Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Last Acceptable Prejudice

The more that I look around, the more that I realize that fat-bashing really IS the last form of acceptable prejudice.  Humanity has come a long way in just a few hundred years, really, moving past the obvious hatreds for the most part, things such as skin color and country of origin for example.  Yes, there are still problems in those areas, still hold-outs who insist that they are better than someone else because of those factors, but for the most part that kind of narrow-minded thinking is considered to be offensive.  Most (not all, but most) people look at the folks who express such views as ignorant bigots, and those who hold to that kind of thinking are generally scorned and / or pitied because they can't seem to move past their blindness.

After we freed ourselves of those lines of thought, we moved on to less obvious hatreds, things that may not necessarily be immediately visible, such as religion, homosexuality and political ideology.  We're still struggling with being as open-minded about these ideas and ways of living, but overall as a species we are on the downhill side of a long uphill battle.  And again, this is wonderful.

And then we come to fat people.  The Size Acceptance Movement has nowhere near the support as the Gay Pride Movement or the various political parties.  Every day we are blasted with continual messages about how The Fatties are ruining our country, how they are evil and pathetic, and how they are CHOOSING to remain that way despite the efforts of all of the Really Good People (not Fatties) to show them the error of their ways.

In the past two days I have seen articles on how fat people cost companies more money, how fat people have worse credit ratings than slender people, and how fat people drive up the cost of flying.  Even worse than the articles themselves are the comments.  Most of the time I don't read them because I already know what is coming.  Small-minded people who are safely hidden behind the anonymity of their computer monitors spew vitriol and hate toward The Fatties.  They call names, they point fingers, they talk about how fat people should stop stuffing their faces with fast food and potato chips and get up off their couches to do a little exercise for a change.  The anger and the hatred is truly mind-boggling to me.  I don't understand how anyone can have so much fury roiling around inside themselves toward people who have honestly never done a thing to deserve it.

I know that part of it is the fact that they don't have to look someone in the eye and say what they're typing.  I think if they had to actually watch the faces of the people they were so casually throwing hateful words at, most of them would think twice.  There would be a small minority who would say it anyway, because they are vicious and spiteful, but generally I think that people would "speak" differently if it were face to face.  It is so easy to generalize and say cruel words when it is a generic mass of unknown that you are addressing. 

It is growing more and more important that we all stand up and refuse to tolerate this kind of behaviour any more.  Whether you are fat or slender, whether you are underweight, "normal" weight or overweight according the the medical establishment and The Diet Industry that runs it, it is your responsibility to reply to these people and let them know that their prejudice is no longer acceptable.  To be honest, while I am a strong advocate of fat people standing up for themselves, this one time I will say that it is almost more important that people who are NOT fat speak up as well.  I know, I know, that's not my usual style, to depend on someone else to fight a battle, but here is my line of thinking:  Whenever a fat person steps up and says, "But this isn't right.  I DON'T eat more than my not-fat friends, I DO exercise, my health is better than most of the not-fat people I know!" they get patted on the head and condescendingly told either that they are the exception (if people are being nice) or that they are outright lying.  Fat people get told on a constant basis that we obviously HAVE to be eating more food and unhealthy food because if we WERE eating right and exercising, we obviously wouldn't be fat!

So the next time you see an article about how fat people are ruining the world, please go down to the comments and use some of the information that I try to pass along in this blog.  If you want more ammunition, there are a lot of other Size Acceptance blogs and resources out there.  A simple search for the terms "size acceptance" and "Health at Every Size" will provide you with a vast abundance of information refuting the oft-repeated half-truths that have been spoonfed to our populace so often that it is now taken as "well known fact" without anything to support it.

Please, when you read those insulting and demeaning comments, picture the face of any fat person that you know and love (because we ALL know fat people, there are too many fat people out there for anyone to claim that they don't), and imagine how they would look if someone said that to them.  Take that thought and use it to fuel your determination NOT to allow that kind of behaviour to go unchallenged, because when we let it stand without calling the perpetrators out, well, then we condone it via our inaction.

Let's add Fat Hating to the list of UNacceptable prejudices.  That is one list that I would love to see continue to grow until there was nothing left to add.

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