Tag Archives: hate

Bullying is Ugly, But we Need to Look at it with “A Brave Heart”

schoolHallwayThis ugly, UGLY picture was taken today of a poster that was taped to a wall at Northern High School in Calvert County, MD.  There’s a lot of argument about the poster–which we will get to in a minute.  But in the meantime, let me tell you just what interesting timing this poster has for me personally.

As I sat in the audience last night at a Producers Guild Pre-release screening of “A Brave Heart–The Lizzie Velasquez story” I heard the people around me gasp.  We had reached the part of Lizzie’s story where she recalled at age 17 finding an unauthorized video of herself posted on YouTube.  The video was captioned “The Ugliest Woman in the World” and had been seen over  4 million times.  And the comments–oh the comments.  People said things like , “Why didn’t her parents abort her?” and “Kill it with fire!!!” I heard people whisper things like, “oh my God!” and “I can’t believe it.”

I could believe it.  I haven’t lived Lizzie’s Velasquez’ story.  Nobody but Lizzie has lived that amazing life.  But I’ve lived with the hate.  I’ve read comments like that on my own blog and twitter feed and especially my YouTube account.  I’ve swapped stories with other fat activists about the death threats and the rape threats and the doxxing and all other forms of online harassment that so many of us experience on a daily basis.  And I thought how privileged some of the people in that audience were–that they didn’t really know that sort of online hate existed.  That they found it difficult to believe.

I was so proud of my husband, who stood up during the Q&A to relate that he had been completely ignorant of how bad the online climate was, of how unbelievably ugly it could be, until he started reading some of the comments that people have directed at his own wife.  He reiterated how important this movie was–how relevant it was–because adults need to understand just how bad it is out there.

The movie, directed by Sara Bordo also talked about how dire the consequences of bullying can be.  Lizzie arose triumphantly out of her bullying experience.  But Tina Meier’s daughter didn’t arise from the bullying at all.  After some particularly bad cyberbullying by her peers, Meier’s daughter committed suicide.  Tina and Lizzie have teamed up–working to get new federal antibullying legislation passed in the US.

Again, as the audience came to this point in the story, many gasped or covered their mouths in shock.  I simply nodded my head and cried.  Because I already knew Megan’s story.  I knew what had happened to her.  And I knew, just a little of what she felt.  Because as I told Lizzie and Sara after the screening and the Q&A, I could have been one of those kids.  I might have not made it out.  I was bullied relentlessly as a teenager.   I came home sobbing, vomiting and covered with hives from the stress of it.  At times I felt I could no longer take it.  But I got relief.  I didn’t have email or a Facebook account.  At the end of the day, I could escape at home to my loving family.  I had two whole days per week free of it.  Today’s kids do not.  Because of social media, these kids have to deal with this 24 hours per day and seven days a week.  Given that situation, I honestly don’t know if I would have made it.

Lizzie and Sara at the PGA screening.

Lizzie and Sara at the PGA screening.

But this is not a fun or easy or comfortable subject.  Many people who don’t have to deal with this sort of bullying would rather imagine that “it’s not really that bad” or “it’s not that big of a deal.”  Which leads me to the picture posted above.  A student took a photo of that poster.  The picture was posted online and has gone viral.  The original poster stated that the photographer believed that the poster had been taped up with the at least tacit permission of at least one teacher.  And the feathers are flying.  Many people are demanding answers.  Did a teacher know about this poster?  Did a teacher give permission or at least know it was being posted?  Who is the kid responsible for this thing?  And are they being disciplined?

Naturally the social media frenzy puts the school in a bad light.  But in a classic case of spin cycle, the Superintendent stated:

We are aware that a photo is being circulated on social media of a poster from NHS that makes a mean and inappropriate reference to obese students. That poster was not approved by any teacher or staff member and was up no longer than five minutes. The matter is being appropriately handled by the administration.

This is a good example to all of how a 5 minute bad idea can live forever on social media and be distributed with inaccurate references to good people. Rather than having a lifespan of 5 minutes, this poster (with the help of many well-meaning people) was effectively copied and posted in every hallway, classroom, and home. You can help put an end to the unfair reference to NHS staff and the continued distribution of this inappropriate message by deleting or, at the very least, refusing to pass it along. Thank you.

There is a certain amount of sense in choosing not to spread hate with wild abandon.  That’s why I didn’t link to Ms. Arbour’s nonsense and don’t give clicks to a lot of other ugly things out there.  But there are some problems with this response.  First of all 5 seconds in the eyes of a particularly vulnerable person are enough to do irrevocable harm.  5 minutes, in a high school hallway, is an eternity.  And while I respect the school’s right to deal with this problem according to its own policies, I have to vehemently disagree with the idea that simply not sharing this photo will make the problem go away.  (It won’t.) And I think that people need to be confronted with the level of nasty that truly exists before they are tempted to say they don’t have time to be “P.C.” that fat people are just whining and that fat shaming is an imaginary concept.  It is so very, very, very real.

That’s why I applaud Sara Bordo and Lizzie Velasquez for having the courage to show the bullying it all its true ugliness.  Refusing to censor Lizzie’s hate messages along with refusing to drop Megan’s suicide story resulted in the movie receiving a controversial PG13 rating.  This means that most schools won’t be able to screen the film because of the rating.  I find it fascinating that any kid old enough to move a mouse can be exposed to this online without warning and without context or support.  But a movie that explains how bad it is and gives kids and adults tools to discuss it is rated PG 13.

JeanetteAndLizzie

With Lizzie at the screening.

I really want to recommend that you and yours find a way to see this amazing film.  It is a stark look at the brutality of bullying.  It is also a warm, ultimately uplifting story about how bullying can be (sometimes) overcome.  It’s a great starting point for the deep conversations we need to be having about this topic–however more comfortable it might seem to simply walk (or run) away from it.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. I’d like to remind you that the Fat Activism conference is just a few short weeks away.  Ragen and the organizing committee and I have put together an absolutely amazing lineup of speakers who can help you figure out just exactly what can be done.
Register for the Fat Activism Conferenece!

Advertisements

In a World of “Click Bait Hate” Let’s Share a Little Love

On Saturday’s post, I hinted about certain people that serve as a proxy for hate.  They say the things that people no longer may wish to say for fear of reprisal.  They serve as a lightning rod for gleeful malevolence.  They act ugly to win clicks.  And by Jiminy, it certainly works.  I referred to a certain person who posted an extremely hateful video online.  (You can look up her name in my previous post, but I don’t recommend it.)  Now the video is down.  She’s all up and down twitter and other social media feeds saying the big fat bullies got her video taken down.  She’s crying about her right to free speech.  Meanwhile, all the evidence points to the fact that she took the video down herself to get, you guessed it, more publicity.

So what are we to do?  I talked about this with a few of my other size acceptance colleagues and we agreed that continuing to draw attention to her is giving her exactly what she wants.  She’s sowing click-bait hate and is reaping results.  And in this case, I think the answer is to sow a little love.  So throughout the day, I plan to share body loving pieces from people who are doing awesome work.  I’m going to share this love in my blog, in all my social media feeds and to everybody I know.  I’m going to do my little bit to drown out that hateful attention seeking behavior with a little bit of positive good work.  And here’s my first entry.  My dear friend Marlene sent me a link to this one.  (It’s not perfect but it’s mostly awesome…)

So now it’s your turn.  How can we drown out some of that ugly hater stuff? Let’s link to love! I challenge you to post 3 pieces of body love in your social media feed. Let’s share the awesome!  And while we’re talking about awesome, let me remind you:

The Fat Activism Conference Is Back!  

This is a virtual conference so you can listen to the talks by phone and/or computer wherever you are. Whether you are looking for support in your personal life with family, friends, healthcare providers etc. or you’re interested in being more public with your activism with blogging, petitions, protest, projects, online activism, or something else, this conference will give you tools and perspectives to support you  and your work, and to help you make that work intentionally intersectional and inclusive, so that nobody gets left behind. Get the info and register here!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Agents .000007–License to Hate (Electing hate proxy holders to be mean for us)

Okay (deep breath).  There’s a video that surfaced on YouTube yesterday by a woman named Nicole called “Dear Fat People”  (There is no force on earth that will compel me to link to that ish).  It is seven minutes of unadulterated, unbelievably crappy hate wrapped up in concern trolling.  I mean this video is truly ugly.

It’s infuriating and insulting and stupid.  And it’s going to hurt a whole lot of people.  A lot.

But the one thing I can say it isn’t is surprising.  I’ve seen a definite uptick lately on the number of people using discrimination and bigotry and ugliness as click-bait.  I’ve seen a certain candidate for US president gaining popularity in the polls by making our political arena into a cheap reality television show.  He’s gained popularity for being “plain spoken”.  Nicole also talks in her video about “setting off a truth bomb” and “telling it like it is”.  And I’ve come to recognize these phrases as code words for, “being proxy holders for our hate”.

In some ways, over the years, we have made progress.  There are certain things you don’t say anymore unless you are very sure of to whom you are speaking.  Because in many environments, it’s not guaranteed to be  “safe” or “consequence free” to say certain kinds of hateful things any more.  You might get called out for being hateful.  You might be told you are being bigoted or prejudiced or racist.  And nobody likes being called hateful or bigoted or prejudiced or racist.  You might lose your job.  You might lose your TV show. (And just to be clear–free speech is definitively not the same thing as consequence free speech.)

These conversations where people get called out for their hatefulness (especially in the relatively rare case when people were genuinely unaware they were being hateful) are deeply uncomfortable.  Often the person getting called out gets their feelings hurt.  Often that person reacts defensively.  Many times, that is the end of the conversation.  But sometimes the conversation goes on.  We recently had a conversation like this on our Fit Fatties Forum.  Some people acted deplorably.  Some people acted defensively.  But we agreed to leave the conversation up and live in our discomfort.  And through hundreds of comments, people talked about social justice and privilege and tone policing and gaslighting and white fragility and the differences between racism and prejudice and ableism and fat stigma and so many other deeply important topics.  But this conversation is challenging and difficult and often deeply uncomfortable.  So even though this conversation is deeply needed, most of the time we don’t have it–because it is hard.

But we are also uncomfortable with the notion of not talking about our prejudices as well.  We want to not only be able to be hateful but also be confirmed in our hatefulness.  So we link to and watch and quote and lionize people who say the things we dare not say.  We admire them for being “plain spoken” and “telling the truth” and “telling it like it is”.  We pimp these people out to carry our proxy for hate.  They get to exploit every stereotype for fat people and people with disabilities and people of color and LGBTQ people and poor people and less educated people and and women and children and everybody who does not have all the privileges.  They do this to shock and entertain and win popularity.  But mostly they say all the things that we know on some level that we shouldn’t say about others (at least if we don’t want to be called a hater) but secretly wish (on some level) we could say about others without having to feel bad about ourselves as we do it just to get attention.

Again, none of this is surprising to me.

There’s this quote attributed to Mahatma Gandi that goes like this

It’s pretty easy to see the “hater proxy syndrome” in this quote, isn’t it?  In fact it is this quote that I use to help comfort me through watching some of this yuck.  I can nod knowingly saying, wow we’ve stirred up some haters, haven’t we?  We must be making progress because look at ALL THIS SCREAMING!!!

Which leaves us where?  What can we do?  Well one thing we can do is choose not to give the hate proxy holders any more attention.  They crave it.  They feed off of it.  Or you can choose to call the haters out.  Nicole Arbour’s initial video seems to have been taken down.  I know that there was a strong movement within the size acceptance community to go to the video and report it on YouTube for being hateful (just click the more button under the video and click the “report flag”.  But it seems she has re-posted it again (with the comments turned off.  Wow.  Just Wow.).  So you can go report it again if you feel so moved.  You don’t even have to watch the stupid thing in order to flag it.  (In fact, I advise against watching it).

But the most important thing we can do is to keep talking.  That’s why I’m so excited to remind you:

The Fat Activism Conference Is Back!  

This is a virtual conference so you can listen to the talks by phone and/or computer wherever you are. Whether you are looking for support in your personal life with family, friends, healthcare providers etc. or you’re interested in being more public with your activism with blogging, petitions, protest, projects, online activism, or something else, this conference will give you tools and perspectives to support you  and your work, and to help you make that work intentionally intersectional and inclusive, so that nobody gets left behind.

Get all the details here!

Thanks as always for reading and being willing to explore the tough stuff with me.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Hater Plate

LicensePlateThe other day, I was waiting in the drive-thru for an iced tea to quench my thirst.  Delirious with the 100+ degree heat, I had to look twice when I saw the license plate on the car directly in front of me.  I even took a picture (see below).  I won’t give you the exact spelling or lettering on the plate, but I will tell you that the basic meaning of the letters on the plate was unmistakeably “You Are Ugly.”

plate copyI have to admit, this gave me pause.  I mean, clearly there was no reason for me to take this personally.  Everyone who gazed upon this license plate saw the same message.  Even supermodels would see the message that they are ugly.  This message was broadcast to men and women, and even children.  And I had to wonder–what kind of person orders a vanity plate that puts down everybody in the world who looks at it?

I’m sure the woman driving the car thought she was pretty cool and pretty funny behind her mirrored sunglasses.  I suppose it is possible that she was simply borrowing somebody else’s car, and was feeling humiliated.  But somehow, I don’t think that was the case here.  I imagine that she thought she was being ironic.  But I really wonder if it made her feel any better.  Did it make her feel superior?  Did it make her feel important?  Did it make her feel a little bit more pretty?

Or was she acting out of some sort of deep pain?

And I really started thinking about how many of us are sending and receiving messages like this every day?  Is putting everybody else in the world down the only way we feel able to lift ourselves up?  Are we so injured by the daily barrage of messages telling us that we are unworthy, that we feel the need to lash out at the world?  Have we been so indoctrinated by the world of haters that we feel like we need to become one of them simply to survive?

I don’t know.  I do know it put my right off my unsweetened iced-tea (xtra ice).  I felt more than a little sick to my stomach.  But in the end, I think we each have to make a choice.  We can continue the anger and dish back the hate.   Or, as Harry Belafonte put it, we can turn the world around.

So in response to the H8tr plate, I’d like to offer this:

happyplateYou and me and everyone we see, we’re ALL hot!  And speaking of hot, I’d like to remind you that the second annual Hot Flash Mob is just one week away in San Francisco.  Interested in joining the fun?  Of course you are!  So CLICK HERE!

In the meantime, don’t be a h8tr, be a “hot plater”.

Love,

TFC

 

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!

Here we Go Again

Kelsey

I really wish I was making this stuff up.  Once again, we’ve got a blogger (female this time) spilling “ink” in a very public forum about the shape of the body of a professional cheerleader.  It seems that CBS Houston Blogger Claire Crawford recently felt the need to criticize the body of NBA cheerleader Kelsey Williams.

Crawford reportedly said in the blog:

The Rockets looked terrible in Game 1, but some say they weren’t the only bad-looking people on the court…

This pretty blonde has been criticized by some folks in OKC for having “pudginess” around her waistline. We’re not trying to be ugly. We are just discussing what men like in women, specifically NBA cheerleaders.

Crawford apparently also said in the blog:

But if she’s comfortable wearing that tiny outfit and dancing for NBA fans, then good for her.  Besides … not every man likes women to be toothpick skinny. I’d say most men prefer a little extra meat on her bones.

(Insert facepalm here along with slow sad headshake.)  To add insult to injury, a poll was posted at the bottom allowing the public to “weigh in” on whether or not they thought Williams was “too chunky” to be a NBA cheerleader.  Reportedly the available options were:

  1. “the perfect look to be an NBA cheerleader,”
  2. “she could use some tightening up in her midsection”
  3. “she has no business wearing that outfit in front of people.”

Which begs the question of what other options might have been made available.  Some suggestions include:

  1. Are  you f$%*ing kidding me?
  2. Just how desperate are you to up your “hit count”?
  3. Is it possible to be a total misogynist and a woman?
  4. This blogger has no business writing for a major news outlet or anywhere else for that matter.

In other news that came some distance towards restoring my hope in humanity, it seems that many, many people agreed with point number 4 and caused an uproar around the blog post and the blogger.  Some suggested that both Crawford and her overseeing editor be fired.

You gotta wonder how the conversation between Crawford and her overseeing editor might have sounded:

Yay!  We stirred up nasty, offensive controversy on our blog.  Wow people are really worked up, will ya look at that hit count?  Oh, oh.  Now they are calling for our heads and asking for us to be fired.  Better fix it.  Blog post?  WHAT blog post?  I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Yup.  Shortly after the proverbial poop hit the propeller the blog post was taken down.  Not only that, but all other posts by Crawford were removed from the site as well.  According to the Daily Mail, Crawford has since deleted her Twitter, Linkedin, and Myspace accounts. At first I thought, “serves her right.  Maybe we won’t have to hear any more nonsense from her for a while.” Except, well, not really.  Lost Ogle suggests that Claire Crawford is really just a pen name for CBS Digital Content Manager Anna-Megan Raley.  So it’s quite possible that “Claire” and her “managing editor” were having a conversation in Anna-Megan Raley’s head (since they are possibly the very same person).

Well, isn’t that convenient?  What a great technique!  First create disposable online “characters”.  Next have them say offensive things likely to stir up lots of noise.  Finally, when things get too hot, just “fire” the pretend person and remove all evidence of them from your site.

Honestly, I debated about even writing this blog post.  You know the number one rule on the internet is, “don’t feed the trolls”.  But at least this post is not in any way linked to anything likely to give more traffic to CBS.  But I ask you my dear readers, do you think it’s a sign of progress that so many of us have a fit when we read a post like the one by the alleged Ms. Crawford? And by being upset, are we just playing into the hands of the media outlets who publish this bile, or using a public forum to fight body shaming.  I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Where there is Hatred, Let’s Sow Love

SONY DSC

Recently my good friend Deb Lemire sent me a link to this amazing Ted talk.   Why not go take a look right now?  It’s that good.  I’ll wait.

It’s clear to me that Lynne is an amazing woman–one I’d love to meet one day.  She said many, many true and moving things in her short talk.  But one of the things I’d particularly like to talk about today is her discussion of the war on obesity, and her assertion that war is about hate.

I think it’s important to share this business about this war on obesity.  There are new people every day who join the ‘righteous’ and march out in this war.  The recruits are now younger and younger with indoctrination beginning in kindergarten and even preschool.  So what’s wrong with it?  Why not fight against this crushing “disease” which is “killing our children”?

In answer, I’d like to begin with two words: collateral damage.

I think many of us have been caught in the “friendly fire” of the war on obesity.  Many of us have seen the disapproving looks as we dare to order a roll (maybe even with real butter!) to eat with our salads.  We’ve been photographed and filmed with our heads cut off and displayed for the wartime propaganda.  We’ve been made scapegoats and blamed for everything from high prices for flying and insurance to global warming.  We have been named bad parents and some of us have even had our children torn from our grasp.  We are the butt of the joke, the cautionary tale, the perennial ‘before’ photo and the ’cause of the downfall of the human race’.

Except, for one problem.  It ain’t necessarily so.  There is little evidence that fat people raise health insurance rates to any significant degree.  Flying is expensive because of a whole host of reasons including  high fuel prices, inept airline management, a complex web of travel taxes and tariffs and poor aircraft upkeep among many other factors.  There is little reason to blame fat people for any of the problems the world is facing right now.

And even beyond those issues, there is one other.  The war can’t be won this way.  You can’t hate fat people thin.  For all the marching and the propaganda and the fabulous uniforms and billions of dollars spent, people aren’t getting any thinner.  All the money we’re spending and the people being emotionally and physically damaged in the crossfire is for nothing.  We are not making people any thinner.

I’d say that perhaps some of this money should be spent on determining what should be done to make the world healthier and happier without causing massive casualties from collateral damage, except we already know what actually works.  It’s called Health At Every Size or HAES and it’s for every BODY.  There is a lot of evidence that healthy habits are a better determinant of health at all sizes than body size.  So HAES simply suggests that we work on making healthy behaviors available and attractive to folks of all sizes, and stop trying to make fat people into thin people.

Why can’t we focus on health irrespective of size?  Why can’t we focus on making healthy options like good locally sourced food and safe places to walk and play for people of all sizes, races and economic levels?  Why can’t we focus on teaching our children to love and respect their own bodies and those of everyone around them?

We can.  As it says in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, “where there is hatred let us sow [your] love”.  So, let’s do it!  Let’s commit to being body pacifists.  Let’s throw down our weapons and walk out on the battlefields and bring aid and succor to those who are hurting out there.  Let’s find the kids who are wandering around shell shocked and bewildered and show them that there is another way.  That making a healthier body is about having a healthier community and a healthier world forged from love and not hate.  “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Love,

The Fat Chick