I have heard from a number of fat people with mobility/health issues that things are made more difficult by the idea that using a cane or scooter or getting Type 2 diabetes or whatever is living down to a negative stereotype about fat people.
Somehow it’s become popular for everyone from stand-up comedians to adults clinging to their junior high school playground bully persona, to make fun of fat people in scooters, fat people with diabetes, etc. I just want to ask these people: what the hell is wrong with you?
Their cowardly excuse is typically that somehow these people “brought it on themselves” so it’s ok to make fun of them. This is entirely wrong on a couple of levels. First you don’t know what someone’s situation is by looking at them, and even if you did it’s still just a convenient excuse for being a bigot and I’ll tell you why. I have a friend who was in a wheelchair for a while because she got drunk, jumped from a moving vehicle and broke both her legs. I know a guy who was in a scooter and now uses a prosthetic leg because he got drunk and crashed his motorcycle. I know a woman who had to go to the emergency room repeatedly because she refused to stop eating shrimp though she is allergic. Even after telling people what happened, these three people have related to me that they still got nothing but sympathy and offers of help (which is what everyone should get no matter what their circumstance – not a lifetime of shame and judgment) so methinks the fat hater doth justify too much.
Unfortunately we are not the jackass whisperer and we can’t make anyone stop this behavior. But we can make sure that we do not perpetuate any of this stigma within HAES/SA community. I would suggest that we should be on the frontlines fighting for respect and dignity for those who use mobility aids or deal with issues that society wants to erroneously blame on their fat (or anything else.) There is no place for blame or shame in mobility or self-care.
I understand that I am very lucky/privileged. My body is uniquely built for fat athleticism. I put on muscle (especially Type 2 muscle) very easily which makes it easier to move my big fat body around. I have naturally high proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. I’ve been an athlete all my life which makes things easier. I have had access to amazing professionals who have supported my health and well-being from a Health at Every Size perspective. Not every body is equipped to do what my body can do. Lots of bodies can do stuff mine can’t. And that’s exactly as it should be.
I also know that, just like everyone else, what my body can do could change. I believe that would make my body different, but no less amazing – still blinking, heart beating etc – still an awesome body. If something happened and my mobility changed that would absolutely be difficult, when I injured my neck and didn’t know if I’d ever get the use of my right arm back it was hard. But I was able to make it me and my body against something scary (also part of my privilege being neurotypical) and not me against my body. So if I ever lose my mobility, regardless of the reason, I hope to name my scooter something awesome; get to work with some glue, glitter, and streamers; put a bumper sticker on the back that says “Got Something to Say About My Size? Dial 1-800-Bite Me”, and roll my way into a sparkly new life on wheels.
So if you’re rocking a scooter, a cane, an oxygen tank, living with Type 2 diabetes or something else that people are trying to make you feel ashamed of because of your size or anything else, I say those people can go fuck themselves. And if you want someone to hang out and help glue rhinestones to your scooter or put subversive bumper stickers on your oxygen tank, call me!
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