A Fat Catch 22

Diets don’t work.  There is currently no known way to achieve long term weight loss for the majority of fat people. 

Fat people can achieve health benefits from being active (such as lowering blood pressure, improving glucose levels, etc.).

Many fat people are not willing to participate in public activities because they fear (with good cause) being treated with disrespect and abuse.

 Many fat people do not participate in certain activities because the clothing and/or equipment that fits is not available.

 Many fat people are not active because they have joint problems – which the healthcare professionals will not treat because the patients are too fat. 

And if a fat person is able and willing to face the problems associated with being active, while they may achieve health benefits these benefits may be achieved with no change in weight – so the fruits of their efforts go unrecognized and unapplauded – often even by healthcare professionals; certainly by the health insurance companies.

I know there is something to be said for self-satisfaction; but that only goes so far, you know?

Society makes it difficult for the fat person to be active, society does not reward the fat person for being active, and then society wonders why fat people aren’t more active – must be because we’re so lazy!

Is this how society perpetuates stereotypes?  By creating circumstances that tend to enforce the behavior the stereotype is based on?  This just occurred to me – and it feels right.  Anybody out there study sociology or anthropology?

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10 thoughts on “A Fat Catch 22

  1. Never studied either, but it feels right to me. I’m sure there are cases where it doesn’t apply, but for most of the negative stereotypes I can think of offhand one could at least make a case for further study of the premise.

  2. It didn’t seem all that weak when I landed in the hospital a few years back because someone chucked a bottle into my head while screaming at me to get my fat ass off the couch and exercise.

    I was riding my bike at the time.

    And it doesn’t seem all that weak of an argument when I’m cleaning spit and soda and garbage out of my hair because I made the mistake of walking or biking down a public street too near a highly traveled road… which happened four times last summer.

    It definitely doesn’t seem that weak of an assumption any of the five times I was shopping for a sports bra last summer and found that they don’t come in anything higher than a C cup unless you special order them… and my chest isn’t even that large.

    And last month, when I went into a local bike shop to get some chain oil in advance of the weather warming up and I can start riding again, when the cashier informed me as I came in that they don’t carry anything that can hold my weight? It didn’t seem too much like a weak argument.

    How about the dozen or so times in the last year when I was walking into, out of, or around a store and someone felt the need to make MOO and OINK noises at me? Or pretend that the earth was shaking with every step? Pretty sure I wasn’t imagining those being negative reactions.

    Ah and who can forget the time I stopped with my husband at an ice cream store last August, and a woman with her child did the oh so subtle whisper loud enough that she might as well have shouted, “this is why you could only have diet ice cream, otherwise you will look like her and nobody will ever love you”.

    How about the pool pass we purchased two years ago which I have never used, because the first time I walked into the pool area someone yelled “get the harpoons, I just spotted a whale”? Was I just imagining that that made me feel like complete and utter shit and that I’d rather hide in my house than ever experience that again?

  3. Sorry, didn’t notice you’d deleted the concern troll… feel free to delete my diatribe there, or leave it up as an example of the kind of stuff that you’re talking about. Either or 🙂

  4. I firmly believe that these behaviours are exhibited by people who long for someone to feel superior to, and fat people are the ones they’ve decided to use for that purpose.

    Personally, I find it pretty pathetic that anyone would need to put another person down to raise themselves up.

    Erin S – I am so sorry you have experienced these things, as have I. I’m so sorry that any of us experience them.

  5. Is this how society perpetuates stereotypes? By creating circumstances that tend to enforce the behavior the stereotype is based on?

    Yep, it’s like a self fulfilling prophesy. They’ve prophesied fat=bad and want to believe it that forms a drive to make this manifest. Fat people are not the only ones they do this to its a general technique to make ‘real’ false constructs of superiority and inferiority or the lie would be obvious.

  6. Erin, you have my sympathy. I hate that you had to deal with that. I had a few of the insults. The oinking. I never had anyone throw garbage at me. The insults alone are enough to make one feel like never leaving the house. It was enough to make me give up running a few times. I now can’t jog due to stomach and back issues so I would like to bike. I walk currently because it’s cheaper. I get the insults but I ignore them.

    I wonder by any chance do you live in New Jersey. The insults were the worst when I was there.

    • Just so y’all know. The offending post has been deleted. I have contacted the person who sent it, who claims to be a fan of size-acceptance. Thank you all for responding strongly to the post, I really appreciate you sharing your own experiences.

      My response to this person was as follows:

      As a fan of size acceptance, I find it odd that you don’t seem to understand (or empathize with) the treatment fat people receive when they attempt to be “active” in public venues.

      The “applause/recognition” I was speaking of is based on fat people who exercise on a regular basis and achieve health benefits and yet are still berated by others (especially healthcare professionals) that they must lose weight. Perhaps my choice of words was poor.

      Being bullied, abused and the target of discriminatory actions is not something fat people take lightly. The treatment we receive by society leaves scars on the psyche and sometimes on the body itself.

      Tante Terri

  7. Thanks for the comments all… one of the things about this community I like is that I *can* relate these experiences and I’ll be believed. Most of the time (except when it’s 7am and I haven’t slept yet) I try not to relate my experiences because most of the time, all I get back are variations on “oh surely you’re exaggerating”. Assuming that I’m not just assumed to be making things up out of whole cloth. The few times outside the FA community that I have been believed (probably due to actually having physical injuries as a result, or because someone actually saw the harassment), typically the response is along the lines of how if I don’t want to be treated like this I should just lose the weight and become normal. Worst instance of that was at the hospital waiting to be picked up after having my scalp stitched back together after the beer bottle incident. A nurse told me that I should just expect these things as long as I insist on remaining obese, handed me some literature on weight watchers, jenny craig, and lap band and told me to read them if I ever decided to grow up and wanted to do something about my disease.

    This is the world we live in right now. I don’t really think anything can be done to “fix” it, because that would require fixing most of the human race. Sure, there are people here and there who don’t feel a need to lord it over anyone else, but they are somewhat uncommon really. Even people who are themselves the focus of unwarranted discrimination, lies, slanderous propaganda and derogatory stereotypes because of some a group they are a member of can’t seem to resist the urge to turn around and do the same damn things to some other group they think is unworthy of basic respect. Dan Savage is proof of THAT.

    And it doesn’t even need to be a serious thing — just play Farmville and read their forums, specifically, anything about foals and the nursery barn. Lots of people there who are using some trivial, unimportant piece of virtual game property and their willingness to pay for it as an excuse to act like they fart roses and should be treated as minor kings.

    It seems that on average, most people just need to feel superior about something. I’m not even immune… I definitely feel like I am a better person than say, someone who is opposed to marriage equality. Feeling superior isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depends what you DO with that… do you try to avoid treating people poorly because of it? Or do you run around loudly proclaiming that your way is THE way and anyone who doesn’t agree is *insert derogatory remarks here*?

    Sorry, bit rambling… hope anyone who reads it gets the gist of my comments tho.

  8. People shame others out of some personal rage or pain of their own. Yet last night as I was walking the dog on my own (usually my husband and I do it together but he was running late) all I could do was come up with arguments in case someone decided to fat hate on me while walking. I had a hard time staying focused and enjoying the walk. Same walk as always, but because I was a lone I felt more vulnerable. When I saw some young guys by the street yelling and laughing? I braced myself for the worst. It ruined my walk and nothing happened. I hate that! I don’t want to live in fear of being attacked. I can meet someone with words, but if an actual violent attack occurred? I am not so sure.

  9. Some of the medical stuff is a true catch-22- If you are too big you cant have certain anaesthetics-its too unsafe (anaesthesia is a dodgy business for everyone) and yet if you have arthritis in a joint it is excruciating and you cant exercise. (and although swimming is excellent exercise that doesnt hit your joints, who wants to go swimming when people are so often so stupidly cruel?) But the fat hate? That is just vicious and heartbreaking and unnecessary. Size is morally neutral. You arent a bad person if youre small or if youre big. You dont deserve abuse even if you are a walking collection of illnesses (in fact especially if you are sick, you have enough to deal with)

    It just breaks you down after a while.

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