A Long Line of Losers

galileoI got an e-mail from a blog reader today who was really upset at how often she sees rude, mean, and even abusive behavior used against someone who is arguing for fat acceptance or Health at Every Size.

I certainly get tired of people who’ve, somewhat inexplicably, chosen to spend their time online trying to make sure that no fat person stops hating themselves for even a moment. How did this become their lives?  Did these people wake up one day and say “Oh my god, my Spidey sense is tingling, it must mean fat people are considering not putting up with my bullshit – I must take to the comments section and abuse them before they get all uppity and think they deserve to be treated with basic human respect!”  I’m tired of people who call me profanity laced strings of names and made up animals “Kill yourself you fucking stupid lazy cunt landwhale!”  In the words of DancesWithFat celebrity commenter Yorkie “Hello”? Who the f*ck raised them to speak like that, Andrew Dice Clay?”

I get tired of people who answer my citing of research by calling me names, who substitute ALL CAPS for reasoned logical thought, who act like “everybody knows’ is the same as “scientifically proven”, and who are trying to build themselves up by stepping on me.  I get tired of the people who will argue to the death against the idea that fat people have a right to exist in a fat body, be treated with basic human respect, or make our own choices about our health and well being.  The concern trolls, the regular trolls, the haters, etc.

It helps me to remember that these people are just the latest in a long line of losers.  For example when someone argues vehemently for the idea that you can tell someone’s health by their body size, I remind myself that people used to argue just as vehemently for the idea that the size and shape of someone’s skull could predict personality and character.  We laugh at phrenology now but it sure as hell wasn’t funny to the people being accused being criminals because of their skull shape.

Don’t forget that at various times in history people argued just as voraciously that the sun revolves around the Earth, that heroin was a non-addictive substitute for morphine, that Lysol is a fantastic douche, and being gay was a mental illness and that gay kids shouldn’t be allowed in boy scouts.  Some people are STILL arguing for those things – there are always people who plant their roots deep and wide on the wrong side of history and push as hard as they can against progress.  But progress marches on – past them, over them, or dragging them along.  Sometimes slowly, sometimes in great leaps, but forward nonetheless.

When I get frustrated I remind myself that history is on my side, that civil rights activists are a long line of winners, and that the only thing that I see for me to do is keep pushing forward and never give up.

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51 thoughts on “A Long Line of Losers

  1. As anybody who writes about feminism online knows, as soon as you put fingers to keyboard, swarms of women haters are going to descend and tell you what they think. Although it won’t be very literate for the most part, it will be vehement – filled with hatred. I went through a stage of feeling sick, wondering how I’d managed to miss so much misogyny in real life.And so much of it from women themselves.

    Then I worked it out. Although misogyny is a real thing, the online version sounds louder and bigger than it really is and it doesn’t always represent real life. Lots of it is coming from haters with too much time on their hands. Let’s face it, who’s got the TIME to follow people around the internet jeering at them? If you’re a regular troll, you’re probably substituting hatred for all the things missing in your life. The more extreme the trolling, the more there’s probably a sad sack at the end of it.

    So yeah, you’re dealing with losers.

    Plus the more you disrupt the status quo, the more pushback you get. So in that sense, more pushback can even suggest a movement is getting more traction.

    1. “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” (Gandhi)

      They are reaching the aggressive stage for sure. So all there is to do is remember, If you’re going through Hell, keep going. 🙂

  2. Thank you. “Keep pushing forward and never give up” are just the perfect words I need right now.

  3. Keep pushing forward but give yourself a nice break sometimes as well. Don’t get burned out. Take care of yourselves. Take time to laugh and lighten your heart.

  4. Well, what a fantastic way to wake up after lurching toward my computer first thing in the AM–I got quoted! Thanks, Ragen!

    When one is undertaking a social cause, particularly one that’s personal and strikes right at your heart, it is very, very easy to take on the weight of the world if there are more against you than for you. You go to bed thinking, “I didn’t even make a dent today. Not a dent!” It’s then that you put down your sword and just rest for a while and let the others fill in the gap.

    No one is the Dumbass Whisperer. The problem I’ve found with the Internet is that everyone’s opinion is weighted equally because you don’t see the person making the comment. There are no visual cues for our brains to process, so nothing is filtered. Everyone gets the floor. And not everyone deserves that honour, IMO.

    It’s times like these I “go dark” and just not touch the computer for a week or more. I just get fed up with the idiocy, and reading someone’s Hate is not worth the price of my health.

  5. I found this article just after a friend — a former nurse now working in health insurance — posted a “Yay War on Obesity” article with the condescending statement, “At the risk of making many people unhappy I’m going to post an article everyone who is overweight needs to read and take to heart. I’m not posting this because I ‘hate fat people’. I’m posting this because I love my obese friends and want them to live a long and productive life.” I am this close to responding, “Thank you so much for starting my day with such condescending concern-trolling. My life, however long it is, is mine to live as I see fit. I don’t owe you or anyone else a goddamned thing when it comes to weight or health. It saddens me to see this from a gay person who knows what it’s like to face bigotry and ostracizing.”

      1. I couldn’t get past the first paragraph, but then, I was steaming over what your friend posted. Blech. I’d have to at least hide that person from my news stream if not unfriend altogether!

      2. My favorite (sarcasm 100/10) part of this article is when it describes cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc. as “all preventable.” Really? Would you like to explain that to the infants who have strokes in utero thanks to hereditary coagulopathies? Or the people who develop lung cancer without ever having smoked a cigarette in their lives? Or the triathletes who die suddenly of heart attacks because of genetic or structural abnormalities? Of course, even if a disease was 100% preventable, the patient still has a complete right to compassion, kindness, and shame-free care. But it is honestly almost laughable how desperate people are to blame the patients/victims of diseases. I guess for some people that’s far more reassuring than accepting that illness and sudden death can happen to anyone, including you.

    1. Total fucking condescending concern trolling. From the ‘fat is entirely preventable’ opening to the assumption that everyone is fat because we can’t help ourselves in the face of big, bad junk food advertising, to the hand wringing about shouldn’t insurance companies incentivize healthy habits that will totally make everybody thin, though she can’t imagine what that would look like (I can and it’s eating up entire paychecks to no avail while offering up our most intimate health details to Big Brother) it’s one steaming load of thin privilege twaddle.

      And then the only response so far is about her ‘courage’ in posting this revolutionary (or is it merely revulsionary?) and ‘balanced’ view on the subject. BLEACK! My kingdom for some Braino!

      1. That reply is by the friend who posted the article on Facebook. I’ve decided I’m too mad to post a reply yet.

          1. Thanks. Times like this, it’s good to step away and focus on other things. Like shopping. JustMySize is having their $15 Playtex bra sale. Better support than what’s on Facebook right now. 😉

      2. What you said, Twistie. It is another example of how fat people are othered. I love it, not, when people offer up reasons for me being the way I am as if they can explain my experience better than I. Then they blithely dream up solutions to get rid of me as if I have no say; as if I were not an autonomous person as much as they are. Such people infantilize me by acting as if I am not competent to make my own choices about how I wish to conduct my life. I need to go play with beads now to regain a few sanity points.

    2. You probably should post a trigger alert about the article – I read one sentence and got sick to my stomach (the one about why wouldn’t people want to care about their health). Than I read the comment and got even sicker (sorry that it’s your friend!) Sigh…and because she has RN after her name people will take her seriously.

      1. And another friend posted a “good on you” link to her own blog post about why she doesn’t like fat acceptance. Ever see that gif where a guy is flinging stuff off his desk like, “Fuck this. Fuck that. Fuck that especially. Fuck all of it.”? That’s how I’m feeling towards them right now.

  6. Although it is tremendously discouraging to have to read what those people are writing and to know that there is still so far to go in changing perception, I have to applaud and thank all the people involved in the fat acceptance movement and HAES, because on a personal level it has given me a whole new outlook on life. Intuitive eating and trusting your own body to tell you what it needs, how much it needs and when it needs it, in a world determined to make you believe that they know more about what you need than your body does, is revolutionary to me. I always think of that part in the first Harry Potter book where he comes across the Mirror of Erised, and Dumbledore says that the happiest man alive would look in the mirror and see himself, exactly as he is. Few people I think would really be able to say if they were to come across such a mirror, which is very sad.

    Appreciating my body instead of hating it makes sense but it took me reading these blogs to realise it. I have started to actually say to myself: “Body, what would you like for breakfast/lunch/supper/snack?” and it tells me. And when it’s had enough, it tells me again and I stop. The other day it told me it wanted to go to gym and so off we went and had to my surprise had a really great session. When I stop and think about all the insanely awesome things it does for me every day, how can I not just stand in awe and say thank you? And apologise for all the mean things I have said to it over the years.

    This morning I woke up and said: “Body, it’s you and me babe. We came in to this world together and we are going to leave it together. So let’s go be awesome.” And off we went. So I would encourage everyone who does have blogs like this and who are fighting this fight to keep going, because it is making a difference, one small step at a time. It has made a difference to me.

    1. What a delightful and practical approach! This made me grin so wide I thought the top of my head might fall off.

    2. Ash, I know that you know that you are lucky to have your body, but your body is also lucky to to have YOU!! 😉

  7. It’s sometimes crazy-making to deal with all the trolls, but you’re absolutely right about them. People who have the time to go running all over the internet looking for fat-positive stories/bloggers and harass them are just like the ones who spend all their time making rude comments on online obituaries and the ones who make filthy comments on feminist blogs and the ones who take the time to assure people who write fanfic that they’ve chosen the wrong ‘ship to write about.

    They’re sad little people with no actual lives and nothing real to say. If they had anything to say, they would create their own blogs, write their own fic, start their own novels, or maybe do something worth an obit then they die.

    Two film quotes get me through when it starts getting rough.

    From Labyrinth: You have no power over me.

    From Galaxy Quest: Never give up, never surrender.

    It also helps to remember that while everyone is entitled to their opinion, they are not entitled to determine mine. And some opinions are Just Plain Wrong.

  8. Basically this is the only blog I read anymore as it really helps me feel positive about myself. I’m a 50+ and had RNY surgery over 4 years ago and haven’t been feeling well lately, Actually for almost a year. Saw my primary, did blood work, normal, saw a couple specialists nothing wrong so now I’m breaking down and going back to my bariatric surgeon to see if my body is failing me due to the bypass surgery. I’ve avoided going to them for 3 years now and am in a different frame of mind than I was when I originally had the surgery. Have never dieted since the surgery and am a big supporter of HAES now but dealing with appointment tomorrow is causing me a lot of anxiety but once you have the surgery you really have no choice but to deal with these people because your body is now rewired and non-gastric doctors don’t know how to always treat your health problems.

    Ragen you’re the best!! As are the rest of you here minus the trolls!!!

    1. Nanook, good job for following up with the bariatrics people although I know that can sometimes be hard. My fingers and crossed for you and even if there IS something “wrong”, there will likely be things you can do to improve the situation 🙂

      1. Thanks guys, still need to wait on blood work results but luckily no one there focused on my weight loss or lack there of and the only focus was on the health problems that I was there for! So all in all it was worth the go after 3.5 years of avoiding them!

  9. You know what makes me feel better? Knowing that you get frustrated and angry and find yourself in that sick-and-tired place, too, and running out of sanity points. Sometimes I think of you as this badass wonder woman with infinite energy who sets an unflagging pace as you march your troops into battle. It’s good to remember that you’re a human being like the rest of us and you hit walls sometimes, too, and need to regroup. Which makes you even more of a badass wonder woman to me. Keep on, Sister, and, in the immortal words of Corey Hart, never surrender. 😉 Thank you.

  10. I’ve looked and looked for reasons why people hate another group of people. Fear is usually a big reason. I’m wishing there were some sort of medication we could pass out to ease people’s fears so maybe they could think. I mean seriously, if you are so afraid of someone you have to actively try to hurt them (whether mentally or physically), you need some major help.

      1. LOL! I was thinking more of anti-anxiety drugs that could be put into a slow release device to be inserted under the skin, like the multi-year birth control.

  11. I completely agree, but I’m not concerned about the trolls. They’re cowards, so they just hate whatever is fashionable to hate. After us, they’ll move on.

    The real hold-outs will be the people who bet their careers and/or their businesses on the ‘thinness is inherently better’ idea. They’re the ones that will fight to the death, and we’re just beginning to see their claws (I’m looking at you, AMA!).

    p.s. Any chance you’ll update the ‘read my hate mail’ section? I love the quips.

    1. Amber, you make SUCH a good point. Paul Krugman (NYT economics columnist and Nobel Prize winner) once said “the science of economics moves forward one funeral at a time” and the same thing is true in medicine. I have been a HAES oriented clinician for about 10 years now, and I am so amazed at all the young up-and-coming clinicians of all types who are HAES oriented (or even just the ones who understand that dieting doesn’t work). I am really seeing a sea-change, but it’s one that we’re going to have to measure in years or even decades.

  12. A great many (though not all) of those who post such comments are totally lacking a conscience. There’s a word for that, but I won’t use it because it’s judgmental in the same way that “obesity” is. Forgiveness is extremely difficult. If it’s to be absolute there can’t be exceptions or “escape” clauses. So even fellers like Hitler, Stalin, and their ilk must be included. So, how can one arrive at a conception whereby such persons are forgiven? Imagine that they each have a Spirit and an Ego. The Ego in such persons has created a total eclipse of the Spirit. But that does not mean that the Spirit is absent. It’s just hidden. They just “can’t help” the way they are. Lots of us “can’t help” those things which provoke disgust reactions in others. And there’s the further test: to refuse to judge against those who are themselves judgmental. It’s a MOST demanding test. If we can collectively pass it, though, then EVERYTHING becomes possible. And I do hope that this is not, itself, oppressive. I’m only suggesting, not insisting. I beg your indulgence and forgiveness if it rubs you wrongly. And, were I to be in your presence, I would get down on bended knee before you. We’re all in this together, after all.

    1. Harry, I prefer the paradox of spirituality. James Baldwin said that on the one hand, one must accept the world as it is, that it’s okay, and on the other hand, one must never accept the world the way it is, one must fight injustice with every breath. I understand exactly what he meant and was deeply moved that he came to this realization when he was in his thirties, which struck me as being very young for this incredible insight.

    2. Forgiveness is important, and so is taking action against what is wrong and unjust. That is not judgmental, it’s necessary for the progression of society. Also, free will does play a part so with that being said, people are responsible for their actions.

  13. Just wanted to say how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE your columns (attitude, writing, speaking, existence). I admire and enjoy you so much. You articulate exactly what is in my head, better than I ever could. I wish we could be friends! We’d have fun.
    PS Wish all of us in the Comments could have a pajama party. The trollers would be apoplectic with jealousy and self-righteousness.

  14. I don’t know if anyone would find this helpful, or even a good idea. I’ve found that Reddit is a great place for counter-trolling fat hating trolls. You need to have a lot of sanity points stored up to do it though, however it’s very cathartic to bring them to a point of just screaming the same claims so many others of them have made over and over, like an angry child.

    1. Wanted to add, if you do this, use a throwaway account. I’ve had to delete 3 accounts before I finally got this, because fat haters can be legit abusive.

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