Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Did You Get in Your Bag?
A #Fat-Shaming Letter!

Everybody who's ever been an American kid can remember the thrill of Halloween: the excitement of deciding what to "be," the fun of dressing up and showing off to our grandparents and teachers, the excitement of going door to door "in disguise" to get treats from the neighbors.

And remember this part? Comparing the goodies with our friends?

This year, there's a nasty letter circulating on the 'net, that some woman calling herself "Cheryl" purportedly claimed to a radio station that she intended to hand out to those children she deems "moderately obese," instead of candy.

My hope is that "Cheryl" really enjoys cleaning TP and eggs off the side of her house.

What makes the Charlie Brown clip funny, is that we know and trust that adults wouldn't really give some kids candy, and give another child a rock. The inherent unfairness is obvious.

Now, there is some chatter that "Cheryl," and the letter itself, are a prank and it's not going to be passed out to kids after all. This is a good thing.

But here's what I find disturbing and a sign of sickness in our society.

That while most people are in agreement that the idea is horrific and cruel, a minority are openly expressing their support for "Cheryl" and this letter. They think the way to solve childhood obesity is by shaming fat children.

Basically, fat people in our society are treated much like Jews in early 1930's Germany - it was not only accepted, but expected you would harass them. (Mind you, I'm talking about the time before Jews and many other people were rounded up and sent to concentration camps, when they were "only" being spit on and beat up.)

Like Jews wearing a yellow star, or people of color living in a primarily white-skinned community, or those in a wheelchair, fat people never "pass" as "normal" people.

But unlike being a person of color or Jewish, being fat is a choice, right?

Actually, scientific evidence is pointing to many signs that obesity is very complicated. There are genetic factors, environmental factors, links to the influence of various poisons and chemicals that now permeate our bodies in a way they didn't a few hundred years ago. And there is also substantial evidence that people on various medicines "blow up" or lose weight, and it has nothing to do with willpower, diet or exercise. In a poignant rant on my other blog, TL Hamrick said:
As a person who was painfully thin until my early twenties, and struggled (and still struggle) with weight, especially at about age 30, when my PCOS went into full swing. I spent a good part of my 30's overweight or obese, lost weight, kept it off for about 2 years, received a treatment/implant that caused my diet/exercise to fail and gained it all back, plus... and lost it again. Now I am on the too skinny side due to a serious health issue that I am recovering from, and will I ever be morbidly obese again?
I hope not. But... if I am, I will continue my striving for health at any weight, and the body comments? Do. Not. Want.

Shaming People Doesn't Work - But Let's Do It Anyway

Let's put aside medical issues, and all the other reason people may be too fat. Let's accept (for a moment) the premise that there are many people who CHOOSE to be overweight because they are lazy and undisciplined, yada yada. Let's accept the (now scientifically disputed) premise that being even moderately overweight is unhealthy.

Therefore, as a society, we want to help these people lose weight.

What's the best way we, as a society can do this?

Scientific studies (I know, again with the science!) point out that shaming, whether self-shaming or shaming by frenemies and outsiders, not only doesn't work for long-term weight loss, it actually has been proven to have the opposite effect.

Okay. So when we point out to people that a) people are fat for many different reasons, and b) fat-shaming doesn't work, they stop, right?

That Would Make Sense, But No

I have found, though engaging with people on places like FaceBook and various chat boards, there are some people (OCPD? who knows?) who insist on their right to continue bullying fat people, even fat children, because "they are disgusting." Because "it's for their own good."

They express every intention to continue to hate on fat people, even fat children, who are at the mercy of genes, medicine, and parental control, for being fat. While at the same time, they want to assume the high moral ground. They want credit for being "good people," they are deeply offended when people call them even mild things like cruel or "willfully ignorant" or bullies.

But they are bullies.

My ex was like this, too, and that's one of many reasons he is my ex. He thought he was doing me a favor when he would tell me that I would look really good "if you lost another ten pounds" or when, if I dared to eat a modest lunch, he'd curl his lip in disgust and make a comment about me "pigging out again."

Even when I tried to talk to him about how harmful what he was doing was, to me and to our relationship, he could not adjust his settings.

If you are one of those people who feels justified in making negative comments about fat people (or skinny people, or white people, black people, people of a different religion, whatever), it's not because THEY have a problem.

It's because you do.

Have you ever been bullied about your weight?
Are you aware when a fat-shaming message comes out of your mouth?
Your thoughts?