Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A barage of fatphobia

I think, sometimes, that those of us in the fat-o-sphere (the fat blog-o-sphere) who stand up against sizism and fatphobia and promote body acceptance often are seen as people who can handle any type of bigotry, people who are secure and confident and impenetrable. While I do like to think of myself as a confident person since opening my eyes to the world of body acceptance, everyone can still be hurt by those mean and awful comments, looks, jeers, and behaviors that are so common. I don't want anyone to think that I'm a rock, that things don't hurt me. They do- they shouldn't as it comes from sheer ignorance and immaturity of unquestioning minds, but they do.

Halloween was a great time. I took my son trick or treating. He was a super hero; I made the cape and mask myself in the colors he asked for. This may be the first Halloween he remembers. One a social networking site I posted a quick journal entry which said how happy I was that he had so much fun. It was maybe half a dozen sentences in a single paragraph. Now, anyone can comment on your journal if you so allow even if they're not on your list- and I had always managed disrespectful comments in the past by simply deleting them and there were very few problems.

However....

Somehow this simple paragraph attracted a disproportionate amount of attention (my other posts rarely got comments) and over the coarse of a single day I ended up with over 130 comments of sheer hatred and bigotry. One person even took it upon themselves to post "you are a pig" in every single journal post I'd ever written- then again once I deleted them. There were threats of physical violence and all of the disgusting and ignorant assumptions about my diet and lifestyle that we've all experienced along with the typical insults.

I managed to stay flustered though irritated through the first 30 comments, but soon I was overwhelmed by a panicky feeling- we all know that feeling. Like you're surrounded by a ring of bullies ready to pelt you with stones.. or even bricks (something I've actually had happen to me before but it makes a wonderful analogy as well). A few of the more mild comment included:

"HUMANS ARE NOT COWS EVEN THOUGH YOU LOOK LIKE ONE."

"What do you eat to get so fat?"

"the way she is a pig is much worse than just the bloated unexercised body."

And I'm not kidding when I say these were the nice comments. Ultimately I had to ban commenters from every single journal entry I'd made on that site. A few days later when I tried to login to blogger to write this post I found I had to verify everything because there was suspicious activity on my account- perhaps a coincidence but I don't think so as I did link to this blog from my profile. People feel the need to attack when they feel insecure- we all know this, yet it's hard to keep in mind when you are in the middle of an attack. Certainly fat people are one of the last groups which is socially acceptable to attack and abuse.

In a hotel lobby this past weekend, in a news story covering a race to fight childhood obesity, a woman claimed one of her biggest reasons for participating was that fat children were more likely to experience mental and emotional problems. Instead of simply addressing the problem of abuse from bullies, her solution was to blame the victim- to ask them to change. It's like asking the gay kid to just act more straight instead of actually telling kids homophobia is wrong (ditto with transphobia which is often tied in to that kind of bullying).

A few years ago I never would have seen myself fighting a civil rights battle. Like most young people I thought the bulk of civil rights issues were over. But then, I never realized what I went through wasn't my fault, that it was discrimination, and that my view of the world was completely and utterly wrong. With years come knowledge, and unfortunately that includes the realization that human rights are being violated every day- for the LGBTQI community, for minorities, for children, for the disabled... and yes, for fat people. For most people, even for human rights activists, sizism isn't even on the table as a valid form of oppression and discrimination- we have to get it on the table. Our fight has only just begun- but it's getting better and we all have a say in that.

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