16 August 2008

Your prejudice is showing

The last acceptable prejudice seems to be against fat people.

I see it all over the internet. There are so many trollish comments that talk about weight and how someone is fat and ugly and how if they got up and quit eating ho-hos, maybe they would be a decent human.

It seems that whenever a person who is in any way not bone thin appears on the internet, sooner or later, some troll will crawl out of the woodwork to tell them how disgusting and undisciplined they are, how weak and pathetic and how they need to shut up and go for a run and not be so LAZY.

I wonder if the commenters are aware that pretty much every slurred group has had the label "lazy" applied to them. Black people were called lazy and shiftless (I have no idea what "shiftless" even means, do you?). Mexicans were lazy because they liked to lay in the sun all day under their cactus with their sombrero over their eyes. Irish were drunk and lazy. Italians? Oversexed and lazy. And so on.

So while blaming fat on laziness might seem to be natural, trolls should realize that their prejudice against overweight people is your boring stupid garden-variety prejudice. They might as well be spewing the N word instead. Same thought pattern is in action.

I'm not trying to make excuses for my own weight problem, only pointing out that prejudice is prejudice, no matter how people justify it.

Food is an addiction for me - I'm willing to admit it. I will never be one of those people who says "I forgot to eat lunch today." I do not forget to eat.

Apparently it is an addiction for other people, too, and it is a harder addiction to kick than alcohol, heroin or cigarettes. 95 percent of people who lose weight gain it all back within two years, and usually add on pounds besides. We have learned not to view alcohol or drug addiction as a moral issue - why is weight still judged as one?

People are hurting about weight. People are working on weight. People are trying and trying and trying some more to lose weight and keep it off.

Y from Joy Unexpected had an amazing reading at the BlogHer Community Keynote that kind of sums it up for me:


QT said...

Yeah...I'm pretty much in that camp where I'm not forgetting to eat a meal either. More like planning what is the most delicious thing I can put in my mouth next.

I've chosen not to diet. It is evil. I exercise instead. Still evil, but I get to eat yummy stuff.

Anonymous said...

I do not forget to eat either. Who are those people? I can NEVER forget to eat.

sam {temptingmama} said...

Excellent post Suebob. It's really disheartening to see that the trolls go right for weight and assume that a person is lazy and that's why they're fat. Some people have conditions or medications that cause them to gain weight. No matter the reason, it's ALWAYS a sore subject.

I love food and NEVER forget a meal.

Mom101 said...

I am so glad you posted this video. I was just describing Yvonne's post to two friends yesterday, one who has struggled with morbid obesity her whole life. She's been incredibly enlightening, helping point out my own prejudices, or when "fat" slips out of my mouth before I even realize it. Thanks for joining in my education.

Nancy said...

Well, even though I'm working on my weight right now (or really I prefer to think of it as getting my body into healthier shape) I think about food CONSTANTLY. I've lost and gained, gained and lost, and I'm sure it will be a lifetime battle.

And so I really cannot fathom people who think it's acceptable to poke fun at/demean/otherwise act critical of people with a weight issue. Would these same people mock someone who is battling a different kind of health issue (depression, drug addiction, etc?) Would they make fun of someone's appearance if they were missing an eye, or had suffered disfiguring burns? I think not. Why is weight an acceptable target?

(to answer my question, though, I can't stand the media/celebrity focus on weight. If we were consistenly presented with images of famous people with healthy weights -- if there wasn't so much speculaton about whether actress X is pregnant because she has a little belly or how actress Y lost all her baby weight -- maybe it wouldn't be so easy to target people who don't fit the "ideal mold". Or whatever. I know it's a cop out to blame society and media, but I do get concerned as I raise 2 girls about the images they're constantly getting bombarded with.)

OK, off soapbox. ;-)

thailandchani said...

I'm overweight and recognize all the prejudices, too. I agree with QT. Life is too short to worry about someone else's petty prejudice.

"Shiftless", I think, refers to "shifting" and the fact that so much of human activity involves shifting things from one place to another.


Anonymous said...

I'm working on a post right now about my struggle to eat well and sacrifice for weight loss when a good (not necessarily fattening, but perhaps) meal makes me so happy.

Anonymous said...

I watched about 13 seconds of the video and promptly burst into tears. I couldn't watch it. That's how much the issue upsets me.

And, I completely agree with your post - fat is one of the last "acceptable" prejudices.

And I think that people often say these things unconsciously, without realizing the damage they may be inflicting. I have a very close friend - one of my best friends in fact - who is always denigrating overweight people. And what amazes me, is that she makes comments like, "so-and-so is horrible - and fat" to ME, her FAT friend. Not so unlike all of the "I didn't realize you are Black - you're so smart/well-spoken/not ghetto" comments I have heard over the years. Boggles the mind...

Mandajuice said...

I've been extremely open about my own struggle with weight and the fact that I had weight loss surgery. Every troll I've ever had has called me fat and it honestly makes me laugh every time. Fat? Ha! Don't they understand that if they REALLY want to get to me, they need to say something bad about my WRITING, not my waistline. Who cares about being called fat?! Tell me something I don't know.

I'm working on a big soapboxy post right now about how obesity is a MEDICAL CONDITION and it needs to be treated as such. Why do doctors /friends/strangers/random people on the internet insist on prescribing diets when there is absolute statistical proof that they do not work and in fact are far more harmful than just accepting the fact that all bodies are different sizes?!

Well written post. I love how you always get right to the point, Suebob!

shoesonwrong said...

What I hate so much about fat prejudice is that it inspires something like stockholm syndrome.

Many fat people feel bad that they're fat, as if their fatness is a sign of some moral shortcoming. They feel ashamed and even agree that others should find them repulsive, disgusting, or in some way wanting. They accept the prejudice against them because they think they DESERVE it.

Anonymous said...

I'd read that post ages ago, but hadn't seen her read it. Crying again...THANKS!

You are so right. I think one of the reasons the prejudice goes unchecked is that so many people with weight problems (um, hi!) are judging themselves as much, if not more, than those judging them from afar.

Thanks, people. I've got it all under control. I don't need your extra ire. My negative self-talk has got it all wrapped up. Bye, bye.

j.sterling said...

i love you.

Anonymous said...

Fat is Contagious by Kimberly Brittingham is an amazing essay about the prejudice that she experienced on public transportation in New York City.

It blows my mind that people feel entitled to comment on other people's weight in such hateful ways. It also blows my mind what people consider "fat." Finally, it blows my mind that study after study shows that people who are "overweight" consistently are in better shape than what we currently recognize as medically "healthy." In any other reality, would that not indicate that what we are terming right now clearly is not?

I feel like I am one of the lucky few who managed to lose weight and keep it off, and yet I am consumed by fear that I will some day gain those 40 pounds back. It certainly doesn't help that if I abstain from dessert or whatever, people will often say, "Eat it! It's not like you have to worry about your weight!" Uh huh. Then if I eat it and gain the weight back, I'm a fat slug who should not eat dessert. It a no-win situation.

grace said...

I've gotten a bit of fat-hate trollage since I started posting about trying to lose weight. It's amazing to me that people still think that's OK. Thanks for posting this, Suebob--gave me just the ass-kick I needed to start watching the recordings of the key notes. God I wish I had been there.

SUEB0B said...

@will You can say THAT again.

Dave and Paula said...

Sorry, I don't think fat prejudices are acceptable, and obviously no one that reads your blog does either.
I think you hit the nail on the head with "lazy". I think that is what people use as a means to be ugly and demeaning, not a "fat prejudice". And it seems that laziness is not just attached to "fat" people, but to any person they need an excuse to hold in distain.
And to Will, I'd get a sex life, but I am too lazy!

J said...

I honestly don't think healthy people forget to eat. They have their own issues.

Prejudice against fat people is a pet peeve of mine. My mom stopped eating when she had her heart attack, and was diagnosed with anorexia caused by depression. But because she was fat, no one really seemed to care that she lost 60 lbs in 3 months. They just said, hopefully she won't gain it back, and ignored the fact that she wasn't getting the nutrition her body very much needed to heal. Ugh.

Heidi said...

Wow that is amazing. I forwarded it to my mother. My husband eats one meal a day (just posted on this) and it kills me to remind him I am hungry 3xs a day (sometimes more). Imperative to give little girls (and older girls) the courage to be themselves and be happy with whoever they are!

Anonymous said...

Amen to everything you just said.

meno said...

i wonder when in the future this prejudice will be just as frowned upon as prejudice against gay people.


i know it's coming, but it's soooo slow.

Swistle said...

I know, right? It's not okay to say, "You know, just use LESS heroin. Just CONTROL yourself. You just have to USE LESS, it's perfectly simple. Well, fine, if you don't WANT to get off heroin..."

Green-Eyed Momster said...

Food's the only drug I haven't quit!
I'm just as guilty of being prejudice though, I hate mean people. I hate trolls.
I can't help myself!
I want to round them up and vote them off the island!


Julie Marsh said...

This is such a hot-button issue for me, raising two girls. We don't talk about fat, we don't talk about fattening food, we don't disparage our bodies - or anyone else's.

We talk about being healthy, being active, being happy. And we talk about what we love about other people.

Here's hoping it can overcome all the external messages that will bombard them.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I've been struggling with my weight ever since I was 14. The scary thing (and Y addresses this) is that most of the time I wasn't even fat.

I don't know why we torture ourselves.

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