Fat-shaming and bigotry

Look. It’s been said that fat-shaming is the last socially acceptable form of bigotry.It’s not quite true; I suspect the ‘last’ form will be ‘personality-shaming’ aimed at those with personality ‘disorders’– but fat-shaming IS bigotry. Body-weight is deeply linked with the idea of ‘bad’ in American minds. Look at any discussion of body-positive models and you’ll see not just mockery and derision but outright rage that anybody dare try to to present fat people as healthy, attractive, okay in any way. Being fat isn’t just considered unhealthy for an individual (as well as a sign of laziness, gluttony and poor moral fiber), it’s considered unhealthy for a society. A good portion of you reading this are probably thinking, “Yes, but it IS unhealthy to be fat. They really should do something about it. There’s an obesity epidemic!” Well. There’s an argument to be had there and other people are having it, so I won’t. I’ll just point out that to be fat (perhaps especially a fat woman, but men get this too) is to be _surrounded_ by media that tells me how worthless I am: how little I can expect to accomplish and how my failures are all my own fault for being bad. Even a mildly overweight (by some standard) person being criticized will inevitably have their weight criticized too. And while some people will argue with that, more agree quietly (or vocally) with it. Being fat is wrong. Let’s all lose weight. Every good person can, and will.

I’m bad, I’m worthless, I’m ugly, I’m lazy, I’m a failure and I’m fat. If you care about me, I bet it hurts you to read me saying those things about myself… even “I’m fat.” Think about that. Do you want to say, “Oh, you’re not….” That’s the cultural bigotry at work. I hate calling myself fat. I’ve got the cultural bigotry too. It tells me to hate myself and oh, when it comes to my body, my special body that only rarely gets sick and never gets fevers, I do hate myself. I want to be thin more than I want to be healthy. And every time I see somebody’s weight criticized by strangers, those negative connections are reinforced. For me, and for everybody who reads them.

Fat-shaming is bigotry. “Oh, but it’s different.” “Oh, but it’s their choice.” “Oh, but they’re so bad for society.” “Oh, but it’s a disease and they should be helped.” Really? I feel like I’ve heard all that before.

*

For the last three years, we’ve had “Women Destroy Science Fiction,” “Queers Destroy Science Fiction,” and “People of Color Destroy Science Fiction” run wildly successful Kickstarters. Next year we get “People with Disabilities Destroy Science Fiction.” Do you think in 2018, we’ll get “Fat People Destroy Science Fiction”? I suspect not. Alas. Maybe someday.

(Probably a few years after people stop thinking a ‘low-fat’ diet is the right choice. The govt, recommendations have changed but society has already been poisoned that way…)

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