Fat-Shaming is Bad, But…

_____________________________________________________________

Help me make more cartoons like this one by supporting my Patreon! A $1 or $2 pledge really helps.

____________________________________________________________

“Fat-shaming is bad, but…” is the fat-acceptance equivalent of “some of my best friends are Jewish.” Or of “I don’t want to sound sexist, but…”

It’s a sign of how much fat acceptance has advanced that many people now feel the need to say “of course fat shaming is bad” right before they say something fat-shaming. I’m not being entirely sarcastic! Just a few years ago, almost no one would have felt the need to put in the disclaimer, after all.

Baby steps are still steps.

I had fun drawing this one. Panel one was especially fun for me – I drew three-point perspective freehand, without even a perspective grid as a safety net. The furniture in panel one may not have totally accurate perspective, but to my eyes it’s lively.

I also had fun trying to make the two characters recognizable in each panel, while giving each of them a new outfit in every panel. I’m relying more and more on google image search to find outfit ideas for my characters, and I think it’s improving the look of my work.

I decided to keep the colors very stark and simple – I think it looks nice and suits the mood of the strip. But I’m not sure I’ll actually have the guts to stick with it – it’s tempting to go in and noodle around with shading and try to make it look prettier. I’m going to wait a few days, to get some distance from it, and then look again and decide about the shading. (Update: One day later, I added a couple of colors. Still pretty stark, though.)

The gag in panel 3, with the woman interrupting by sticking her head in through an open window, I’m pretty sure I swiped from Matt Bors. (If you ever read this, Matt, remember about imitation and flattery!)

______________________________________________________________

TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels.

Panel 1

Two women talk in a living room. One woman is older (possibly the second woman’s mother), with light-colored hair in a bun. This woman is thin. The younger woman has dark hair and is fat.

The younger woman is sitting on a sofa, looking up at the older woman, who is leaning over the arm of the sofa as she talks. The older woman is smiling, the younger woman is listening with a blank expression.

OLDER: I’d never fat-shame, but did you see the gym has a sale on new memberships?

Panel 2

The two woman sit at a table in a restaurant. Both of them have a plate of food and a drinking glass in front of them, and both are holding forks as they eat. The older woman is holding up the forefinger of her other hand, smiling as she makes a point. The younger woman, who is wearing Capri pants with a floral pattern, looks a little bit annoyed.

OLDER: Not to fat-shame, but maybe you should think about how much you order in a place like this?

A caption has two arrows coming from it; the arrows point to each of their plates.

CAPTION: Ordered the exact same thing.

Panel 3

The younger woman in inside a house (presumably her house), and is startled by the older woman, who has stuck her head in through an open window to speak. The younger woman is dropping her smart phone and looks surprised. The older woman looks very concerned.

OLDER: Fat-shaming is bad, but remember, we love you and want you to be with us a long long time.

Panel 4

The two woman sit together at a round table, coffee mugs on the table in front of them. The younger woman is reading aloud from a newspaper. The older woman smiles and places a hand on her chest in a “I am so virtuous” gesture.

YOUNGER: “Studies show that fat shaming makes fat people less healthy and is linked to weight gain.”

OLDER: That’s why I would never fat shame!

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Fat, fat and more fat. Bookmark the permalink. 

59 Responses to Fat-Shaming is Bad, But…

  1. 1
    Gracchus says:

    A lot of people have a kind of moral cut out where they feel that, as long as what they are saying is motivated by concern for someone else’s health, they can’t possibly be doing something unpleasant or unkind. What they think fat shaming is if not this, I don’t know – really I think they just don’t think about it. I’ve seen this with slut shaming or shaming of sex work too.

  2. 2
    J. Squid says:

    Gracchus,

    They sincerely believe that they are not shaming when they say things out of concern. To people who do that, shaming is purposefully making another feel shame over their weight/sexual activity/chronic pain/dietary restrictions.

    I can’t really blame them. Paying attention to X shaming isn’t on their radar, so they don’t know anything about it except, perhaps, the term.

    Next stop: an understanding of the meaning of X shaming.

  3. 3
    Polaris says:

    Hmm yes generally one shouldn’t criticize how much fat people are eating but what they are eating or drinking.
    One hardly gets fat by more vegetables, salad, fruits, berries and water.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    So you’re saying fat-shaming is good and admirable, and the problem with the character in this comic strip is that she shamed in slightly the wrong way?

  5. 5
    J. Squid says:

    One hardly gets fat by more vegetables, salad, fruits, berries and water.

    Ha! Hahahahahahahahhaahahhahahahaha! One shows one’s ignorance when one speaks of things about which they know nothing.

  6. 6
    Polaris says:

    So you’re saying fat-shaming is good and admirable, and the problem with the character in this comic strip is that she shamed in slightly the wrong way?

    Well if educating people about the benefits of healthier and more environmentally friendly eating habits counts as fat shaming.

    Ha! Hahahahahahahahhaahahhahahahaha! One shows one’s ignorance when one speaks of things about which they know nothing.

    There is of course the underlying assumption that the total volume of food or drinks a person is consuming, remains about the same thus also reducing whatever used to make them fat.
    And that its not just going to be french fries with jam.
    I kind of assumed that I wouldn’t have to play Captain Obivious here.

  7. I don’t know, Polaris. Seems to me that you have twice now demonstrated that you have completely and painfully (and perhaps willfully) missed the point of the cartoon, which—since maybe we do need a Captain Obvious here—has more to do with the older woman’s fat-shaming version of “I’m not racist but…” than with whether or not the fat person she is shaming is, in fact, living a less than healthy life style.

  8. 8
    J. Squid says:

    Wow! Is the obtuseness purposeful or do you really not see what you’re doing or how what you wrote doesn’t mean what your retcon says it means?

    Whatever, though. Either way you’re doing exactly what the cartoon criticizes.

  9. 9
    Gracchus says:

    “It’s not fat-shaming, I am educating them”

    “It’s not fat-shaming, it’s concern for people’s health”

    Keep them coming, this bingo card won’t fill itself!

  10. 10
    Polaris says:

    “It’s not fat-shaming, I am educating them”

    “It’s not fat-shaming, it’s concern for people’s health”

    Keep them coming, this bingo card won’t fill itself!

    Whether someone labels something as fat shaming or not does not make it by itself any less or more correct.

  11. 11
    J. Squid says:

    Keep digging! “… french fries and jam…” indeed.

    I’m curious to find out just how deep you’re going to go. Will you ever come to the realization that you just keep acting out the comic? Or will you never get it?

    (Not to mention that you have not yet been correct in any of your lovingly crafted, heartfelt, caring bloviations about what fat people should or should not be eating. Not that that matters to you. Keep digging brave truth teller!)

  12. 12
    Gracchus says:

    This is the sad but also absurd thing – people can speak up against fat shaming, and then practice it themselves, and when people try to draw the connection between what they are practicing and what they are condemning, they respond with bewilderment.

    I think when we speak up about things like fat shaming we need to realise that, if we really care about fat shaming, we need to try to improve our own behaviour, not just call out the behaviour of others.

    @Polaris: If you think it isnt fat shaming if it is motivated by concern for peoples health or desire to educate them, what do you think fat shaming actually is? Just flat out abuse and mockery of fat people?

  13. 13
    Mandolin says:

    If you think it isnt fat shaming if it is motivated by concern for peoples health or desire to educate them, what do you think fat shaming actually is? Just flat out abuse and mockery of fat people?

    An enormous amount of the time, it is.

    UPDATE: Misread things. Gracchus, you are correct. I read “if you think fatshaming isn’t motivated by” and you wrote “if you think that it isn’t fatshaming if it’s motivated by, etc.” Sorry.

    I… need to wear my glasses.

  14. 14
    Gracchus says:

    It’s OK Mandolin, I too have a bad habit of misreading the single word that reverses the meaning of a sentence.

  15. 15
    Polaris says:

    @Polaris: If you think it isnt fat shaming if it is motivated by concern for peoples health or desire to educate them, what do you think fat shaming actually is? Just flat out abuse and mockery of fat people?

    It is whatever someone happens to think it is just like any other overused term that was never properly defined.
    Like some considered a ad for protein supplements (which don’t make people thinner just potentially more muscular) to be fat shaming.

    What matters is if critique is actually constructive and useful or not.

    Flat out abuse and mockery is flat out abuse and mockery.

    What I really disliked was how some people called me fat and then later wondered why I didn’t eat whatever fattening foods they offered or why I didn’t join them for a late night snack.

  16. 16
    J. Squid says:

    What matters is if critique is actually constructive and useful or not.

    Since your suggestion is not actually constructive or useful, do you agree that you have been fat shaming in your comments on this thread?

    Do you think any of the suggestions in the first three panels are constructive and useful? If not, do you agree those are examples of fat shaming?

    Did you read the 4th panel? What do you think that panel means? Why do you think what you’re doing is useful and constructive?

  17. 17
    lurjer23 says:

    what do you think fat shaming actually is? Just flat out abuse and mockery of fat people?

    yes i think alot of it is that? if they are nice and trying to help that is not shaming. shaming is “i do not want to be friends with you because you are fat”

    my mother is just like panel three and she wants me to be thinner and healthier and live longer. she is not fat shaming me i do not think, she is just my mother.

    and also i do not know about panel four? it was nicer to be not-fat than fat and i am trying to be not as fat, it is okay to have some people help me sometimes.

    so this is not really true, i think?

  18. 18
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Polaris – do you think that in general, people can just give each other unsolicited health advice/education? If I see a stranger in the street in a sunny day not wearing a hat, is it appropriate for me to tell them they are at risk of sunburn and skin cancer? If I see a smoker (in a setting where smoking is permitted) is it appropriate for me to walk up to them and tell them about the risks of smoking? If I see someone about to enter a car, should I point out that it would be both healthier and better for the environment if they walked?

  19. 19
    Adrian says:

    Eytan Zweig, a lot of really painful fat shaming doesn’t come from strangers. It’s from people like your mother-in-law, or a colleague in your office, or somebody whose kid plays with yours. You know each other’s names, and it’s reasonable for you to sit down for coffee together, even though you aren’t kindred spirits.

    People justify fat-shaming because they say, “I’m not going up to verbally abuse some stranger. That would be wrong! I’m just concerned about this person who I’ve known for years, and I’m speaking out of love…”
    (I mean, that’s one way they justify it to themselves.)

  20. 20
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Adrian – Good point; I was going for examples that made the “unsolicited” part clearer, and in doing so went off-mark.

    It’s worth noting, though, that that applies to fat-shaming in person. There’s a lot of fat-shaming online that is directed at fat people generally; that is what Polaris, for example, is doing in this thread.

  21. 21
    Gracchus says:

    Yeah, by making the archetypical fat-shamer a yelling, abusive stranger, we give cover for people like Polaris to say to themselves that what they do is not fat shaming.

  22. 22
    Petar says:

    Fat-Shaming is Bad, But… it makes us feel so good about ourselves.

    I have been on both the giving and receiving end of ‘alcohol-shaming’. I have been the sanctimonious asshole when it comes to energy drinks, vaping, pain killers, smoking, recreational drugs, etc. I have had pretty much every friend of mine comment on my ‘addiction to kickboxing’ (I kick-boxed semi-professionally until my mid-40s, when my wife put her foot down)

    I would like to know exactly how ‘fat shamers’ are different from all the other assholes who preach against life-choices that they do not share or understand. And didn’t Amptoons once publish an article shaming people who wear watches that cost hundreds (sic) of dollars?

    Disclaimer: I do not think I have fat shamed anyone in decades, unless you count vetoing someone’s inclusion in an outdoor activity I’m organizing, because they simply appear too out of shape to participate. I have had three trips ruined by people who needed to be more or less carried along, and two of those were overweight (the third was a twig thin Vegan).

    As for the times decades ago, it was about getting fellow recruits into shape. Of course, at the time, I would use ‘fat slug’ for people who were not even overweight, and just lacked endurance. The one actually overweight person I met in the army had physiological issues, and ended up in the kitchen, which made everyone happier – he’d been to culinary high school, and whatever he ate over his allotment was well worth the orders of magnitude increase in quality we credited him with.

    ——-

    I am not taking any credit for my lack of fat shaming, as I do not interact with any fat people. There are no overweight people in my circle of friends, among the people I work with, or among my wife’s colleagues or students. As for thin-shaming, that’s the province of single people, so no credit to me there, either.

  23. 23
    Gracchus says:

    Petar, I think you need to find a way to discuss issues that isn’t just talking about you and your experiences. Whether or not you have personally fat shamed doesn’t really give much insight into the issue.

  24. 24
    Michael says:

    @Petar#22- I think that the argument with kickboxing and smoking is that they endanger other people. Studies have generally found secondhand smoke to be hazardous. As for kickboxing, the argument is that one could easily inflict TBI on one’s opponent if one is not careful or one is unlucky. The counterargument, of course, is that the opponent assumed the risk.

  25. 25
    J. Squid says:

    I would like to know exactly how ‘fat shamers’ are different from all the other assholes who preach against life-choices that they do not share or understand.

    What if they’re not different? Does that mean we can’t complain about any type of shaming without complaining about ALL the kinds of shaming? I don’t think so. Barry hasn’t done a comic about kickboxing shamers, probably, because a) he’s never heard of such a thing and b) it’s not an issue that he cares strongly enough to advocate about.

    The idea that it is out of bounds to complain about a thing unless you complain about all the things is odd, to say the least. And so, I think yours is a very, very strange complaint. And I wonder why you’re not complaining about those who criticise cancel culture without understanding what cancel culture is.

  26. 26
    Petar says:

    Whether or not you have personally fat shamed doesn’t really give much insight into the issue.

    That was not the point of what I wrote. It may be my writing. It may be your reading. You’d think that the paragraph about other shaming I’ve engaged in or sometimes experienced would be a clue.

    I think that the argument with kickboxing and smoking is that they endanger other people. Studies have generally found secondhand smoke to be hazardous.

    Yes, alcohol and smoking can hurt other people.

    But where one smokes and what one does after drinking is separate from whether one chooses to smoke or drink. I support legislating the former, but am ambivalent about commenting on the latter. (I still do it, of course)

    As for kickboxing, the argument is that one could easily inflict TBI on one’s opponent if one is not careful or one is unlucky. The counterargument, of course, is that the opponent assumed the risk.

    How do you feel about criticizing adults in a consensual sado-mascocistic relationship? Do you examine the personal history of the participants seeking signs of abuse and trauma?

    With kickboxing, the reasons why one does it (feeding a family, paying for college, additional income, placing yourself in a place where you either keep in shape or get hurt, yearning to hurt people, ego, simple inertia, unwillingness to admit you’re aging, etc.) should not really affect your opinion less or more than the reasons why people become fat.

    I would like to know exactly how ‘fat shamers’ are different from all the other assholes who preach against life-choices that they do not share or understand.

    What if they’re not different? Does that mean we can’t complain about any type of shaming without complaining about ALL the kinds of shaming?

    Not at all.

    But I did mean that if you personally engage in even one kind of shaming, you get less sympathy when you complain about people attempting to shame you.

    I don’t think so. Barry hasn’t done a comic about kickboxing shamers, probably, because a) he’s never heard of such a thing and b) it’s not an issue that he cares strongly enough to advocate about.

    But he has published an article criticizing people who spend too much money on watches. Whom are they hurting? Are they different from people who eat more than you think they should?

    You can spend all day to explain how it’s OK to tell people drinking Red Bull is harmful, but it is not OK to tell people that smoking marijuana is bad for them. But to me that looks like splitting hairs.

    If you are praising a book that portrays an ethnicity predominantly as greedy, heartless, mean and abusive subhumans, you do not get complain about another book that does the same for a different ethnicity. If you defend a book that thrives on protagonist centered morality, you do not get to attack another book that does the same, just because the protagonist is of a different race. If you defend appropriating the cultural heritage of one group to advance a narrative that you find progressive, you do not get to complain that someone else attempts erase your heritage. If you publish an article praising the anti-racist insights of an author whose oeuvre was used to justify the greatest, in sheer numbers, genocide attempt of World War II, you do not get to dismiss an argument because it was made on a website that leans the wrong way. If you allow your website to be used to promote pornography that’s especially degrading, you do not get to tell people that what they say is degrading to a different group.

    Well, of course, you do get to do all that. It’s a free country. But it’s still iffy.

  27. 27
    Ampersand says:

    But he has published an article criticizing people who spend too much money on watches.

    Link, please?

  28. 28
    J. Squid says:

    But I did mean that if you personally engage in even one kind of shaming, you get less sympathy when you complain about people attempting to shame you.

    This is kind of a black hole in that it, in practice, means nobody can ever criticise anybody else if they have ever done anything worthy of criticism. It’s not even a standard, it’s a fantasy – whether utopic or dystopic, I’ll leave to others to determine.

    I’m afraid that the more I read your position and the more you explain it, the more I find it unrealistic and the more I am sure it’s not a reasonable stance to take.

  29. 29
    Mandolin says:

    Talking about fat issues is rough no matter how you’re doing it in our culture. But most of the kinds of things we call fat shaming are only very superficially about helping anyone. “Exercise more!” is about as likely to be a shocking new revelation to someone as “Don’t bite your friends when they ask to share your toy.”

    If it’s actually about health, fat shaming looks more like this:

    “Hey hon, I think this is SUPER AWKWARD, but over the past few years, it seems like you’ve been having weight stuff. I don’t know why (and it’s not my business), but I just wanted to let you know that if you need help with something like nutrition or finding ways to exercise well or medical care, I will be there for you in a heartbeat.”

    “…so. I hope I’m not overstepping, and I don’t know for sure what’s going on, but some of the stuff you’ve been doing lately has some similarities to what I’ve observed in myself and other people when we have an active eating disorder. You [[details, eating disorders are one of the rare transmissable psych things so I’m not going to list the details here]]. I know that if this isn’t what’s going on — or even if it is– this is an appallingly awkward email. But I love you, and I don’t want you to have to go through the things I had to deal with alone. Can I help? Please, know I love you.”

    “Maybe I shouldn’t say this. A lot of stupid things have followed that sentence in the world’s history. :P But sometimes when we’re together, I just have this strangling feeling because I love you and I am so worried about your health. Life is so short and so fragile. This isn’t about how you look– babe, you can rock anything– but it seems like your health has crashed as you’ve gained weight. I’ve seen this happen to people before because they were lonely or depressed or they couldn’t get medical care. I’ve even seen in happen because someone had a medical condition that was causing them to gain weight and they just got trapped in a self-hate cycle and never looked into it. I just want you to know people love you. I love you. And if there’s something that’s keeping you from pursuing a healthier life that I can help with, please come to me. I want you to have everything you want because you deserve it.”

    “Hey, I’ve got a friend who just got this private nutritionist to talk to her. I was skeptical, but it’s actually been really helpful. My friend hasn’t lost any weight, but she has actual color in her face these days! It’s so easy to get stuck in a cycle of takeout and junk food (so easy!) cuz we’re all busy (so busy!) and tired (sooooo tired). Cooking happens to be my raison d’etre, but I hired one of those consultants to help me with fashion recently because of my deep inability to wear anything but shorts and t-shirts. I think it’s basically the same thing. So, if you have a chance, you might consider talking to someone who can help you put together a list of easy meals for times when you don’t really want to get takeout but you’re just too tired. Can I help you find someone?”

    Examples of encouraging behaviors you want (which I note are also ways you might treat a depressed person):

    “Hey, do you want to go walk around the pretty park with all the flowers? I am SO BORED and need to get out of the house.”

    “I have cooked a dinner of chicken, rice and lima beans! In miso broth!* It is tastier than it sounds. Come eat with us?”

    All of these things may be ill-received and should be calculated based on circumstances and relationships. It’s always going to be messy when you bug someone about their life and something so heavily judged–especially when that person probably thinks about their weight and how it changes their lives every day, so it’s not like they have no idea there’s anything going on.

    If they’re already tried a bunch to lose weight, as most fat people have, then telling them “hey do this” is just a slap in the face– it’s another way in which their body is failing to be what it’s supposed to be. Conversations like that are wonderful for getting people to finish their meals in front of the toilet.

    The chances you will make someone more depressed or alarmed are high. The chances that you’ll make their eating disorder worse are probably higher than the chance you have to be helpful.

    But at least if you’re going to take that risk, do it thoughtfully and with consideration for the other person as a human being who lives in the world and has more experience inhabiting their fat body than you do.

    *Meal a friend was recently generous enough to cook when my spouse and I were over for dinner. It was very tasty.

  30. 30
    Petar says:

    But I did mean that if you personally engage in even one kind of shaming, you get less sympathy when you complain about people attempting to shame you.

    This is kind of a black hole in that it, in practice, means nobody can ever criticise anybody else if they have ever done anything worthy of criticism. It’s not even a standard, it’s a fantasy – whether utopic or dystopic, I’ll leave to others to determine.

    How did you go from “you get less sympathy” to “nobody can ever criticise anybody else”? Leaving aside that it is not “anything ever”, but “the exact same thing”…

    But he has published an article criticizing people who spend too much money on watches.Link, please?

    Fuck it, this is the third time this happens.

    I distinctly remember something on Alas, I try to find it, and I cannot. Google site: does not return any hits.

    From watches, the discussion went to old cars, someone brought up large collections of comic books, etc. That’s how I know it was on Alas. I do not think I was posting at the time.

    I am about 99% positive that either some articles and comments disappear from Alas, or that Google cannot properly trawl through the archives.

    The funny part is that I just found one of the articles I failed to find last time I did this. And I tried harder last time. There is something interesting going on.

  31. 31
    Petar says:

    OK, this is fun, but I have to go on a long weekend trip.

    So, my point in three simple statements:

    1) Fat shaming strangers in real time/real space is very rare. At worst, it will be unapproving or disgusted looks. You get that for things like tight jeans, wearing a cellphone in a belt holster, or just walking where no one does.

    2) Fat shaming friends and relatives is exactly like unsolicited advice on your drinking, vaping, gaming habits, comic book spending, etc. People are trying to make themselves feel superior, or are honestly concerned, or both. It’s the price for having a social circle.

    3) Fat shaming on the Internet is assholes being assholes. I have no personal experience with that particular species of troll, but I have bothered to look into trolls frequenting other forums, and we are usually hardly invested in the specific subject – trolling for a rise, trawling for counter-arguments, etc. Posters who are specifically fat-shaming are probably people to have been fat, are fat, are afraid of being fat, or at working very, very hard at being not being fat. Just my gut feeling.

    In any case, the cartoon targets the most benign form of fat-shaming. Friends feigning (or not) concern. Replace it with vaping, post it on a vaping forum, you’ll get the same discussion.

  32. 32
    J. Squid says:

    Replace it with vaping, post it on a vaping forum, you’ll get the same discussion.

    Gosh, I hope so. What those people are doing is, at best, thoughtless and, more likely, mean. But how does that counter or run contrary to the comic?

  33. 33
    Polaris says:

    Polaris – do you think that in general, people can just give each other unsolicited health advice/education? If I see a stranger in the street in a sunny day not wearing a hat, is it appropriate for me to tell them they are at risk of sunburn and skin cancer? If I see a smoker (in a setting where smoking is permitted) is it appropriate for me to walk up to them and tell them about the risks of smoking? If I see someone about to enter a car, should I point out that it would be both healthier and better for the environment if they walked?

    Yes though its maybe not a very good starter for a conversation among complete strangers.
    But yes we do it at a European University of Applied Sciences I’m currently attending to and we do debate stuff like the benefits and disadvantages of fasting 15 hours for 5 days in a week.
    Then again half of the women present would get called unrealistic by certain feminists if they would pose in a advertisement.

  34. 34
    Gracchus says:

    @Polaris: You do this in some kind of debate class/activity? Or you do it among friends? Or you just walk up to people in public spaces in the university and start giving them health advice?

  35. 35
    J. Squid says:

    Then again half of the women present would get called unrealistic by certain feminists if they would pose in a advertisement.

    Thanks for letting us know who and what you are!

  36. 36
    Polaris says:

    @Polaris: You do this in some kind of debate class/activity? Or you do it among friends? Or you just walk up to people in public spaces in the university and start giving them health advice?

    Its small talk during breaks and stuff or at parties.

    Do you think thats signs next to elevators encouraging the use of stairs are fat shaming?

  37. 37
    Meerkat says:

    1) Fat shaming strangers in real time/real space is very rare. At worst, it will be unapproving or disgusted looks. You get that for things like tight jeans, wearing a cellphone in a belt holster, or just walking where no one does.

    Petar, didn’t you say you have no fat friends? How would you know this? Is this based on what you’ve personally seen? Don’t you think fat people would have a better idea of how common this is?

  38. 38
    Gracchus says:

    “Do you think thats signs next to elevators encouraging the use of stairs are fat shaming?”

    I am not going to dignify that with an answer.

  39. 39
    J. Squid says:

    I think it’s revealed itself not worth dignifying with an answer. It’s here to troll and has made that clear.

  40. 40
    Polaris says:

    “Do you think thats signs next to elevators encouraging the use of stairs are fat shaming?”

    I am not going to dignify that with an answer.

    You just did. You were just not responding to a simple yes/no question for… reasons?

  41. 41
    Gracchus says:

    Because obviously our viewpoints are so far apart it isnt really productive to engage.

  42. 42
    Polaris says:

    Because obviously our viewpoints are so far apart it isnt really productive to engage.

    That just means that you are not confident in your ability to justify your viewpoint.

    Perhaps you just conformingly went with the flow abiding by whatever narrative your group had to minimize conflict, never halting to think why you should have a particular opinion?

  43. 43
    Grace Annam says:

    Polaris:

    That just means that you are not confident in your ability to justify your viewpoint.

    Or, alternatively, that as he considers how to spend his limited time and energy, he’s not seeing a good benefit/cost ratio.

    I know that for me, your question about the signs next to elevators suggests that, at minimum, there’s going to be a certain amount of explaining and education, and right now, I judge that it’s not worth my time. I have no particular dog in this fight, since I’m not fat (though I have family members and friends who are). That said, I’ve listened and read here enough over the years to recognize the patterns, and I agree with the other regulars here who seem to be of the opinion that you’re missing a crucial point.

    Grace

    (edited to correct a typo)

  44. 44
    Gracchus says:

    Yes Polaris you are correct. I am only not engaging you because you have vanquished me with the skill of your rhetoric. It’s a well known fact of internet debating that when one party stops responding, the other party is considered to have triumphed in the exchange. Congratulations on what is, I am sure, just the latest of the many, many of your victories of this type.

  45. 45
    Polaris says:

    Yes Polaris you are correct. I am only not engaging you because you have vanquished me with the skill of your rhetoric. It’s a well known fact of internet debating that when one party stops responding, the other party is considered to have triumphed in the exchange. Congratulations on what is, I am sure, just the latest of the many, many of your victories of this type.

    That would be a bit difficult considering that you haven’t yet made a single argument or statement against anything I wrote?, just asked questions.
    So I suppose we can call it a draw.

  46. 46
    lurker23 says:

    i am reading this and am confused, i cannot tell if fat shaming is if you are trying to make someone feel bad because they are fat? or if you are trying to help someone and you end up making them feel bad? i do not think those are the same. and i do not think a sign next to an elevator is fat shaming.

    trying to make people feel bad is mean! but in my life alot of people have said things to me that made me feel bad when they said them, but some of those things were true and they were not trying to be mean, and some of those things were good to hear or think about later sometimes even if they were not nice for me. i do not think that is shaming.

  47. 47
    Grace Annam says:

    lurker:

    i am reading this and am confused, i cannot tell if fat shaming is if you are trying to make someone feel bad because they are fat?… [two sentences later in the same paragraph:] …and i do not think a sign next to an elevator is fat shaming.

    That juxtaposition seemed noteworthy, to me.

    In case it helps:

    https://lmgtfy.com/?q=what+is+fat+shaming%3F

    Grace

  48. 48
    Mandolin says:

    FWIW, the social impact of discrimination I get for being fat is hands-down worse than for being female, queer, or disabled.

  49. 49
    Saurs says:

    I hate this stairs red herring thing, but, just to say:
    Signs reminding people that stairs exist don’t “help” and cannot “help” fat people in the sense that “fat” is a disease for which physical exertion is a cure; they’re just superfluous nanny placards that annoy people who can’t or don’t want to use stairs. Eschewing escalators and elevators in favor of stairs will never, ever, ever make fat people not fat, nor do they “help” people maintain whatever weight they’re at. Depending on the length/height/depth and frequency of use, stair-climbing might contribute, negligibly or maybe a touch more, to somebody’s fitness level, increase heart and muscle endurance if you’re actually putting a few hours a week into it (so, not just shirking the elevator at work), but fitness is not the absence of fat. You can be fat and fit. They’re not mutually exclusive.

    And, just like a person’s weight and body composition is not your business unless they make it your business, a person’s fitness is equally not up for discussion. Telling people to use the stairs in a context-less vacuum is dumb advice for some people and dangerous and unhealthy for others. It is not helpful for any living thing and is just an excuse to mindlessly poke at people and let them know you find them wanting. Nobody cares. Keep it to yourself. You are not a walking talking PSA, and these kinds of counter-productive PSAs (like Coke-sponsored walkathons) do nothing for public health. They are a cheap and feel-good handwave that fundamentally misses what problems actually exist and what options there are for minimizing/mitigating/adapting to them and for making them livable.

  50. 50
    dragon_snap says:

    Thank you, Mandolin, Saurs, and others, for your thoughtful comments on this subject. Another facet of the types of ‘health-related’ fat shaming that Mandolin described is that these types of remarks presuppose that if someone is fat and unhealthy, that being fat is the *cause* of the unhealthiness, rather than a) completely unrelated, or b) a result of the ‘actual’ health culprit(s) and/or their treatment.

  51. 51
    Mandolin says:

    “Use Stairs” signs are fine in the same way that “This is a door” and “Remember you can’t walk on the ceiling” are useful. Everyone already knows perfectly well.

    Since we all know perfectly well about stairs, the signs can have one of two roles:
    1) A nasty remark or
    2) A disingenuous pretense of believing fat people actually do not know what a staircase is.

    Or a third role:
    3) Talking blandly to ourselves the way ducks quack at each other to reassure everyone they’re still present.

    It’s not impossible for it to be all three at once.

    I can’t say the signs ever bothered me–there are weird and pointless little signs in lots of places. They quack from the sign makers: “we have been here and are are interacting with you” and then we have been quacked at. Now we know there are definitely other ducks in the world. It’s reassuring for species that like to hang out together like parrots or dogs.

    We could change the signs to something more interesting like “did you know baby goats can be born in Elvis costumes?” (or some real fact), and then the sign-maker would still get to feel like they were interacting and letting people know they exist.

    Yes, I know someone probably smugly thought up the signs to suit purpose one and two, but having released the informationless signs into the world, at this point they’re quacking.

    Some more helpful signs:
    Beware of the Elephant That Is Not Here
    Go Right, but By the Way Left Exists
    Gravity Is in Action Here
    Cracking Your Head on Cement Steps Is a Bad Idea
    Do Not Put this Cat in a Tuxedo (without written permission)

  52. 52
    J. Squid says:

    … there are weird and pointless little signs in lots of places.

    Remind me to show you pics of our Will Call Dock door. I had to make increasingly detailed, large and ridiculous signs to get people to ring the buzzer.

    While I think a lot of what Saurs wrote is right on, I also think they’re being too kind and giving way too much benefit of the doubt to people.

    We live in a culture where policing people’s looks is not only acceptable, but also increases one’s status. It’s also a culture where we’ve learned that people who aren’t attractive to us are being actively mean to us. And that means people get angry and/or show off and/or assert their dominance by belittling others for not being attractive to them. That’s all that fat hate is about. Fat people are gross and ugly and we will tell them all about it to lift ourselves up both in our own minds and to gain status among our peers. Criticisms of how people perform femininity or masculinity are the same thing. As are the mean comments directed at bald folks and people who have beards that grow down their necks.

    Part of this is just how people are, but part of it is that we live in a culture that monetizes beauty and makes it a big part of social status. My guess is that if it wasn’t over looks, it’d be something else because human beings seem to need social hierarchies.

    But I’m not letting anybody get away with claiming they’re just worried about the health of fat people. Fuck that noise. They are telling fat people that they must be more attractive to the shamer. That’s crap.

  53. 53
    Eytan Zweig says:

    Honestly, if someone wanted to put signs about stairs near elevators, it would be nice to simply have a sign that says where the stairs are with no further comment. Because as someone with a claustrophobic family member who will not go into elevators, I have spent a lot of times looking for the stairs in buildings where they are not sufficiently signposted.

    So, a sign that says “stairs three doors that way ->” would serve the purposes of all the people who want to take the stairs, and everyone can then make their own decisions without need for further commentary.

  54. 54
    Mandolin says:

    Eytan – seconded.

    Jake – You are in all ways correct. You might be interested in Ted Chiang’s “Liking What You See” which is in at least one tiptree award anthology if not in his collections. (Might be in both, I don’t recall.)

  55. 55
    Adrian says:

    I never perceived signs about stairs as shaming me about being fat. However, I spent a very, very, long time limping around on an injured knee, and some of those “climbing stairs is good for you!” signs did feel like they were trying to shame me in that direction. (For being injured, for not recovering properly, for re-injuring myself, for being so careful of the knee for so long…) I’ve looked fat for many years, and the knee injury was often invisible. I don’t know if I was especially sensitive to the ableism because the mobility problem was new to me.

    I’ve been the target of quite a lot of deliberate fat shaming, and even more “I’m just trying to help, dear.” Over the years, it’s had a huge impact on my life. But the signs on the stairs never struck me as having anything to do with fat. Maybe it’s because the ones I see are mainly about cardiovascular fitness or vague general health.

  56. 56
    Saurs says:

    Oh, J. Squid, let me reassure you that on that point we do agree: fatphobia is pernicious, utterly self-centered, vice-signalling, and sadistic. People who engage in it generally feel very good about themselves when they do so, not in the sense of righteousness but in the sense of pleasure, because bullies and bigots being what they are enjoy bullying and expressing bigotry. It is, always, all about themselves. But bullying and bigotry of any sort is often euphemistic, softly spoken and in a middle-class register that provides it some cover and plausible deniability. I address the disingenuous justifications for fat-shaming not because I believe them to be sincere but because, even if they were, those justifications are irrational and ill-informed and, being so, no one could possibly continue to argue them while also maintaining that they are acting in good faith.

    It’s true that lick spittles can serve as compasses for modern ailments and preoccupations, so, sure, they pick and prod at fellow humans who fail to live up to insular top down-driven expectations For Their Own Good, in the sense that bootlickers tend to feel more threatened than others by aberrance, individuality, and the shirking of or liberation from oppressive norms. And norms need policing by true believers or, at least, willfully deluded converts. But that doesn’t mean their intent is benign. The cultural fear of modern obesity, I feel, doesn’t so much envelope and overwhelm native sense as it provides a useful outlet for human viciousness (here is a vulnerable target I can loathe with abandon), blinkeredness (fat frightens/disgusts me, so it must be bad), laziness (fat people themselves are the problem), cruelty (don’t make me look at you or interact with you), and incuriosity (the solution to fat is obviously to not-fat, so I interpret the continued existence of fatness as resistance to and obstruction of my preferences, which enrages me further).

  57. 57
    RonF says:

    The controversy over the recent Peloton commercial seems like it might be relevant here. Apparently a lot of people, upon seeing it, immediately presumed that the rather slim woman in the ad was somehow being fat-shamed by her husband/boyfriend and are criticizing it on that basis.

    I didn’t have that reaction when I watched it, although I did think that she seemed to have a desperate need for approval from her husband and/or the people in the Peloton community (whoever that is on the other side of the screen on that thing) that seemed somewhat creepy. Having said that:

    As has been pointed out here many a time, fat does not necessarily mean unfit. The corollary to that is that slim does not necessarily mean fit. Maybe she needs to improve her fitness. She seems to have a need for validation she’s not getting elsewhere (her job sucks, she has no local family, she shouldn’t depend on just her husband/boyfriend for that); perhaps this is to provide that.

    Maybe – for those reasons or others – she ASKED for the thing. It didn’t make me want to buy one, but people are projecting stuff on that ad that aren’t necessarily there. Lighten up, people. If you think it’s ridiculous for the man in the ad to think she needs to lose weight – maybe you’re right, it is ridiculous, and you are being ridiculous for thinking that he thinks she does.

  58. 58
    J. Squid says:

    My only feelings about Peloton are, and have been, “You want how much for a crappy, 80s style stationary cycle with a monitor attached to it? For that price I could buy 5 much better stationary cycles and attach monitors to them. And then I could watch shows I like while exercising rather than listen to some salesman upped training coach exhort me to do the exercise I’m doing.”

  59. 59
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, I think I saw different parts of the discourse than you. The people I saw talking about the Peloton commercial were disagreeing with the implied politics of the thing, but they weren’t angry, they thought it was funny in a cheesy way. (Mainly because of the desperate need for approval that you mentioned, and also for the implication that she was surprised by the gift, rather than it being something she said she wanted.)

    In other words, what people are mainly doing is laughing at the commercial, which makes it a little odd to tell them to “lighten up.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *