A couple of days ago I wrote a blog to remind people that equal access is not special access. What followed was a predictable flood of comments (that I will never publish) with stories (many of which strained credulity) from people who claimed to have been inconvenienced in some way by fat people who dared to exist. They were shocked – SHOCKED I tell you – to find that fat people thought that they deserved to exist in the world and get the same experiences as thin people. So I thought I’d create a nifty little guide to help these people process their experiences.
A fat person acted like an asshole
If you’ve been inconvenienced by a fat person who acted in a way that you would consider shitty regardless of the size of the person, then this has nothing to do with the person being fat and if you think it does, then you are combining their bad behavior with your size bias. Assholes come in all sizes, if you focus on the size of the person and not on their bad behavior, then it’s you who is being an asshole.
I didn’t like the way a fat person looked (because they were fat, because of how they were dressed etc.)
Here’s a little newsflash – nobody owes you aesthetically pleasing by any definition. If you don’t like the way a person looks (any person, of any size by the way) there are always at least three other cardinal directions in which you can focus your gaze. The problem here isn’t the fat person, it’s your issues with fat people, and your choice to put them down instead of challenging your own biases or, at the absolute least, taking some advice from the band Chicago and look away, baby, look away.
A fat person encroached on my space
This was by far the most common and it often centered around seats on transportation, or public places and the idea that somehow fat people existing isn’t fair to thin people. (or, more specifically, isn’t fair to sizeist thin people.) If your space was “encroached upon” by a fat person then your problem isn’t with the fat person, it’s with a space that doesn’t accommodate people of all sizes. If you are sitting in a seat that fits you, then your question shouldn’t be “why is this fat person crowding the seat that fits me,” but rather “why isn’t this company providing everyone the same experience that I get?” (the experience, in this case, of a seat that accommodates you.) Otherwise what you are saying is “I deserve a seat/bed/space that accommodates me, but people who look differently than I do don’t deserve the same things that I get” and that’s super messed up.
If you are a fat person dealing with one of these scenarios, just remember that you are not the problem – the problem is a world that doesn’t accommodate you and the people who want to blame you for that, or use that as an excuse to engage in sizeism. Unfortunately this may become your problem, but it shouldn’t be happening and it isn’t your fault.
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