It is one of the great hypocrisies of the fat hating concern troll. They tell us to put down the cheeseburger, and go for a walk. They tell us to get off our fat butts. They tell us to exercise, but just not where they have to see us.
Honestly this whole issue makes me more than a little stabby. We don’t exercise because concern trolls tell us to. Because, let’s be clear about this, concern trolls probably don’t have our best interests at heart. But we do exercise. Lots of us at all sizes exercise. We put on our shorts, and we go outside. We go to the gym. We exercise because it’s fun. We exercise because it feels good and then, we get an anonymous letter like the following piece of garbage (trigger warning–extreme asshattery):
The letter says:
I have noticed you working out in your backyard I can see you from my window. I also see you running or trying to run around the block. PLEASE STOP SUCH ACTIVITIES. Nobody wants to see your fat bouncing up and down in your shirt. Thank God you wear a shirt so we do not have to see what’s under. I am not the only one in the neighborhood who is getting tired of seeing you struggle running up and down the block everyday. I personally do not wish to subject my kids to having to see somebody so obese outside when they are just trying to play in the front yard. If you feel you must work out, outside please move elsewhere where you will not bother people.
A concerned neighbor.
Seriously folks, I barely know where to start with this thing. Well, let’s start at the top, shall we? 1. There is nothing dear about this neighbor. That gentle opening line is in such ridiculous opposition to the rest of this hatefest, that we will just ignore it okay?
2. Why in heaven’s name is Snooping Sally watching this poor guy work out in his back yard? It’s his back yard? It’s his personal space. Don’t like what you see in the neighbor’s back yard, don’t look! There, problem solved. Oh, wait. There’s more?
3. Your copious use of run on sentences and complete lack of commas makes me believe you are typing without breathing. Please calm the heck down. It’s a fat guy running, not a national emergency.
4. “Running or trying to run”: ahhhh I see what you did there. Nope, not even remotely funny. Let’s move along.
5. PLEASE STOP SUCH ACTIVITIES. The writer doesn’t like it. And clearly, the fact that she doesn’t like it trumps your freedom to do anything.
6. “Nobody wants to see…” Our letter writer knows this because she is a little bit psychic. I bet you didn’t know that was going on in your neighborhood. Here you are, going for a jog and minding your own business, and you’ve got neighbors experimenting with the occult.
7. “I am not the only one in this neighborhood…” There is also the writer’s good friend who meets to share malicious neighborhood gossip with her every day. Also, she’s psychic. (See above).
8. “I personally don’t want to subject my kids to…” Well it’s clear the writer’s children are special, special snowflakes and can’t be subjected to anything other than Baywatch level beauty running down the street. And clearly the writer doesn’t want to have anything like a meaningful conversation with them about how people are diverse, and it’s not right to stare, and that the entire freaking universe doesn’t revolve around what makes them comfortable. Nope. It’s easier if the exerciser doesn’t burden the poor children’s brains with stuff to think about. It triggers them to ask questions that give the writer a headache.
9. “Elsewhere where you won’t bother people”. The writer doesn’t like the way the jogger looks, therefore he should hide himself at all times. Better yet, he should probably just move. To Mars. Clearly he’s not her kind of people.
10. “Sincerely, A concerned neighbor” Who is clearly and deeply concerned about what everybody else is doing and how it might impact her feels and the exposure of her delicate offspring to stuff she doesn’t like. If somebody ELSE (who fails to look, act, think and be EXACTLY what she thinks they should) doesn’t like it, well TOUGH.
It’s easy to see this letter as an isolated incident, or perhaps even a hoax. (Although the letter was supposedly sent to the friend of somebody I know online, and I tend to believe it is real.) But clearly this notion of not wanting to look at fat exercisers is fairly pervasive. In fact it’s enough of a universal idea that a company that sells blinds used it to create a highly offensive ad with a fat, hairy, male yogi.
Hot urban couple walks by the window and sees hairy yoga guy. Everybody looks shocked! Yoga guy goes out and gets new blinds. Ah, no more unsightly yoga practice. NamasFREAKIN’te!
(Ragen Chastain does an excellent job breaking down this ad and giving you special activism opportunities in her blog here and here.)
Look, I make no secret of the fact that I believe exercise is for every BODY. Whatever your weight, I believe that exercise should be a safe, positive and accessible option for you. That means you should be able to exercise in public–even (gasp) outside. That means people who don’t like looking at it are welcome to take the extremely simple and cost free option of not looking. And if those people don’t like it, they are cordially invited to keep their opinions to themselves. We don’t yell nasty things at fat people exercising. We don’t throw eggs at them. We are grown up adults who can learn to act like it.
That’s how a sincerely concerned neighbor really acts.
In the meantime, all y’all keep gettin on with your bad selves. And if you want to see some fabulous fatties getting into their fitness groove (with fabulous Flying Rhino shirts no less) trot on over to the Fit Fatties Forum and take a look.
And if you’d like to make the world a better and safer place for exercisers of ALL sizes, Click here to register for the Fat Activism Conference! I promise it will be excellent.
And as always, if you want to get free stuff including a fabulous newsletter from me, join the clique here.
Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)