I saw yet another person on FaceBook post a picture of a fat woman, likely taken without her consent, and used soley to make fun of her with the note: “I know it’s wrong but I had to post it.” And, when called out, the further justification of “I know it makes me a bad, terrible, awful human being” but no move to delete the post. Fuck a bunch of that. Even if someone was holding a gun to this person’s head they still didn’t “have to” post it. There is nothing wrong with the people in these pictures – there are very serious issues with the choice to post them, and trying to justify it is far worse. This is bullying and it’s not ok. So I’m reposting this piece about it:
You know the pictures. People in Walmart, or wherever, very often fat people (EDIT: I missed an opportunity for intersectional activism here, as commenters have pointed about below there are also often elements of classicism and racism going on as well.) They might be dressed in tight or scant clothing, or their hair is in curlers etc. Someone photographs them, puts them on a website for comment and then they get passed around Facebook where today I saw no less than four people who claim to be size acceptance advocates make fun of them.
Let’s look at what we know about the people in these pictures:
1. They got dressed for the place they were going at the time they were going there- they had no intention to be photographed.
2. They were probably photographed without their knowledge or consent.
3. They have no opportunity to speak up on their own behalf unless they happen to find their picture and all the bullying, abusive, shaming language that is with it.
4. They are people, deserving of basic human respect even if they make choices that are different than what you would have done.
This is no different than the fat administrative assistant who goes to McDonalds to get lunch for her office and ends up in a picture without her head carrying twelve bags of McDonald’s food and getting ridiculed all over the internet. Maybe the person in the Walmart picture can’t afford other clothes, maybe they had to rush their baby to the emergency room and they are at Walmart for medicine in what they were wearing around the house when the baby got sick, maybe that woman is sitting in a shopping cart because she is disabled and there were no scooters and she didn’t want to inconvenience her ride by making them wait until there was a scooter, maybe that’s just how that guy wants to freaking dress.
Regardless, why is it considered ok to take someone’s photograph without their consent for the express purpose of giving perfect strangers who weren’t there the opportunity to ridicule someone just because the way that person looks isn’t considered by some to be socially acceptable? This seems especially significant for Size Diversity activists who ask that people please stop ridiculing us because the way we look isn’t considered by some to be socially acceptable. So I think it would be great if we were the ones who lead the charge against this practice.
Maybe when we see these photos posted we could advocate for the rights of people to be treated with basic human decency even if they make different fashion choices than we do, even if they they don’t look the way society thinks they should look or act the way society says they should act. Maybe we could advocate for a world where nobody is ridiculed for how they look, especially if we would like to start being included in that group, and believe that the road to respect is probably not paved with hypocrisy.
So when you see one of these on Facebook or Reddit or wherever, consider speaking up for someone who does not have the chance to speak up for themselves.
Some ideas of what you could say/do to get involved:
- Comment: I am for a world where nobody is photographed and shamed on the internet.
- Comment: I think it’s a shame when people get their entertainment by bullying and abusing others.
- Suggest a possible story that humanizes the person in the picture.
- Message the poster privately and share your concerns.
- Post something on your own page against the practice.
Maybe we can get our Facebook entertainment watching little pugs that can’t run or looking at pictures of kittens, not bullying and shaming other human beings.
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