, there are more waiting in line to have a go.

They are of course, worst on this blog.  There is something about a fat woman blogging and being proud of herself, confident and having strong self esteem that simply enrages trolls, and they just can’t leave without leaving some bullying behind to try to cause hurt.

That’s what this boils down to, no matter what the method.  It’s bullying.  Whether it’s the “Oh, but what about your health?” concern trolls, the “Fucking die you fat bitch” full blown hatred trolls, the argumentative trolls that try to read something into your work that you’re not saying, the “freedom of speech” trolls who try to bully the blogger into allowing them to spread their hate by suggesting that they’re being censored if they are blocked or deleted, no matter what kind of troll you have infesting your blog, it’s bullying.  It’s trying to make you feel bad, or shut you up, or make others laugh at you, or to get you to react.

That is bullying.

It’s not discussion, it’s not telling the truth, it’s not keeping it real, it’s not concern, it’s not for your own good.  It’s simply bullying to make you feel bad and to silence your voice.

The abdication of responsibility in online bullying is one thing that infuriates me.  If I “publicly” (and I acknowledge that online is still public, but you get what I mean) said some of the things that troll bullies say to people online, there would be outrage.  But because it’s behind a username, or in the comments on a blog, or someone’s Facebook or Twitter, and so on, it’s written off as something one just has to suffer through as the price to pay for being online.

I read this fantastic piece by Anil Dash called “There is No Such Thing as Cyberbullying” today.  In it, Anil calls out the practice of diminishing online bullying as something that is the fault of the technology, and not the perpetrators behind it.  The internet doesn’t bully gay kids into suicide, or fat people/women/bloggers into giving up their writing, PEOPLE do.  And those people need to be held responsible for their actions.

Just today I came across this post from the lovely Georgina at Cupcake’s Clothes where she talks about some utter arsehole who stole a photograph of her from her site, and photoshopped it “thin”, and then anonymously sent it back to her.  What kind of loser, what kind of sad, pathetic little person has time in their life to do that shit?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to read the blogs that I love, and comment on all of them.  Let alone go to a blog and bully someone as a troll.  What kind of life does someone have if they have time to do that?  Or have time to take a perfectly good photo of someone off a website and photoshop the shit out of it?

My time is at a premium.  But I’m going to make time to take on some of this.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of this bullshit.  I say it’s time to take back the internet from the bullies.

I say it’s time that we start taking a few simple steps to show the bullies that there are repercussions to harassing people online.  There are several things you and I can do.

  • Publish their email addresses and IP’s online for all to see.  Then other bloggers can block them/add them to spam filters.
  • Take their IP, and look it up.  If they are posting from their workplace, then contact their employers and make a formal complaint that they are bullying people from a workplace computer.  I personally have had bullies post comments from companies that I could easily identify by their IP details.  Trust me, businesses don’t want the bad press of their employees bullying people from work computers.
  • If they are threats of violence or other crime, then take the time to report them to the administrators of your blog, Facebook, Twitter or other platform.
  • Support one another.  Instead of just letting bullies say whatever they like unchallenged, when you see it on a blog/Facebook anywhere else, speak up.  Call them out, tell them their behaviour is not acceptable.
  • Blog about how bullying is not acceptable online.  The more we talk about it, the more momentum it will gain.
  • Bullies operate on fear.  Don’t be afraid, get angry.
  • Remember that your blog, your Facebook, your Twitter, your account with anything is YOURS.  Ask yourself – would I accept someone treating me like this in my house?  If the answer is no, then don’t accept it in your online spaces.
  • Most importantly, don’t let the bullies silence you.  Don’t let them win.  Don’t reward their behaviour.

We can change this.  The internet doesn’t belong to bullies, it belongs to us.  All of us.  Collectively, we make the rules.

Shooing Away Seagulls (+ Facebook)

Published June 26, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Yeah I hate housekeeping too.  I need one of those magic Jetsons houses that you just press buttons or get a robot to clean.  But this is blog housekeeping.

For some reason, links to the Fat Heffalump Facebook page weren’t working for some people.  It was totally random and really frustrating.  I dug around a bit and found a wee badge that SHOULD work for everyone.  You can find it over there on the right, under the Twitter widget.  I apologise for any inconvenience to those of you who had the frustration of not being able to connect.

The other piece of housekeeping lies in the number of seagull commenters I’ve been getting lately.  You know the ones.  They swoop in, make a lot of noise and crap all over everything until you shoo them away.  The ones who have that first ever comment “I love your site but…”

I am all for discussion with the majority of you who have bothered to read more than one post on my blog, and who aren’t just looking to cause irritation or gain attention.  But from this point on, anyone who swoops in looking to debate on their first comment from this point on will be deleted right away.  If they  hang around long enough to read other posts and have some constructive things to say, then they’re welcome to stick around, but the seagulls will be shooed away.  NO CHIPS FOR SEAGULLS HERE!!  (Hey, I’m a fat lady, I’m supposed to eat all the chips myself anyway, amirite?)

Thanks to everyone for your patience while I nut out what I want to do in this space and make it all work proper.

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?