Article: About the Fat Caste System

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Cynthia

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The size acceptance community spends an inordinate amount of energy convincing others that 1) our fatness isn't our "fault" and 2) we're healthier than people give us credit to be. In some cases, both one and two are true. But that's not the reality for many of us. Regardless of whether we're fat, how we got that way, and whether we're healthy, we are equally deserving of fair treatment on the job, at home, and in the community.

"Every Fat Person, Healthy or Not, Deserves Respect"
Sarah Hollowell for the Huffington Post
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-obesity-health-fat-shame-respect_us_5ba52251e4b069d5f9d27e54?utm_sq=fvz1b4yggs
 

loopytheone

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I absolutely agree with this. Health is important for everyone and 'concern-trolling' fat people is ridiculous. But people should be allowed to be unhealthy without being bullied for it. Like, I'm a disabled person, I'm never going to be 'healthy'. But that doesn't mean I'm worthy of less respect.

I think it interlinks with ableist behaviours and the way disabled/sick people are discriminated against as well.
 

Scotter

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I absolutely agree with this. Health is important for everyone and 'concern-trolling' fat people is ridiculous. But people should be allowed to be unhealthy without being bullied for it. Like, I'm a disabled person, I'm never going to be 'healthy'. But that doesn't mean I'm worthy of less respect.

I think it interlinks with ableist behaviours and the way disabled/sick people are discriminated against as well.
The other side's argument to accusations of ableism is that it does not apply to those who choose their own fate and are able to undo what they have done by choice. The courts (through ridiculous argument) seem to back up this point of view.

The courts' position relates to the "cause of the disability" being voluntary. However, the courts unfairly regress from proximate cause, which is the cause that matters. If someone lost both legs due to being in a car accident because that person was driving drunk, is that the cause of that person's disability? Should that person then be denied all consideration on that account? No, the law considers the "cause" of that person's disability to be that he or she is missing both legs, not that he or she was driving drunk.

Asymmetrically, rather than considering the "cause" of one's disability to be obesity itself, the courts seemed to have regressed to the "cause of the cause," something they have not done in other cases. This is patently unfair.

I recall a spirited debate on this forum years ago when Southwest Airlines announced it's double fare policy for persons it arbitrarily considered too wide, while not even having any objective standard for enforcing the policy other than the arbitrary judgment of the employees. Full disclosure, I participated in a picket of Southwest on this issue at LAX.

Even participants on this forum emphatically took Southwest's side, whereas my argument was that if Southwest was going to handle passengers as freight, the only fair thing to do was to do it for everyone. What I see as the folly of the argument in Southwest's favor was this underlying assumption that the size of a seat, or even the aircraft as a whole, was somehow handed down by divine providence, rather than being an arbitrary selection. For the record, Southwest's seats are significantly smaller than Delta's.

Either you're carrying passengers with the dignity of human beings, or you're carrying freight and charging based upon all attainable metrics, most importantly weight (since it's an aircraft), and thus should weigh and measure everyone and charge accordingly. In the former case, it's the carrier's responsibility to provide accommodations per capita, and choose the size of those accommodations at their risk, not the passenger's. To charge a larger person more under those circumstances is to rob that person of human dignity and classify him or her as less than human.

Nonetheless, since society has the backing of the courts, however erroneously, society continues to feel perfectly justified in its similarly unfair judgmentalism.

I like the term "concern trolling." If there is a heaven, hell, and immortal soul, wouldn't the fate of that be more important than any health concerns? How well does society tolerate people going around announcing concern for that? Not very well. But, it's a matter of the seen versus the unseen I guess.

Maybe next time someone gets on your case about fat, get on their case about sin (even and especially if you don't mean it), and see how fast they run lol.
 
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loopytheone

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It seems so illogical and ridiculous to me that other people think that way. By that logic, if a hiker falls and needs their leg amputating they shouldn't be considered disabled because it was 'voluntary' that they went hiking. I don't have great understanding of how things work in the benefit system over here (UK) but as far as I can tell, the 'cause' of your disability is irrelevant to whether or not you get disability benefits etc and it always should be. Disability benefits are for people that are unable to work for health reasons, regardless of what the cause of those health issues is. We get a lot of things wrong in this country, but at least our attitude towards health and disability is somewhat reasonable, even if the actual applications are awful.

As an atheist in a predominantly secular society, I guess the comparison to sin/religion doesn't work well for me personally, hah.

But it boggles my mind that, essentially, saying "Sick people are human beings worth of respect" is a controversial statement to some people out there...
 

Cynthia

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Many other "deviant" lifestyle choices can lead to serious health consequences, such as anorexia, excessive drinking, smoking, drug abuse, speeding, etc., but we glorify "fast living" as much as we may demonize it. Heck, it can't be so bad if models, ballerinas, and rock stars do it. (And I do understand that these are all complex conditions that are not the result of simple choices.) So-called reckless behavior is hip and glossy in the collective imagination, but eating abundantly has no "cool factor" outside SA circles. Plus, because fatness is so widespread, its easy for the healthcare establishment to identify it as public health enemy #1. The problem is when WE, by extension, become the public health enemies.

I have a chronic disease to which I'm genetically predisposed. However, with healthier eating habits (or, more specifically, better control of depression and compulsive eating), I might have delayed the onset by 20 or more years. Knowing that my weight makes me a "transgressor" rather than a "victim," I avoid mentioning my advanced kidney disease to others, rarely ask for accommodations to which I'm entitled, and sometimes struggle to advocate for myself in medical settings. It's as though I don't feel worthy of the competent healthcare that I do receive. And I definitely do shield myself from others who might smile sympathetically while thinking, "What a shame. She did this to herself, of course."
 

ravfa

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I just finished reading a book called "What's Wrong With Fat?" by Abigail C. Saguy, published in 2013. It touches on the issues raised in this thread, and related topics. It's relatively short (under 200 pages, without the appendixes and notes), though the first half is written in a rather "academic" style, which some people may find slow going. It is a fascinating and enlightening book however, which Dimensions members should find well worth their time.
 

abzu

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@loopytheone

Though not every single person I've dealt with has been universally cruel, my descent into clinical disability which accompanied my exciting introduction to middle age has provided a rapid and agonizing education. The average person in vast swathes of rural America, typically the same demographic responsible for our articulate and competent president (Monty Python flashing sarcasm alert), considers me, and those like me, to be lesser creatures undeserving of many, basic human rights. In their minds, I quite literally have a right to NOTHING. I exist only at their mercy, their pleasure. I should THANK them for whatever they give me aside from death. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to overwhelming signs of affection and love like:

Gifts of frozen meat which were declared unfit for paying customers by retail grocers and stored in the freezers of local social service center hubs for roughly year after they were thrown out by said grocers.

Being told that after driving myself about since the age of 15, I no longer deserved even an ancient, used automobile, and would instead be relying on subsidized transportation via small buses built on the same commercial platforms as those frequently employed by UHAUL and Ryder trucks. The fact that even in my twenties, these chassis had the much sought after feature of tossing me around the cabin with such force, and launching my full 500 pound frame up and down in a seat like I was a football to such an extent that I had trouble walking and even making it to the bathroom in a timely fashion for two or three days afterward were mere minor details. I should be grateful for this, impudent thing that I am.

Being subject to legal action for being poor and unable to generate any significant amount of income. How dare I?

Disability is largely regarded as a scam by these people. There are very few exceptions. They are completely aware that I and those like me are indeed severely challenged, sometimes to a life-threatening extent. They don't care. They feign disbelief and label such things a scam because in their world, it's a socially acceptable out. It might effect their social status if they openly admitted their belief in Eugenics, and in many aspects of fascism. But, if the present political climate in the US remains in affect for much longer, they might not have to conceal their proclivities indefinitely.

I've labeled what they're doing to me and many elderly people as "Passive Eugenics". You designate just enough resources to give the appearance you are doing........something, however inadequate that might be. If any complaints are made, it's pointed out that there's just not enough to go around, much in the same way the US can't afford a proper, modern, Western universal health care system. There's always plenty of money for the military industrial complex, oddly enough. In this way, Billy Bob and his wife Sally Mae, can maintain a veneer of respectability at church while those pesky "Useless Eaters" enjoy greatly reduced lifespans thanks to malnutrition, horrid living conditions, rationed or absent medications, and weakened hearts and immune systems due to the onset of clinical depression subsequent to near complete or complete social isolation. After all, who wants to deal with a loser?
 

abzu

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Thanks. There are countless things I've not mentioned, like the year they tried to gradually eliminate my food benefit altogether, eventually reducing it to 17 dollars a month, as well as my primary income, despite the fact that my income never exceeded 800 US dollars a month. This went on for the better part of a year, causing me to regularly run out of groceries, and nearly lose my house. I was so weak at one point that as I attempted to step off my porch, I simply collapsed into a heap in the front yard. Fortunately, my primary vehicle at the time concealed my body, and since I still had some amount of upper body strength, I was able to pull myself back up using the door handles before anyone noticed, which would have merely caused more problems. I've been able to mitigate some of these problems to a certain extent since that time, but remaining on the earthly plane given present personal and political circumstances nationwide requires consistent vigilance and creativity.
 

Cynthia

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This meme, which also touches on beauty issues, seems appropriate here. I admire women like Ashley Graham as size-positive spokespeople, but I dislike the notion that a fat woman needs to regard herself as beautiful in order to have high self-esteem. I'm relatively plain and that's okay. There are many other measures of value that we can ascribe to ourselves and others. Why use some outmoded term like "BBW" and tie ourselves to a one-dimensional, chauvinistic notion of worth?
 

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agouderia

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This meme, which also touches on beauty issues, seems appropriate here. I admire women like Ashley Graham as size-positive spokespeople, but I dislike the notion that a fat woman needs to regard herself as beautiful in order to have high self-esteem. I'm relatively plain and that's okay. There are many other measures of value that we can ascribe to ourselves and others. Why use some outmoded term like "BBW" and tie ourselves to a one-dimensional, chauvinistic notion of worth?
Thank you! So far I felt like I was the only one who was sceptical about the inflationary use of the adjective "beautiful".
 

BigElectricKat

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Thank you! So far I felt like I was the only one who was sceptical about the inflationary use of the adjective "beautiful".
I get what you are saying agouderia. I am loathe to describe myself as a Big Handsome Man (mainly because I am the farthest thing from handsome). However, beautiful is a subjective term, like fast or slow. I do think that just about every gal has her own beauty and look at it from that perspective. Plus, you never know how any given person will see another. How about we start a new trend: Instead of BBW we could go with BSW or BSM (Big Sexy Woman or Big Sexy Man). But then, we run into two other problems. First, like beautiful, sexy is subjective. What one person thinks is sexy another may not. Secondly, that BSM label might get some people to see BDSM and turn some folks off (or on as the case may be). Ummm...maybe I should keep my mouth shut and just stay in the background?
 

loopytheone

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I get what you are saying agouderia. I am loathe to describe myself as a Big Handsome Man (mainly because I am the farthest thing from handsome). However, beautiful is a subjective term, like fast or slow. I do think that just about every gal has her own beauty and look at it from that perspective. Plus, you never know how any given person will see another. How about we start a new trend: Instead of BBW we could go with BSW or BSM (Big Sexy Woman or Big Sexy Man). But then, we run into two other problems. First, like beautiful, sexy is subjective. What one person thinks is sexy another may not. Secondly, that BSM label might get some people to see BDSM and turn some folks off (or on as the case may be). Ummm...maybe I should keep my mouth shut and just stay in the background?
The other issue with those suggested terms is that not everybody wants to be seen or refer to themselves as sexy. I guess this is more common in women, because we spend a lot of time getting sexualised against our will so some of us don't feel comfortable constantly referring to our bodies as a means of bringing other people sexual pleasure. I'm also asexual, and not keen on being referred to as sexy for that reason.

Incidentally, I always refer to BHM as "Big Hot Man" in my head for some reason. I absolutely agree with you about saying that every person has their own beauty, which is why I don't mind the term BBW at all. I guess it is to do with the fact that I see beauty as more than just appearance, its charm and personality and such too. I also think its just nice to tell people they are beautiful, especially marginalised groups like fat people who often don't hear it from many sources.

Please don't keep your mouth shut, I always look forwards to hearing what you have to say. :)
 

BigElectricKat

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You are right. Often many women (and some men) are objectified and/or sexualized, reluctantly. And in truth, it makes many feel uncomfortable. Conversely, some of us would rather be objectified than have no one notice us (I'm not speaking for everybody or even myself). When you walk through life being ignored or even shunned for you appearance, just about any attention is preferable to none. But that's a subject for a different venue, probably.

But like you, I see beauty as much more than appearance. For me it's intelligence, confidence, and the way a gal carries herself. Don't get me wrong; a big butt and a smile will surely catch my attention (Hey! I don't want anyone thinking I've lost my mind).

So, you've made a great point. I'd rather be called "Handsome" or "Hot" than not be called at all.;)

*And as always, I appreciate your perspective on things*
 

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I'm not happy with terms like BHM, BSM, BBW and BSW, because they are often very inappropriate. They objectify people as sex objects. I also believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I don't like to be described as "big". There are plenty of people, who are big without being fat. It's also a euphemism. It ducks the issue. It makes fat people so terrible that they're unmentionable. It erases us. That's what euphemisms do. I prefer to describe myself plainly and simply as a "fat man" or a "fat guy". If I need to tell someone (e.g. a taxi driver) who to look for, I will say something like, "...and I'm the fat guy outside the main entrance." I realize that it won't be the way that other people wish to describe themselves but I'm a gainer and I chose to be fat, because I think that fat people look nice. I use the word "fat" brazenly. I hold fat people in high regard and so I don't take the word as an insult, even if that is how it is intended. If people think that they can insult me by describing me as fat, then they're going to be disappointed. I think that this is an important way to break down stigma. I believe in reclaiming the word "fat", in the same way that the LGBTI+ community has reclaimed the word "queer".

I really dislike the words "overweight" and "obese", as they both imply excess and I don't believe that we can describe the works of Mother Nature in terms of excess. They might often be extreme but never excessive. My doctor never uses the words "overweight" or "obese". He might tell me that "That's because of you're weight." One day I'll tell him that I wish that he would say "That's because you're fat." LOL (=Lots of Lard)

We need to show the world that we not ashamed of being fat people. Our detractors do not have to live in our bodies. So, what they say about them is unwanted, unsolicited and irrelevant. Only our own feelings about our bodies matter. We need to remind ourselves of this, when we are being fat shamed. I like me and my body. That is all that I will take notice of on this subject.
 

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