I hesitated to write this blog. I’ve actually been sleeping on it for the last three nights – not well, may I add.
I hesitated because for the last four or five days, I’ve been in the trenches with a pervasive and persistent amount of fatphobic trolls. And I’m kind of tired. Not to mention stressed.
I hesitated, but I’ve made my decision. I’m not going to hesitate. I’m going to say it.
If you hate someone for the way they look, you’re an asshole.
Strong words? Maybe. True words? Certainly. And how do I know? Well, I’ve been dealing with a bunch of them – me, and a number of proud fat women on Twitter. And I can’t speak for the rest of them, but I certainly can speak for me. I’m done trying to explain, trying to garner respect, and trying to prove my points. Now, it’s block and move on.
This all started four days ago when the hashtag #NotYourGoodFatty was created on Twitter by Amanda Levitt (@FatBodyPolitics). Fat people from around the world started tweeting about how we feel when we are systematically discriminated against and treated like we’re sub-human by society because of the way we look. So many good things were said. So many empowering things were said. Because we’re done with ducking our heads and taking it. We’re done with being dehumanized because we’re fat. Even the unhealthiest person in the world deserves basic dignity and respect – and many fat people are far from unhealthy.
In fact, there are entire gyms that are based around helping fat people exercise and empower themselves in a comfortable, supportive way. Louise Green, owner of the franchise Body Exchange, a gym that caters to all body types and helps to empower women to feel their best, is one such woman that I am privileged to know. But she’s not here to prove to you that fat people are healthy and able to exercise. I’m not here to do that, either. I’m here to talk about the inherent fear around fatness that seems to be plaguing our society.
One of my Twitter friends, Ali (@Artists_Ali), experienced a rash of trolls when she posted about her frustration with plus sized clothing. This is a frustration I share with her – because it’s hard to shop for clothes when you’re not a conventional size, and it shouldn’t be. Her tweet got reposted to Reddit and she started to experience abusive tweets and behaviour, with one troll even going so far to create a “satire” account using her name and profile picture, for the sole purpose of posting fatphobic tweets under her name to make fun of her and make her feel sub-human. Twitter suspended the troll account initially, but brought it back with the excuse that if an account profile includes the word “satire” in it, it cannot be suspended.
While this is an extreme example of trolling, I’d like to talk about some of the comments I received in response to some of the fat-positive tweets I posted, and to some of the fat- and body-positive articles I’ve posted. They’ve ranged from “Enjoy your early death from diabetes and high blood pressure” to “Fat people can never admit that they’re the problem” to “Fat is ugly, this is not up for debate”. And maybe it’s our society that takes place mostly online, or maybe it’s the fact that the loudest people always seem to be the most assholish, but I’m kind of sick of being told that just because I’m fat, I don’t deserve the same respect the rest of society gets, and that I need to enjoy “my early death”.
Who wishes death on people? What kind of person do you have to be to do such a thing to someone you don’t know?
Sadly, this isn’t my first go-round with anonymous trolls, and it probably won’t be my last. But the point I’m making today – the point I think all of the people who posted their lived experiences under the #NotYourGoodFatty hashtag would probably agree with – is that if you expect we’re going to lie down and take your comments, that we’re going to immediately shed weight and act the way you feel we should, that we care one iota about your prejudices and your bigotry –
You’re wrong. We’re not. We’re not going to take it.
Because it takes all kinds to be an asshole, but it only takes one voice raised up to change attitudes and to demand respect.
We are those voices. Get used to it. Fat people deserve respect. We will never stop screaming it out from the rooftops.
Come at us. Go ahead.