Tag Archives: mean

All the Comebacks We’ll Never Say

TRIGGER WARNING: I’m going to talk about verbal abuse.

So I don’t know if you got a chance to see this, but it’s pretty awesome. Chelsea Handler lays a stupid kind of mean spirited fat joke on Andy Richter and BOOM, he comes back with an amazing zinger that not only puts Chelsea in her place, but gets Conan laughing his fool head off. If you haven’t clicked on the video click at the top of the page yet, go click it. I’ll wait.

See??? BOOM! I mean, don’t you wish you could come back like this when somebody says something mean or stupid or obliquely snide to you about the size of your body? I wish I could. Usually I do, in my head, 20 minutes later. In the moment however, I don’t often come up with something wonderful and witty to say. I guess now, even after it’s happened to me and all my friends and colleagues so many times, I am still surprised. Afterwards I’m not surprised at all. But in the moment, especially when a complete stranger decides to comment on my body, there’s often that moment of shock. I’m not talking about when people make rude comments to each other about me so I can hear them, or make obnoxious mooing sounds, or shout things across the street. I’m talking about when people confront me directly and say mean, stupid or downright horrible things. There is still a moment of shock. Still a feeling of violation. I feel it in my body like a punch to the gut. And often I’m standing there, mouth flapping open and closed like a recently caught fish wondering WHY a person who doesn’t know me, who has no reason to hate me just threw verbal poo at my head. Sometimes I am able to recover sufficiently to say something reasonably intelligent, and sometimes I just walk away shaking my head. But it’s safe to say, I’m almost never as quick on my feet as good old Andy Richter up there.

Now I am a professional speaker. I have had extensive training in speaking off the cuff. I’ve studied improvisational theater. So I often feel I should have been come up with something witty to say. And so the verbal beating I have taken from a complete stranger is often followed by me beating myself up for not handling the situation better. I find myself, after the fact, reliving the confrontation, calculating and discarding dozens of “comebacks” or “burns” I should have used and feeling battered and miserable.

I’m telling you this because I want you to know. I want to share that even though I’ve been in the space of body love and size acceptance for decades, and even though I’ve been in public debates and had speech training and have given literally hundreds of public talks, I don’t always have a witty comeback when somebody publicly attacks me. I’m telling you this because I am trying to learn to focus my anger where it belongs–not at myself for failing to “burn” somebody who is mean to me, but at the person who was being mean to me! I tell you this, because you may be one of the millions of other people in this world who do not have a witty comeback ready when somebody is mean to you. And I want you to know that’s okay. We all love the fact that Andy Richter can come back at Chelsea that way. We cheer because he does something we all wish we could do in the moment that somebody is mean to us–execute the perfect, 10-point, sustained audience laughter burn. But I want to suggest that we can appreciate Andy’s talent while at the same time relieving ourselves of the responsibility to be him.  And I want to suggest that maybe instead of beating ourselves up for not being funny in the face of cruelty, we should focus our anger outwards and self care and love inwards.  Just a thought.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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80 Odd Years of Happy

The title of this post might refer to the notion that you’ve been hearing that infernal song for 80 years.  But in this case it does not.  It refers to a whole bunch of folks, some well into their 80’s dancing around to that infernal song.  Which is happy-making indeed.  And I feel like sharing this video with you because I feel like we could all use a little happy in our lives today.

It’s been kinda a rough week.  Many of us have been deeply saddened by the passing of Robin Williams, a deeply talented movie icon who brought joy to so many of us.  And many of us have been deeply angered by George Takei’s need to not only present a deeply troubling meme bashing disabled people on his feed, but also his ridiculous need to defend his actions using the tired “people are just too sensitive trope”.  I’m not going to post the awful meme here on my blog.  In case you’re curious, I am going to post a link here to Lisa Egan’s article about it which explains the whole thing so much better than I ever could.

Nope, today, I am going to simply post this video and share a little of the love I feel about it:

I am aware that there are some problems with this video.  I think it’s pretty likely that this is a branded entertainment piece for the retirement community.  And the super high production values lead me to believe that the retirement community spent a whole lot of money on this thing.  That said, I love the fact that there are so many people of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities doing their thing in here.  See that George Takei?  Old  people dancing!  People with walkers boogying down.  Put that in your meme and stuff it, George.

I also love the way the video depicts old people as being powerful and vibrant and fun.  I think as a society, we are so quick to dismiss older people.  We see them as a problem or an expense.  We see them as a throwaway society.  But all people in our society have value.  Everyone has something to give.  I was reminded of this yet again with another amazing video I came across in my Facebook feed today.

As a person who works as a producer this is something that I think about constantly.  How can we get everybody involved?  How can everybody contribute?  How can we help everybody not only feel valued but also be valued?

If you’ll forgive me for feeling all the feels in this very public way, I just want to tell you this.  We are a deeply troubled world.  We can make things better, but we need all the help we can get.  So let’s begin with a deep commitment to not exclude or throw away a significant percentage of the population who don’t meet some arbitrary standard of age, ability, weight, sex or beauty, OK?  Every BODY has value.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. We are only 10 days away from the Fat Activism Conference.  Join us in making the world a better and more inclusive place for people of all sizes.  Register today at www.fatactivismconference.com.

The Fat Chick on Hallmark’s Home and Family

HomeandFamilyHi Everybody!

At long last, I’ve gotten a copy of my appearance on Hallmark’s “Home and Family” Show.  It’s pretty light-hearted, but I got the chance to say some important things.  I hope you like it.

I think it’s fair to say that I was terrified about this appearance.  I actually was in several other segments of the show as a guest.  The producers grilled me at length before booking me.  In fact, I remember that the call came in during a camping trip that I shared with my husband.  Thankfully he’s super understanding so I was able to take this call even while we were on vacation.  This is something that is generally a taboo for us.

But I learned one interesting thing from this show.  And that is I think the interviewers were as nervous as I was about covering this topic.  This is a “nice” show with “nice” hosts.  This was no Jerry Springer.  And I could tell they were struggling with how to cover this topic and meet the requirements of their producers without looking mean or stupid.  When I was able to handle the questions without crying or freaking out or being accusatory, they were visibly relieved.  And for me, that’s something important to remember.  When you’re talking to somebody who is aggressive and mean, it’s important to be able to deal with that.  But it’s also important to be able to help somebody along who has absolutely no idea about how to talk about this important topic.

Anyways.  I’m on the road and frantically getting ready for the ASDAH conference.  I hope to see some of you there!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Joan Rivers Gets Schooled re. Why She Should SHUT UP about Adele.

ALERT ALERT ALERT: NSFW, Plus likely loss of sanity points ahead

The following video contains Joan Rivers acting like a complete idiot and saying mean fat hating things about Adele followed by a response from Adam Hills that is brilliant but full of a LOT of profanity.

Okay, what have we learned boys and girls.

1.  Joan Rivers is a mean spirited, nasty person who uses what she terms as “comedy” to spread hatred.

2.  She does this on purpose in order to stir the controversy pot and get attention.

3.  Some people (like Adam Hills) are starting to get more than a little sick of these tactics.

4.  These people are starting to speak out.

5.  People who live in surgically altered glass houses, probably shouldn’t toss rocks.

I’m not really sure what the take away message should be here.  Obviously this kind of “comedy” is not new to Joan Rivers.  She’s made a long, long, long career out of being mean spirited and nasty in this particular way.  And she’s used to getting a lot of attention for it.  But maybe she’s getting a slightly different kind of attention now than she’s used to.

Should we take heart from the fact that her appearance on Letterman was punctuated by  audible boos?  I mean this is not an audience known for loving kindness, but clearly even some in this jaded audience felt Rivers had gone too far.  Should we take heart from Adam’s gleefully unrestrained and curse-word-laden tirade?  Or should we wonder if he’s not being kind of mean spirited too?  Is he justified?  Is it ever justified?

Should I use my blog to shine a light on haters, even if the light shows them getting a seemingly deserved smackdown?  Because the fact remains that this blog is not only adding a few more hits to the pile for Adam Hills, but also doing so for Joan Rivers.

Controversy breeds attention. There’s an old adage that says, “All publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right.” (Although my version of this saying goes, “All publicity is probably good publicity as long as it links back to your facebook page and YouTube channel.”)  Clearly there’s some truth to this saying  This video referenced above has already racked up over 1 million hits.

So I am sincerely asking you, should we give this kind of behavior any attention at all?  Even if the attention is to shake a finger and say, “Shame on You!”?  Or should I just post more cute videos of yawning baby hedgehogs? I would LOVE to hear your feedback.  So fill up the comments or drop me a line letting me know what you think.

Because, even though I’m QUITE sure that there is no such thing as too many cute videos of yawning baby hedgehogs, I’m a little less sure of the alternatives.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Why You Don’t Have to be the Perfect Example of Anything

On one of the list serves I regularly read, a person came on asking for support.  She has secured some very important opportunities to share Health at Every Size and is herself a person of size.  She is very excited about these opportunities.  She is also, understandably, terrified.  I wrote back to her with some thoughts and have decided to share them with you here.

My dear Chicklettes, I have a confession to make.  My work as an advocate for exercise for people of all shapes and sizes and as an advocate for body love and size acceptance almost never happened.  For a long time, I was paralyzed by fear.  I dipped my toe in the water, but I was very afraid to go public in a big way.  Why?  Because in order to represent people of size, I felt I had to be the perfect example of a healthy, happy, fit and fat person.

I asked myself a lot of questions.  What if I get sick?  What if I injure myself and can’t exercise any more?  What if I get diabetes?  People might point at me and say, “see I told you fat people can’t be healthy!”    People will disbelieve everything about Health at Every Size(TM) if I am not the perfect embodiment of HAES(TM).  People will publicly deride me and call me names!  What if I’m not strong enough?

At one point, I worked with a great coach Mary Jo Thatcher who helped me understand one very important thing.  Even though I represent an idea, and even though I’ve given myself a moniker (The Fat Chick) I am a person and not a persona.  That means I’m not perfect.  I am a living, breathing, individual being who has fears and strengths and problems.  I will get sick sometimes.  My body will age.  I will get hurt both physically and emotionally.  And I will ache.

Being imperfect makes me vulnerable.  Sometimes I am yelled at by doctors, by well meaning relatives and by pumped up (but very insecure) small-minded people on TV.  Some of the comments that I moderate out of my YouTube channel and blog and website are just so unbelievably mean and stupid.  And they hurt–every time.  I am stronger now.  This meanness doesn’t quite hold the same power over me that it once did.  But it still aches.

However, this very thing that makes me imperfect and human also gives me power.  It gives me a way to relate to the other imperfect humans that I work with.  It allows me move beyond the need to be perfect and move into the need to be flexible, and open and LISTEN to those around me.  And it allows me to help others accept their own humanity and right to be loved and respected right at this very minute: not when they’ve reached some arbitrary goal I’ve set up for them, and not when they’ve created a suitable “after” picture to help me hawk whatever product I have for sale, but right now.

So my dear Chicklettes, if you’re afraid to represent for people of size, or if you’re waiting to be perfect in order to earn the right to share your thoughts and your energy I have some sad news.  You will never be perfect.  You will never be the perfect embodiment of anything.  All you can be is you–as hard and as joyfully as you can!  Fortunately, that’s enough.

Love,

The Fat Chick

The Power of a Few Unkind Words: Project Runway Fail

Well the world is buzzing with the recent antics of new Project Runway “super villain” Ven Budhu.  Apparently the past week’s challenge was to create looks for average people rather than models.  Ven’s model Terri was, horror of horrors, a plus-sized girl.  Now at about a size 14, Terri is actually pretty close to the US national average for women of about a size 12 on the top and a 14 on the bottom.  She definitely met the “Project Runway” criteria for an average person.  Yet Ven could not keep his yap shut from the beginning of the show to the end about how unfair it was that he was asked to work with this model who “has no shape” and “no personality”.  He said these things to Tim Gunn in the workroom.  He said these things in front of Terri.  He made her cry.  He did not put a particularly attractive look on the runway and he wasn’t the one sent home this week.

For the record, Terri is a beautiful woman with a modified hourglass shape.  And she didn’t deserve to take the blame for Ven’s basic incompetence as a designer.  And she didn’t deserve to be exploited at the hands of “Project Runway” in order to boost ratings either.  But that’s exactly what happened.

Let me let you in on the world’s worst kept secret.  Reality shows are not real.  They are heavily edited and produced to one end–bump up the ratings.  And the producers of the show saw an opportunity to stir up drama and controversy.  Ven played his part.  The super baddy is often one of the last to go home on these shows because people love to hate them.  And viewers tune in so they can boo and hiss at the bad guy.  The villain creates drama and drama drives ratings.

So don’t just be mad at Ven.  He did his part.  He chose to be the bad guy character and had to use whatever was at his disposal to stay on the show.  Be mad at the producers of “Project Runway” too.  Because they exploited Terri every bit as much as Ven did.  And worse, they did it because they felt pretty certain they would get away with it.  Because as a nation, we seem to think it is still okay to pick on people who have the audacity to be anything larger than a size 2.

Let’s look at that for a second.  Do you think Ven would have had this tantrum with a model who had dark skin or naturally curly hair?  What if his model had a physical challenge and was in a wheel chair or had artificial limbs?  Do you think Ven would have pulled this garbage and “Project Runway” would have aired it in those situations?  In a word, no.  Because “Project Runway” and Ven would have known that picking on people in those situations would have caused a backlash with negative consequences for both the designer and the show.  But they pulled that garbage with Terri because they knew they could spark controversy, but not too much controversy.

The whole thing makes me sad.  Because as I said yesterday, a few kind words can have incredible power to make the world a better place.  Conversely, a few unkind words can tear someone down forever.  Fellow contestant Fabio Costa said of Ven, “It’s really sad that you have the power to make someone feel bad about themselves and you use that deliberately.”  To which I say, I agree Fabio.  But don’t let the show’s producers off the hook.  They are at least as guilty as Ven.

So my little Chicklettes.  I won’t be watching any more “Project Runway” this season.  I would rather place my eyeballs and my energy on something that makes the world in some small way a better place.

Love,

The Fat Chick