A couple of my posts got linked to on forums for body building and fitness (forums, I will point out, that I could easily have been legitimately a part of). I have now received over 260 comments (none of which I approved) including the following (WARNING: these may be triggering – skip the bullet points if you want to skip the comments and preserve your faith in humanity without the need for a big bottle of brain bleach):
- Fat people should all be killed. Fact. Deal with it, stretchmarks.
- Sorry fattcakes [sic], fat is unhealthy no matter how much you can do.
- I hope you know people, deep inside, laugh at you dancing.
- You look like a beached whale that grew legs.
- 23 commenters (with different e-mail and ip addresses) said “fucking fatty, I hope you die”
- One person said “I want to punch you over and over in your fat stomack [sic] and watch you die landwhale”
- While I’ve been typing this I got a comment that said: “If your doctor killed you it would’ve been a good thing, it would have improved the gene pool. Kidding of course, there is no way any man would ever fuck you” (I can tell them that last claim is false. Turns out that boys – and girls – DO make passes at girls with fat asses.)
You know, there’s an Ani Difranco song that I love called Willing to Fight (entire song and lyrics below). She sings:
Tell me who’s your boogey man
And that’s who I will be
You don’t have to like me for who I am
But we’ll see what you’re made of
By what you make of me
My first reaction to the comments was: Are these people happy with who they are? Would they be proud for their moms, or their kids, to see what they said to me? Would they say it to my face, without the anonymity of the internet? How does the person who wants to punch me in the stomach and watch me die act in real life? Does this person have a fat brother, sister, mother? Do they want to punch them in the stomach and watch them die? If we met on the street should I actually fear for my life? Why are these people so angry? Why isn’t it enough to live the way that they think is right rather than saying that they want people who disagree with them to die.
But as stranger after stranger called me names and said that they wanted me to die or that they personally wanted to kill me, I started to get angry at a culture that makes this seem reasonable. We live in a culture that’s gone beyond a fascination with thinness to a vocal, socially acceptable, hatred of fat, and this culture spends a tremendous amount of time, energy and money justifying fat hatred. Most often for profit, but it’s not just the diet industry that creates a culture of hate. Good intentions are not enough and I believe that we need to hold the people who contribute to a culture of hatred accountable.
Doctors who were paid by diet companies successfully had the definition of a healthy weight lowered and then recommended their funding diet companies’ products to ‘solve” the new health “problem” that their definition change created. Those doctors are part of a culture of hate.
Allergan (maker of the lap band) funded a study with deplorable research methods that said that fat people cost businesses $70 Billion a year. They are using that study to convince insurance companies that it’s cheaper to pay for lap band surgeries than employ fat people. But every major news outlet ran the story without saying anything about the limitations of the study, and most didn’t mention who funded it. I assume because articles about fatties attract readers which attracts advertisers which makes them money. Regardless of why they ran with the story, those news organizations are part of a culture of hate.
By the way Allergan is also the same company who ran a contest where the prize was a major abdominal surgery, a side effect of which is death. One of the provisions of the contest was that you could give the surgery to a friend. Allergan is most definitely part of a culture of hate.
Michelle Obama may have good intentions but she is encouraging fat hatred starting in elementary school. Her war on childhood obesity amounts to a war on obese children and runs completely in opposition to her anti-bullying message. Michelle Obama is helping to create a culture of hate.
And it’s not just companies, it’s individuals, people I know. DK is a Ph.D. Social Psychologist and she and I spent hours and hours talking about health and self esteem. She and I nearly wrote a book together about self-esteem in fact. We were so excited about talking about health instead of weight and talking about Health at Every Size. Instead, she committed herself full-time to a pyramid scheme that sells weight loss products, calls herself a “certified health coach”, posts studies to her Facebook that she has more than enough training to debunk as poor research, and spends her days trying to make people terrified of being fat so that she can sell them her shakes and bars. DK is part of a culture of hate
As far as I’m concerned, every single person – regardless of intention – who encourages thinness under the guise of encouraging health is part of a culture of hate, bullying and intimidation wherein a complete stranger feels comfortable saying that he/she wants to punch someone in the stomach and watch them die because they are fat. Are you telling people that they have to lose weight to be healthy (or attractive, or deserving of respect)? Do you participate in negative body talk about other people? Do you make judgments about the health, abilities, or intelligence of people based on their size? Then I’m talking to directly to you.
This is not the best we can do. Together we can create a society that values health. Actual health. That focuses on giving people the best options for health: affordable, accessible healthy food; affordable movement options that people can enjoy without the threat of stigma; an opportunity to love and appreciate our bodies while we decide what we want to do with them, an awareness that health comes in a variety of body shapes and sizes, and a world that has respect for our choices when it comes to our own health. If you believe that health and thinness are the same thing then you are free to pursue a thin body but there is no reason for you not to respect someone else’s belief in Health at Every Size and there is no reason to create a culture of hate against people because they don’t think the same thing that you do. To paraphrase Larry Kramer, one of my personal life heroes, “Our culture declares us to be unequal, which means, in this culture, that our enemy is you. You treat us like crumbs. You hate us. And sadly, we let you.”
We can do better.
The upside (I always like to have an upside) is that 3000 views have been directed to my site by these boards which is great for my stats. Only 268 of them have left negative comments so far which is actually less than 10%, and I got 8 new subscribers so maybe I found more like-minded people and maybe, just maybe, I gave some people the opportunity to consider a new point of view.
Most importantly, I get to walk around knowing that I am part of a culture of health: I am proud of my actions and what I write, I say what I believe under my own name – not anonymously with a fake e-mail address, I have way more than 263 comments from people who have been positively affected by my work, I will sleep soundly tonight damn proud of the big fat life I lead.
The windows of my soul
are made of one way glass
don’t bother looking into my eyes
if there’s something you want to know,
I got a dead bolt stroll
where I’m going is clear
I won’t wait for you to wonder
I’ll just tell you why I’m here
’cause I know the biggest crime
is just to throw up your hands
say this has nothing to do with me
I just want to live as comfortably as I can
you got to look outside your eyes
you got to think outside your brain
you got to walk outside you life
to where the neighborhood changes
tell me who’s your boogieman
that’s who I will be
you don’t have to like me for who I am
but we’ll see what you’re made of
by what you make of me
I think that it’s absurd
that you think I
am the derelict daughter
I fight fire with words
words are hotter than flames
words are wetter than water
I got friends all over this country
I got friends in other countries too
I got friends I haven’t met yet
I got friends I never knew
I got lovers whose eyes
I’ve only seen at a glance
I got strangers for great grandchildren
I got strangers for ancestors
I was a long time coming
I’ll be a long time gone
you’ve got your whole life to do something
and that’s not very long
so why don’t you give me a call
when you’re willing to fight
for what you think is real
for what you think is right