Being a Jerk is Not Actually Brave

Jillian MichaelsYou know those people who pride themselves on “telling it like it is” and giving “tough love” to fatties.  Jillian Michaels, the authors of Skinny Bitch, Dr. Oz, random people I meet in the gym…People who defend their bullying actions by saying “Someone needs to be brave and stop coddling these fatties. I’m that person, put down the bon bons and get off your ass fatty”.  Here’s what I would like to say to them:

Newsflash  – there is not a fat person in this culture who hasn’t heard this before.  There are very few fat people who haven’t heard it in the last two hours.  We know what you think of us.  We are all too aware that you let your assumptions run wild and then treat us like your assumptions and stereotypes are true, and like public health means making fat peoples’ health the public’s business. We are aware that you think “Fat bad, thin good, shame the fatties grunt grunt grunt”. We can hear this message  386,170  times every year.  I’ve been fat for 17 years, which means I’ve heard it around 6,564,890 times.  How can you possibly think that hearing it 6,564,891 times is going to improve my life?   Being 6,564,891 does not make you special or brave, it makes you one more doody in a big ole pile of poo.  It is an act of hubris that is almost beyond understanding to not only be a bully, but to ask for credit by claiming that your bullying is an act of bravery.

Maybe you are actually so deluded that you think this is a good idea.  Maybe this is all an exercise to stroke your massive ego.  Maybe you think you’re the fatty whisperer.  Or maybe it just makes you feel good to treat people like crap.  I don’t really care because bullying is inappropriate in any guise.   If someone is interested in hearing your “tough” talk I’m sure you’ll be among the very first people to know and then let ‘er rip, otherwise how about you sit down and shut up.

Or you could swim against the stream and treat fat people like the intelligent human beings we are- not like confused misguided sheep who need your strong guidance – and encourage others to do the same.  Let there be a fat person who only hears 386,169 messages about their body because you refused to pile on the shame and body hate.  That’s brave.

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64 thoughts on “Being a Jerk is Not Actually Brave

  1. “One more doody in a big ole pile of poo.” That just made me want to marry you so hard… right in the butt!

  2. I am with JENNA. Seriously. I had the exact same thought…. I FREAKING LOVE YOU RAGEN and all of your well thought out blogs and all of your exhaustive research. I am so grateful. Sharing with my curvies.

  3. Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    These individuals hold about as much appeal for me as a fungal infection, and just like a fungal infection, I work quickly to eradicate them from my life. Their nasty behavior is more unhealthy than being fat could ever be. It creates a toxic environment.
    Of course the correct response to such jackwagons is to tell them that my body is not their business and to back the hell off, stat. However, a certain juvenile part of my psyche is always tempted to pull my own finger and deliver them a toxic atmosphere which they richly deserve.

  4. This is well timed. I was reading a usually good website the other day and there was an article about how obesity and poverty intersect and, for some reason, a bunch of commenters showed up to talk about their weight loss achievements and how anyone can lose weight. One even said that diet and exercise always work. Essentially, instead of talking about poverty and obesity, it turned into a “Fat People Must Justify Why They Are Fat”-athon. It was awful. Between those folks and the usual Troll Patrol, I could completely fill out my Fat Lies and Bigotry Bingo card. The worst part is that I sort of lost it myself and was not at all nice with my comments. I’m really embarrassed about that part. Sometimes I do okay with the lies and the nastiness that people spew and sometimes I just can’t take it. That is especially true when I encounter it when I’m in a place where I usually feel safe. There are so few spaces on the Internet, or hell anywhere, where I feel safe from that kind of stuff.

    I know I shouldn’t let stuff like that get to me but it very much does.
    If people don’t mind sharing, how do you guys handle it when you encounter fat shaming lies and fat haters on the Internet and in person?

    I’m thinking my new tactic may be to just not read Comment sections any longer. But that makes me sad because when the conversation is thoughtful, I can get a lot out of it. In my real life, I just tend to avoid other people or situations that I think can be nasty, but that can mean that I’m afraid to go to the gym and I’m afraid to put myself out there and meet new people.

    1. Judy — just my two cents…

      I know most of us want to be a mature voice of sanity and reason, and not to lower ourselves to others’ level.

      But, that said, just like you have no responsibility to try and change yourself because of their hate and ignorance, you also have no responsibility to be the quiet, meek, nonconfrontational, accepting-of-their-vicious-crap-because-of-course-you-“must”-deserve-it fatty they want you to be.

      Sometimes anger is appropriate and good — not just for you to vent, but for the people you’re venting at to get a good picture of how inappropriate they’ve been.


    2. You need no one’s permission to live and you certainly have no obligation to plead for your life, let alone with some asshole on the Internet who has less power over you than David Bowie’s tights. Not reading the comments is a good policy.

      However, if I’m dealing with a person who might just be misinformed, I’ve had occasional success explaining why I believe they are misinformed, showing them a few studies to back it up, and then dropping it. Ragen put this brilliantly, so I’m going to paraphrse: I am not “justifying my fat,” I’m giving them an opportunity to reexamine their own prejudices about what it means when someone is fat. What they do with that is up to them.

      1. I give you permission to only read comments when the conversation is thoughtful.


        Seriously, you don’t have to choose either to read or not to read, if the comments look like a bunch of trolls, stop reading if it saves your sanity.

        Heck, I’ve posted links to some of the medical studies that show how hard it is to lose weight and how we don’t know what weight means and all that, and still had someone dismiss it as ‘opinion’.

        You aren’t the jerk whisperer. 🙂

      2. “You need no one’s permission to live and you certainly have no obligation to plead for your life, let alone with some asshole on the Internet who has less power over you than David Bowie’s tights. Not reading the comments is a good policy.”


    3. I only read comments sections when I know I’m in a good place to be able to respond intelligently and not just react from my emotional base. I believe kneejerk reactions weaken the argument because they’re so emotional. Eventually they devolve into straw men and pithy quips like, “Oh, yea? Well, so’s your old man!”

      There are places for kneejerk, to be sure, but when I’m seeking to educate (which is what I try to do), that’s not the place. I don’t often fight back against truly vile fat hate anymore because I will not cast pearls before swine. Those people are not interested in learning or intelligent discussion. They are so wrapped up in their own need to hate something that they cannot listen. They only listen to people who agree with them, so why waste my breath arguing that? If it’s reportable, I report it, then I move on. I don’t usually engage.

      There are times when my anger gets the better of me, though, and I do choose to engage. Sometimes I just get too tired and worn down to be sufficiently rational; sometimes it hits a trigger I wasn’t watching closely; sometimes I think the person just needs to hear that their opinion isn’t the only one out there; sometimes I decide the person just needs to know how ugly someone else thinks they are inside. Then I make a couple of points and move on. I don’t expect those individuals to learn from me, but maybe someone else coming by – someone more open – will listen just a little.

      In an argument or discussion, I usually will say when I’m through with it: “I need to be done with this conversation, so I won’t respond further,” just to let them know that even if they did get the last word it wasn’t because I acquiesced.

      Plus, I come here and I read and I get renewed because Ragen is an inspiration and a breath of fresh air in a rather fetid and stale landscape.

      Usually, I find that suffices. Good luck, Judy!

      1. Thank you all so much to everyone who commented. I mean this in the least creepy way possible: I love you guys. I’m going to try your suggestions. I am, indeed, not the Jerk Whisperer and I forgive myself for losing it.

        Hugs all around.

        Oh and “some asshole on the Internet who has less power over you than David Bowie’s tights” is just about the best thing I’ve ever read.

          1. You absolutely did help. Just knowing you are not alone helps. I still feel bad about what happened. I don’t like it when I’m a jerk. Also, I helped derail an important conversation. Still, you know, I’m human and I can forgive myself and I can learn from what happened.

  5. It’s amazing how many people justify acts of profound cowardice or vicious prejudice as acts of courage.

    It seems to me that if you’re going to stand up bravely for unspoken truths, the first thing to do is to find out if it’s already being blared from every television, casually gossiped about in every locker room, and yelled at random strangers from far too many cars on the road first.

    Here’s a clue: if you go to your friendly neighborhood bookstore or library and there are already well over a hundred books on the shelf that reflect your ‘brave and unspoken’ opinion, if you can’t watch TV for half an hour without hearing it from the speakers, if you check Yahoo News in the morning and there are three articles all saying what you’re thinking… it’s neither brave nor unspoken.

    So shut up about it.

    1. It is brave to voice something that goes against societal mores and conventions that you feel in your heart to be true, and that has the potential to educate and enlighten others and hopefully someday change people’s lives for the better. It is brave to stand up for other people against a bully or a group of bullies, especially if others won’t stand up either due to fear or agreement. It is not brave to (at best) offer “tough love” advise or “harsh truths” to complete strangers and (at worst) be a bully yourself, spewing the same prejudice and hate as plenty of other people. Unfortunately, some people think that being outspoken and forward in any and all circumstances is the same as being brave and assertive. Some people also think that their “opinions” are worthy and deserving of being proclaimed from the rooftops for everyone to hear. If you try to tell them otherwise, they start prattling on about censorship and “free speech”. No one is allowed to be offended by anything more because to take issue with what someone else has said is apparently the first misstep on a slippery slope heading toward complete silence and nationwide oppression. Everyone is just supposed to accept being subjected to mass idiocy and hatred.

  6. Hiya Judybat ….

    Well, you are certainly not alone in facing this kind of stuff. As Ragen commented, it’s EVERYWHERE. I have tried to be the good fattie, the nice fattie, for most of my life, and I’ve had it with that. Now, I just tell it like it is. I take people to task, nicely at first, for using fat slurs as they so often do. I try to correct the ridiculous misunderstandings about obesity.

    However, it’s an uphill battle fighting against the multi-million dollar campaigns waged by governmnets around the world, doctors, weight loss companies, etcetera. It’s disheartening to take a good sober look at what we are really up against. As far as I can tell, the fight will not end in our lifetimes. But I don’t see any alternative to continuing to fight.

    I have gay friends who seem to think they have it worse than fatties do. I can’t IMAGINE that’s true in 2014. Even 50 years ago, they did not have to face the level of attacks we face from sources that are, allegedly, respectable (doctors, governments, etc). TV commercials, magazine articles, nasty blog comments, TV news personalites. I would THINK that they would be more understanding of how it feels to be persecuted like this, but I’ve seen otherwise there too.

    Anyway, in the short term, I don’t see any solution. We just have to remain strong in our convictions, don’t stand still for this typoe of bullying, and realize that as hard as we try, most people are not going to understand the message, since it’s too different from what they also hear from all those media sources, and they have no motivation to research any deeper to get to the real truth.

    I wish you all good luck fending off the abusers…..

    1. In most parts of Africa being gay is still illegal, and may even be punishable by torture (lashing) or execution. Iran has executed thousands of gay people in the past few decades. Look up “violence against LGBT people” on wikipedia if you are interested in the history…but I will warn you that there is a somewhat recent (2005) picture of young gay men being prepared for hanging in Iran which is extremely disturbing.

      Even in the West, homosexual acts were illegal for much of the 20th century. Alan Turing, the well-known computer scientist who had served his country (UK) as a cryptographer during WW2, was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 and chose chemical castration as a punishment in place of prison time. He was finally pardoned Dec 24 2013 (posthumously; he died in 1954).

      Homosexuality is still considered to be a grave sin by most major religious denominations. I was raised in a very religious household and was taught that homosexuality is caused by Satan–I was never taught that being fat was evil and have yet to encounter a major denomination where fat people are rejected as members. I went to a school where a gay kid was ganged up on and put in a coma specifically because he was gay. I have recently worked with an urban school where the combination of homophobia and violence makes me doubt an openly gay student would even survive.

      Fat people do fare worse in modern Western media. Fatphobia is real and is awful, but gay people still suffer and die for being gay. I’m not sure if boycotting the Winter Olympics is the best way to support gay people in Russia, but I do suspect that boycotting the “Oppression Olympics” would benefit multiple oppressed groups.

      1. Well…

        For somebody suggesting that we should not engage in “my oppression is worse than your oppression” kind of speculation….you kinda just did …. try to prove that gays have it worse than fatties….

        1. Yeah, you’re right, I did kind of do that, and I apologize. I didn’t mean to imply that one group has it worse. I was highlighting the suffering of modern gay people because I wasn’t sure if you were aware of it, but I see from your other posts that you are. The suffering of fat people and gay people are similar in many ways. Fat people are persecuted by certain governments too (like US’s), and also murdered, though usually indirectly or passively due to structural or cultural violence (which in my opinion can be as bad as direct violence). Also, while gay people are shunned by major religions, fat people are shunned and ridiculed by mass media and “healthism” (which is a lot like a religion). Lots of parallels. After reading about what some of your gay friends have said and done to you, I totally get where you’re coming from.

          1. Thank you for your understanding Elizabeth.

            I’m certainly not aware of ALL the details of how gay people have been persecuted over the centuries, but I am aware of a lot of it. I’m also very empathetic in reagrd to all the abuse they have suffered, and yes, still do. I’m aware of recent developments in Russia, and the ongoing persecution in other nations, though I was really primarily addressing the situation in the US.

            Back to comparing, just for a moment…*S* I kinda doubt many fat people have faced being murdered directly, as gays have. But gay rights have come a long way here in America, in 2014. Probably more than half of the nation is on board with the cause now. Almost all of the people who bash gays are poorly educated, oddballs living on the fringe of society, while fatties are being attacked by nearly everybody, including people considered respectable authorities in their fields – physicians, academics, politicians, newscasters…practially everybody. LGBT rights organizations are ubiquitous, and very influential. The treatment of LGBT individuals seems to be moving in the right direction, toward acceptance. By comparison, fatties seem to be losing ground, and almost nobody supports their position, or even empathizes with their plight.

            At any rate, persecution of people for ANY reason is really not acceptable. We….ALL of us ….should stand up for each other’s right to live life without being bullied.

            1. “Almost all of the people who bash gays are poorly educated, oddballs living on the fringe of society”

              There are a lot of religious people who think that being gay is morally wrong, even though they do not want to hurt gays. (They’ll say, “I don’t hate gays, but it is sinful to engage in homosexual behavior.” For example, when I’ve discussed the fact that homosexuality is not a choice, my dad, who is a Fundamentalist, has suggested that homosexuals should simply abstain from sex. I believe Pope Francis has suggested this too.) While I’m an atheist and think that believing in supernatural stuff is “odd,” I wouldn’t call most religious people “oddballs”; in fact many are high-functioning, social, educated, and “normal.” The problem is that Fundamentalists might feel sacrilegious if they don’t interpret the Bible literally, and Catholics might feel like heretics if they don’t believe all of the teachings of the Vatican (though my limited experience with Catholics has been that American Catholics are more relaxed about this).

              The mainstream media is definitely far more supportive of gay people than fat people. And while I don’t think the media is representative of the general public (for example, you don’t see much racism in the mainstream media, at least compared to the amount that still exists among the American public), the media definitely does have a huge influence on public opinion.

              “By comparison, fatties seem to be losing ground, and almost nobody supports their position, or even empathizes with their plight.”

              I would think that most Americans know and love multiple people who are fat–so it seems like it should be an easy fight to win, but somehow it isn’t. The problem is that most people think that (1) being fat is bad (e.g., ugly or unhealthy), and (2) being fat is within someone’s control. I think that even if we could just get people to reject Assumption 2, we’ll have won a major battle. You will still have some people clinging to the doctrine that fat is bad, but at least they might stop trying to change fat people into thin people. Additionally, Assumption 2 usually leads to the assumption that a fat body is caused by a defective character (poor discipline, laziness, gluttony, etc.). Therefore, I think that treatment of fat people would improve markedly just by addressing Assumption 2–even if people still thought fat bodies are unattractive or unhealthy.

              But of course I don’t know that much about the “War,” There are probably good arguments that addressing Assumption 1 is more effective, or that they’re equally important.

              1. Hello again Elizabeth!

                OK…I guess you are right, religion is very common in the US, and I suppose that would be considered the norm. To me, it makes no sense. I guess I’m the oddbal on that account too. *S*

                The propensity of religious people to condemn homosexuality because they think it is wrong, because they think they are helping the person improve themselves by suggesting they abstain from sex if they cannot abide a “normal heterosexual relationship” ….is analogous the way people like JM abuse fat people “for their own good”. “For health reasons”. It may be well intentioned, but it is still ignorant, hostile, inappropriate. They all need to keep their proboscis out of other peoples’ business. As Ragen would put it, they need to learn the underpants rule. *S*

                As far as being an easy fight to win, I think not. I still believe that, while the trend seems to be going the right direction for gay rights, the abuse fatties face is ratcheting up to all time highs. It is, from my perspective, much worse than even 10 or 20 years ago.

                People who have friends, familiy members, or lovers who are fat, may love those people, but if they are not fat themselves, they have very little if any motivation to research the issue any deeper than what they hear from the media, doctors, and other sources typically considered credible.

                In fact, one of the strategies used by some salesmen to sell things to their target customer is to sell their friends or their spouse on the idea, and let those people force the issue on the target customer. I think this is part of the strategy employed by diet purveyors, bariatric surgeons, etcetera. Convince people who don’t have the problem and have no real motive to research it beyond the superficial, and they will force the target customer into action by way of peer pressure ….job discrimination, employment discrimination. Economic and social bullying. Which is one of the reasons I have stayed out of relationships. With my size, it would only be a matter of time before whoever I might be with would start harassing me about losing weight. Which, in the long run, would be detrimental to my health. I already get enough of that from friends – ALL of them. As I mentioned before, it really hurt me when, after all the many years I have known my best friend, who I thought had some level of uderstanding of my situation……one day asked, “but, wouldn’t you feel better if you lost the weight?”.


                1. I was reading the comments here and for some reason was reminded of the Spanish Inquisition, who were supposedly torturing people for their own good – in order to save their souls.

                  Save the fatties seems to be similar.

    2. Just wanted to say that LGBT people also have to face a lot of persecution in the world, even in 2014. Just because it’s a different kind of persecution does not make it any better or worse. Comparing our battles like this does no one any good. We should be working together to end discrimination, not working against each other by trying to prove that we have it better or worse.

      1. Hiya Ravyn!

        I agree with you one thousand percent!

        I guess I need to explain what prompted my comments about comparisons between the abuse we face as fatties and the abuse that LGBT people face.

        The other day, in a chatroom, a good chat buddy of mine, who happens to be a lesbian, in response to my trying to fend off CONSTANT attacks from fatty abusers, told me to just “be a man, and suck it up. I face more abuse for being gay than you do for being fat. So, shut up already”.

        Those were not her exact words, but that is a good representation of the general message. I was shocked!

        Worse still. I have a couple of good friends who are gay. In fact, they are probably my best friends in the world. I have talked to both of them about my issues with weight, and about all of the research that does not support what we all hear on the media constantly. One of them in particular I have spent, literally, thousands of hours talking to over the years. By this time I was pretty sure that if anybody could understand me, he could. After all, I’ve explained it in depth, provided studies, showed him clear evidence that I don’t suffer from ANY of the health problems typically associated with obesity (he was even there when I was in the hospital and doctors were flabbergasted that my health was so good for a morbidly obese person). Well, a couple of weeks ago, after all of these years of explanation, he hurt me to the very core, when one day he said “well, wouldn’t you feel better if you lost the weight?”. He too, and his partner, are with the crowd in pressuring me to lose weight. For my own good of course.

        I frequently dine out with them, They often obsess about the health ramifications of every morsel of food that goes in our mouths, which I gladly join in with, as I too am very interested in remaining healthy as long as I can. Once I fall ill from something, because I’m fat, it will be much harder for me than the average person to get appropriate treatment. Healthcare is one of THE most hostile environments for fatties, which I’m sure you all know.

        Anyway, I have always been very empathetic about the prejudice my friends have faced (ie: their grief at wanting to get married, and then being stopped by California’s anti gay marriage proposition 8). So, I would have thought that they would be understanding of the persecution I face as a fat person. Instead, they seem to think their cause is valid, but I am just in denial about being fat, and I need to change my gluttonous ways.

        I realize that not all LGBT people have that same attitude, In fact I would not be surprised to find that most ARE supportive of me. But, in my own personal life experience, I have nobody ….NOBODY …not one person…who does not think all of the things that the mainstream media program people to think about fatties. Not even the people I would have thought would understand what it is to face this kind of persecution.

        1. **Hugs** I’m sorry your good friends aren’t supportive. 😦 I’m noy trying to excuse them, but it can be hard to understand and accept the evidence when constantly bombarded with the media’s fat hate. I’ve noticed that with my family, they seem to “get it” after a discussion but then the next time I see them it’s gone. I wonder if we could convince our family/friends to read a blog like Dances With Fat everyday, if it could counteract the other messages and help the evidence “stick.”

          Even if they can’t accept the evidence though, can you say, “You are really hurting me,” or does that not change their behavior?

          1. I find the same thing with friends ….I explain something …they SEEM to get it at the time. Then at a later date, they are right back into the old groove of spouting media anti-fat-person bullshit. **sigh**

            I have not directly expressed to them that they are hurting my feelings by expressing those attitudes. That’s a good point. I should DO that. *S*

            I did, however, once, tell them that I thought they were looking at fat people in the same way Fred Phelps looks at gay people ….hoping that would be something they could understand ….

            Didn’t seem to work.

          2. Unfortunately some people possess no critical thinking skills whatsoever, to the point where you can almost see the gears getting stuck in their brains when they are exposed, however briefly, to anything at all outside the box (not saying this is the case with your friends, Saxman, or your relatives, Elizabeth). Then there are those who think that automatically refuting anything and everything being suggested by mass media, pop culture, etc. counts as critical thinking.
            Of course, it’s pretty much impossible not to absorb all the crap that’s in the media to some extent, and we all have our own personal ideals that shape how we assess the information we receive. Personally I tend to subscribe to the ideas that speak most to my heart. In terms of fat acceptance, for example, so much of the factual studies and evidence, as well as the attitudes and ideas, go totally against what I’ve been taught to believe for years which I think will continue to be a bit of a conflict for me, because you can’t erase socialization in one night. However, I think part of the reason I began to come round to this movement so quickly, is that it is what felt right in my heart. I would rather be someone who is able to accept people of all physical traits than someone who is locked in to this dangerous war against obesity type thinking. I would rather believe that certain societal ideals are messed up than to believe that a certain category of people are messed up, just because they are of a certain weight. Even if it were to turn out that being fat is really bad health wise, I would still stand by this movement, because I know that stigma, shame and bullying is far worse than any physical aspects on someone’s health, and because I know it to be an ineffective way to empower people to be able to make lifestyle changes. I think it more important that people are able to live their lives free of shame and stigma, loving their bodies as they are, with access to accurate, non moralizing information on health, and access to a variety of health choices, than that people live the longest lives possible by becoming thin and/or staying thin (that is, if thinness were actually tied to longevity, which we know it isn’t).
            Of course, adapting to this new mindset is a process. Although I have certain ideals that I believe in 100%, I still come up against challenges in daily life in terms of automatic judgements and assumptions that run through my mind. But I can’t be perfect, I can only strive to get better.And I still have doubts on occasion, but all of life is uncertainty, I can only let those questions lie where they are and go with what my gut tells me is true.
            I am very sorry that for many people here, their friends and/or families can’t or don’t support them with the HAES philosophy. These are the people that are supposed to be on your side even if and when most of the world isn’t. I know that for the most part, my own family respects my position on it, but they don’t agree. However, as a thin person, their opposition is merely frustrating, not hurtful or personal. I can’t imagine what it’s like to come up against this kind of thing all the time with loved ones who don’t accept you as you are.

            1. “Unfortunately some people possess no critical thinking skills whatsoever,”

              And that is the problem with so many issues today. People engage in wishful thinking and accept whatever is considered current wisdom. Anyone who goes against that is castigated and viewed as a flat earther.

              There are so many false ideas that are believed to be true, such as, we have total control over our health; all thin people are healthy; the more medical tests the better, etc.

              I think you and others would appreciate the books by Dr. Nortin Hadler. He casts a wary eye on all the studies and advice that bombard us on a daily basis. And here is another who is trying to fight the current obsession with tests, treatments, and the absurdity of the latest study.

              I know some think that the government can provide access to health care for everyone, but that is not how it works. Nationalized health care is the enemy of everyone who “costs” the system more or is perceived to do so. The only system that works is one where you have the most freedom to choose your own provider and he or she is free to treat you according to what he thinks is best for you. Beware the Trojan horse of government medicine and insurance.

    3. Yeah, please don’t turn this into the Oppression Olympics. You can make your point without turning this into a contest of “Whose Got It Worst?”

  7. I love this entry so much! And the photo just makes something inside me die. That poor, poor woman allowing herself to be subjected to that abuse, and believing she DESERVES it because she can’t walk around in low-slung belly-baring yoga pants.

    I KNOW I AM GENERALIZING, but in my experience, fat people are much more supportive and caring than skinny bitches. They are humble, even ashamed, and often willing to help out. Thin people receive so much constant validation about how great they are that compassion is not their greatest asset. They think they are doing us ALL a favor by shopping for great clothes and looking fabulous. I’m trying to imagine this photograph reversed, with the plain heavy woman jabbing her finger in the face of the skinny goddess – and I can’t get there.

    1. That book referenced in Ragen’s link up top has to be the worst attempted reclamation of the word “Bitch” that I’ve ever seen. :/

      Hey, “Skinnies,” if you want a real reclamation, try this! (At the risk of stating the obvious, language in video is not worksafe.)

  8. My pet peeve is the “skinny talk” being done as if I AM NOT IN THE ROOM…so its not like they are nagging or cajoling me, they are just doing their usual obsessing over which has more calories, an orange or a date; and my being stuck in the room (however briefly!) is supposed to rub-off and remind me how important dieting is.

    1. What hacks me off is that these vile people talk to/about fat people as though they are stupid. Well, of course, they MUST be stupid to have got fat in the first place! Everyone knows that! Your comment about having people speak as though the fat person is not in the room is just another horrible behaviour. A colleague at work has been told that our employer can’t supply her with an office chair that suits her, because they’re only “allowed” to buy from one supplier, and that supplier doesn’t do chairs for people over a certain weight – she has therefore been to see a dietitian. I was utterly gobsmacked when I found out. Dietitians know diddly about nutrition or anything else, in my opinion, and why should she try to lose weight just so that a chair can be bought from the one supplier? I’m thinking this is definitely discrimination. How humiliating for her, and how depressed must she be feeling? If she’d suffered a back injury, or had a physical disability, they’d have moved heaven and earth to get a suitable chair. Grrrrrrrrr.

  9. Yes, yes, yes. In the military, I’ve seen leaders who are happy to shame the fatties, because obviously “Why don’t you get up and do something about it?” Well great, yes, maybe that motivational speech should work. But it hasn’t.
    I’ve dealt with failures in fitness testing and weight management, and I’ll say what made all the difference in the world was having a couple of my super-fit, super-toned, gym rat, better-physical-specimens-than-I’ll-ever-be come alongside me as a friend and say, “We’re with you in this. Let’s see how we can help. We think you can do awesome things, and we want to prove it to you.”
    And when I admit failure and take the self-deprecatory approach of “I know, I’m a fatty, I suck at Air Force life,” these are the folks who immediately interrupt and tell me, “Stop it. Stop saying that. None of that.”
    If anything has changed my mindset or my life, it is that level of support. Don’t try to fix me so you don’t have to be offended or disgusted by my existence. Partner with me, so that together we can celebrate success beyond my hopes.

  10. Reblogged this on SonWorshiper and commented:
    This is so true. From my military experience as a fatty, I’ve seen authority figures who think they’re helping by heaping abuse, and I’ve seen leaders – actual people who lead others – that take the time to come alongside, support, and encourage.
    “Why don’t you put down the fork?” is decidedly less motivational than “Come out with me, let’s work on your run time together. I’ve got a fun workout that is going to suck for both of us, but you’re going to feel stronger when it’s over, I promise.”
    “The standards are clear, and if you can’t hack it, there’s the door” may be accurate. But my friends who 1) stop me from shaming myself, 2) refuse to add shame, and 3) challenge me to do better by 4) providing actual support in person — those are the influences that make the difference.

    I get my cast off in a week. I can’t wait to get back to working out. (I say that now.)

  11. I have decided that the next person who decides to comment on my body size/health without knowing anything about it (assuming I have enough mental spoons) is getting the same treatment I give the scam artists who phone me regarding my computer sending errors. I’m going to make a big fuss about them illegally accessing my data.

    The only way someone who is not my technical support person could get information out of my computer is to have illegal access to it, same as the only way someone who is not my doctor could have access to my medical records is if they have illegal access to them, so if they start throwing assumptions about my health about I’ll throw assumptions right back.

    Mind you I don’t get that many people who are brave enough to pull this crap to face, most of them prefer the stare from across the corridor as if I’m some sort of sideshow freak, those ones I smile at and make full eye contact or if they are close enough I loudly point out that staring is rude. I might not be changing minds but at least people are less obvious about their rudeness which will hopefully make it slightly easier for someone else.

  12. As Fat Heffalump said on her blog: People who loathe other people cannot help the others!
    Fat haters cannot and will not help fatties. They are nothing but “health” trolls and I put health into ” ” for a reason.

        1. Ohhhhh. Okay, thanks for the explanation! I’m not sure I think fat people need “help” from the haters, nor do I think the haters really *want* to “help.” Which I think you were also saying. 🙂

  13. Their “constructive criticism” is based on a false premise- that thin is inherently and unilaterally better than fat- and the more evidence mounts against them, the louder and angrier their screaming gets. Someone should inform them saying something at the top of their lungs doesn’t make it more true. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to pay more attention to reality and quantifiable information than their blustering and wishful thinking.

    1. It might also be that they are not aware of the evidence, or if they have been made aware they refuse to consider it because society keeps telling them the opposite. I’ve noticed the latter issue; I’ve introduced some family members to the evidence and they’ll say “that’s interesting,” but it seems like the next time I see them they’re parotting the stuff in the media again. But I get that it’s hard to supplant the stuff that’s drilled in from all sides, so I keep trying. I do think I influenced a fitness-obsessed friend because she’s stopped dieting altogether…although she might have just stopped in order to become stronger.

  14. The sad part to me is many fat people look to Jillian Michaels and the like as some kind of heroes that are “saving people’s lives” (my wife included with this opinion. She has been fat most of her life, myself not. I was very thin growing up and so was my mother who had some of the worst health issues that are normally attributed to “overweight” people. My very thin mother, 110lbs, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. and was on many meds. This was while she was in her 30s. My wife, however, who is currently a size 28W-30W and is almost 400lbs has NONE of these issues and is 2.5 years away from the age of 40. I wonder how a doctor would explain that one? An anomaly? I think not). They truly believe that these bullying tactics are what is necessary to motivate fat people to make “life style” changes in order to attempt the impossible…lose weight and keep it off permanently by changing their genetic makeup.

    What I find even more sad, however, is when those fat people don’t embrace H.A.E.S. and actually think that it is hogwash and that we who believe in health at every size are brainwashed or have “drank the kool aid” (yes, this was told to me by a fat person once when I was trying to explain to them that body size does not equal health). The dark side of the force is very strong in the diet industry and in the media in regard to convincing fat people they have an automatic death sentence and no proof of evidence will convince some otherwise. I just have to hold out the hope they will eventually come around and see the truth and keep my activism and spreading the truth about the H.A.E.S. principle and not give up.

  15. Working in fitness, I know all too many folks who take the JM approach. What’s funny (not really) is that most of them treat my big booty differently- along with some other plus size instructors in our area- because since we are instructors, we are “One of them.” It’s like there’s validation in being a fat fitness instructor, but no validation in being a student (human being) who may or may not be confident in themselves.

    I really enjoyed this post today- especially in this season of “helpful/hurtful” comments and the overall infatuation with the JM training style.

    1. I wonder if Michaels really once was fat as she’s claimed in some of her pitches. It makes her over-the-top rage at fat folks pretty transparent, cause-wise: The reformed “sinner” giving her lessors the business 24/7. Gosh. I can’t wait to meet her. [rolleyes]

      1. I read somewhere that she weighed around 170 pounds as a teen. She’s 5’3″ tall. I would see her as more “festively plump” than ZOMG TEH DETHFATZ, but I don’t know what her life and her perceptions were like at the time. She may have felt — and been made to feel — very, very fat.

        1. Interesting. Still, any past experiences she had are only possible explanations, not excuses. (Not saying that you’re claiming otherwise.) Even as a skinny little girl I was often the target of bullies, so seeing that damn picture of her in full attack mode gives me the shivers each and every time I see it.

  16. Thank you Ragen, for this great reaction to that awfully bullying process. I just have to say about the overwhelmingness of our fighting for dignity against a billion dollar business empire and a not-small army of brainwashed citizens–IT’S WORTH IT TO OWN OUR OWN LIVES! [Shouting intentional!] I am not meaning to compare oppressions when I say that I often think of the underground resistance movement in Nazi occupied countries during WWII. I’ve talked to a few of those brave survivors and they risked everything because standing by and letting the Nazis win would have been unthinkable. Now when I introduce “Health At Every Size” I accompany it with the Raised Fist Salute
    Often called “the Black Power Salute” because of the three Black US athletes who raised their fists at the 1968 Olympic medals ceremony, The raised fist (also known as the clenched fist) is a symbol of solidarity and support. It is also used as a salute to express unity, strength, defiance, or resistance. The salute dates back to ancient Assyria as a symbol of resistance in the face of violence.
    Live Large and Prosper!

  17. I sometimes watch the show, The Independents, because I am interested in politics and different viewpoints, but I was so angry the other night when they started in on fat people that I turned the show off in disgust. Being libertarians, the three hosts are all in favor of everybody doing their own thing and live and let live, except, I guess, fat people. If there is a way for you to send this to these three snotty little jerks, I wish you would.

  18. I have to say…I absolutely HATE that picture. Can’t you just hear her saying, “C’MON, you worthless sack of cellulite! You’ve got to WANT IT more than all that cheesecake that got you here in the first place! You’re NOTHING right now! I’m taking back all the bad choices you’ve made! Eating whole pizzas is why you’re so miserable! You deserve this pain! You deserve to be spoken to like this by someone who’s half your size because I KNOW HOW TO DO THIS!”

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