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Fat Shaming Double Team

So I got into a fight on the train. That was fun. I sat down next to a woman who was in the mood to do some fat shaming. It happens from time to time. Being a woman of a certain size, I take up a certain amount of space. Occasionally, people don't like to share, and feel compelled to yell at me and my "fat ass" for sitting too close to them. Whatev.

The thing that surprised me was how little I cared. I sat down, and this woman said something snarky about my "fat ass." And I turned, looked her in the eye, and calmly said "fuck you." She started getting riled and proudly announced that I didn't know what kind of an asshole she could be if she was so inclined (I may not know, but I've got a pretty good guess). I said she started it, she said no, I started it by touching her when I sat down (she was taking two seats, BTW, and had ample space next to her to slide over. And yes, it *was* the only empty seat on the train). I let her have the last word, and that was the end of that.

And it struck me: Sure, I was pissed, but I wasn't really mad -- mostly, I just didn't give a shit. Not scared, not fuming, no blood pressure surging -- just calmly refusing to let some douchenozzle treat me like crap.

It's been that way for a while now. Remember when I broke up with aaronbenedict? I called him on the phone, told him that it was over, talked for a bit, and then said goodbye and went to class. Made it through class with only a few momentary lapses in concentration, too. A handful of friends called or emailed in the days following to make sure that I was OK, and I was. I was fine.

Is this perimenopause? Are fading hormones calming my once unpredictable emotions? Or maybe it's just getting older. I kinda feel like I have seen it all at this point. Or maybe something else? I don't know.

But you know what did piss me off? This poster, directly across the aisle from me:

Can we deconstruct this a bit?

I know that that woman is a paid model, and I'd bet that, like me on my "gluttony" day with Law & Order, she was just glad to get a call for some paid employment. Everyone on the shoot that day was probably very nice to her -- they usually are. But does anyone disagree with me that the subtext of this ad is "Ugh! You don't want to end up like her!"

This ad campaign has already come under fire for other things. Like "ZOMG if you drink soda they're gonna cut off your leg like they did to this guy!" Except that they didn't. Fat is so deadly that we had to use PhotoShop to prove it to you!

This campaign purports to be about healthy eating, but it's really about fat shaming. If it were really about making healthy food choices, they wouldn't need the boogeyman of the fat people as cautionary tales. Because P.S. there's plenty of skinny people who eat like crap too. Isn't that unhealthy for them? Or just us fatty fattersons?

It was just incredibly ironic timing, that I would be staring at one of those "Yo! Ugly fatty!" ads at the same time that some obnoxious bitch would feel the need to yell at me for taking up more space that she personally feels that I deserve. I said it once tonight, and I'll say it again: Fuck you.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:44 pm (UTC)
A while ago, when I was still on Facebook, I made a post about how I noticed women doing the "Oh no, I shouldn't..." when faced with tempting food choices during Italian Days in Bloomfield. Someone I know commented and it turned into a debate (about unhealthy food) where I basically said, "All I'm saying is, every once in a while, people should indulge their cravings. There is nothing wrong with eating a pastry or a meatball sandwich during a food festival. I see a lot of people, especially women, deny themselves things like this and it's getting old. Eat what you want!" I didn't want it to turn into the "obesity in America" debate, but the person made it that way - he said something like, "The problem is people are eating what they want, and too much of it. Fat people are sick people. Period.". I remember trying not to get into the debate because I didn't want to, but I pointed out that skinny people could be sick people too and they can also make poor food choices. He said something like, "This isn't about teen girls who starve themselves to look like models. I could care less about them. Fat people need serious food and nutrition education." That statement angered me because, I do kind of care about all of those young girls. I also agree that nutrition education is an issue, but not because of fat people.

The other thing that used to get to me on Facebook was this one guy who would post things like, "It's your fault you have diabetes, so don't whine to me!" Then he would post about how we all need to do yoga, be less negative, and eat vegan cuisine for social change and weight loss. Um...

Feb. 24th, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
There seem to be meme-like images for discouraging bad eating habits, both in print and in video, particularly for national and local news stories on the topic of obesity. You might recall an SNL skit that featured a news team being sent out to "get some shots of fatties," and the cameraman pointing out that it seemed unnecessary, as they already had hundreds of clips on file. If Mayor Bloomberg and others want to promote healthier eating, it would be much more effective--I think--to show happy people eating healthy food, not yet more images of overweight people being miserable on a subway staircase.
Feb. 24th, 2012 06:01 pm (UTC)
Can I ask how you know that she's miserable?

I mean, I know that's the assumption we're supposed to make, but her head is down, so we can't actually see her expression. Maybe she's having a great time, thinking about the $500 paycheck (note: I have no clue what she was actually paid -- I'm just making that comment based on my Law & Order payday) that she's going to get for an hour's worth of work. Or maybe she is miserable, but it's because of a old ankle injury that makes stair climbing painful, or a genetic joint issue, or any number of other reasons not relating to fat.

The point is that this ad pushes us to make that exact assumption -- she's fat, so she's having trouble with the stairs -- without providing any actual proof. And thus a stereotype is perpetuated.
Feb. 24th, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC)
I don't know that she's miserable, but it's implied.
Feb. 24th, 2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
Exactly! It falls under that same slippery heading "Everybody Knows." I made this comment in another post, but it reminds me of last winter, when I tore the tendons and ligaments in my ankle. Recovery took months. I went from crutches, to a cane, to walking, first with a limp, and then more evenly, but still very slowly. I wonder how many times in the course of a subway ride, or walk down the sidewalk, somebody saw me and thought "she's so fat she can't even walk." None of them knew that I'd gotten my foot stuck in a hole in the sidewalk, something that could happen to a person of practically any size. Culturally, we have it so ingrained into our heads that fat = unhealthy that it becomes the oft-made (and frequently erroneous) default assumption.
Feb. 25th, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
A lot of people in ads like this are appearing without their informed consent (like the non-diabetic non-amputee). Especially since her face isn't being shown, she may have even been photographed without her knowledge, or she may have been photographed for stock without knowing where the photo might be used. So I wouldn't fault the model herself at all.

The marketing agency, the New York City Health Department, the diet-industrial complex, the patriarchy, capitalism—I totally fault those.

Go you telling that woman calmly to fuck off! I can't imagine what kind of a shitbag of a human being you have to be to fat-shame, especially right in someone's face like that.
Oct. 22nd, 2012 04:48 am (UTC)
A very delayed response
But here's a bit about the model, and what she did or didn't know. The short version: She answered a Craigslist ad for an "overweight actress," offering $250 for a photo shoot. They photographed her the next day, and gave her $300, which made her very happy because it meant she could pay her rent.

The linked article doesn't make it 100% clear how much she knew or didn't know about the focus of the ad. It also doesn't specify whether she actually has any of the health problems the ad warns about, or whether she's as healthy as our friend the fake amputee.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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