I saw a video today about a woman who was bullied because she was fat. It was one of those click-baity “You won’t believe what she says next!” things. It turns out that what she says is that she used to be much fatter. In this case we’re told that it’s wrong to bully fat people if they are in the process of getting thinner.
Much was made of a study that found that bullying fat people may lead to weight gain. People suggested that if bullying was going to make us fatter, then maybe people shouldn’t bully fat people (of course plenty of people took to comment sections to argue that nothing should ever get in the way of people’s right to bully fat people.)
Then there are people who suggest that we shouldn’t bully fat people as long as they are “trying” – whether that means eating the way that the person who thinks that they have the right to judge wants us to eat, or moving our bodies in ways that are fatty judge approved, and usually requiring a side of self-loathing. This is also known as the bullshit Good Fatty/Bad Fatty dichotomy.
Then there is the line of reasoning that “it’s ok to be fat as long as someone is healthy.” Though these people don’t seem to run around asking thin people for the results of their latest cholesterol test in order to decide whether or not they deserve to be treated with basic human respect, so I’m thinking that, even if it wasn’t completely ridiculous to suggest that there is a level of health at which people lose the right to basic human respect, this is just thinly veiled bigotry.
There’s also the suggestion that fat people who have a “valid reason” – PCOS, medication that causes weight gain, a health condition etc. – don’t deserve bullying.
Now, of course I’m all for not bullying fat people. But when we suggest that some fat people don’t deserve to be bullied because they meet criteria above, we are also (intentionally or not) suggesting that people who don’t meet those criteria do deserve bullying. And that’s crap.
These ideas are perpetuated in lots of ways and for lots of reasons – by well-intentioned people who don’t think through the implications of suggesting that a subset of fat people should be protected from bullying, to bullies trying to justify their right to bully a subset of fat people, to fat people themselves who are trying to escape the stigma, bullying, and oppression that they are experiencing by suggesting that they are better than “those other fat people” for the reasons listed above, thereby throwing those “other fat people” under the proverbial bus. Herein we often find the intersections of sizeism with healthism, ableism, classism, racism et al.)
When we say “Bullying fat people is wrong” we are making a statement of fact that needs no qualifiers.
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