Linda Kelsey has written a brilliant piece of satire showing just how ridiculous obesity hysteria has beco… wait… what? It’s not satire? Are you sure? Really. Holy shit! Linda Kelsey has written a piece of bigotry-riddled hate-ridden drivel that should make us all embarrassed for her.
While I’ll deal with her fat bigotry in this piece, it’s horribly unfortunate that in her rush to explain why fat people shouldn’t be treated with basic human dignity, she grossly mis-characterizes the very real dangers of eating disorders.
What has Linda’s panties in a such a bunch? Well it turns out that three fat women (Linda makes it clear that they were “not chubby but fat”) were at the airport getting ready to go on vacation, and they had the gall to be happy and carefree, and dress in ways that Linda didn’t like. I mean, who do these girls think they are, right? Linda prattles on about what she feels is justification for her bigotry:
I am unapologetically fattist. It’s unattractive, it’s unhealthy and, given the problems that being fat can cause, it should be as unacceptable as smoking.
Let’s start with “it’s unattractive.” Does Linda actually think that everyone in the world owes her “attractive” by her taste or they aren’t allowed to be in public? I think that Linda needs to realize that the only people who should care what Linda finds attractive are Linda and people who express some kind of interest in her opinion. The world does not owe Linda attractive by any definition and people who Linda doesn’t find aesthetically pleasing are allowed to leave their houses and even go to airports and go on vacation and be happy about it.
Next “it’s unhealthy.” Ah this old chestnut. We’ve discussed before that the research shows that body size and health are not the same thing – there are healthy and unhealthy people of all sizes. Which brings me to my point which is that even if she thinks that being fat is fat people’s fault, and that any health problem that has been correlated with fat people’s body size is fat people’s fault, her point of view would still be pure unadulterated bigotry. Should people whose health issues can be correlated with their behavior not be allowed to be happy about going on vacation? Health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, completely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances. We each get to choose how highly to prioritize our health and the path that we choose to get there and those choices can be limited by things outside of our control. People who have health issues, regardless of their origin, are allowed to have joy in their lives including dressing like they want and going on vacation.
Finally “it should be as unacceptable as smoking.” First of all, smoking and being fat are not at all comparable,. and when people can’t make the distinction it is a red flag for me as to their ability to engage in logical thought. Smoking is a behavior – it’s something that someone does. Every smoker smokes. Fat is a body size, it’s something that someone is. Fat people are as varied in our behaviors as any group of people who share a single characteristic. Treating smoking and being fat as the same thing becomes really messed up really quickly. For example whether you agree with it or not, banning smoking from a public place means that people aren’t allowed to engage in that particular behavior in those places. Banning being fat from public places means that all people who look a certain way are banned from public places because they look different than other people.
Like so many bigots before her, Linda wants credit for being “un-PC.” This is my absolute favorite use of the concept of Political Correctness (and by “absolute favorite” I mean the one that most quickly activates my facepunch reflex.) Basically it suggests that if you call treating people with basic human respect “being PC,” then you can brag about not doing it, instead of admitting to being a horrible human being who should probably take your own advice and stay out of public places.
After splashing around in a pool of her own bigotry, prejudice, and over-exaggerated sense of self-importance Linda ends the piece by saying “One way to start might be by calling a fat girl a fat girl. No apology required.”
To break this down, in her mind calling a fat girl fat is rude, so she’s saying that because she doesn’t like how fat people look and she thinks we are unhealthy she shouldn’t have to apologize to being rude to us. Though an apology would be appropriate here, it’s not because she called fat people fat, it’s because she’s promoting treating us without basic human respect or dignity – as if we are somehow less than human.
But y’all, that’s what bigots do. The headline should have been “Bigot engages in bigotry.” And her bigot ilk will all come out and leave comments in the comment section because bigots always seem to have a lot of time on their hands for commenting on the internet. (Maybe they are bigots because their lives are so crappy so they spend a bunch of time trying to feel better by putting someone else down? Just a guess.)
The good news is that those three fat women went on their fabulous vacation, and that’s what it’s about. More and more fat people are doing what we want to do, wearing what we want to wear. I wonder how many other fat girls those three inspired by living their lives with, in Linda’s words, a “let-it-all-hang-out faith in themselves and a don’t-give-a-damn attitude.” Hell yeah, I’d love to see more of that.
Bigots suck and bigotry sucks and it’s not fair and we shouldn’t have to deal with it and it’s not our fault but it can become our problem. The good news is that for social change to happen you have to convince enough people to take action and convince enough people to stop being bigots, but you don’t have to convince everyone. In fact, most civil rights change happens under a certain amount of social duress, with the people who are against the change fighting it tooth and nail (see also: Linda).
I think that this kind of opposition, while it can definitely suck to deal with, is proof that we’re making progress. It also helps the progress, because when people read about how people like Linda are proud to be bigots, or read the kind of hatemail we get, they understand what we’re dealing with and they start to come around .(the article at the link isn’t perfect and the picture definitely leaves something to be desired, but it’ s a step in the right direction.) This kind of open hatred and bigotry helps us in the end.
I do agree with Linda about one thing, she says “no apology necessary”. That’s just dandy because no apology is coming. I do not apologize for being fat. I do not apologize for availing myself of the rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness at any size, including this one. Anyone who thinks that my basic human rights are somehow size dependent is a bigot, and I sure as hell do not apologize to bigots for not comporting my life to suit them. Don’t like it, feel free to practice the ancient art of…wait for it… looking at something else.
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