Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Stop With The Fat Hate!: Fat Shaming & Social Media

Can we talk about how much of an everyday occurrence fat shaming is becoming?

Because it seems to me like I can't even scroll through Facebook anymore without coming across someone who thinks it's acceptable to use body shaming language or openly pass judgements on bigger people - and frankly, I'm SICK of it.

Whether it's "snappy" hashtags added on to fitness posts, "hilarious" memes or just outright cruel comments posted on publically shared images of fat strangers - I feel as though it's everywhere I turn.

And whilst it's absolutely true that body shaming and body confidence issues are not limited only to bigger people, there is really no other body type that is so consistently and openly used as the butt of all jokes as fat people are.

Whether it's in movies, magazines, or on social media - fat people are always the punch line. We are fair game to be on the receiving end of whatever insult or "funny" joke people see fit to make, and we'd better not dare to mention that this sort of behaviour is cruel or wrong - because our existence as fat people means we're somehow less than human. We're not worth the same amount of respect or decency that you'd afford to a thinner person.

Well I'm done.

The truth is, when you share a fat shaming image on social media - whether you created it yourself or not - YOU are being cruel. You are adding to the problem.

When you choose to share your latest weight loss photograph along with a hashtag such as "#FatBitchBeGone" or "#LookAtTheStateOfMeThen" - You are adding to the problem. By all means, share your weight loss photos! Be proud of your achievements! But do it WITHOUT hating on fat bodies in the process.

And when you choose to comment on a photograph or video of somebody else, and you bring up their size in a negative way...using slurs and swear words and even threats of violence, you are being cruel, heartless and you are adding to the ugliness in the world.

And excuse me for just not being able to comprehend why anybody would want to do that?!

This weekend I saw a post on Facebook that a friend of mine had shared about cruel treatment of donkeys in Santorini.

I was drawn to the post because of the awful images of animal cruelty. But as I clicked on them, I noticed that the image I'd have THOUGHT would have drawn the most comments - an image of the red, weeping, open sores on the back of the poor animal - actually had only 500 comments.

While another image of a donkey carrying a larger lady had drawn over 8,700 comments.

This struck me as a little odd.

I was suspicious - did the photo really warrant EIGHT THOUSAND more comments than the one showing the poor animals awful wounds? Surely that should incite just as much anger and emotional response from animal lovers?

So I clicked on to take a look at the nature of those 8 thousand comments....and all I can say is, wow.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm not at all condoning the treatment of those poor animals, and I'm not saying that this ladies weight wasn't relevant to the topic at hand in this post - of course it was. Whenever you go horse riding in any situation (or ride on any animal) you're usually weighed and then either given an animal that can safely carry your weight, or advised that none are available and you can't ride.

And this lady was clearly too large to be riding on a donkey. And that is wrong. Very wrong. And cruel. Very cruel.

And again...I understand this woman's weight is relevant to the topic at hand, and that she should not have been riding on the poor animal...and if the comments had been along the lines of "This woman is far too heavy for this poor animal, this is cruel" etc - then fair enough. That would just be factual.

But the level of outright vitriol being directed at this anonymous woman in the photo was on another level.

Here are just a handful that I've screen shot (I did think about covering the names, but why bother....let them stand by their nastiness)

And honestly...these weren't even the worst ones. Some of them were too much to even re-publish here.

There were calls for her to be killed in all manner of graphic ways, raped etc - the level of hateful language and insults that have been thrown at her with her size used as an insult is shocking.

Surely it's not just me that thinks this is far less a case of animal lovers being overcome with emotion and outraged at the mistreatment of these animals (because if that's the case, why did so few of them comment on the other photos in comparison?), and far more a demonstration of the sheer number of fatphobic, fat hating, nasty BULLIES there are in the world who love nothing more than the opportunity to come out of the woodwork and throw their nasty fat shaming comments into the ring whenever an opportunity presents itself.

The nasty people of this world seem to love nothing more than a bandwagon to jump on, and when they see a baying crowd attacking someone they just don't seem to be able to help but jump right on in there.

It honestly makes me worry for society to think that THESE people are the people bringing up the next generation. How are children ever supposed to grow up knowing the right way to treat people when these are the people raising them?

I understand their quickness to anger given the subject in hand. But is this sort of outright HATE based on her size really the appropriate way to demonstrate it?

YES you stand up for what you believe in, YES you defend the defenceless but there are ways to do those things without resorting to callous cruelty.

The woman in those pictures made a bad choice and contributed to the suffering of an animal by riding it when she was quite probably over the weight limit - she deserves to be called out on that. She deserves to be informed that she should not have done that. But is the language and hate directed at her in those comments really ever acceptable?!

If her weight had been more evenly distributed and she was an exceptionally tall person, would the comments have come in so thick and fast, and been so venom-filled?

I very much doubt it.

Because THIS level of nastiness is usually reserved only for fat bodies, particularly online.

Our weight means that we are open target for whatever cruelty, name calling, swear words, or threats people want to throw at us.

Because we are sub-human. We are worth less because we weigh more. We deserve to be abused, shouted down, and treated no better than an animal.

We are fat.

And that means we are automatically devoid of the right to respect.

I've learned this myself over the years.

When my weight has been the subject of abuse shouted at me from men outside pubs.

When my fear of abuse and cruelty from others has resulted in me being afraid to leave my house for months at a time.

When medical negligence in the form of fat shaming from my Dr has resulted in me never having visited a Dr since, in over a year...because of the fear of going back and dealing with being fat shamed again.

The message that is sent by these comments made on public images, the "funny" fat bashing memes shared, and the thoughtless wording and hashtagging on photos is that we are NOT respected, we're NOT welcome in society and that thinner people think less of us.

So please, think twice before you contribute to this fat shaming society we're living in.

Question the kindness of the memes you share.

Think twice about the way you speak about your "before" pictures and the derogatory names you attach to them.

And for goodness sake - please think carefully before you use someone's physical appearance as a way to abuse and shame them on social media.

I know how hurtful and isolating I find these things.....I dread to think of the damage it could do to someone in a more vulnerable state than me.

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