Does It Matter?

Tonight I overheard some thin 20somethings discussing fat people as a group (nothing said about the 40ish couple at a nearby table). The terms and statements made were rather derogatory. There was laughter. Then their discussion moved to other topics.

Image courtesy of Stocky Bodies

Image courtesy of Stocky Bodies

This wasn’t pleasant. I tweeted about it. I then focused on dinner with the man of the house.

Why?

In the microcosm of this hour and this room, their comments did not necessarily have to affect me.  Their opinions did not cause me to lose my job or my home. And their finding fat people unsexy doesn’t undo what we did this morning. ;)

At the same time, however, the anti-fat views expressed by a group at a bar  encourages and reinforces anti-fat views at the societal level. Society’s view that anyone can lose weight, and that fat people are stupid or in denial or lazy to not be thin,  makes it less likely that I will be hired than a thin person with my qualifications. Or that I’ll be paid as well as a thin person. It’s also part of why medical professionals view fat people as non-compliant and deficient, since we are “willfully” avoiding thinness. Etcetera.

Does it matter to me what a random stranger thinks of fat people?  Individually, maybe not. But society’s view of fat people matters a great deal.

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9 thoughts on “Does It Matter?

  1. One way that it matters is that it creates animosity toward people who say things like that. If, during a job interview, someone indicates that they harbor negative attitudes toward fat people, or are not compassionate, or are not able to work with people from a variety of backgrounds, ages, life experiences, etc., they are not going to be hired.

  2. I will never understand our society that demands that everyone be accepted and embraced except if they’re fat. Even in the 80s when every one was into working out and aerobics I don’t remember this level of harassment of fat people. what happened?

    • I can’t speak for all of it, but in the modern web getting people angry and outraged makes them talk about your article or blog post. That gets more visitors to your site and as a result more ad revenue for you.

      So now more than ever before, moral outrage is profitable. Even if the person making obnoxious comments at a bar isn’t directly motivated that way, they undoubtedly were influenced by hundreds of articles and blog posts written by people that are.

      At least, that’s my best guess. I’m open to other explanations.

    • Umm, the level of fat bias in the 80’s was horrific. Delta Burke even had it written into an episode of Designing Women because of the comments said about her.

  3. People are too driven by pop culture. It appears that TV,Film and music stars make the rules. Was it Oscar Wilde who wrote “art imitates life”. Seems like we’re doing it wrong.

  4. It will be a wonderful day when a conversation like this will be seen as just as socially acceptable as making blatant racist slurs in public. Sure, racism exists throughout every modern social group, but at least it is not socially acceptable in most public settings!

  5. I would (and do) feel the same way when I hear derogatory remarks about my girth as I would (or do) when people make racist remarks, or remarks about those with a disability. It’s awful, it hurts, and it makes me angry.

    What I would like to do is take the piece of cake I am eating at the time and smash it right in their small minded faces:)

    I haven’t read you in awhile — been too busy isolating I guess.

    It’s good to see your words again.

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