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How Society Hates Fat People

They make movies about us and think it’s hilarious that we eat and wear big clothes. Comedians and radio ‘personalities’ find we’re the biggest source of humour because we don’t fight back. When they talk about a large celebrity, the inevitable ‘pig eating’ sound effects emerge in the background, and the entire studio laughs aloud. Fat people are the entertainment subject de jour, and everybody is getting on the bandwagon. All the while, people with weight problems die a little more inside, hating themselves, blaming themselves, and believing all the crap that’s said about them.

Would we treat blind people like that? No, of course not. That’s because blind people aren’t to blame for their blindness. Fat people are their own worst enemy, we are told. It’s their own fault they’re fat, so they need to be shamed into doing something about it. All they need to do is eat healthy food and exercise more. Apparently.

But it goes much deeper than that. In an article from The Age yesterday, writer Natasha Hughes wrote a typically superficial piece about how fat people shouldn’t wear bikinis on the beach. She spoke about the horrifying prospect of having to see all those bellies exposed in the daylight, and how it would ruin a day on the sand. How awful for her.

Still, as facile as her article was, the real action was in the debate which followed, in the comments by readers. What issued forth was little more than a stream of self-righteous, judgemental hatred for fat people. Whenever another reader spoke up in defense of people wearing whatever they liked on the beach, they were immediately put down as ‘obviously a fattie’.

Apart from the outrageous arrogance of these people, I have to wonder – where does all this hatred come from? One woman complained that she gets squashed by fat people on the train. Really? So that’s the cause of your hatred? Wow.

There’s no doubt the debate raged with considerable heat – and I confess, I added my two cents’ worth. I couldn’t help myself. Nothing irritates me more than judgemental behaviour by people who obviously know nothing about the subject, and I said as much.

I was also heartened to so see many overweight people standing up to those comments and pointing out the harsh realities of life carrying extra weight. I sincerely hope that any future hatred like this is greeted in the same way – with strength and compassion.

A hundred years ago it was considered perfectly okay to make fun of a blind person, or a person in a wheelchair, or a black person, or a woman. Nobody would dare such a thing today.

Oh, and while we’re at it – I don’t wear a bikini at the beach, because I’m not really a beach person. But if I wanted to wear a bikini, I would – if only to piss off a few people I know who would hate it! 🙂

Have you experienced this kind of hatred directed at you? What did you do?

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3 Comments

  1. Allegra says:

    If only everyone could practice a little compassion … it’s not like overweight people WANT to be overweight and made the butt of every fat joke out there!

    Not sure if this counts – but I have experienced the reverse kind of hatred. Back in my very early twenties, when I was a wee bit smaller, a significantly bell to pear shaped woman at my place of work at the time constantly jibed at me for being the size that I was … merely because she could not attain it herself. It wasn’t just the occasional passive glance of glowering hatred either … it was that AND verbal attacks, despite the fact that I had done nothing to her to encourage this behaviour – other than being myself.

    It was quite awful and in the end was one of the reasons I moved on from that job.

    1. Mackenzie says:

      That’s awful. I wonder if it made her feel good to do that – because obviously, it made you feel bad. And that’s the thing I think people who perpetuate this kind of bullying don’t understand. When you say bad things to people, it makes them feel bad. How is that going to help them – if helping is indeed what they’re trying to do. How about we tell people they are loved and accepted regardless of what weight they are and let them alone to deal with the weight issue unhindered and unbullied. Just for a change.

  2. Di says:

    I was equally horrified by the “article” and comments that followed it and also blogged my thoughts about it here: http://buffiness.com/2010/09/the-fat-debate/