Weight Loss as Revenge?

You Forgot Your BullshitIn response to my piece about those clickbait “nobody could believe what happened next” videos (where the only thing that happens is that a person who isn’t stereotypically beautiful is talented) I heard a lot of something that has now become a familiar refrain for people who want to find a way to bully me into weight loss.

They say “Wouldn’t losing weight be the best revenge?” I’ve seen it on talk show episodes where people who were bullies for their appearance and have snice dedicated considerable time, energy, and money, to becoming closer to the stereotype of beauty “confront” their bullies and demand to be acknowledged for the change they made.

While people are allowed to do whatever they want, this, to me, is no kind of revenge.  This is spending a ton of time, energy, and money to give the bullies exactly what they wanted, and then asking for their approval.  It’s like saying “give the bullies your lunch money, that’ll show ’em!”

We don’t owe our bullies anything, least of all manipulation of our bodies.  Oppression takes a lot of different forms, and oppression against people who are believed to be able to move out of an oppressed group often leads to people feeling vindicated in their suggestion that the best way to solve social stigma is for stigmatized people to change ourselves.

As a queer woman I’ve been told that if I don’t like being the victim of homophobia I should date a dude. As a fat woman I’ve been told that if I don’t like being the victim of fatphobia I should become thin.  In both cases it doesn’t actually matter if it’s possible to change myself, because the cure for social stigma is ending social stigma – not for stigmatized people to try to squeeze ourselves in a mold someone else created for us.

The problem here isn’t that I’m fat, it’s that people treat me poorly because I’m fat, and I don’t care about revenge, but I do demand social change.

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31 thoughts on “Weight Loss as Revenge?

  1. I think this stems from the notion that “success is the best revenge,” and of COURSE if you lose weight in this society that’s “success,” never mind what the odds are of maintaining said weight loss long term, and never mind the emotional cost of regaining.

  2. “I’ve been told that if I don’t like being the victim of homophobia I should date a dude. As a fat woman I’ve been told that if I don’t like being the victim of fatphobia I should become thin.” – It is beyond sad that this still happens. To me this is the same as saying to someone, ‘if you didn’t want to be raped you should have worn less revealing clothing’. It’s just ridiculous!

    1. Apologies for the digression, but I’m so happy you made that last statement about rape because I had a huge fight with my work colleagues about this – they (all males) felt that indeed women should wear less revealing clothing to avoid being raped.” It was 3 days of me yelling my head off about how wrong and just plain incorrect that was (and changing no one’s mind, sadly). I felt I was going insane. And it reminded me that the bullies and victim blamers are everywhere and doing so much harm. Very depressing.

      1. This is also standard in the Middle East where it’s up to women to prevent negative sexual encounters. Most of the prisons are filled with women because they went to report a rape and ended up being arrested for extramarital sex/adultery.

        To me, the solution to rapes is to castrate the men. If they have no dingalings, then they won’t be able to use them.

        But yes, the “you were asking for it” seems to transcend all of these, and be the lowest common denominator.

        Likewise, it’s hard to get a job if you’re Jewish because you can’t work on Sat. The bullies just say to convert to Christianity/believe in Jesus, and then you can get all the jobs. Like it’s somehow my fault that I can’t find a job, but really it’s the employers who don’t want you.

      2. That is really awful. It’s sad that belief is still so widespread. I am trying to think of a ridiculous male equivalent you could throw at them, but I am drawing a blank.
        Ugh, that makes me mad.

      3. Good for you, standing up to their victim-blaming BS. I admire your persistence and guts. I’m sorry your work colleagues are such misogynistic people.

        1. Thanks for the supportive comments from all! After I presented actual statistics on rape that refute that claim, they fell back on, “Well, it’s just *our opinion*!” As I always say, don’t let actual evidence get in the way of making an informed opinion (sarcasm, of course). But yeah, it was a very depressing week to think that the educated men I work with hold to these misogynistic beliefs.

  3. I spent years starving myself trying to get back to “my weight” what I thought was my “correct” weight – skinny. It was a waste of time, because my body didn’t want to be thin, and no matter what I did, I stayed fat. I was fat. And with a lot of diet and exercise, I could be slightly less fat, but still fairly fat.
    I wish at the time I had known your blog and recognised the beauty of my fat self, and just embraced it and been happy. I am happy and fat now. But I still find myself regretting all the time I wasted not eating tasty food, and being miserable.
    I remember I hardy enjoyed anything, and I loved these fruity cereals so I ate a lot of them.
    One day someone said to me: “you know, that cereal has sugar in it?”
    And I burst into tears.

    So, the point I was heading for is that I struggled with this for a long time, and people who loved me encouraged me to struggle. They told me I was beautiful, but they didn’t tell me I should stay fat and just be happy. People will tell you you look great when you are fat, only if you are dieting and trying desperately to lose weight.

    “You look fantastic! Have you lost weight?”
    That’s what people say to you. Not realising that this makes you feel like you’re only gorgeous if you’re thinner than before. It makes you really miserable.

    And people trying to “help” you. I remember being on a strict diet where I wasn’t eating toast or cookies or cakes or crisps or hardly anything. But I was learning that I loved fruit and vegetables, so I was snacking on a lot of that.
    On of my relations came up to me and said: “You know what, fruit has a lot of sugar in it, so that will make you gain weight too.”

    What. The . Hell.? What inspired them to say that? There is such cruelty in people toward fatness which they wrap up in a bow and give you with a smile.
    I could not believe they said that to me. Their choice of food at the time was anything they liked, and I was down to a minimum, and still trying to keep a smile on my face. I was saying to myself: Well. at least I’ve got fruit to keep me happy. And they tapped me on the shoulder like a repo man.

    Anyway, sorry for going on and on. I just completely agree with your post. I am totally against weight loss because it just is bad for your mental health. I just showed you some of my baggage accumulated from it! That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    But my point is – everyone is beautiful just the way they are. We are all perpetually beautiful.

    Audrey Hepburn said “Happy Girls are the Prettiest Girls”. And it’s true.

    1. That is similar to me. I wasn’t allowed to eat white bread, or sugary cereals, or margarine or butter, or anything other than skim milk, or meat. Only in the last 3 yrs have I allowed myself to eat these things (except for bread which causes boils and digestive issues).

    2. Ugh! I had a similar experience a few years ago when I was still caught in the diet trap. Ironically, it was the one time I was seriously trying to lose weight “the healthy way” instead of crash dieting (like obsessively starving parts of yourself away to make other people maybe possibly like you a little more can totally be healthy). I was eating several helpings per day of fruit and veggies that I actually liked, and feeling better than I had on any other diet. I had tons of energy and was feeling like “Hey, maybe this is the time I’ll actually lose weight.”

      Until I went out to lunch with a friend and she told me that the fruit salads I was eating with my meal weren’t actually good for me because they “have so many carbs” and that my two SMALL servings were “too much of a good thing”. When she had a huge sandwich with bacon. Which I would NEVER judge her for, don’t get me wrong- anyone can eat whatever the hell they want and it’s no one else’s business. The hypocrisy just got to me, that she’d say I was eating too much when she was having even more. But she was thin, so it was fine. Uh huh.

      Unfortunately, that experience turned me off of fruit for quite a while. BUT I am now back to enjoying exactly the amount of fruit and vegetables that I and my body like! A lot more than most fatphobes would think, incidentally. And less than my former “friend” would think. Lol. But all that matters is that I’m happier and healthier than I’ve been in a long time. 🙂

      P.S. Thanks for your blog and the work you do, Ragen! You’re inspring!

      1. I am so sorry that happened to you. I think it is a sad fact of life that we let other people’s opinion mean so much to us, and think so little of ourselves that we give in to their bullying behavior. I am so glad that we are all learning to listen to our hearts and follow what we believe to be the best course for us, in other words we run our OWN lives, that is the best takeway from all of these posts here today- we rule our own lives and the bullies can no longer hurt us.

  4. I never did understand those sensationalist daytime TV talk shows that would reunite bullies with their former victims, only after said victim had lost weight, gotten braces removed, cleared up any skin issues, bulked up (if it was a guy) and/or gotten plastic surgery to make themselves socially acceptable to the bullies to receive a long overdue apology. It incensed me then and it sickens me now.

  5. You wrote “snice” instead of “since” but it took me a while to figure that out because I think it’s the perfect word to express that snide/nice thing where people are pretending to be on your side but ARE NOT.

  6. Amen to this! I don’t think I’ve ever commented on your blog but I’ve been reading it a long time and you are a voice of reason amongst all the craziness I see every day. My mother always told me growing up that HAPPINESS is the best revenge. If you’re happy with your life and confident in the choices you’ve made, that’s when you’ve truly shown the bullies who’s boss.

    1. Hear, hear, Chickadee! My ex went off with another woman, leaving me feeling hurt, disillusioned and totally lacking any self-confidence. I eventually met the man who is now my husband, and we’ve been together for ten years. I can honestly say that just thinking about him makes me smile. I had occasion to meet up with my ex about six months ago (we did eventually part on reasonable terms). The woman for whom he left me had thrown him out a few months previously, and he is now locked in a custody battle for their son, and is living alone in a rented flat (he signed our house over to me). I am happier than I ever was with him, which I think came across to him loud and clear, so if I was ever seeking revenge (which I wasn’t) then certainly I have achieved it. The way I look at it is that my ex did me an enormous favour when he went off this woman – if he hadn’t, I would not be so happy now. Something else that springs to mind is “what goes around comes around”, which I think is what happened to my ex!

  7. I have found the best “revenge” (i would not even call it that) is to say, “I love my body as it is.”

    Obviously the concept of revenge is ridiculous. I was told my body was “wrong”, so I lost weight, and literally no one really cared beyond, “Oh look, you look better.” So how is it revenge if I bend to the will of the bullies to become more like what they want me to look like? And then I ended living a life of fear that I would slip back into fatness and lose everyone’s approval. Which obviously I didn’t need in the first place. Approval is SO overrated.

  8. To me, the ultimate revenge would be for the bullies to gain weight to become like their victims, and then experience the bullying firsthand. Then they get that directed at them, and now fully understand what it’s like.

    That’s revenge. 😉

    Or the Klingon way: “revenge is a dish best served cold”.

  9. “I’ve seen it on talk show episodes where people who were bullies for their appearance and have snice dedicated considerable time, energy, and money, to becoming closer to the stereotype of beauty…”
    Did you mean “bullied for their appearance”?

    Anyway this is an amazing post! I get that one all the time and it’s so frustrating! No, obeying the bullies is neither pride nor proving them wrong, in fact it’s the opposite! I would much rather prove them wrong by being happy at the size I am now 😀
    No rush but my Fit Fatties membership has been pending approval for about a week, do I need to do anything else? I sent you an email as well. Thanks 🙂

  10. By their reasoning I should have responded to the kids who teased me about being left-handed by teaching myself to write with my right hand and then triumphantly ‘showed them’ by writing with my right hand.

    Fuck that. Forty years later I’m a proud and happy southpaw.

    Hey, how about the kids who teased me because of my last name? Maybe I should have changed my name and then thrown that in their faces as ‘revenge.’

    No way in hell. I even kept my own name when I married. Why? Because it’s my name and it means a lot to me.

    If someone wants to make fun of my left-handedness, my name, my height, my weight, my taste in literature, my fashion choices, my politics, my religious views, my sexuality, or my hobbies I always think that says a lot more about them than it really does about me. And if they’re so happy with their lives how do they have time to give me shit about aspects of me that don’t affect them in any way whatsoever? Maybe that’s time they could better employ in looking for something that would make them happier instead of trying to tear me down. Just a suggestion.

    I have no intention of wasting my time trying to please people who treat me like something they would wipe off their shoes.

    And if I did try it, in what universe would that constitute getting revenge on them?

  11. They think I should get “revenge” on people who hate me for being a certain kind of person by physically harming myself to temporarily pass for a different kind of person they like better?

  12. I knew a gal who had an interesting insight regarding people who were not particularly friendly. She believed they were simply shy or lacked the social skills to properly interact with others. So she always made the effort to be extra friendly to such people. Engage them in conversation and be very kind to them. And forgiving of any social faux pas they might make. Most of the time, she discovered she was correct in her belief.

    This makes me wonder if those who make comments about other people’s weight, height, sexual preference or any other attribute that is different from their own, are simply people who lack proper social skills. They feel the need to tell people to change as they have no ability to accept people exactly as they are.

    While this does make folks angry (rightfully so) it is really rather pitiful. Imagine being hung up on some physical attribute and consequently missing out on knowing the beauty of the person.

    Not an excuse, just a different view point.

  13. I am still reeling from the misguided idea that giving Bullies what they wanted is “revenge”. This is an excellent article about the need for, and the call to work for, – social change. Thank you Ragen!

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