Earlier today my Twitter popped up with a new Top Tweet #thingsfatpeoplearetold. There were over 1400 Tweets in the first 24 hours of its existence, an abridged list of the responses can be found here: #thingsfatpeoplearetold: The first 24 hours. As Red No. 3 (blogger and creator of the “#thingsfatpeoplearetold” twitter hash tag), stated some of the responses are triggering. I have heard several of these type of comments directly, many more I have either overheard or were told about. Still, the sheer volume and viciousness of what is said to fat people on a regular basis is disheartening to say the very least.
What makes complete strangers think their opinion of my fatness is of such import that they absolutely must share it? Your words are so special from the 500nth iterations of “You’d be so pretty/handsome if you lost weight” heard, that yours will be the one to crack the ugly fat duckling code within a fat person and s/he will suddenly want to do whatever it is YOU think is not being done to turn into an acceptable standard of beauty. I was especially fond of the woman on the subway this morning. A seat becomes available in front of me, I am a stop away from my destination and don’t want, so I stop back. The unofficial code for “come and get it!” and two women vie for it. Woman A: Heavy set; Woman B: very slim. Woman A slips into the seat first, much to Woman B’s obviously chagrin. Woman B then stage whispers to the person next to her
“Fat people should be charged for double seating on mass transit just like airlines. Bet they lose weight fast then.” to which I responded “Don’t hate because she beat you to the seat. You’d be sitting there, all smug that you beaten the fat person to the seat were this reversed, so hush.” Woman A looked at Woman B for a moment, opened her mouth to say something, apparently thought better of it and decided to listen to her music instead. Woman B simply glared at me. Being the more mature person, I simply stuck out my tongue and walked away as we had reached my stop. Complete strangers are one thing, but what really jars me are the things said by a fat person’s own family.
I was was always tall and “big-boned” as a child and teen, but I was not yet considered fat. Still, I was the spitting image of my paternal grandmother and earned her bodacious booty at any early age. At 12-13, physical my height and rear belonged to female at least three years my senior. My breasts didn’t catch-up until seventeen. My mother harped on my about my “fat ass like your grandmother’s”. She would pass by a rack with a pretty dress hold it out admiringly, then look at me and dramatically sigh and put it back on the rack. Uh, I was 14 and wearing a size 16, why would even stop at the size 10 rack and go through all of that? Still, I was not subjected to the nasty type of familiar fat hatred until my mid to late 20’s after I had my children. By then I was a grown woman, living on my own with my sons and husband and at least had the luxury of walking away from my mother (who was never larger than a size 7/8 in her life), when I had enough of her nonsense. I recognize it is not the same as day in-day out harassment by those closest to you who should support and have your back, regardless of size. What of the children and teens who cannot walk away from their families?
I am a member of several forums it galls me to hear/read the things some families do/say to their fat children during their lives. There are the little insidious unsaid passive-aggressive bullshits such as what I described between my mother and I above. Then there are the blatant things. Portioning ridiculously small amounts of food at meals and then chaining the refrigerator and cabinets for insurance. Verbal belittlement in private and public. Physical abuse. When Male forum participant (now in his late 20’s) said he tried to explain to his mother how he was abused as a child for his fat, she told him he was exaggerating and besides she was only doing what was for his own good like any responsible mother would. I have already over heard a father tell his young daughter (she could not have been more than twelve) that she needed to watch her weight, didn’t she want to be fat like Malia Obama and have the whole world talking about her. Yes, Malia Obama as in the the daughter of the President of the United States. Way to go Michelle Obama. Luckily, the little girl’s mother was there and commenced to blasting the father in no uncertain terms as to what she thought of his analysis of their child. She then informed the child that she was beautiful and bought her the extra lollipop which apparently was the impetus for the weight exchange. How many fat kids out there now are being abused with the White House seal of approval thanks to the “Let’s Move” initiative?
Then there the health professionals. You have a cold, its because of weight. You’re tired it’s because of weight. You have a mental illness it is because of weight. Or the symptoms of such can be greatly alleviated by the lose of said weight. I seem to continually befuddle my own doctor by my not having diabetes or cholesterol at my weight. Can I run a marathon?-no. Then again, I have no interest in doing so, so who cares? However, I can run up a flight of stairs to catch a train if I need to without feeling like I am going to die for the effort and as long as I can do that, I’m good. I concede not everyone has my health (such as it is), but not every fat person is one Crispy Creme away from death’s door either. This national obesity scare has come to the point that I swear if a fat person goes to their family practitioner for a chronic hangnail the cause of such will somehow be fat related.
Will #thingsfatpeoplearetold have any major impact over all on how fat people are treated? Probably not. However, if it maybe make a few people at least think first and perhaps keep that nasty comment to his/herself then it has helped a little. If #thingsfatpeoplearetold serves no other purpose than to be a reminder to other fat people that they are not alone in the hatred, then it has done a lot, at least for the moment.