When I talk about fatphobia being life threatening to fat people, I’m often told that I’m being over-dramatic. I don’t think so and here’s an example. Several news outlets ran a story recently about the manufacture of fat crash test dummies. It turns out that fat people are 78% more likely to die in an automobile crash, and the increase may be in large part because crash test dummies are built to model thin bodies, and thus car safety systems are built to protect only thin bodies. To combat this, a company called Humanetics is developing fat crash test dummies.
Here are some responses to this story:
“Instead of making obese test dummies they should actually use the 78% higher chance of death in an automobile accident to encourage weight loss for obese people.”
Even if there was a single study that exists where fat people were able to become thin long term, the message “Change your body size or you’ll die needlessly because we refuse to make safety equipment for you” is not encouragement, it’s criminal negligence.
“Hope none of this was paid for by our taxes”
Let me translate from asshole to English “According to statistics 70% of people are fat and I’m completely comfortable with their tax dollars paying for the safety of the 30% of us who aren’t, but you better not use their taxes or mine to pay for their safety. I’m an incredible asshole and I approve this message.”
“Why not put a whole extremely obese family in there to start with? Dad weights 400 mom weights 300 kids weight 280 and the dog weights 220. Lets see those test results!!!”
Asshole to English: “I think that killing fat people and their pets is three-exclamation-points hilarious!!!”
“It shouldn’t be necessary to make obese crash test dummies. Overweight is one thing, obese is another. Its unhealthy and a drain on the healthcare system.”
Asshole to English Translation: “I think it’s cool to kill off entire groups of people if they meet my definition of unhealthy or if it makes healthcare cheaper.”
And this is what happens when we make appearance based discrimination into a national pastime, having wars against everyone who looks a certain way, funding research to figure out if a group of people who share a single physical characteristic can be shown to be more expensive than others etc. We get a world where people take to the internet (anonymously, of course) to suggest that some people don’t deserve to live based on their appearance.
Luckily this isn’t everybody. One thing to remember when we read comments like this is that these are left by a few people who, without much going on with their lives, have made online fat bashing their main activity during their free time (and, it would appear, many of their work hours as well.) They pounce on these kinds of articles, sharing them with each other and rushing to say that absolute most abhorrent thing that they can think of.
Obviously (or, it should be obvious), people of all sizes buy cars – many taking the safety rating of the car into account – and we all deserve to have a vehicle whose manufacturer actually included us in the safety system design. These crash test dummies are definitely a step in the right direction.
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