Say Something Sunday – Fat Joke Edition

Say Something SundayIt’s “Say Something Sunday,” a day dedicated, at least on this blog, to personal Size Diversity activism. I’ve got some suggestions below and/or of course you can do your own thing and feel free to leave a comment about it.  If you have ideas of things to do for Say Something Sunday I’d also love for you to share those.

I did the math and if everyone who views the blog each week did one piece of Size Diversity Activism a week, it would add up to over 1.5 million body positive messages put out into the world this year.  Multiply that times the number of people who might see each of those messages and things start to increase exponentially. To be very clear, nobody is obligated to do activism so if this doesn’t appeal to you that’s totally cool, I’ll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled blog post!

The theme this week is fat jokes. Often people couch fatphobia in so-called humor and jokes, and then defend saying cruel and disrespectful things because “it’s just a joke” and try to make the issue that we aren’t willing to laugh at a joke that stigmatizes us, rather than that they are actively stigmatizing us.  Nobody is obligated to celebrate jokes made at their expense and making stigmatizing and bullying sentiments into a “joke” is not a get-out-of-jackass-free card. (More full explanation of this can be found here) Suggestions of what to do with this:

When you see or hear a fat joke/meme etc. say something.  You can say something direct like “fat shaming isn’t funny” or something softer like “I wish we lived in a world where people didn’t try to be funny at other’s expense.”

Another option if you want something that works in a professional situation, if there is an in-balance of power, or if you just want to be more subtle, is fighting this kind of bigotry with confusion , for example smiling sincerely and saying “I’m sorry, I don’t get it – can you explain?” because nothing makes it clear that a joke is stigmatizing faster than someone having to explain it.

If you want to do more of this kind of thing, consider joining the Rolls Not Trolls group on Facebook, it’s a group created for the specific purpose of putting body positive things in body negative spaces on the internet and supporting each other while we do that.  It’s a secret group so if you want to join just message me on facebook (I’m Ragen Chastain)

Have a great Say Something Sunday!

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9 thoughts on “Say Something Sunday – Fat Joke Edition

  1. I’ve lost friends that I’ve know for decades over this. When I point out that a joke is fat hating and they don’t want to see it. (One of the people who unfriended me was gay. When I pointed out that I would never question him if he said a joke was homophobic, he unfriended and blocked me.)

    My usual response on social media (especially to people I don’t know) is “Thanks for the casual fat hate. It always makes my day.” Since my profile pic makes it obvious that I’m fat, I don’t feel I need any more explanation. I occasionally get push back, but not often.

    1. Wow. It’s OK for him to defend against homophobia, but not for you to defend against fat-hatred and body shaming?

      I hope he misses you, and learns better, although it may take some time.

  2. I had connected with someone on Facebook about five years ago. We had some common friends and interests. Unfortunately, one of her interests was posting photos of fat people with horrible, cruel comments that she thought were hi-larious. When one of her other friends objected, this woman not only cut her down and insulted her, she created a whole new post just to further mock and insult her, and invited her friends to do the same. I unfriended and blocked her as soon as I saw that.

  3. This past week, I saw a photo meme with a picture of a woman with a hanging belly sitting on a bench so that her sundress rode up and her belly could be seen under the hem of her dress. The caption said something like “You can tell it’s Spring when all the girls start showing their bellybuttons.” or something like that.

    My first reaction was: this is a HUMAN BEING – a real person somewhere who had a wardrobe malfunction. And some random person’s response was not to show a little empathy and let her know or even just walk on, but felt it necessary to take a photo for the sole purpose of mocking her online. I immediately identified with the woman in the photo. I generally have to wear leggings or shorts under what are advertised as dresses for exactly this reason.

    I was outraged with my friend that posted this. I had a lot of scathing thoughts, but I eventually went with a simple “Really?? Because the world needs more fat shaming? WTF?”

    I considered unfriending, but I think part of his “humour” comes from internalized body shame, and I’d like to try to help him think about how these memes affect the emotional well-being of those around him before hitting “post.”

  4. I had great success with one friend who kept using body shame for humor by going stone faced when she did it. It worked in part because she knows what a raucous and earthy sense of humor I have. So if I didn’t laugh, she knew there had to be a reason.

    I don’t know if she still tells those ‘jokes’ when I’m not around, but at least she knows I don’t find them in the least funny.

    1. I think this is the PERFECT response. Living in Chicago, a city known for lots of comedy, it has become very clear to me that the best way to respond to terrible jokes is by not laughing, or as Ragen suggested, asking them to explain. I think that when people make jokes and you just tell them they are offensive, sometimes they can write it off like you aren’t “edgy” enough in your humor. But if someone just respond to a joke without laughing, that’s the best way to be able to tell that what you are saying isn’t funny.. no matter what the reason is that it’s not funny.

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