Often when we post something about Body Positivity, Size Acceptance, or Health at Every Size, someone responds to it with a reply that is full of some combination of stereotyping, concern trolling, fat shaming, weight stigma, grossly misinformed discussion of weight and health etc.
So then someone, either the original poster, one of their friends, or sometimes me if I have permission, responds. They point out the issues with the person’s bigoted, bullying, stereotyping, oppressive rant. Then of course the fat-shamer says “Wow, you’re right! I was a total asshole, let me apologize, educate myself and stop engaging in this abhorrent behavior!”
Just kidding. Then come the ridiculous attempts at justifying the bad behavior. Here are some common justifications with responses that I often use (including links to blog posts with more specifics.) As always, feel free to change them to suit you, and your mileage may vary
I’m just trying to help/I’m just concerned
My choice to post about body positivity/Size Acceptance/Health at Every Size should not be mistaken for an invitation to engage weight stigma, appearance-based bigotry or bullying, stereotyping, or concern trolling against fat people. This is not a tree, fat people are not kittens, you are not a firefighter. If people want your thoughts or assistance when it comes to their body size, health, or anything else, I’m sure that you will be among the first to know. I won’t tolerate your behavior here. See blog post This isn’t a tree, I’m not a Kitten.
If you really love yourself like you say, you wouldn’t care so much what I think.
This isn’t about how I feel about myself, it’s about the fact that if people don’t speak out against the kind of bullying, stereotyping, and bigotry in which you are engaging, then bigots and bullies get to harm people without any push back and I won’t let that happen. See post: Things That Don’t Justify Concern Trolling
Blah blah blah my tax dollars
I need to see the list of everything your tax dollars pay for, broken down into things you do and don’t agree with, and the interventions you are involved in for everything you don’t want your taxes to pay for. Otherwise, I’m going to assume that this is a bullshit excuse for engaging in weight bullying and this conversation is over. See post: Fat People and Tax Dollars
You are interfering with my free speech.
Free speech is not the same thing as consequence free speech. Even if we are talking about the way it works in the US, the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no laws…abridging the freedom of speech” it does not say people aren’t allowed to speak out against your bigoted bullshit, nor does it say that I’m obligated to give you forum to spread your bigoted views in my space. See blog post Not Open for Debate
I’m so sick of being people telling me to be Politically Correct
I understand why you don’t want to be called out on your ignorance, bigotry and stereotyping, I understand why you would try to couch your choice not to treat people with basic respect as some kind of bold stand for “not being PC”, but I won’t sit in silence while you try to justify your bigoted behavior, I will not be made complicit in your oppressive behavior by leaving it unchallenged in my space. See blog post Political Correctness, Donald Trump, and Fat Bashing
Why is everyone being so mean to me? If you want people to agree with you, you should be nicer.
You are not my primary concern here. My concern is for the people you are harming with your bullying, stereotyping, stigmatizing, oppressive post. I want to make sure that people who read this can see immediately why your behavior is completely inappropriate. I’m writing here for them. Ancillarily I’m doing you the courtesy of giving you the opportunity to rethink your bigotry, and I hope that you take that opportunity. Regardless of your choice, you will no longer find a forum for your bigotry here. See blog post: How Dare You Have Rules
Obviously you may want to couch this in softer terms, or say it more forcefully (F-bombs FTW!) depending on the situation, your relationship with the perpetrator, your own goals for your response, and your own beliefs about what will best help you reach those goals, your mood and how much energy you want/have to commit to this on any given day etc. All of those decisions are your to make.
Regardless of how you decide to handle this, what I would suggest is that you take care not fall into the trap that bigots will set for you by telling you that the reason they are choosing to remain bigots is because you didn’t ask them to stop being bigots the right way. That is some bullshit.
Remember that the problem here is their harmful behavior, not the semantics of our request that they stop that harmful behavior. This kind of behavior isn’t our fault, and though it can become our problem I think it’s important to remember that the fact that we do the bullies and bigots the courtesy of pointing out the issues with their behavior, doesn’t make us responsible for the behavior of bullies and bigots.
If you have any of these kinds of responses that you would like me to address, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to the post!
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7 thoughts on “Responses to Ridiculous Justifications for Fat Shaming”
This. Was. Awesome.
This post is the best, thank you!
This is absolutely perfect! I needed a “go to” list of advice on the types of things to say in these situations. When this stuff happens I’m usually so angry and flustered at the blatant bullying and stereotyping that I often can’t express myself as well as I normally could. Having this list set aside and book marked is going to be a huge help! Thank you, Ragen!
Your blog is on my regular reading list. I am bookmarking this particular post for frequent reference. It’s GREAT!
Thank you, Ragen for putting into words what we all need to have handy, when we are too gob-smacked by the awfulness to be able to do anything but sputter at our screens.
This blog is awesome!
When a well placed “f#%^ off” won’t do, these are golden.