When You’re Stuck In A Room With A Fatphobe

Fat People Not Obligated (1)This post was inspired by the amazing Naomi Finklestein, an anti-diet coach at Redefining Wellness, She recently found herself in the position that plenty of us have found ourselves in – being at an event where you are the only fat person or the obviously fattest person in the room, and the speaker is a fatphobe. Naomi started a discussion in the group about how people choose to deal with this.

There were lots of great suggestions about making it an activism opportunity and educating the speaker, and of course that’s always an option in these situations, but there’s something that I think is important to remember when we find ourselves dealing with someone who is perpetuating weight stigma (and thereby harming us,) and that’s this:

However you decide to handle this is completely valid. You are not obligated to do any activism or education. You are not obligated to center the feelings or education of people who are buying into and perpetuating your oppression, you are not obligated to give them the benefit of the doubt. You are allowed to choose to do whatever it takes to make this as easy on yourself as possible given the situation.

This should never have happened, you should never be in this situation. You are not, and will never be, the problem in this situation. The problem is 100% fatphobes and their choice to perpetuate diet culture and fatphobia, and others choosing to buy into it and perpetuate it themselves. You can choose how you want to deal with this and then change your mind – day to day (or minute to minute) You are amazing and valuable and wonderful and worthy. Fuck diet culture, fuck fatphobia, fuck fatphobia’s minions.

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4 thoughts on “When You’re Stuck In A Room With A Fatphobe

  1. Way on Ragen! Cheers Naomi! Could be all of us any day of the week in the US. And we’re supposed to be the crazy ones with misaligned thinking and anti-social behaviors. You know, existing! Piss em all off! Exist!

  2. This reminds me of a line from Harry Potter. Harry describes the way the Dursleys talk about him “as if he was something nasty that couldn’t understand them, like a slug.” That really is how it feels; dehumanizing, like even if you do have thoughts on the subject, they can’t possibly matter because you aren’t fully human and your brain isn’t capable of human-person thinking and engagement. Even better is when you do say something and get the attempted “save” of “Oh, I didn’t mean YOU, dear,” which is like… okay, you’re either lying or you are ignorant about this subject, because when you’re talking about taking action against “obesity,” I am *exactly* what you mean.

    1. Ah, the pretend qualifiers. Anorexics don’t look at me and hate me, they only hate the thought of being me. Yes. Like a slug. Or a little ole dung beetle. Kafka.

      1. The mindset is just so bizarre. It’s like…

        “I’m thinking of building my next house and I’d like to know how to build a house.”

        “You should ask someone who builds houses! They do it all the time, so they’re experts.”

        “I’m also thinking of doing most of the plumbing to save money.”

        “You should ask a plumber! They do it all the time, so they’re experts.”

        “And just as an aside, I’d like to know more about what life is like as a fat person. Let me guess, ask a fat person, right?”

        “NOOOOOO! Don’t ask a fat person what it’s like to be a fat person! NEVER ask a fat person! They’re stupid and they’re evil and they’re liars and they might not even be sapient. If you want the OBJECTIVE and UNBIASED truth about what it’s like to live life as a fat person, you need to ask a thin person who hates them and makes lots of money selling a product or service that is supposed to rid the world of them.”

        Like… really?

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