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How to Argue with a Fat Loather

(or: how to survive the holidays, family, and work as a fat activist)

Size activists are often put upon by trolls, ‘concerned’ friends and family, devout healthist employees and the like, who make it their urgent business to disillusion us happy cows as to our cow-icity. They make vague future death threats, evo-psych abstractions about how fat equals fewer erections and hence is objectively bad for the race, and how they saw a fat person once who wore a crop top that exposed her rolly middle and hence BAM! all fat people are delusional liars.

Their world is rife with wandering monstrosities of muffin-top and jiggly arms, made even more frightening when those same jelly bellies join the mating pool. And of course, we must think of the children, who are being force-fed donuts and video games at alarming and increasing rates until, you know, WALL-E. And the trolls don’t want to lose their bone density, see. It’s all the fault of the fatties and their fatty culture of sin.

Sadly, these angsty fellows and fellas are a higher percentage of the population than can be comfortably laughed at. They also come by their misinformation with usually no particular malicious intent, and their invectives are backed by the power of over 300,000 blinding suns—er, fat-hating messages a year. That level of propaganda is full-out cultural penetration. It’s like being an atheist in medieval Europe. You’ve got three options: shut the hell up, pretend to agree and privately subvert, or prepare for the guillotine.

Shut the Hell Up

This one’s a daily practice for many an enlightened fatty, and comes in several forms. My favorite form is to live life the way you would if you were thin(ner) while directing an extended third finger at the heckling crowd. When you come upon the twisted specter of discrimination, avoid it. Fighting a person bombarded with over 300,000 fat-hating messages a year is often an exercise in futility, leaving each party drained and the fat-loather further convinced of his paranoid vision of impending fat doom. Your links are never read, and the smallest particle of flab on your person disqualifies you from serious opposition, like having a fat body is a conflict of interest in arguing for fat rights.

  • Pros: Peace, time to do things other than be an activist, keeping your ideals intact and unchallenged, setting an example for the open-minded, keeping your friends and family as they are.
  • Cons: Guilt, a sense of disconnect from the community, wondering whether or not you could do more good through direct activism, missing the thrill of vanquishing a troll, allowing fat-hating people in your life unchallenged (unless you decide to avoid them altogether).

Pretend to Agree, but Privately Subvert

This one’s sneakier and comes with ethical difficulties. It’s not for the faint-of-heart. This is when you smile and nod over a coworker’s tireless talk-up of his regimen of Splenda-flavored air after you’ve pinned an HAES flyer to the company bulletin board. Or when you get a medical degree in which you’re forced to agree with the prevailing theory of fat (where ill-health is a function of fat-related hormonal overflow and weight loss is a viable prescription) in order to graduate, though you plan to start a kick-ass HAES practice upon graduation. Or when you massage the language of a grant proposal so it seems like you’re toeing the ‘obesity epidemic’ line though your research may very well show there is no such thing as the obesity epidemic, as such.

  • Pros: You’re a sheep in the wolf’s den, dressed as wolf.
  • Cons: You’re a sheep in the wolf’s den, for chrissake!

Prepare for the Guillotine

And in such a way activists are born, running from an angry mob nipping at their heels, into another angry mob waving firebrands and pitchforks.

There’s no escaping the 100% penetration of fat-loathing propaganda. It’s not just the pitter-patter of hate-droplets on a misty October morning, it’s the thud of golf-ball-sized hate-hailstones into you, your prized possessions, and everything/body you love. Those fat activists who prepare for the guillotine are out in that storm, bearing down under its destruction, that they might see a patch of blue sky in their lifetimes.

  • Pros: The thrill of the maybe-martyr, being able to live by one’s principles (loudly), likely changing a lot of lives with a hit blog, book deal, performance, article, or study.
  • Cons: Maybe martyrdom, hate mail, the very real danger of being stalked or receiving death threats, being seen as a whacko for holding non-mainstream views and hence having a difficult time getting conventional jobs/academic positions.

Your Turn: How do you argue with fat loathers?

Author’s Note: Certainly there are multi-faceted, nuanced and complex approaches to size activism not included in this largely (ha!) humorous post. I hope you enjoyed it anyway.

The Edmonton Staging System: Post 2, Discussion | A Respite of Beauty and a Balm for the Fat Soul

worrier November 24th, 2011 | Link | I just love the way you put

I just love the way you put things. You left out another thing we have to fight against though, the fat haters have the full backing of medical professionals and governments of most, if not all, western countries. "It’s like being an atheist in medieval Europe". It's like being an atheist in medieval Europe and your fellow villagers have started to make accusations of witchcraft against you, and you're afraid they're going to send for the witchfinder general.

My approach has mostly been the shut the hell up approach, with occasionally pointing out little facts that I hope stay in people's minds and make them think. I see it as the only way I can continue to survive psychologically and remain in employment.

Alyssa November 25th, 2011 | Link | Coping with Fat Loathers

All are viable responses depending upon personal preferences and circumstances. I would add my own approach: Choose your battles carefully. There are times where it makes sense (to me at least) to speak up and other times where it doesn't. On a related note: how to cope with fat-hating relatives, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers at holiday-related events. My response (again for myself): Don't. I stopped spending holidays and related events with fat haters many years ago. No explanation is necessary to such people when they extend invitations, except, for example, I have other plans. I concluded years ago that life is too short to spend my free time with these type of people. The stress of doing so is much more likely to shorten my life than my weight.

pani113's picture
November 26th, 2011 | Link | Social Media

As far as friends and family during the holidays, social media can be a great help. This past week I linked several articles dealing with loving one's body and dealing with food nags on my FB. I stayed home with my new dog and we celebrated together. However, I certainly hope my links, along with my own commentary on how dysfunctional food police can ruin the holidays helped SOMEONE out there. A great way to be proactive even before the gatherings start!

"Fat can be beautiful. Intolerance is ALWAYS ugly!"

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