I Have a Question

As many people have, I’ve read what happened to Kevin Smith (aka Silent Bob) with Southwest Airlines.  If you’ve not yet heard, there are some very good write ups here, here, here, a report from Nightline here…  You know what?  It’s all over the place, so I’m sure you can find more about it.

The thing that comes up a lot in the comments (especially the Salon.com article), is the whole “put down the fork, you are choosing to be fat” routine.

So, here’s my question to everybody who believes that fatties are choosing this:  Why the hell would we?  No, really?  Why the hell would we choose to be discriminated against, humiliated, made fun of, not be allowed the same privileges as others (oh, wait, that is the definition of discriminated against, my bad)?  Why would we choose to love and care for our children and yet be accused of abusing them just because they happen to be fat?  Why would we choose to have to brave the disgusted looks when we take our fat selves to the gym (where nobody believes we go, anyway), to the store (where people think they can tell us just what we are doing wrong with our lives by looking in our cart — I swear, I can have all fresh vegetables and fruit in the cart, and one half gallon of ice cream, and because the ice cream is there people know exactly why I am fat), or just out for a walk, getting some exercise on nice days?

Why would we choose to have to deal with the assholes out there who moo at us from cars (when we are trying to enjoy that walk outside on a nice summer day), or have strangers interrupt our nice meal with a loved one to tell us what we are doing wrong in eating?  Why would we choose to sit on a plane next to somebody who cringes away from us because they are so disgusted with our body type?  Or worse, why would we choose to get on a plane, just to be pulled off it because we are “too fat” and it’s a “security issue” for the rest of the people on the plane?

To get into the more extreme side of this, why would we choose to be blamed for everything from global warming to the world wide economic crisis?

I mean, really?  We choose this, do we?

Considering all the things that a lot of fat people have to put up with regularly (and none of the above examples are hyperbole, all of this and more has happened to fat people around the globe), tell me again just why we would choose this?

Oh, I forgot, don’t go throwing logic into the mix.  Haters don’t operate on logic.  They operate on hate.  Sorry, my bad.  Now that we all know that what you haters are saying is completely illogical, we can proceed from there.  As in, I can proceed to ignore your hate driven message as much as possible, and push back whenever I have to.  Cuz really?  This isn’t a lifestyle.  And I might be breaking a FA rule here, but let me tell you something:  If there was any way possible for me to be skinny and NOT have to face the above ever again?  I’d be there in a heartbeat.  I’d CHOOSE to not be discriminated against, abused, made fun of, and humiliated.

But since this isn’t a lifestyle for me, and I can’t choose to be fat (or skinny), I instead choose to love myself for who and what I am.  And loving myself does mean that I WILL go out in public and tell you to shut up when you think you can abuse me.  I will continue to exercise like I am, not because you demand it, but because it makes me feel good when I do (endorphin release for the win!).  I will continue to eat whatever I want to because I can afford it, it tastes good, and it nourishes my body AND my emotions.  And I will also continue to ignore you haters whenever you think you can shame me into not enjoying my life to the fullest.

10 Responses

  1. I can’t find it at the moment, but there’s a good post about the would-i-choose-to-be-skinny-if-i-could thing at The Rotund, where she says basically the same thing: Sure, it would be great to not be discriminated against and harassed for my fat body BUT as this is reality and not Magic-Wand Land, I choose to not contribute to the fat hate, by accepting and loving myself and being an FA activist. And also recognising that being thin won’t protect you from *all* discrimination or harassment or give you a personality or talent transplant, it would just give you *thin privilege* (as stated in the Fantasy of Being Thin at Shapely Prose).

  2. In spite of everything, I am not sure that I would choose being thin if I could, though, no, I did not make the choice to be fat…it has been made by my genes, combined with aging, menopause, pregnancy, breastfeeding, my body rebounding from compulsive exercise, etc. And I also have cerebral palsy, for which I have dealt with far more abuse than I have for being fat. I have been fortunate not to get a lot of the fat hatred from the world at large, strangers on the street (some people see me regularly walking everywhere & I would like to think that some decide that since I am always walking, it doesn’t make sense to insult me for being a ‘fat, lazy slob’, but, as you mention, plenty of fat people DO get insulted while outside exercising, so perhaps here in Maine there is less overt fat hatred, as well as a decent percentage of fat people), but I have survived plenty of familial abuse, as well as plenty of public abuse for being disabled.

    I cringe when I read some people saying that fat hatred & abuse of fat people is not as bad as the abuse of some other groups because people do not kill fat people for being fat, because that simply is NOT true. Some people have been & are not only emotionally & verbally abused, denied access to good education, employment, clothing, public accommodations, etc., but also physically attacked & abused, in some cases murdered or driven to suicide. I particularly do hate it when someone suggests, as you are discussing, that it is our own fault, that we could do something (other than taking ownership of our bodies & lives & being activists) to end the abuse by getting thin, when, for most of us, getting noticeably thinner…& especially STAYING thinner…is no easier than it is for me to become able-bodied. I didn’t choose to be fat & I didn’t choose to be disabled, but they are both part of who I am & nothing of which to be ashamed or for which to apologize.

    • In spite of everything, I am not sure that I would choose being thin if I could, though, no, I did not make the choice to be fat

      I’d have to agree. I weigh probably 20-30 pounds more than my “natural” weight due to a medication I take, and I could, I suppose, look for an alternative medication if I so desired that didn’t have weight gain as a side effect, which would probably put me squarely into the “just a little overweight” category instead of right on the border between overweight and obese.

      But, I have no desire to do so. For one, the medication works so well I feel like it would be nuts to start messing around with other options just so I could be smaller. For another, I love my body. I think it’s pretty amazing. I’m sitting here feeling the baby my body has grown (and will hopefully be pushing out very soon!) kicking me, and I can’t imagine wanting to have a different body than I do. I don’t know, I guess I’m also not a particularly dualistic person. I don’t feel like, “Here’s me, here’s my body, and I could just stick me into a different body.” To me wishing I had a different body would be like wishing I was a different person, and I’m getting much too old for that. ;)

      So, while I wouldn’t choose to be fat or choose to be fatter if given the choice, I wouldn’t choose to be thin or thinner, either. This is my body, and I wouldn’t change it, even if I didn’t choose it.

  3. Well said, and thank you for saying it so well!

  4. I am in the morbidly obese, or “super obese” category, and even if it makes me a bad fat activist, I would choose in a heartbeat to be thinner, if there were any reasonable possibility that I could. I have always had pretty good self esteem (I know I am awesome and smart and pretty, etc., etc.), but the discrimination and hatred I face very day wears me down.

    I have learned through personal experience that diets don’t work, and exercise doesn’t work, and diets combined with exercise doesn’t work, and “lifestyle changes” don’t work…. so I’m happy to have discovered FA and this online community when I did. Being fat is not a lifestyle; it’s just the way my body is. I don’t hate fat and I don’t hate myself or other fat people. I hate the social stigma and discrimination, and that is the only reason I would change if it were really a choice.

    • I hate the social stigma and discrimination, and that is the only reason I would change if it were really a choice.

      This is what I meant by saying if I had a choice about my body size and shape. If this were a perfect world and no discrimination happened, no social stigma for something I can’t control, well, then I wouldn’t care about being a different size.

  5. I definitely didn’t choose to be fat, and I feel like I am fighting my body by trying to get to an “ideal” weight. Why does it seem to happen so effortlessly for some people and not for people like me?

    People who take time to call names, judge and such are not worth my time, and I do expect equal and fair treatment, regardless of my size.

    With all that said, it is still my decision (and my decision alone) to be as healthy as I can and to live as long as I can.

    Thanks for a great article.

    • It happens effortlessly for some and not for others because people are different. Some can read at age 2, while some have dyslexia and struggle to ever learn. Some can do college level math with ease, while others can barely calculate the tip at a restaurant. Some can throw a ball or shoot an arrow with incredible accuracy the first time they try, others of us (me for instance) can’t hit the broad side of a barn no matter how long and hard we try. None of these differences really surprise anyone, so why are we surprised that we react differently to stuff like diet and exercise. People are different. Very different. That’s why the words “results not typical” are on every ad for every weight loss program under the sun. Those people on the ads are the Albert Einsteins and Thomas Edisons of weight loss. I can try and try, but I will never invent something as cool as the light bulb or even be able to follow general relativity, never mind think it up in the first place. We are who we are and trying to force our brains or bodies to be something they’re not meant to be is, in my experience, a recipe for misery.

      With all that said, it is still my decision (and my decision alone) to be as healthy as I can and to live as long as I can.

      I honor everyone’s right to make any decisions they like about their bodies, but that being said, I do hope you aren’t conflating being healthy and living as long as you can with forcing your weight to a certain number. If you see those as inextricably linked, may I suggest (if you haven’t already read them) books like Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata or Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon? Personally, I was quite surprised to find that a lot of the ‘conventional wisdom’ on what is healthy isn’t quite as wise as it’s cracked up to be.

  6. Oh, I forgot, don’t go throwing logic into the mix. Haters don’t operate on logic.

    Yep.

  7. I read that with a sense of incredulity. I think America has landed on the topic of fatness as the last great “it’s ok to be a dick” topic. But I think it is more complex than that in some ways; America wants to find a “single cause” to be nasty about…instead of looking at the big picture that each life, each human, actually IS. Oddly, I had started a journal post on this topic a week ago—-but was stuttering at how to finish until I read your post here today. (http://walk-of-the-fallen.dreamwidth.org/)

    There are many ways people self-destruct their lives, while pointing at other people as the “problem”. It has nothing to do with logic, and everything to do with feeling safe and “righteous” about oneself. It really is a pitiful thing when the last word comes down to “At least I’m not fat.”

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