Fair warning, it’s an angry, ranty day.
A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was “This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?”
The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way:
“Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.
Mermaids do not exist.
But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?
They would have no sex life and could not bear children.
Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.
And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?
Without a doubt, I’d rather be a whale.
It made me smile for a moment. And then I started to read the comments. I was drawn in by the first couple that were really positive, but then it went downhill, and when I got to the one that said “It’s time to get real and get healthy. You fat people need to learn that life is not only about eating” I got angry. Really angry. Angry like I don’t often get. And I have a policy of not posting comments in places like this so I’m going to work it out here:
I got angry because for those of us who are fat in this culture there are people who feel like we don’t deserve even a MOMENT’S reprieve from the constant drumbeat of fat hate: fat is unhealthy, fat people are lazy, all we do is eat, blah blah blah. There are people who want to make sure that we don’t even get one Facebook post to consider that it might be ok to not hate ourselves, or to opt out of the cultural standard of beauty. People who inexplicably claim to believe that we will somehow be healthier if we are tortured with a ceaseless stream of stigma until we look the way they think we should look – which, even if we wanted to do it, may be completely impossible.
These people with their superiority complexes who actually believe that from my body size they already know what I eat, how much I exercise, and my mental state. Because, goes the argument, all fatties, think, and act, and eat the same and thank the gods that these people are here to tell us what to do and
cheer shame us on and save us all never mind that we don’t want or need their saving.
How dare they presume that they know anything about us let alone what’s best for us. What makes it more crazy to me is that if you believe the statistics more than 60% of Americans are overweight or obese. We are an oppressed MAJORITY – and these people take every opportunity to try to push up down.
I could explain that there are healthy people of every shape and size, I could give facts, figures, studies and logical arguments. And I will do exactly that tomorrow. But I’m not going to do it today because today I’m angry – because it is not difficult to comprehend the idea that nobody hates themselves healthy. It’s a curb two inches high and somehow there are still people who can’t step up onto it, so I’m thinking that if these people were capable of logic, or intelligent thought, or actually cared about anyone they would never be trying to torture people healthy to begin with. Or trying to disguise their inferiority complex with a superiority complex. But that’s just for today so never fear, tomorrow when I go to the doctor for my annual exam I will patiently explain it all again.
Somebody left a comment saying that they really like my work but that I’m not going to get anywhere because I’ll never change these people’s minds. That’s ok because I can’t change anybody’s mind – I can provide information but what other people do with their minds is on them.
More importantly, I don’t write for the kind of people who spread hate around the internet. If they find me and choose to think differently that’s great, but I don’t write for them. I write for the intended victims of their hate. For the majority who they are trying so hard to oppress, who deserve a couple minutes to read blogs in the fatosphere and realize or remember that it really is ok to love yourself and your body as you are, and that the herd may be stampeding in the wrong direction, and that it’s ok to step to the side and let them go by.
I don’t apologize for getting angry now and then. I think that it’s a natural and healthy reaction to a situation that is this crazy.
But in the end I am happy because everyday there are more of us standing up and saying “enough”. Because I am part of a civil rights movement and history tells me that we can win, and I believe that we are making a difference in the insanity that is our culture’s attitude toward people of size and health right now. Because I love my life, and the only way that I can lose that is to let somebody take it away from me, and I have no intention of surrendering my happiness to someone who can’t grasp the concept that a constant torrent of hate and stigma doesn’t d0 anybody any good – including them.
And, because I saw this on Facebook today too: