Several people have sent me a video of an individual who takes it upon himself to scream and rant and rave at, and about, fat people. He is not the first person to believe that fat people are just a little bit of emotional abuse and bullying away from being thin (or pretend to believe it as a way to justify his abhorrent, abusive, bullying behavior.)
People do this for a number of different reasons. Many, like the dude in the video I saw, seem to be partaking in some combination of attention-seeking, and enjoying being a bigot and bully out loud. Some are still stuck on the junior high school that-trick-never-works attempt to put others down to feel better about themselves. Others do it for profit. Jillian Michaels is certainly not the only person to do this, but she does seem to be one of the most successful in terms of getting attention and money. Of course we can’t know other people’s intentions and it doesn’t really matter since this behavior is inappropriate regardless.
Let’s get something very clear. This is not about helping fat people – the idea that we should abuse and bully fat people (or any people) “for their own good” is not a conclusion that can be arrived at through logical, rational thought.
It is possible that a few of these people have become so deluded and confused by a culture where fat hating is rampant and encouraged (including by the government) that they think this is a good idea, or their sense of self-importance is so over-exaggerated that they think that they are being brave and helping those who are beneath them, but at the end of the day they are still bullying and abusing people and their behavior is still deeply wrong.
There are things to be learned from these people and their ranting. Nothing about fat people of course, as this actually has very little if anything to do with us. It can, however, be helpful in illustrating just how screwed up our society has become when it comes to size and health. It can also show how people are comfortable treating fat people, and how comfortable people are or aren’t with the bullying and abuse of fat people. (Just as a reminder: while the bullying, stigmatizing and harassment of fat people is certainly often socially accepted, it is definitely not the “last acceptable prejudice” racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, ageism and more are all alive and well and if they weren’t “acceptable” they wouldn’t be happening.)
If you are a fat person and you have the misfortune to deal with this behavior either in person or by coming across one of these videos, I recommend that you do whatever it takes to keep yourself ok. You can do activism around it, or ignore it, leave a comment, report it, or block it. If one of your friends posts this crap you can leave a comment, send them a private message, unfriend them, or do nothing and move on with your day.
Whatever you do, just be clear – it’s not you, it’s them Fat people are not the problem, fat people should not be treated like this, ever. These people and their behavior are completely and totally unacceptable and wrong. Period. And no, it doesn’t matter if they can find someone who says that their life got better because of this bullying and abuse. If people want to be treated this way then they can request it, otherwise there is simply no excuse, justification, or reason for this behavior.
If you are not fat and you see this behavior, please consider speaking up – reminding people that even if someone believes that they can judge others by appearance (even though that’s obviously bullshit) there is no way to bully and abuse people for their own good and that this behavior is completely unacceptable.
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19 thoughts on “Screaming at Fat People for Fun and Profit”
This makes me so, so sad. Tough “love” is every fucking where, not only in health and size, but literally everywhere. When people internalize it, i.e., trying to motivate themselves by bullying themselves, it’s the worst, from my POV.
I’m so sorry we live in a culture that doesn’t know any better.
Unfortunately, I think what’s happened is that society at large has distorted “sometimes the truth is painful to hear” into “anything that’s painful to hear is automatically the truth,” giving douchebags a license to be douchebags as long as they do it to someone they can sell society on needing their “help.”
You’ve said it beautifully. It’s so true. (And not painful to hear, lol).
I wonder, how far could a person go when given positive reinforcement- instead of being screamed at, abused, shamed, etc.
Gee too bad all that energy expended for negativeness can’t be turned around and used for positive ends. Like encouraging folks to love them selves. Imagine how much happier those on the receiving end would be. Imagine how much nicer it would be to see someone passing along positive messages to others.
(I really don’t care for that pic either. Hurts me to look at it).
It’s even worse when you realize that animal trainers have come to a strong consensus against negative reinforcement and in favor of positive reinforcement only for training. We literally accept styles of behavioral modification for humans now considered cruel to animals.
I always believed “tough love” to be along the lines of setting hard boundaries, and sticking to them, even though you love the person pushing those boundaries. Like parents who say, “OK, kid, I’ve supported you for 27 years, and now it’s time to set out on your own. You have until the end of June to get your own place,” or the people who set up an intervention for a drug addict, or even those people who say, “I love you, and I want to spend time with you, but not at the cost of X behavior. Stop that behavior, or you won’t be spending any more time with me.”
Yelling, screaming, insulting, and otherwise bullying someone “for their own good” is neither tough, nor love. People are not showing their strength when they bully someone else. They are showing their weakness – emotional, mental, and spiritual – that allows them to think that kind of behavior is OK. And it’s certainly not love.
Abuse has never made my life better.
Tell me about it. My ex step dad used to beat as well as verbally abuse my mom, my brother, and I. He’d love to say “you’ll thank me for this some day”. Yeah well, it’s been over 20 years and I’ve still not come close to being thankful for his abuse. He can keep wishing, but I’m NEVER going to thank him.
Compassion, tough love, appeals to authority… it’s all the same flawed swiss-cheese premise, showing up in various horrible costumes. I call this one, favored by Jillian, the “cheap rubber R. Lee Emery mask.” It doesn’t matter how you dress up your pitch, much like it doesn’t matter whether you call it a diet or not – I’ve heard it before, and it didn’t work then, either.
Some one shared that on their Facebook and it showed up in my feed. Sadly I have yet to figure out how to not have those stupid videos auto play, I got stuck watching the first bit. All I could think was “Oh look! Basically everyone who has made a comment on my weight, health, size, etc, rolled into one!”
That “tough love” shit did nothing but give me trust issues and make me very wary of people. Why did they do it? Because emotional, and mental abuse solves all problems and you can’t prove it is happening because there are no marks left that can be seen.
Years ago, I went through a phase where I was literally afraid to lose weight, because that weight was my shield. As long as I was fat, I had this wonderful way of filtering out the jerks in the world. As long as I was fat, I wouldn’t date a jerk, who would appear to be sweet and charming, and then turn into an abuser, after he had his hooks in me. Because as long as I was fat, the jerks and abusers wouldn’t think twice about going for the jugular, right off the bat.
Unfortunately, I learned that there are also jerky and abusive “chubby chasers,” so that really doesn’t work.
In short – TRUST ISSUES!!! Oh, yeah. I has them.
After 10 years of being bullied in school and who knows how many years being mentally and emotionally abused by my parents and other family, I became a “game” to the guys at my school, who loved to play games woth the unpopular or “ugly” girls, after that it took me years to trust anyone again.
My boyfriend still notices when I am having issues. Trust issues are not something you just “get over” they are something that may always be around long after the crap has stopped.
Extremely fat people, say people over 300lbs are a rather rare minority of the population in numbers.They are targeted for especially harsh abuse.This is because they can be easally bullied since it is hard for them to collect in groups and fight back. The overweight, and all classes of the obese are probably a majority of the population
but they are splintered into many groups. United they would represent
a formidable group but we are seeing divide and conquer in practice.
All fat people are encouraged to feel disgusted about the fat parts of themselves, to feel ashamed and guilty about not being able to lose weight.Failure leads to loss of self esteem which further complicates the situation. Actually many fat persons are healthy as is and not sick at all.Yet all are pressured to lose weight and to try to achieve “normal’
“ideal” weight for their height.Even though they are physiologically not meant to be that weight and they risk their health by trying to do so.The few who do lose weight usually choose to join the average sized group and if anything, become holier than thou to all fat people.
Because the fat groups are divided there is no legal arm to fight in the courts for some fat rights and reasonable treatment. There is no group lobbying for Fat Rights and making Size a protected category.
The idiot who Regan wrote about above, probably cannot be sued, because his behavior is not illegal.Unfortunately because the woman involved is so brow beaten by society she cannot even verbally fight back.
Actually a fair number of people in NAAFA and other fat positive organizations are over 300 pounds.
That’s me. I’m 300lbs. My parents aren’t as large (maybe 260) but still are part of the holier than thou because they are active dieters.
I believe you are right about the divide and conquer. If we all got together, they would be the minority in power, and they’d have a revolt on their hands. French Revolution all over again (Fat Revolution?).
So sad that people will watch these car-crash blood sports of abusive jerks being self-righteous jerks. I doubt the abusers would have anything to scream about if they were actually happy with *themselves*.
BTW, Regan, have you seen this ?
I really love Liz Dwyer’s work. Her articles all seam to be so body positive -she really seams to have made a conscious effort to write about things that help to counter all the negative messages women get about their bodies.
I can’t believe I used to watch The Biggest Loser for fun when I was younger. Now I watched it again and I am in awe. How is this abusive rubbish on TV? How has none of the contestants died already?! Disgusting sensationalist gross garbage. Man I used to root for the trainers and say, “Yeah! Make them work harder!” I was so brain washed..