There is a concept in Fat Activism called the “Good Fatty Bad Fatty Dichotomy.” coined by Kate Harding. Basically, it’s the idea that fat people should be treated differently based on health status or performance of “health” (foods eaten, exercise undertaken etc.) There is a more complete discussion here. The end result of this is to create hoops that fat people have to jump through in order to be treated with basic human respect by the person who is creating the hoops and judging how well fat people are jumping through them. It’s bullshit, of course, but it’s ingrained in our culture and it comes out often in memes that are well meaning, but messed up. Here are some that I’ve corrected:
And while we’re on the subject – fat people’s bodies are not “problems” to be “fixed.” Extra shame on the person who created this for besmirching the good named of Captain Picard.
Another version of this compares fat people in the gym to sick people at the hospital, which is ridiculous since it pathologizes fat bodies and suggests that they have some special need to go to the gym to “fix” themselves that thinner people don’t. Super extra shame on the person who created this for using homeless people as a tool in their bullshit good fatty argument.
This person took the popular meme “confession bear” and turned him into “stereotyping, patronizing bear.” As Fat Activists and Health at Every Size practitioners who have been asked intrusive and clueless questions by perfect strangers at the gym (like “how much weight have you lost?”) can attest, this is crap. Don’t make assumptions about people based on their size – not at the gym, not anywhere else.
Ugh. People who are running are not morally better than people who are sitting on the couch. People who run faster are not morally better than people who run more slowly. We do not have to be “better” than someone else in order to be happy with ourselves. I blogged more about this one here.
As always, think before you meme and when you see memes that put some people down as a way to prop other people up you can remind the people who post it that it’s not necessary and, in fact, it’s extremely harmful. No more good fatty bad fatty BS please. If you know of questionable memes you are welcome to link to them in the comments and I’ll be happy to take a stab at fixing them.
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12 thoughts on “Fixing Bad Fatty Memes”
this memes are great! can i use them in my blog?
The kind of person who creates the “unfixed” memes tend to miserable excuses for human beings in the first place I’ve noticed. And they just create new memes letting the rest of us know how much they disapprove of us even if we cave in to their arbitrary whims and “fix” what their initial memes said we should fix. They just create new reasons why others are unacceptable to them. It is best to laugh at them,ignore them, or use one of the many comebacks that Ragan has suggested, but I admit it is hard.
I’ve got one of those in my own life, a close family member. Nothing I, or just about anyone else, except his child and sometimes his wife, is ever up to scratch and is to be soundly condemned whenever possible. About everything. Body size, choice of food, choice of partner, choice of job, choice of whatever you care to think up. The rest of the family refer to him as Mr. Perfect and The Contemptuous One among ourselves. Take me. There is no way he should really be able to fat and exercise shame me, as I am the height, weight, and clothing size of a 12 or 14 year old child. That doesn’t stop him from trying though. I have a Fitbit. So does he. We are Fitbit “friends.” I also have a job where I walk 10000-20000 steps a day. I also go up and down many sets of stair cases each day as it is faster than the elevator. Add in the 4000-10000 steps I get walking the dog in the AM and PM and it means I get waaay more than the “10000 Steps” the Health Police have decreed we should get in our to be deemed “healthy”. The Contemptuous One has a Fitbit too, as does his child. Because the child is well under 18, the child’s steps count towards Mr. Perfect’s Step Count for the day. Most weeks, even with his Fitbit step tally counting two people’s steps and not just one, I beat him by anywhere from 10000-50000 steps per week. Because I have an active job and he has a desk job, and the child is in elementary school learning all day. No big surprise I move more per day. The rare weeks that he “beats” my step total, I get all kinds of snark about how “behind” I am, that I am more a less a worthless loser, and I am being beaten by a 6 year old. Mind, I don’t give HIM snark the 11 weeks out of 12 that I blow him out of the water. Because that is just crappy to do. He is also fond of telling me how all that exercise I get on a daily basis does not “count”. Because it is just me doing my job and not formal exercise, and that I need to workout as well or I’m unfit. I should become a runner like he is and be “healthy”. Sad thing is, he has said to my face he doesn’t even LIKE running himself! He spends hours each week and spends scads of $$$$$ on his running for equipment and races, and he doesn’t even like it! But it’s “healthy” and “healthy exercise” is something we should ALL do, like some kind of commandment, so he does it. I think that that is all kinds of messed up, but it’s not my underpants so I keep my trap shut about it. I admit to being very glad his child is 1. Strong Willed, and 2. Male. I would worry very much if the child were female and more mild in nature about the child one day developing a eating disorder. Because Mr. Perfect applies his twisted health and exercise philosophy onto the child as well.
I think this man is psychologically projecting.
Perfection is often a shield people use to keep themselves from feeling vulnerable.
Oh, yes, he projects all over the place, like a multiplex many screened movie theater. Most of the time I just feel really sorry for him, and glad that I am not him, because he is not a happy or satisfied person. But the negativity and criticism does get tiresome. I’ve met people who know him,who both like and dislike him, who upon meeting me and getting to know me a tiny little bit, say “Wow! You two are family? You aren’t AT ALL like him, are you? Not at ALL alike at all! Wow, you couldn’t find two more different people!”
And they are right, we are not much alike. Were we not family we would not be friends, because I would be worthy only of his contempt because of they way I live my life, and I would think him overly mean, comtemptuous, and judgmental, and not someone I want to be friends with.
Classic self-hater trying to make you hate yourself. It’s not limited to runners. He deserves pity but not much else. Try being condescending… (tap tap…) Don’t worry, depression and self loathing doesn’t last forever if you work at it. When you find some exercise you enjoy, let me know and I’ll cheer you on.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the exercise I get at work. And it is exercise, no matter that it is not formal exercise where I put on exercise clothes and not scrubs and go “workout” at the gym or go for a run. I also enjoy walking the dog. I even enjoy running. Probably more than Mr. Perfect does, even though he does it regularly and I do not, as I actually like to run and he has stated quite plainly to me that he does not. I also enjoy other forms of exercise. What I do NOT enjoy is being mocked, ridiculed, shamed, belittled, and treated with contempt and have the literally hours of movement I do each day be dismissed as insignificant because supposedly it’s “not a workout”, but is “just” only my job. I get hours more “exercise” per day than these self appointed members of Anti Fat Health Enforcement Squad do, but I get told that it doesn’t count when it’s something that is part of one’s daily routine, and that one still needs to adopt some more acceptable form of movement that is a proper “workout”.
How the “workouts” that the Anti Fat Health Enforcement Squads still “count” when they do them for an hour or two 5-7 days per week and that sort of oh I dunno, seems like it’s a part of a “daily routine” to me I do not know. You’d think that the “workouts” wouldn’t count since they do them almost every day and all, but they don’t see it that way. They splutter incoherently or get enraged when asked why their “workouts” count but actual working jobs which require much active movement do not. BS baffles brains as my Dad used to say.
I think it “doesn’t count” because it’s not going onto HIS Fitbit.
Seriously, he counts his child’s exercise as his own?!
This guy… I have no words.
I saw one the other day that was a picture of a fat man in a suit with the caption, “The president-elect’s pick to head the council on sports, fitness, and nutrition.” I couldn’t find it again to link to it; it was on a friend of a friend’s Facebook. I did leave a comment with a gentle reminder that you can’t judge any of those things by looking at a person, and it would be great to leave body shaming out of the current political climate. Is it just me, or has this election cycle resulted in way more of it than usual?
It’s not just you.
Oh god the gym thing!! I went to this gym run by a woman who was a competitive bodybuilder(!) until her mid thirties. I loved the place so much. Then she took her eye off the ball for a while. Her staff kept commenting to me like “wow I’ve seen how your shape has changed, keep up the good work.”
The irony is, I love to exercise, I’d die of depression if I didn’t get sweaty and pant during a hard workout. That’s LIVING to me. I can’t be any other way. They didn’t need to tell me to keep up anything and calling it work just demotivates anyone.
The worst thing is, they wouldn’t stop, even though I said a nervous, “Uh thanks” and walked away each time.
Eventually I had some trainer guy openly staring at me one day (ripply believe it or not muscle guy), and when I was done, I turned and looked him in the eye. He stammered and said nothing so I walked away. I don’t even think I glared (my eyebrows were up, like a question), I think somewhere, he understood that I loved being there and his impending criticism would be equally inappropriate if it was applied to himself.
Both he and I love to exercise. He is blessed with a visible result, I am not. That difference is not something that needs any shaming.
However, I couldn’t hang on long enough to wait for the owner’s return and a return to respectful behavior. It’s amazing how many gyms lose excellent customers this way. And they really don’t care? Really?
Oh, that’s really sad, to lose a place you used to love, because of the attitude and treatment changing.
If you can (you’re not obliged), please do say something to them, or leave a comment for the owner, or something. If they’re losing customers over this, you’ll be doing them a favor to tell them why.