Personal experience with fat hatred

Seems like we FA bloggers think alike. Rio also posted a blog today on the abuse that fat people take in society. I was going to post a comment on her blog, but then it started getting too long.

My comment was basically a collection of all the shitty things people have said to me over the years regarding my fat. It’s a personal take on the blog I just posted prior to this one. Most of the comments I can’t even remember anymore. They get too be too much and too many and too overwhelming. It goes a little something like this.

From the Parents:
*You shouldn’t be mad at your mom for not buying you those pants because you looked like a fat cow in them.
*I don’t know why you think you can walk around here in that bathing suit. You look awful.
*Fatty, fatty two-by-four, couldn’t fit through the bedroom door.
*It looked like you’ve lost some weight! You didn’t block out the sun when you got into my car this afternoon.
*How much of that are you going to eat?
*You gained 16 pounds this year. What’s wrong with you?

From Kids at School:
*One kid made that noise that big trucks make when backing up. It’s called the “back-alarm.”
*One kid asked me out as a joke. I didn’t date anyone ever for the rest of school, convinced they were all asking me out as a joke.
*One entire year, a kid decided to rename me Big Bertha.

From People on the street:
*Two teenage boys, when I was 24, saw me in a parking lot and called out the window: Move it, you fat whale!

I was most shocked by the teenage boys. At 24, I was fully an adult, and thought I had outaged the taunting based on my weight. Apparently not. Most commentary I receive now (and at that time) comes in the form of street harrassment: men honking at me, men telling me I have a nice ass, men asking for my number, men asking if I have a man. That comment actually almost pushed me over the edge. I had a baseball bat in my car and I almost smashed out those fuckers windows, I had been so fed up with the commentary on my body after years and years. True story.

I didn’t though. I wished I would have. The headlines would have been great. Fat Woman is Mad As Hell and Isn’t Taking It Anymore.

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23 Comments

  1. Karen said,

    March 19, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    You know the headline would have been “Fat Makes You Violent.” Women everywhere would have been breaking down the doors at Weight Watchers so they could prove that they weren’t like that, they aren’t violent, they aren’t mean, they’re good girls who want to Do It Right. Men would have been, “jeez, fat women can’t even take a compliment. See why we hate you?”

  2. Karen said,

    March 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    And it occurs to me (now that I’ve hit the button) to make sure I state “And that’s what’s wrong with it all,” for fear someone would think I meant to bash you about it. It is supposed to be an example of how messed up things are, not how they should be.

  3. thoughtracer said,

    March 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Oh, the comment about having a man didn’t almost push me over the edge. The comment about “move it you whale” almost did. Although, yes, I do know that as a fat woman, I should be inexorably grateful that anyone is bothering to notice me at all.

  4. Colin said,

    March 19, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Oh, street harassment. I could write an entire blog post about that, if it were related at all (in my life) about weight, etc.

    But yo, if anyone tries to convince you that there’s no such thing as male privilege, send ’em my way and I’ll tell them what a privilege it is to walk down a street at night, take public transportation at 2am, go to the fucking grocery store without feeling like I’m constantly under attack.

  5. Robbie said,

    March 19, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I was totally shocked and taken aback recently.

    My husband and I took our kids to a park in the community we just transfered to, tomorrow will be a week in the new town.

    While in the park I set my hand on a railing with “HATE ON THE FATTIES” on it. So wrong on so many levels, but only slightly less subtle then most of the fat phobia my kids are force fed daily.

  6. thoughtracer said,

    March 19, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Surely, you have all seen these? People have them on cars around here.

  7. thoughtracer said,

    March 19, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Colin, I would write a post about street harassment if I were you, from the trans perspective. It would be interesting to hear about.

  8. Sandy said,

    March 19, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    You know…it never ceases to amaze me how people…family/parents…who are supposed to love you unconditionally and want only your happiness will stoop so low as to make fat jokes about you. No wonder you have had issues with EDs.

    As far as people on the street…well…People feel it is ok to be mean and rude to those they don’t know because they will never see that person again. And usually the people that do that are the ones who are most insecure in themselves and their lives. I usually just pity them.

  9. Nan said,

    March 19, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Ditto what Sandy said. The people who feel the need to be so mean and rude are generally people who are so insecure and have so little sense of self that yelling insults at strangers is the only way they can think of to prove to themselves they actually exist.

  10. thoughtracer said,

    March 19, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I do agree with that, Nan and Sandy. But what about the people that I talk about here? Which is the post just prior to this blog? What do we do about them? The “sticks and stones” philosophy can be somewhat helpful, until you realize that some people actually have dehumanized you to the point of threatening violence.

  11. Cindy said,

    March 19, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    My least favorite:

    “But you have SUCH a pretty face!”

    I don’t. I have the sort of face that would make a train back up and take a dirt road. You’re just trying to soften the blow and I don’t effin’ care. When I hear that, I go temporarily deaf.

  12. lillian64 said,

    March 19, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    You don’t have to be ‘fat’ for people to make comments like that to you. My father and grandmother abused me for being fat. My doctors and nurses have insulted me and gave me those 1200 calorie diets handouts. Strangers have yelled things at me from the their car or walking by. You just have to be heavier than the standard that somebody else subscribes to.

  13. lillian64 said,

    March 19, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I forgot about all the awful things my classmates called me and how I was treated as the token fat girl.

  14. Godless Heathen said,

    March 19, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I find that fewer people say the “pretty face” comment to a woman with a buzz cut. Somewhere deep in their lizard brain a random neuron of sense starts firing that says I just might not be interested in decorating their little world.

    Street harassment is effing scary, nothing like some yahoos shouting at you out of a car window to activate your adrenaline. The worst part is when you don’t have anything to duck behind in case they throw a beer bottle at you. Anyone who thinks it’s a compliment to scare the shit out of random women has something wrong with them.

    The worst thing I’ve had happen was a pack of 18-20 year old guys corner me in a mall because I didn’t respond to one of their friends’ witty attempts to pick on the fat girl by hitting on her. Mind you, I had a good 8 years on most of them, but they had height and numbers against me. I ended up hiding in the ladies room of my husband’s store until it was time for him to get off work.

    Oh, and some wit who played the tuba in my high school marching bad thought that “Jabba the Hutt’s Theme” should be my personal soundtrack. Effer didn’t even play it all that well.

  15. thoughtracer said,

    March 19, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Yes. When I had no hair, I did not get the pretty face comment either. Which is a stupid comment. A pretty face is a pretty face. What does it have to do with the rest of the body? And further more, who said I give a fuck about being pretty in the first place? Who said I wanted that to be the measure of my worth? And what is pretty? Who decides that?

    My grandma once said to me: You’d be so pretty if you lost weight. What does that even mean? That my arms aren’t pretty? That my belly isn’t pretty? I don’t even get it.

    Godless Heathen: Who cares if you had 8 years on them. There was a pack. And yes, they were a pack, acting in pack behavior, fucking animals. There’s nothing you can do when a group of people has numbers on you, even if it’s actual kids.

  16. Rachel said,

    March 19, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I have found that the comments get especially nasty when you rebuff any attempts at hitting on you. You can almost read it on their faces: “Oh my god, a fat chick won’t take me, I must be scum.” They have to then compensate by saying or doing the rudest thing amaginable. Sometimes I just want to say, Look asshole, I know you’re amazed that I have self esteem, probably because you have none, but back the fuck off!

  17. AnnieMcPhee said,

    March 19, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    For what it’s worth, my favorite doll of all time was Big Beautiful Bertha – she was a huge rag doll that you could dance with, and she protected me at night by sleeping next to me (she was as tall as me.) I’m sorry, I know it’s a painful memory for you, but when I hear Big Bertha I only think of her. Sigh.

  18. Patsy Nevins said,

    March 19, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    I am so sorry that anyone has to deal with this. I have endured a lot of abuse in public, on the streets & in school, over the course of my life, but virtually ALL of it has been directed at my disability. I walk the streets every day of my life, running errands & just getting exercise, & I have been hit on by strange men on occasion, but only one ever said anything size-related, ironically enough over 30 years ago when I was just out of a compulsive exercise/diet phase & weighed maybe 150-155 (at 5’6″, my highest weight in high school, btw.) Some jackass I didn’t know from Adam was lounging against the hood of a car as I walked by him (& I should point out that I have a very noticeable limp, the disability is impossible to miss, & the way I walk throws my belly outward, also that in our family we have, at whatever size, fairly large, round bellies) & he commented, “You need to go on a diet.” I said nothing & kept on walking, but of course at that time in my life, I agreed with him & felt shamed, because I had been shamed all my life by my father & then my husband about my ‘gut’. But what in HELL gives people the idea that they have the right to make such remarks to total strangers & why does our culture seem to instill in many men the belief that they have a right to pass judgment on EVERY woman’s body & expect every woman to meet their personal standards?

    Honestly, though, in my own case, the ignorant, hateful (& I am sure mostly fear-driven {as in, if this could happen to her, maybe it could happen to me}) bullshit which has been dumped on me because of my disability has been almost all of what I have been subjected to by strangers. As for my dysfunctional family, particularly my godawful parents & most especially my monster of a father, the list is endless.

  19. lanphuong said,

    March 19, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Where we tonight shall camp?….The top blogs of the day. the newest report , see and reply me some comments. Thanks.

  20. Bri said,

    March 19, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    This post and others like it have made me realise that I have been pretty lucky in the fat abuse stakes. Primary school was hell, high school had its moments but since then I have had only a few people taunt out loud me about my weight. Perhaps it has happened more often than that (particularly when I was out at clubs etc) and I have just tuned it out. But I can’t recall any particularly traumatic abuse from strangers in a long time. And I am not an in-betweenie, I am definitely a Fatty McFatterson. I am thankful I haven’t had to endure that sort of abuse as an adult because I do remember how awful it was when I was a kid and it was happening.

  21. Sandy said,

    March 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Thoughtracer…I still feel that anyone that would abuse anyone or dehumanize anyone still has their own self issues…they feel they must do these things or say these things to make themselves feel superior…the only thing you can do keep up the FA movement and maybe one day (sooner rather than later) it will unacceptable for people to continue the behavior.

    At the moment, it is acceptable to treat those of size as nothing more than trash. It used to be the same way with women and people of color as well. Somehow though, they persevered and are now getting to the point that you cannot treat someone like trash because of race or gender…finally there are laws in place. The system isn’t perfect…but I do believe it is a start is teaching the younger generations that you can’t treat people that way.

    To me, Fat Acceptance is a Civil Rights issue…just like racism and feminism. Just like the black guy down the street has the right to walk down said street without being humiliated, harrased, etc…just like the woman has the right to hold or not to hold a high paying job and choose what she wants to do with her body…Fat People deserve the right to walk in public without harassment, without shame, and without humiliation. FA like Homosexuality is one of the newest CR issues that we are struggling to get off the ground and educate people.

    It doesn’t matter if fat is (or isn’t) healthy…smoking isn’t healthy and yet you don’t see smokers being threatened with rape and murder because they choose to do it. Fat isn’t a choice…why should fat people be treated as such but smokers aren’t? Because smoking is accepted. Fat bashing is accepted. Gay bashing is accepted.

    The only way to change things…is to work (like the FA movement is already doing!) to make it UNACCEPTABLE. You have to hit society where it counts and pass laws to make it unacceptable and make it a hate crime for such things so people will be less likely to open their big mouths or actually injure someone mentally or physically. Pass laws against cyberbullying/harrasment so people may not be as willing to let their fingers fly across a keyboard willy nilly.

    It will take a while…just like all CR movements…but it can be done. It may not help US out…but it will help out the future generations.

  22. Christina said,

    May 12, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Thoughtracer…re: the “No Fat Chicks” bumper stickers. I want to make a little sticker that says “Black” and put it over the word fat. I’d bet good money they’d never notice and it would earn them the verbal asskicking they so desperately need.

  23. Velma said,

    August 12, 2008 at 1:43 am

    I think these types of behaviors from men point to something even more disturbing.

    It is the idea that a woman’s ONLY value in life is as a sex object, therefore, any woman who is not sexually appealing is worthless — whether she is fat or old. Further, it has now become acceptable for men to treat women who are not valued as sex objects with hostility and violence, as if they are not even human.

    But what is the most troubling is that women feed into this practice.


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