There’s something really annoying going on lately. Apparently it’s perfectly okay to make fun of someone, to stereotype them in television, and to use them as the butt of jokes. It’s okay to refuse to hire them, to question their ethics and to claim they are a plague. It’s acceptable to refer to them with derogatory terms and slander them because of who they are. It’s all perfectly acceptable to be prejudiced….as long as the people you are referring to are fat.
I’ve always noticed the slights on television. It’s bothered me but I usually passed it off as ignorance. But lately it’s been much, much worse. The only character it’s okay to say absolutely anything about is the fat character. Sexy Guy on the show meets a Fat Chick…. of course he can’t sleep with that! Someone needs to be made fun of? Where’s the nearest Fatty? Entire episodes of shows are devoted to slamming obese people, and now an entire show that lets people laugh at fat folks just for being fat. It’s gotten worse and it’s become even more acceptable because fat people are a plague, it’s an epidemic, and they’re just so darn unhealthy. Would it be as acceptable if you were pointing out someone’s race, ethnicity, or handicap? I doubt it. The only people even close to being slammed as much are “rednecks”. Heaven forbid you’re both!
And now….this. Really. Go read the link and come back. You can’t even imagine what you’re about to read.
I’ve never watched Mike & Molly. I personally consider it (unseen) to be part of the problem. What’s funnier than a couple of fatties who have to date another fatty they meet at Overeaters Anonymous!?! The fat jokes will practically write themselves! Won’t it be great to laugh at some fatties?!
No. It’s not great. It’s hurtful. If you think we don’t see you laugh at us in public, you are wrong. If you think we don’t see you look at us funny when we sit down, or if we have the courage to eat in public, or if we’re shopping for clothes, you are wrong. If you think we don’t feel like you’re looking in our carts in the grocery store, you are dead wrong. We know that you think we don’t need to eat lunch, can’t imagine what size pants we wear, and expect to see crappy, processed food in our carts. You’re waiting for our chairs to fail, for our fingers to be greasy from mid-afternoon fried chicken, and for us to be lonely cat ladies who can’t find love. You are so wrong.
Not everyone who is obese is unhealthy. Trust me. I am morbidly obese. Sure, I can blame about 40 pounds on fertility drugs. But I come from big stock, big boned people, and I have a metabolic disease that makes my body use food improperly and store it as fat. I also like the occasional junk food. It’s not all genetics, but I am in no way fat only because of my habits. Meanwhile, my blood pressure is fine, my cholesterol is fine, and my blood sugar is outstanding. My heart rate is lovely, and I am pretty much as healthy as a horse. Sure, I have arthritis in my knees, ankles, and hips….I also have it in my shoulders, arms, and hands and they don’t carry my heavy butt around. I am healthy, and I don’t suffer from “fat diseases”. I am not raising your health insurance, and I am not contributing to anything that can hurt you.
I’m also not a food addict. There’s no shame in being an addict, and many people are. I, however, am not. I eat well. We eat very, very little processed food. Less than 20% of our diet (far less, most weeks) is processed in any way. I rarely snack. I avoid sugar like the plague. I am not a lazy, slothful, junk-eating fatty. I am, however, obese, and may always be so.
In no way does that make me a bad person. And it doesn’t make it okay to ridicule me, point and laugh, or blame me for the ills you think obesity causes. It’s not acceptable to be so disgusted with someone you can’t even watch them cross the room. Knowing that someone feels that way about me kills me.
See, I’ve been heavy since I hit puberty. Looking back now I realize that I wasn’t “fat” through school….but I thought I was. I was told by my peers all the time that I was fat and that no one would like me. I was picked on, pointed at, and laughed at. It hurt, every single day. I’ve never been in a public place without thinking that people were staring at me, watching Fatty McFatterson and waiting for her to do something embarrassing. I still struggle with this every day, and feel like I’m being judged whenever I’m in the room with another person. Reading this horrible article and phony apology in Marie Claire just reinforced all of that. Turns out people are watching me, are judging me, are hating me. Because of something that is just part of who I am.
I’m lucky. I have a fabulous husband. He loves me and tells me I’m beautiful. I know that the Lord made me and loves me more than anyone else can because I am just exactly the way He intends for me to be. I don’t need to hear it from anyone else because the only two people who matter have already told me that I am theirs.
If you are fat, heavy, big, fluffy, thick, and obese, know that you are not alone. Know that your worth is not determined by some hateful, prejudiced, shallow woman or people like her. If you are unhealthy, find a way to be healthy. If you are healthy, know that you are okay. We are okay. We are worthwhile, we matter, and we should never be made fun of.
Stand up and be heard. Write to Marie Claire. Demand action. Advocate for obese people. No one deserves to be judged for a handicap or any other reason, and we don’t deserve to be judged based only on weight. If racism, sexism, ageism aren’t acceptable, neither is fattism.