Tag Archives: haters

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)

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Scientists Say they may have Underestimated Fat Hatred. I say, “Yup!”

Wow, what a week.  On the one hand I got a nice mention in Women’s Health magazine.  On the other hand, a rabid group of haters found my YouTube channel and I’ve spent the week combing through literally thousands of very hateful and unbelievably stupid comments to see if I could post any of them on the site.  The answer is, “nope”.  But I do need to shout out and say “Thank You Haters” for bumping up my views even if they are to leave me comments about my sexual preferences, my intelligence and my smell that will never see the light of day.

And right smack in the middle of this crazy week, I came across this press release about a recent study that indicates that fat stigma may be a lot more prevalent than they originally thought.  It turns out that a lot of the previous studies that attempted to measure weight stigma relied on people remembering episodes of fat hatred from as far back as 30 years ago.  Not surprisingly, people recounted some very severe stories of weight stigma, but reported that weight stigma didn’t really happen that often.  A new study from Western New England University used a different approach to measuring weight stigma.  They are the first to use a daily diary approach to measure incidents of weight stigma among fat women.  It’s probably not that hard to imagine that the Western New England University study found that weight stigma was more common than originally thought.  And I mean a lot more common.  50 “overweight” and “obese”* women were studied.  Over the period of 1 week, the women reported 1,077 stigmatizing events.  That averages out to 3.08 events per person per day.

What’s more, Jason Seacat, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts and the study’s lead author says that the source of this stigma might surprise you.  “A surprisingly high number of stigma events came from close family members or friends,” Seacat says, citing experiences like a woman whose boyfriend’s mother withheld food and called her lazy.  He goes on to say:

“We have probably underestimated the size of the weight stigma problem,” he says. “People are encountering more barriers on a daily basis than is reported in the literature. Standing in line and overhearing someone comment on your size, having to ask for a lap band extension on an airplane, going into a clothing store and not finding something in your size… Those are all stigmatizing events, but we as a general public might not realize the effects those events can have on people.”

I have to admit, that it’s mighty tempting for those of us that are perpetrating the crime of living in the world while fat to respond to all of this by saying, “Duh!”  When you are filtering your 37th email in one day calling you a fat c**t, you might be tempted to call Mr. Secat Captain Obvious.  Even so, I’m glad we are doing more to measure this problem in a more meaningful way.

Because I’m sick and tired of hearing about how we are being oversensitive.  I’m really done with hearing people tell me that fat folks are not really oppressed–that asking for basic human rights while fat is some sort of crime against decency and humanity, and that we should just stop eating and stop whining and consent to be miserable.  And all of this denial of fat oppression is happening at the same time that fat grad students are told “not to bother” applying for a doctoral program, and that fat people can’t be researchers or scientists because they just might more than their share of the departmental pizza.

So, yes.  I’m very grateful that this research is being done.  Just don’t expect me to be surprised by these results.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S.  Wanna get free stuff?  Click HERE to join my mailing list!

*This is what the study called them.  I’d just call them fat.

Tutus, Wonder Women and Haters

Look at that fabulous picture up there.  Does it make you smile?  Think it’s a story about motivation and joy and taking back your own power?

Sorry.  It’s a story about a “self help” magazine asking a woman if they could use her photo in their magazine and then pulling a total hater move and making fun of her in the captions.

Apparently Self magazine contacted San Diego runner Monika Allen seeking permission to use her photo in the April issue of the magazine.  Monika said yes, and was understandably excited to see her picture in the magazine.  The  online version of the magazine is already out.  And she’s excited all right, but not in a good way.

The  photo appeared in a section of the magazine called the BS Meter.  Next to the photo was this copy:

“A racing tutu epidemic has struck New York’s Central Park, and it’s all because people think these froufrou skirts make you run faster.  Now if you told us they made people run from you faster maybe we would believe it.”

Cue rimshot.  Slow hand clap.  You see what they did there?  Run from you faster.  Makes you wonder why magazine circulation numbers are crashing, right?

Now I’m sure the writer from Self was feeling pretty proud for their little moment, except maybe there’s a little research this writer failed to do.  Like the research that indicated this was Monika’s first run since being diagnosed with brain cancer.  And she was wearing this costume to help her feel motivated to keep running while she was undergoing chemotherapy.  And she makes and sells the skirts to raise money for Girls on the Run, a charity that sponsors exercise and confidence-building programs for young girls.

Whoops.

Not surprisingly the backlash online has been sort of epic.  This is what we in the biz refer to as a public relations nightmare of epic proportions.  This is a “hey kid, you’re fired” kind of maneuver.  Monika sent an email to Self saying how upset she was for the way the picture was used.  And she took to traditional and social media to tell the world how upset she was as well.

Since the story originally aired and went viral, the Editor in Chief of Self magazine “apologized” on her twitter account and sent an email apology to the local news station with this little gem:

“in our attempt to be humorous, we were inadvertently insensitive.”

“I have sincerely apologized both directly to Monika and her supporters online. At SELF we support women such as Monika; she is an inspiration and embodies the qualities we admire. We have donated to her charity and would like to cover her good work in a future issue,” the statement reads. “We wish her all the best in her road to good health.”

Let’s deconstruct, shall we?  “We thought we were being funny but we didn’t know that she would have a disease that people don’t think is funny.  Had we known that this woman had the “Big C” we would have written a tear-jerker style exploitative piece instead of a snark piece.  I mean come on!  How were we supposed to know she had cancer.  If we had known, that would have meant we were overtly insensitive, but since we didn’t know, we were inadvertently sensitive.  We have sincerely apologized in public because the public is mad and it hurts when people write mean things online.  (Although when people are mad they do comment more and our engagement numbers are up, but you can’t have everything.)  At our publication we support women like Monika when it suits us and humiliate women like Monika when we feel like it.  We have donated to her charity because hey money makes everything better and we’re kinda terrified that we will get sued.  We’d like to cover her in a future issue because usually promising “exposure” to people gets them to accept just about anything.  We wish her all the best in her recovery, because frankly, if this broad kicks the bucket, a few of us are going back to copy editing at Pennysaver.”

Speaking of being sued, please note that the above paragraph is not actually quoted from anybody at Self magazine.  I made it up.  And if it’s insensitive, I did it very much on purpose.

I wish Monika the best.  I think she is frankly going to sell a LOT more tutus after this.  And I think she is a woman we can all admire.  But I think this is an indicator.  It is really, really bad out there.  When a newsstand publication thinks that they can get permission to use a photo depicting a conventionally beautiful woman and shame her in front of the world, it’s pretty bad out there.  And for those of us who don’t meet the conventional standards of beauty, it’s a field day.  If you are a fat, gorgeous, tattooed woman who dares to post a picture of yourself in a fabulous polka dot bikini, you just might find your picture used without your permission to sell diet ads.  And when you go after the company, they will just make some excuse about how it’s the fault of their affiliates.  Because they feel pretty confident that they can do whatever they want to you.  Because if you are not conventionally beautiful, you are fair game.

 

Weak!

In fact, no one is safe from being abused online.  Nobody.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this amazing Ted Talk from the gorgeous and talented Maysoon Zayid, “I have 99 Problems…Palsy is Just One.”  When you have a minute, I encourage you to watch the whole thing.  It is well worth your time. It was especially touching to me to hear her say, at about 12 minutes in to her presentation:

“The doctor said I would never walk.  Yet here I am in front of you.  But I grew up with social media, I don’t think I would be.  I hope that together, we can create more positive images of disability in the media and in every day life. Perhaps if there were more positive images, it would foster less hate on the internet.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it still takes a village to teach our children well.”

I wonder.  I wonder how many powerful and world-changing people are being crushed under the need for some hater to get their three seconds of fame in the comments section.  I wonder how the search for snark is helping to foster the utter disregard for people’s lives and their well-being.  I wonder how many of our generation’s revolutionary leaders are smashed when their photos are misappropriated and tagged in an amusing meme.  I wonder how much more I could accomplish if I didn’t get nasty comments and hate mail every freaking day of my life.

Here’s hoping we can be part of the village that helps to lift one another out of the battle ground of the comments section and fight the good fight of making the world a better place.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Want to learn to face the spring holidays with more joy and less trauma?  My dear friend and colleague Golda Poretsky is offering a HAES for the Holidays course just for spring.  I am an affiliate, so if you join her class, you can support me at the same time.  Win, win WIN!