Troubling Responses to Fat Bullying

Angry FrustratedThis is the last in what will hereafter be known as the “egg trilogy” of posts.  I blogged about  my experience getting eggs thrown at me, and then I blogged about being accused of lying about the egg incident.  In both cases I’ve received an outpouring of support that I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate.  I want to first and foremost thank every person who sent a supportive comment or e-mail, who shared the story on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc.  I seriously can’t tell you how much it means to me.

Among the responses were some that were pretty highly problematic that I wanted to talk about.  I want to be clear that if one of these sounds like something that you wrote, and you wrote your comment with good intentions, I absolutely appreciate your intentions, I’ve certainly said things with the best of intentions that I later learned were problematic, and so I just ask that you think about what I’ve written here.

It’s not cause you’re fat!

Example:  So, although they did yell “HEY FAT BITCH” I wouldn’t take this as hatred against overweight women, just stupid teenagers.

First of all, as I said a couple times in my blog they were adult men.  Even if they were stupid teenagers, they were stupid teenagers committing hatred against fat women and the way that you know that is they yelled “HEY FAT BITCH” at me.

But other people get eggs thrown at them!

Example:  I’m a white male and I’ve had eggs thrown at me, this wasn’t because you were fat.

No, it was still because I was fat.  The fact that other people have had eggs thrown at them for other reasons, while completely egregious, does not negate the fact that they threw eggs at me because I was fat.  People are targeted for all kinds of reasons and none of those reasons negate the other reasons. EDIT:  If you sent a comment that talked about your experience of being harassed, I’m totally fine with that – I prefer that we find common ground to work from for social justice.  My issue is with those who said that because non-fat people had experienced this kind of assault, my experience couldn’t have been because I was fat.

They would have thrown eggs at you no matter what! 

Example:  If you had long hair they would have yelled “LONG HAIRED BITCH” being fat had nothing to do with it.

They threw eggs at me and yelled FAT BITCH, so being fat had at least something to do with it. In fact I do have long hair, and yet they chose to yell FAT BITCH.  They passed a bunch of people before they got to me who they did not choose to throw eggs at.  I have not heard of the National War on Long Haired People.  Long haired people aren’t used as metaphors for everything from greed to laziness.  Imagine the reaction of the general public to me saying “I love that I have long hair.”  Now imagine the reaction to me saying “I love that I’m fat.”  It’s possible that someone has had eggs thrown at them because they have long hair, but that doesn’t change the fact that the bullying of fat people is institutionalized and this is an example of it.

Are you starting to see the trend here?  It’s another way that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, fat people become oppressed and our experiences get erased.  When we share our experiences of oppression, stigma, bashing etc., people who either don’t want to believe that it happens, or don’t want to think about it happening, can’t see the fact that it happens because it doesn’t happen to them, want to play the Oppression Olympics, or want to minimize it for some other reason, try to use some magic bullshit fairy dust to erase those experiences or explain them away as anything but what they are.  Fat shaming/bashing/stigmatizing?  No, no surely not.  It’s not about your fat – it’s about your health, it’s about stupid teenagers, it’s about people being mean blah blah blah.

Just Be Nice!

Example:  By talking about this and accusing them of hate you are hating them right back.  Practice tolerance and live in the love – that is how we can end hate.

Um, no.  I don’t have to tolerate fat bashing like it’s some quirky next door neighbor, and I believe that being silent about bullying means that bullies get to bully with no consequences.  Others are welcome to make this choice but do not try tell me how to deal with shit that happens to me.

Hey, I’m missing the point.

Example:  That is so awful that they called you fat, what’s wrong with people!?

I have no problem being called fat as I am, in point of fact, fat.  The issue wasn’t being called fat (or even being called bitch).  I was more concerned with the flying eggs, the fact that they were not using fat as a neutral descriptor is crappy, but comes in a very distant second.

Maybe You’re the Problem?

Example:  It just seems from reading your blog that a lot of bad stuff happens to you

It doesn’t just happen to me, it happens to lots of fat people. I write about it on this blog which you read.  If every fat person kept a blog many, many of them would be filled with stories like this.  Also, I’m out in the public a lot as a dancer and now doing this marathon training so it gives people more chances.  I will say I think that many  people who aren’t fat can’t conceptualize the sheer amount of bullshit that we deal with on an everyday basis. A lot of that ignorance comes from not recognizing fat bullying when they see it, or trying to explain it away as noted above.

…But you’re a good fatty!

Example:  “They should known better than to throw eggs at someone who is trying to be fit.”

The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy is the mistaken idea that fat people who do whatever the person making the judgment thinks are the “right” things to do (in this case exercising) are “good fatties” and are less deserving of shame and stigma than “bad fatties” who aren’t doing that thing. The good fatty/bad fatty dichotomy needs to die.  They should know better than to throw eggs at anyone, there is no circumstance that justifies throwing eggs at random strangers from your car.  If I was sitting on the corner drinking a cheesecake milkshake through a licorice straw immediately after having polished off a bag of burgers and fries and 10 gallons of Mountain Dew wearing a shirt that says “fuck exercise,” they should still not throw eggs at me.

In the world that we live in people are often encouraged to stereotype fat people and, evidence notwithstanding, blame us for everything from global warming to healthcare costs.  This never ending game of “What can we blame the fatties for next” creates an environment where people first blame, then hate, then mistreat us, then excuse it away.  I don’t think that we can afford to let that happen in silence – I think that as a fat person it’s important to speak out about the poor treatment that we receive. and refuse to let it be erased or silenced.  Stand Up.  Speak Up.  Fight Back.

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66 thoughts on “Troubling Responses to Fat Bullying

  1. Unbelievable. I wish I had something intelligent to say about this, but the erasing and denial of experience is something that seems to be part and parcel of fighting for civil rights.

      1. I often hear people say: “It’s not that I don’t like fat people, it’s just that I don’t like the ones who let themselves go” (meaning not exercising, not eating healthy)
        And they say that as if it was perfectly OK. That needs to change.

        1. That strikes me as being a lot like, “I don’t have a problem with black people, just…” Well, you see where I’m going with that. Neither statement is remotely acceptable.

  2. hey did u c huffington post wants fat activists to share their story?   here is what the article said:

    One thing we talk about often at HuffPost Women is how many hours and how much energy most women have devoted at one time or another — for some of us, daily — to worrying about food and weight.  There are women who manage to do it, though. There are women who order the thing they want for lunch rather than the salad they “should” have, who don’t ask themselves whether they really need the bread on that sandwich, who don’t think that their bodies will betray them if they are not hyper-vigilant or that every pound over their ideal weight represents weakness or failure. We believe that there are women who eat when they’re hungry, stop when they’re full and enjoy food without feeling guilty afterward. We need to hear more from those women. If you are one of them, if you have managed to make peace with food, we hope you’ll share how you did it. Send one or two paragraphs describing how you learned to feel good about eating and your body, whatever its size, We’ll publish your stories on the site, as proof that our relationships with food don’t have to consume us.

    im sending them my story but i figured i would share this with other bloggers too that may not know about it.   Have a wonderful day!   Erin Verzella

    aka erylin 


      1. actually, here is what I just sent in to huff post:

        Growing up I had a love/hate relationship with food. I loved to eat and I hated what eating did to my body. I have always been an emotional eater, I ate when I was sad, hurt, angry and usually these emotions coincided with someone making fun of me because I was fat. To quote Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies, “I eat because I’m sad and I’m sad because I eat; its a vicious cycle” I’ve been on almost every diet there was, I have starved myself, I have forced myself to throw up, I’ve tried to kill myself all in an attempt to attain this perfect image of what I should be to make myself happy.
        One day I woke up. I was tired of being told that I was dying because I was fat when I felt perfectly fine. I realized what I was doing was trying to make everyone else happy. My happiness is not and should not be based on a number on the scale. My happiness should be based on who I was on the inside. So I started writing, I created a blog called “The Fat Files” and wrote about my journey to self acceptance, I wrote about stories I saw on line or in the media; fat people that were bashed, not because of the content of their character, but simply because of what their physical shell looked like. I wrote about my frustrations with designers and the lack of affordable, stylish clothing; I wrote about the diet industry and how it preys on the vulnerability of impressionable girls looking to fit in. My blogs started to be noticed and some were even featured on the blogging site that I was a member of. Along the way I have met some wonderful people who are working to spread the word of HAES (Health at Every Size); through a Facebook group that I joined I was introduced to Kim Brittingham and her wonderful book Read My Hips, which I highly recommend as I related to it immediately, and to Ragen Chastain ( who is a fellow blogger working to fight the injustices of Size Discrimination.
        “The Fat Files” has since become (afterall, flip flops are the glass slipper of the South) a blog about all kinds of injustice (along with stuff that just interests me to write about) but I always am on the look out for ways to spread the message of self acceptance and HAES. I wish that we didn’t have to fight this battle, I wish that every little girl could wake up in the morning and just be a little girl and not be a little girl obsessed with how she looks but as long as there is one little girl (or boy for that matter) who is bullied or judged or thinks that they are less then because they don’t fit the mold then I and other HAES activists will be there to stand up for them.

  3. There actually has been a National War on Long Haired People. Nixon declared it and called it the War on Drugs. It’s why I had my bag or car searched any time I was stopped by a cop until my mid-twenties.

  4. Okay, now I want that ‘Fuck Exercise’ shirt to wear while taking long, brisk walks, just to mess with people’s heads. Hell, if I had that on, I might even randomly stop and do calisthenics right there on the sidewalk!

    Topic: Yeah, I think the cry of ‘Hey Fat Bitch’ is kind of a dead giveaway about what these douchenozzles objected to about your appearance. Makes it pretty clear it wasn’t about your race, choice of activity, hair color/length, reproductive status, sexuality, perceived religious affiliation, etc. The fact that people hurl projectiles at people for most of these things, too (and MOST DEFINITELY should not do so in those cases, either) does not in any way negate that this particular incident was motivated by fat hate.

    I feel very sure pretty much everyone who commented about other reasons they’ve had things hurled at themselves or their loved ones meant to show solidarity. I get it. This is something I sometimes thoughtlessly do myself on subjects where I’m on the outside looking in. It isn’t easy the first time you see yourself called out for derailing, but I think it’s important we listen.

    We’re human, so we screw up. We screw up hard while trying equally hard to do the right thing. But the good news is that we can learn from our mistakes if we pay attention.

    1. I’ve been teaching myself to sew, and while it will probably never happen I’ve been imagining what I could do with a fat people only fashion line (and also going on Project Runway and getting into fights with the judges. “Your dress makes her hips look huge!” “Is that a problem? And if you think it is, you best think really hard about *why* you think that” And they stare uncomfortably at me with my 54in hips, and I stare back in defiance. I fantasize about this a lot, especially Michael Kors and his BS about ‘real women’).

      But how great would it be to have yoga pants with “FUCK EXERCISE” scrawled across the butt? So when you’re doing downward dog or whatever, the fabric stretches so everyone can read it and they say, “Good for you, exercising even though you hate it!” and you reply, “No, I’m not exercising. I’m playing. I’m moving my body in a way I enjoy, for no purpose other than to pure pleasure.” And then everyone converts to HAES and the world moves on.

      1. I sew and make costumes and have the same dreams! Hmmm… can PR do a tag team season? 😉

        While there are some patterns out there for larger women that DON’T make us look like Golden Girl extras, there still isn’t a dependable pattern company that creates patterns based on what looks good on larger women instead of just grading up regular-sized patterns. Get a friend to help you make a duct-tape body double and you’ll be able to get a good idea of what works for YOUR body – and it always feels good to get a compliment on an outfit and be able to say “thanks – i made it.”

      2. “No, I’m not exercising. I’m playing. I’m moving my body in a way I enjoy, for no purpose other than to pure pleasure.”

        I love this.

        In fact, I have a growing dislike towards the word “exercise” – similar to the word “diet”. I don’t follow or have a “diet”, I eat. I don’t “exercise” – I strengthen my body, I run, I train, I play.

    2. I want a “fuck exercise” t-shirt for the exact same reason …to wear when I’m working out. Because then the fat-haters will be all… “wait, she’s wearing a ‘fuck exercise’ t-shirt… and she’s exercising…. woaaaah….” Cut to the sound of their tiny brains exploding.

    1. Me, too. Since haters are not going to notice you’re being all tolerant and nice while they’re beating you up, I’ve never understood this response. In pacifist philosophy, you are never supposed to stand by while someone is hurting someone else. I know everyone just needs love, but there’s a time and a place for that, and a time and a place to tell nasty people off. You’re setting limits, something they obviously didn’t get at home.

  5. I had an incident like this happen to me this past weekend, ironically it was at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. As I was boarding the charter bus that would take us to the event the “bus captain” starts to yell ” no, no wait, wait she needs two seats. Can u imagine the humiliation? At first I didn’t know who is was talking about. I was looking around for this person who would need two seats. Alas he meant me. The bus was packed, everyone was silent I never been so embarrassed in my life. I had my children with me. I wanted them to experience the great march for equality and justice. Who knew there would be no room for fat people on this bus. Needless to say I didn’t need two seats and I got my fat A** on that bus and went to Washington. Ohhhh but it doesn’t bed there. Upon returning as I board the bus the driver this time says to me “when are u gonna do it? I said do what? Again oblivious to my fat body. And he responds…. The surgery! You know to loose weight. This man didn’t know me. What the heck gave him the right to advise surgery. I felt like ripping his eyes out. Really asshole. I wanted to say….. Let me stop because what I wanted to say may not be appropriate for this post. Yes, I am 5 ft 9 inches about 400 lbs., what gives people the right! What makes it ok?

    1. That seems like the sort of thing you could complain to his employers about. I doubt they’d be happy about one of their drivers harassing a paying customer.

  6. Ugh, I hope my post (saying I had been harassed as a thin jogger/walker but sooooo much less) didn’t add to the problem. I was trying, somewhat clumsily, to say that it’s NOT the same thing because it’s so much less common. If it came across as “it’s not because you’re fat” I sincerely apologize, Regan and commenters.

    1. Hi Kate,

      It didn’t come across that way to me at all – I totally understood where you were coming from and that you were pointing out that it was less common. I appreciate you taking the time to comment about it!


      1. Thanks! Love the blog and really happy not to be a Derailing for Dummies poster child. (Today, at least!)

  7. My boyfriend and I are working “Oppression Olympics” and “magic bullshit fairy dust” into our everyday vocabulary. Thanks for that. 🙂

  8. I really hope my comment yesterday wasn’t taken as anything but the loving support it was meant as. …I am aware of how easy I have it in the world, and it makes me pretty angry that you got assaulted with eggs for being fat.

    Love your blog!

    1. Not at all, I really appreciated your comment! The ones I’m referring to are those who insisted that this didn’t have anything to do with my being fat. Thanks for the support, it is greatly appreciated 🙂


  9. I hope my pointing at that people doing this kind of violence wasn’t meant as derailment, but as an indication that maybe we should work on the overall problem of throwing stuff at other people (or their things).

    I feel like that we need to root out the underlying tendency to violence or we will just shift it to some other form of hatred and attack.

  10. Deny and demean. It’s what the privileged, and their apologists, do to fight off the truth and maintain the status quo/pecking order. Women demanding their rights and respect are “hysterical.” Blacks and other people of color are “uppity.” People who are physically different — whether by size or ability — are “entitled” and “demanding.”

  11. I’ve been tall and fat most of my adult life. When I hit my 30’s I discovered bellydance and a lifestyle that did not punish me for my size. I also embraced a faith practice that was more supportive of diversity.. I was livin’ large and doing pretty good. My body then developed a bunch of issues.. all internal.. that pulled my health downward… undiagnosed food allergy, high blood pressure, diabetes, long term foot fungus that lead to complications, etc… anyhow… to the casual observer, I’m just a fat woman who is falling apart.. and it ‘must’ be due to being fat. This summer, after years of attempt at treating foot issues, they discovered osteomylitis in my toe bones. I opted to have them taken and be aggressive in the treatment so I didn’t have to go back for more surgery. That was July 17… I’m still in a wheelchair. They attempted to close an open wound on my foot and it is being stubborn.. so I’m behaving and staying off the foot. Long story short.. now I’m a fat woman in a wheelchair… I get treated poorly in public by folks because they assume I’m just so fat I can’t walk… I’m so fat my diabetes (from being fat… bullhockey) is eating me alive.. I’m so fat and lazy I’m having to wheel myself around.. it suck and I’m sick of it. If I wanted, I could stand up and walk just fine… even without my three missing toes… but I’d like my foot to heal so I can get back in the pool, and creeks and nature with my kids and grandkids!!! If I were thin and promoting HAES then people would think awesome things of me.. but because I’m fat and promoting it.. well, I must just be trying to build a support system to make me feel better about being fat.
    Your blog helps me deal with all this…


    1. actually that last bit didn’t come out right… I would be trying to build a support system.. what I meant to say is that they think I’m trying to make excuses for why it’s o.k. to be fat and not ‘fix myself’

    2. Existing in your body on a daily basis and facing judgment is an act of rebellion and bravery in itself. Other people don’t have to deal with this. I am sorry that you do.

    3. So sorry that this is happening to you. It’s bad enough having a host of physical problems and amputated extremities without being abused by ignorant judgmental assholes for being a bad fatty. Wishing for quick healing for you and patience in the meantime…

    4. Oh Sue, that’s not easy. Absolutely take care of that foot and stay off it and let it heal – heal your toes! I’m diabetic and now using a walker because of foot tendonitis and back pain, but mostly because of dizziness from new medications. I have that voice in my head saying people are looking at me and thinking “fat = walker” nonsense. Take care, Sue, all the best. Ragen’s blog helps me too. We’re all a bunch of wondrous women, we are!

  12. …If you can suck a cheesecake milkshake through a straw of licorice, I would LOVE to know how you did that. THAT is impressive.

  13. “If I was sitting on the corner drinking a cheesecake milkshake through a licorice straw immediately after having polished off a bag of burgers and fries and 10 gallons of Mountain Dew wearing a shirt that says “fuck exercise,” they should still not throw eggs at me.”

    For this, I love you even more than before.

    Also, just to be story-swapping, I once had some homeless man on a rant scream at me as I walked past him on a city street, “FAT BITCH!! FAT BITCH!! BIG FAT-ASSED PONY-RIDING BITCH!!!” Out of all that nonsense, the part that grabbed my attention was “pony riding.” What the what??? I have never seen a big girl like me sitting atop a pony. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

  14. Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    There are too many casualties in the “war on obesity.” The fact that people think that this kind of behavior is okay, ever, indicates that there is a terrible problem. That problem is not people with fat bodies. That problem is the fact that horrible attitudes towards people with fat bodies are deemed perfectly acceptable.

  15. I told my mom about egg trilogy part two yesterday and she immediately sided with asshole comment “She’s lying.” I assured her you weren’t.
    Today I brought it up again, and reminded her that my grandmother was a pathological liar and did horrible things, which my mom reported and no one believed her because it was too “out there” to take seriously.
    She (my mom) calls me paranoid on a regular basis when I tell her about the treatment of fat people in society, and so today, I finally told her that if she understands how it felt with her being accused of lying, perhaps she could cut it the hell out with doing the same thing to me. I bring it up because it is horrible and because it horrifies me.
    To then be derailed because that is just too awful to be real… not helpful.
    She agreed to stop. It might work for a week or two, but at least I now have egg part three to counter with on the next accusation of paranoia.

  16. Whatever the additional reasons those weirdos may have had when they threw eggs at you (well, it might just be possible that added to their fat-hating, they also hate people with long hair, dancers, women with longer hair who are fat and dance, whatever…) my line is that it ! was! NOT! okay! to! throw! eggs! at! you!
    And if we are meant to answer to things like that with a luuuuuving attitude, okay, let’s pour out some tough love on those adult men. How could we do that? For instance by addressing them like this: “Hey, did your parents not teach you any manners? How can you incorporate respect for others and a loving attitude into egg-throwing, huh??? Back to Kindergarten, all of you!”

  17. Parts I and II of The Egg-Throwing Trilogy, and the discussions they have spawned in my circle, have been a learning experience for some of my thin friends, who have been actually shocked and horrified to learn that fat people are bullied and harassed in public. I was then shocked and horrified to realize that they didn’t know this. So yeah, people who are bullied have to speak up, tell their stories, insist on their truth and their right to live without bullying, period.

    1. *blink blink* Diabetes is GENETIC! Possibly this ‘inflammation’ and ‘metabolic’ stuff is too.

      I hate stupid people, especially when they are willfully stupid. I am going home to my cats.

    2. Thanks for the link.

      The article begins with “Metabolic health in patients who are obese may be explained by low levels of inflammation, researchers found.” I wish they’d framed it as “Metabolic ill health in both obese and non-obese patients may be explained by high levels of inflammation.”

  18. Wow. They said you were lying? Unbelievable. I’ve always said that bullies with pick on any trait or perceived “weakness,” so trying to eliminate bullying by eliminating what bullies pick on is basically human extinction. But to tell you it wasn’t about fat? Holy batshit WTF?

  19. Hi! I am not quite sure how I even got to this blog… I kind of just appeared here.. but wanted to say that sucks that someone threw eggs at you. That should count as assault and battery. Even if it was just eggs, eggs could really hurt someone when they’re thrown at you… I mean they can actually break a window when thrown at someone’s house. I am not sure if you were able to file a police report or anything, but if not, I hope karma gets them!
    On the other hand, your blog post about the egg incident was actually funny… I loved your questions about what exactly they were doing with eggs in their car and the way you handled the other people who yelled at you. I can’t believe grown adults would act like that though… I can’t imagine ever hollering insults at someone through a window, let alone throwing things at someone!!! 😦

  20. “It doesn’t just happen to me, it happens to lots of fat people. I write about it on this blog which you read. If every fat person kept a blog many, many of them would be filled with stories like this.”

    True that. I could write an entire blog just dedicated to chronicling the fat hate I get. If I had the sanity points to write all that toxic shit down, that is. I try to forget about it, it’s hard enough living it, harder still to talk about it and put it out there for the world to read about.

  21. I had all kinds of clever things to say but your clever followers said them ALL. I love this blog, I love you, thank you so much, that is all.

  22. Ragen, I’ve posted a few comments lately, having just subscribed to your blog. I’ve got a raft of health problems including depression and type 2 diabetes. I recently asked my wonderful supportive family doctor to refer me to a program for eating disorders (long waiting list) and am also getting help with clutter/hoarding. My endocrinologist has suggested bariatric surgery. I won’t do it. I want to thank you for your insight and strong vision. As educated and aware as I believe myself to be, I’ve learned more from you in the past few weeks than I’ve understood in my 54 years as a fat person, the most crucial being acceptance – of myself and of every other fat person. By accepting myself now I can really learn to take care of myself. Thanks again, Ragen.

    1. Hi M. C.

      I just want to say that you are completely my hero today. I think it’s fantastic that you are finding a path to peace and happiness and being so proactive about asking for what you need and turning down what you don’t. I’m very happy to have the chance to support you in your journey and if there is ever anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask (

      Rock On!



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