Fat, Fault, and Disabilities

fight backFirst of all, just to let you know today’s blog might be triggering, it’s a discussion of some bigotry that I saw surrounding fat people with disabilities.

I saw a picture on Facebook today.  It was a disabled parking sign that said “Parking for disabled persons.  Not for fat people.  You should have a parking spot 3 miles away and be required to do jumping jacks all the way to the store.”  It didn’t look photoshopped but I hope that it was.  What I want to talk about is the discussion around it.

To my great joy many of the people on the FB thread were calling this the bullshit that it was.  Others seemed to divide fat people with disabilities into two groups (I want to be clear that this has nothing to do with actual fat people with disabilities, this is how people were discussing them) so I’ll frame my discussion from that perspective.

The first group, as they defined it, were people whose disability is unrelated to, or the cause of, their fat.  Perhaps they have a disease, or had an accident, or they started to have mobility trouble and then got fat.  This group has something specific to point to as the cause of their disability that is very specifically separate from their body size.   Most of the people in the conversation seem to be in agreement that these disabled fat people should not be required to do three miles of calisthenics in order to deserve to shop, though many of them also wanted to point out that – based on absolutely no information or evidence – these people do not comprise the majority of fat disabled people, and they want us to know that there’s still “no excuse” for being fat.

The other group are fat disabled people who have nothing that they can “prove” made them disabled that isn’t related to their fat.  By the logic of people who want to punish disabled people for being disabled, these people’s obesity is their fault, thus their disability is their fault, thus they don’t deserve the same accommodations that other disabled people get.

The idea that people should have to pass some kind of test to prove that their disability isn’t “their fault” in order to be  accommodated is absolutely horrifying.  For one thing, who gets to be the decider?  If someone was disabled because they were driving drunk do they get a parking spot?  What if they fell mountain climbing or blew out their knees running (or doing jumping jacks for three miles trying not to be fat)?  I hope the obvious truth here is that it shouldn’t matter – people with disabilities should be accommodated, not interrogated.

Bottom line: Specific to this situation – the idea that you know more about a person’s disability based on their body size is ridiculous and one of many types of bigotry faced by fat people who also have disabilities. In general –  how dare anybody think that they are entitled to know the source of someone’s disability, let alone that they should get to judge it as worthy or unworthy of a parking space or any other accommodation.  As far as I’m concerned the entire discussion about accommodations for people with disabilities should revolve around the best ways to accommodate the most people possible from a place that is fiercely anti-shame, driven by the desires of people with disabilities. The idea of “fault” should never, ever come up.

Sadly we are not the jackass whisperer so we can’t stop people from posting this kind of drivel, but we can work hard to not be part of the problem, to educate ourselves and be intersectional in our activism, and to speak up and speak out against it.

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40 thoughts on “Fat, Fault, and Disabilities

  1. You’re right – triggering! Brought back memories of when I had both of my knees replaced. I had exercised SO much and SO hard, that I had worn all of the cartilege out of both of them. I lost 150 pounds and crippled myself doing it. Of course, the minute I was in too much pain to exercise at that level, all the weight piled back on. So, there I was, post-surgery and 300+ pounds, riding one of those scooter things around in Wal-mart. You should have seen the looks that people were giving me. They were absolutely disgusted that my fat ass was too crippled to walk through the store. First of all, they didn’t know why I was riding that scooter – I don’t think they gave a damn either. Needless to say, I only went shopping when I absolutely had no other choice. This whole thing sucks!I cannot stand when people who do not have your life experience, think they can judge you – for ANY reason (not just weight). Okay, I’ve got to get off the soapbox and get back to work.

    1. I totally empathize. I had bilateral knee replacements done at the same time about 2 years ago. I was very self-conscious when I was finally able to go to the grocery store and needed to use the scooter. I don’t know if anybody was looking, but I’ve seen enough dirty looks that others have received that I was certain I might be on the receiving end. What’s sad is that, since it was a very hot summer, I was wearing shorts, so my incision sites were quite visible, and I thought this might make people more sympathetic to my immobility. But why did I even have to think that way?? I get so angry about it sometimes, even now.

      1. What gets me is the people who think that you DESERVE the knee problems, because you’re fat, so those knee issues must be caused by the OMGDEATHFAT, rather than a pre-cursor to it.

        There were times when I considered getting a T-shirt to explain myself. But it’s cheaper to just chirp up and say, “I WAS HIT BY A TRUCK!” Or, if I’m feeling charitable, the cautionary, “Don’t get hit by a truck!”

        I did not like being hit by a truck, but just being able to speak up and say it – I have found it quite liberating.

        Of course, the people who are giving the dirty looks feel shamed, either because they are ashamed of what they thought, or they are embarrassed that I am now speaking to them in that way. The people who never judged me in the first place just feel sympathy.

        Yeah, once I got over my shyness, and started announcing my reasons to the world, I felt so liberated!

        The only thing is, I shouldn’t feel any need to announce it. And if the people didn’t give me the stink-eye, I would have just gone along my merry way, not even thinking about it, at all. I didn’t *cause* the scene. I *finished* it.

        Anyway, I’m just saying, if you want them to know you have an excuse, speak up! Make them own their stink-eye, and realize that it’s undeserved.

        And you know what? If you’re OMGDEATHFATZ for no other reason than that you sit around all day long eating bonbons and chips, go ahead and say that, too. Add in a few baby-flavored donuts and bacon-wrapped puppies, just to see the looks on their faces as you confront their judgmental stink-eyes.

        Mmmmm, bacon!

        Judgy people don’t like to be *seen* to be judging, because deep down, they know they’re doing wrong.

    2. Oh honey I so relate. I was thin much of my life, and in my teens and twenties was a runner and cyclist. I damaged my right knee when I fell on cement, and the orthopedist told me then (when I was thin and 18) that someday it would come back as arthritis. I brushed it off bc you know, teens are invincible. Fast forward, got away from athletics for 20 yrs to have kids, then went back to it when I was 41. Dug out my old bikes from the basement, bought a recumbent exercise bike, and very, very stupidly thinking I was still that 14-22 yr old, went at it with all the gusto I had…too much, too hard, too often. I did an hr a day on the indoor bike, and rode long rides for charity the rest of the time. In 2010 I began having very gradually increasing stiffness and pain in my shoulders, spine, and knees. I ignored it (as athletic ppl often do with pains) and now, after Xrays and medical treatment, my dr tells me I have very severe spinal, shoulder, and knee OA which although it runs in my family (mother and uncle both ended up with it all over their bodies), was brought on about 10 yrs sooner bc I got addicted to exercise! So out of deep frustration and boredom, since I can’t stand or sit for very long, or walk, I began gaining a lot of weight and now of course strangers assume my weight is why I’m crippled. I’m on disability now, and can’t even take a shower or go up and down stairs without help.

  2. It shouldn’t matter why people are disabled or why they need a closer parking spot. They should be given what they need to live their lives, no questions asked.

    1. Exactly!

      Whether it was dumb bad luck, an accident caused by their own stupidity, the stupidity of others, or even the gradual decline caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, everyone should have what they NEED, simply because they are human beings, who need it. Who are we to deny them?

      And as for judgement, don’t you think we judge ourselves enough, already?

      It doesn’t matter why we’re fat, or why we’re disabled, or both. All that matters is that we are human, and we have needs.

      1. And as for gradual decline being caused by an ‘unhealthy lifestyle’m not necessarily. Aging happens to all of us, life is unpredictable, & if you live long enough, you are almost guaranteed to have some decline in your health &/or some type of disability at some point. Except for the obvious effects of heavy drinking, smoking & drug use, ‘lifestyle’ counts for less in terms of overall health, disability, or life expectancy than our culture wants us to believe or than most of us can accept. I have been disabled since birth because I have cerebral palsy & I inherited some sturdy genes from my mother’s side of the family which usually lead to long life. I will be 65 in September & I have always been very lucky to enjoy remarkably good health, but that could change any day, despite the fact that, aside from not buying into the food fears of the culture around me or believing the conflicting stories about which foods are ‘miracles’ or ‘poisons’, I do & have lived a very clean, ‘healthy’ lifestyle. However, I have developed arthritis in my joints over the years, starting when I smashed a kneecap & exacerbated by the fact that I have pushed my body to exercise a great deal, often 4 hours daily for years at a time & walked over 70,000 miles in my life & I have worn myself out with this ‘healthy’ lifestyle. I have spent years lifting weights for an hour every day only to learn that my genetic ‘fitness’ potential is not high & that cerebral palsy makes it virtually impossible to get very strong. The balance issues from the CP have increased with age &, while I am still out walking every day, I use a rollator walker to try to prevent falls. All around me I see people in the 80’s & beyond who have not exercised much, who have spent their lives drinking & smoking & eating what we are now told is a ‘bad’ diet. I see people who do all the ‘right’ things dropping dead in their 40’s, often while exercising. So I have to say that, while I certainly understand that we fat people can be as fit & healthy as thin people can be & that fat doesn’t cause disability, I do not believe that we have a right to blame either body size or ‘lifestyle’ for illness or disability.

        I have no idea whether people who see me assume I am using the rollator because I am fat, but I admit that I have been lucky enough not to be hassled about it. I don’t really care because it is no one else’s business. I can tell you that most of my family is & always has been fat, but I am the only one who is disabled & I have two brothers who are 75 & 82 & the younger one is not only very fat, but also sedentary, & he has been an active alcoholic for 60 years. I am sure that his ‘lifestyle’ has contributed to any decline in health he has experienced over the years, but he still deserves whatever accommodations he needs to enable him to life the best life he can live. We all do, regardless of size, disability, age, lifestyle, regardless of how or why we became either fat or disabled. In my case, the fat & disability happened at the same time, you might say, because I was a fat baby, but I seriously doubt that being a fat baby caused my CP. Most of all, I believe that we all deserve rights, access, respect, lack of stigma & discrimination because we are human beings…period. And I especially believe that our lives & our bodies & how we live in them are no one’s business but our own. To the trolls I say, “Is it my ‘fault’ that I am fat or my fat’s fault that I am disabled? Do you think I am one of the ‘good’ ones who can get a pass? It’s doesn’t matter & it’s none of your fucking business!”

  3. This kind of attitude is precisely what made Mr. Twistie refuse to ask for a disabled placard for three years after he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He was sure that (a) he didn’t ‘deserve’ it because he has the use of both his legs, and (b) he would get hassled for not looking disabled enough, and (c) he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be allowed one, anyway. After all, it was only a potentially lethal heart condition.

    Funny thing, after his doctor nearly killed him last fall by diagnosing a combination of severe edema and pneumonia as heartburn from overeating… pretty much the first thing the doctor did was say he was going to fill out the form to get Mr. Twistie a disabled placard for his car.

    It’s taken months, but Mr. Twistie is finally beginning to feel he has the right to use that placard to park in disabled spaces, though he still usually doesn’t if there’s another space that’s within a couple spaces of the disabled spaces.

    You don’t know how someone blew out their knee (a friend of ours did it at a Victorian ball dancing a Sir Roger de Coverley), and you don’t know what is wrong with their heart. Our friend always had rotten knees. That particular dance was just the last straw that ended with him on the floor writhing in agony. Doctors who have seen Mr. Twistie as an adult surmise that he’s probably had heart problems all his life that weren’t diagnosed when he was a child.

    It infuriates me to think there are people out there who would joke about making these two men do calisthenics for miles rather than just shut up and admit that they aren’t doctors, aren’t the boss of us, and have come up with their diagnoses via rectal pull. Fuck them and the horses they rode in on.

  4. So what happens to people who might be in the scooter due to both heredity and some sort of “irresponsible” behavior? Do they only have to walk half as far and do half as many jumping jacks?


    I think what’s most dispiriting about seeing such drivel on FB is how many people are happy to sign their real names to such ugly prying into (and mockery of) the misfortunes of others. Why are people so proud to go on record as being ignorant jaggoffs with zero compassion for those they deem too physically unattractive to merit any?

    Just one more reason to not be on FB. Frankly, if my friends and family are LOLing at that shitty “joke” sign, I’d just as soon not know about it.

    1. Why are they so proud to have zero compassion? Likely because they have not (yet) been in a position to require the compassion of others.

      Unless they die quickly, though, they will need some compassion, sooner or later. It’s not karma. It’s a natural state of life. If you live long enough, SOMETHING will happen to you that makes you need compassion and/or accommodation from others.

      Basically, the bozos with zero compassion have been lucky, in that they have not YET encountered it.

      Alternately, you can look at it as that they have been *unlucky*, in that they have not yet had the opportunity to learn compassion. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and really, it’s best to learn it young.

      Scrooge learned it late in life, and just think of how many years of joy and happiness he could have had, had he learned compassion as a youngster, instead of an old man, so close to the end.

      I have to tell myself this, frequently, when I feel like smacking them upside the head. Compassion is something I’m still working on. It’s easy for me to feel compassion for someone who is in pain. It’s hard for me to feel compassion for someone who is being a jerk, because he still has so much to learn, even though in my head, I know he needs it, too.

  5. Not disagreeing with you on the bullshit of the dichotomy of “good” fat disabled people and “bad” fat disabled people – that is bullshit and should be called out as such!Thank you for doing so. But I read the sign differently – it was not saying disabled people but no fat disabled people. I read it as disabled people versus fat-non disabled people who just park at the disabled parking space out of convenience, not out of physical problems.

    1. I didn’t post the sign so that may have created some confusion, but it was the kind of sign that indicated that you must have a disabled parking tag or you pay a massive fine. I’m more worried about fat people with mobility issues who aren’t able to get a disabled parking placard because of the bigotry of healthcare providers who have to approve them. 



    2. In addition to what Ragen said, then why did the sign *specify fat people?* If it was really white-knighting to defend those parking spaces for those who need them against those who take them for convenience, why didn’t it say, “Parking for disabled persons. Not for entitled people in a hurry.” Because, while parking in a disabled lot when you are not disabled is wrong, the implication it’s something a good/thin person would NEVER do and so only bad/fat people have to be warned and insulted… or worse, that it’s *only wrong* for a bad/fat person and a good/thin person has every right to park there even if they aren’t disabled, don’t need it, and are just entitled and in a hurry… is discrimination, and not even remotely funny.

      1. Also, because I wrote that in a hurry and might not have been clear, I meant *the sign* was making those implications, not that your post had.

        1. Yes, but the fact that they were specified on the sign is bigoted because the assumption is that a fat person is just parking there out of laziness.

          1. Yes, when I wrote the second comment I belatedly understood that the comment towards my first was not criticising my understanding, but criticising that fat, non-disabled people are the only ones to be told to go park elsewhere …

  6. The strange thing is when I’ve seen people without disabled stickers using the disabled space for more than just pick up it’s often fairly young, apparently able bodied people who rationalise it because they’ll only be a couple of minutes.

    When I go shopping with someone who drives they try to park close to the shop because of my back problems but if they cant they drop me off and meet me at the door. Or we park near the trolley parks so I can grab a trolley to lean on (any support means I can walk faster and further).

      1. Yes, it is amazing who helpful it can be. It is for me & also my mother-in-law, who is 92 & no longer walks around outside much because she is too stubborn & proud to use the rollator walker she bought supposedly for that purpose, but who grabs the grocery cart at the store & practically jogs up & down the aisles. Sometimes I grab a cart even when a hand basket would hold my purchases because the cart makes it so much easier & less painful & less risky to walk around the store.

  7. “…though many of them also wanted to point out that – based on absolutely no information or evidence – these people do not comprise the majority of fat disabled people, and they want us to know that there’s still “no excuse” for being fat.”

    I hate this, because I hear it all the time, and it’s such an asspull. Nobody who says it can ever cite any kind of studies, statistics, or proof people who have “eaten themselves fat” comprise the majority all fat people, and many *get offended* if you ask them to. It’s like the fatphobe has bought fully into the idea that the burden of proof should never fall upon them to provide evidence that what they’re saying is scientifically sound and practically applicable; that, whenever they enter into an argument with a fat person on any subject but *especially* the subject of weight science/fat stigma, they should be assumed right and the fat person assumed wrong/lying, regardless of what really happens when you practically apply their beliefs to real people in reality.

  8. Oh, my gosh! THIS!

    This is why I was so quick to embrace the phrase, “I was hit by a truck,” after my last (third!) auto accident. I have been rear-ended three times, but the last time nearly killed me. I was driving a compact car, and there were three other trucks, including an 18-wheeler WITH payload, and my bitty car was crushed. I’m lucky to be alive, and I have been in pain ever since.

    I was in pain before, but not enough to give in and take a scooter at the grocery store. Now, I take the scooter when I need it, and if anyone gives me the stink-eye, I just say “I was hit by a truck!” That shuts them right up. They can’t blame THAT on my being fat.

    I have had people tell me that I should have looked before crossing the street. Then, I tell them the whoooooole story, about how the truck in front of me stopped, in the middle lane of the freeway, and I stopped behind it, but the two trucks behind me did not stop in time, and crunched me from behind, pushing me into the truck in front of me, and had my car been 2 inches lower, or the truck in front of me been 2 inches higher, I would have been decapitated. That is what the EMT’s said. Then they get to hear all about the police report, and how I had the sense of mind to call my mother, my work, and 911, but did not think to take my foot off the break until after the ambulance had arrived, and I finally realized that my car was not going to roll anywhere.

    That shuts them up again. Only once I have been able to prove that I am 100% NOT at fault to they really get it. Oh, not everyone is like that. In fact, it seems to happen less often, as I feel more confident in myself. But yes, I sometimes do have to go there.

    And that’s just for the scooters. I’m so grateful that I don’t actually require the handicapped parking. My family take good care of me, and are willing to drop me off or pick me up at the door, if necessary, although usually in our small town, the parking lots aren’t too big, or too full, and I can handle that much of a walk.

    I’m actually getting much better, at last, thanks to physical therapy. But still, for two years, it was scooters about half the time I went shopping at the big box store.

    And, oh, how I really, REALLY hate that “no excuse” business. I once had a friend who was trim. She kept herself in excellent shape. Then, she got a disease, and had to get an organ transplant (I believe it was her liver, but this was nearly 20 years ago, so I could be wrong). It wasn’t caused by bad behavior. It wasn’t cirrhosis from drinking, or anything like that. She just plain got sick. She got the transplant, but she also got drugs to take, to make sure that her body would not reject the organ, and one of the side-effects was weight-gain.

    She literally gained a pound per DAY. Yes, that’s 30 pounds in 30 days! And that was just the first month.

    The poor woman went from slim and trim to OMG DEATHFAT! in about 4 months. But you know what? She was just thrilled to be alive! And despite her size, she felt better than she had in a very long time, since she had a fully-functioning liver again! WHOOPPPEEEEEE!

    And every time someone said that there was “no excuse” for her to be fat, I just wanted to smack them around, and shove some of those pills down their throats. I always bit my tongue, though, because I didn’t know how to stand up to them, like you do. I’m learning.

    The only people who say there is no excuse are the people who have never had someone they care about deal with a real excuse.

    For years, I held onto that experience, and the “you don’t know their real health history” to argue with them. Sometimes, there are real, medical excuses that they just don’t know about, and if they were told, they might, just maybe, accept.

    Now I know better. There absolutely IS an excuse, but it’s none of their business and not even necessary. We don’t need an excuse to be who/what/what size we are. We just need to BE. We are enough.

    1. She’s lucky she was given the transplant. I had what turned out to be a tumor removed (all 80 pounds of it!), & the surgeon screwed up. I required 2 full transfusions during the procedure. I’m very lucky the anesthesiologist insisted on type & cross match before the procedure, because the surgeon hadn’t done so. He provided nearly zero follow up care, and I was read mitten to the hospital after a bad allergic reaction to pain medication & an infection. The surgeon saw me a week before I was readmitted, but insisted I had stomach flu, not anything serious. I was very lucky that I had an appointment with a doctor who knew me the following week. She is also a surgeon, took one look at me and sent me over to the ER. The surgeon had left the incision open on the side to drain, but he never took me back to the OR to close it. It never completely closed, and yet he dismissed me from care. My primary care doctor was useless; she knew I’d been dismissed by the surgeon, she knew the wound wasn’t healed. Again, luck intervened when I was discovered to have very low platelets, and markers for cancer. The hematologist ordered a biopsy, and the surgeon who did that also tried to heal the incision. She wasn’t able to, and sent me to a plastic surgeon. He had to reopen the incision, and discovered an infection. He cleaned it out, he stitched it, and it was fine. The fall out from all of this is autoimmune hepatitis, and an enlarged spleen. The life I had before this is gone; lots of my friends couldn’t deal, my supervisor now treats me terribly. And of course, massive weight gain. Hard to exercise when, in the 3.5 years since the original surgery, I’ve had 11 other surgeries. Now, I’m told that when the time comes & I need a liver transplant, the hospital won’t list me because of my weight.

      1. Marla, is that you?

        Really, your story sounds so much like someone I know.

        She wound up in a wheelchair, because of all the post-op infections causing more and more and more and more damage.

        Domino effects, galore.

  9. I’ve seen this before. It was posted on Fierce, Freethinking Fatties a couple months ago, and the comment was an e-card that someone had found. It’s based on all the judgmental stuff.

  10. This is so fitting for today! I was just diagnosed with diverticulitis today and convinced my doctor I didn’t need to be hospitalized. But I did need to get prescriptions filled. And get some food for my new all liquid/no fiber diet. I walked into Target considering using the scooter because it hurts so darn bad to walk…I had no idea my colon was so involved in the walking process!

    But I stopped myself and said I would just get looks because I’m fat and no one would understand that I was sick. Then I considered googling diverticulitis to see if it’s caused by obesity because that would be a double whammy of abuse.

    I hate having to think of these things…

    1. See, if the people giving judgy looks would just THINK first, they’d realize that the fat fatties aren’t riding the scooters because they WANT to, but because they NEED to, and they need it so much that they are willing to face the judgy looks from others.

      I figure, if you’re willing to face that, your need must be pretty great, already, so there’s really nothing to judge.

  11. The fact that so many people can’t just basically go around and live their lives whatever way they need to without having to consider will they get death stares or hateful, judgemental comments from strangers makes me sad. People need to mind their own fucking business and focus on getting through their day without making it difficult for other people to get through theirs. I don’t even have a concept of it. It would be like if I decided one day that I was just going to vocalize every first impression and assumption that I had as soon as it popped into my head. We need to start getting muzzles for humans, apparently.
    I know I’m not perfect and I’ve said things without thinking, but you don’t just accidentally tell someone that they have no excuse for being fat, for example. That’s not something you absentmindedly slip into casual conversation. That’s deliberate.
    My sister is very health conscious, cooks all her meals, eats whole, nutritious foods, walks, does yoga, etc. Which is all totally cool. She finds her quality of life better when she’s eating well and moving (as a lot of people do). The thing I can’t stand is that she thinks everyone needs to live the same way she does. Recently she read out a quote on the internet, “Take care of your body or you’ll be out of a place to live”. She read it because she thought it was neat, not because she was trying to preach (although she certainly does preach on occasion). I think the quote is a bit neat in the sense that it made me think of how Ragen talks about how amazing our bodies are and all they things they do for us. But I obviously did not find the moralizing aspect neat, the implication that as long as you “take care of your body” it will reward you with good physical health and well-being for. . . eternity I guess?
    To give my sister her due, she’s a hypochondriac who has struggled with body dysmorphia in the past so I think her fat phobia and her conviction that treating your body well generally means it treats you well in return is all tied in to a need to feel in control of her body, her health, and to feel safe from illness. So I’m not trying to make her sound like a nasty person, but we have totally opposite perspectives on these kinds of things which can be very frustrating.

    1. People can take excellent care of their bodies, and still be devastated by disease, accident, or even a vicious attack. You just can’t count on being all healthy and fit forever, no matter how “good” you are. True, your odds are better, but there is always the possibility of a catastrophe undoing all your hard work and self control.

      I used to say, “We should prepare for this and that, because you never know when you’ll get hit by a truck.” Then I was literally HIT BY A TRUCK. My whole perspective changed.

      It’s good that she’s being pro-active, but if she’s too firmly attached to the idea that she is in perfect control of her body, and it will be healthy and happy forever, because of how she’s living, then I’m afraid that any accident/disease/attack would hit her even harder than it already would, because of the pain of having that idea of control and power ripped from her.

      1. I totally agree. My dad has actually said before, “I don’t know what [insert my sister’s name here] will do if she ever does get sick.” I hope that if and when it happens (and technically it is a “when” to an extent, because if she gets old, no matter what else happens, it’s only a matter of time) it will turn out that the illness is not a struggle for her to the same extent the fear and anxiety surrounding illness is.

  12. As someone who is disabled and fat, and has the kind of disability people can’t see (fibromyalgia), and therefore are more likely to blame on my fat, I appreciate this post tremendously.

    I’ve yet to have someone say anything to me (though I’m sure some have thought it) when they see me in a handicapped spot. Now, partly this may be because they presume my husband is the disabled one (and he is… he has MS and walks with a cane and a slight limp due to leg weakness). While he’s also fat by BMI standards, he happens to be just a big guy overall and definitely not as fat as I am.

    But if someone ever says to me “you don’t look handicapped” or “you don’t look sick” I am going to say “and you don’t look rude!”

  13. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter to the person judging why you need that scooter or parking spot. A few years ago I broke my ankle, I had a big clunky walking cast on my leg and everything, and someone STILL told me I shouldn’t have been using a scooter in the grocery store because “someone else might need it more”. I needed crutches to walk, I couldn’t exactly push a cart while using them. In this case I think it was my age at the time (28) causing the judgements but because I didn’t fit the image in their mind of who should be using that scooter I was a bad person.

    1. Sounds similar to me. I just turned 32, but I’ve sprained my ankle on ice & stairs, slipped on loads of ice, fallen on stairs (going up and down), fallen on my knees, etc. I’m thinking of getting a cane, since I find that when I hang on to a railing it’s easier to walk, especially up and down stairs. I can’t kneel on the ground anymore, and I certainly can’t stand for more than 10 secs. But I have a baby face (loads of people have mistaken me for 12-14 yrs old), so getting taken seriously (at anything, not just health matters) is a trial.

      Plus I get blisterz.

  14. I guess they didn’t take into consideration invisible disabilities either. You can’t see the damage that fibromyalgia, asthma, lupus, and a host of other diseases do, but these people — often fat and disabled — need handicapped parking too. Without it and the scooters or carts, shopping is impossible.

    I know bwcause I waited as long as possible before applying for my placard. I was afraid of what people would think if I got one. Even after I became wheelchair bound, I would still park as far away as possible and push myself in order to get that exercise everyone seemed to think I needed.

    Eventually I gave in; it was eiter use a motorized wheelchair and park in disabled parking or be too tired and ill to enjoy my shopping.

    By the way, you do in fact have to prove you deserve to park there. Ir requires a detailed note to the DEpartment of Motor Vehicles about your disability and why you need accommodation. You can be required to be examined independently by one of their physicians to verify the information. The application specifically excludes obesity “and related diseases” and states that in order to qualify the applicant must be unable to walk, independently or assisted, 50 feet.

    At least, that’s how the law reads in Florida.

  15. This reminds me of when I tore my ACL last year. It was excruciatingly painful, and I could barely put any weight on it the first few days. Basically, for anyone who doesn’t know, the ACL keeps your knee stable. Without it your knee gives out a lot. It’s what a lot of football and soccer players injure. I’m no athlete. This knee had been bothering me for years. I had actually torn the meniscus in it years ago. Of course, I got the fat treatment from every doctor I saw about it, so was walking around in pain for several years, until one day I stepped the wrong way on, of all things, my vacuum cleaner, and BAM, fell on the floor and couldn’t get up.
    Of course, my ortho doctor gave me the “it’s arthritis, lose weight” treatment til I insisted on an MRI. The jerk didn’t give me crutches or a brace or anything, when he could clearly see I could hardly bear weight. Even after he got the results and told me the ACL was torn and I had a lot of bone bruising and fluid/blood in the knee from the injury, he said I shouldn’t be in any pain since it was torn completely, And since I was fat, I wouldn’t need surgery to reconstruct it because “fat people can live without their ACL.” I found another doctor. I did ultimately choose physical therapy over surgery, but the new doctor advised me of both options and never mentioned my weight.
    I am getting too long winded. The point of my story is that my husband’s birthday was 5 days after I tore the ACL, and I had promised him we would go to the zoo. He really wanted to go, so we did. I could barely walk and I was in so much pain. He kept telling me to get one of those carts, but I refused. The reason? Because I KNEW if people saw me, they would assume I was only using one of those because I was fat. I was afraid someone would pick on me because of it. My injury wasn’t obvious since I didn’t have a brace or anything.
    I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who is fat AND disabled. It’s terrible that people are so judgemental. Why does anyone care HOW someone became disabled? It’s none of their business. And it doesn’t matter how! They deserve accommodation either way!

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