Friday, July 08, 2011

Fat Bashing

I have been following Stephanie’s blog for a few months now, she is a fellow lap bander who has lost a tremendous amount of weight and works harder than just about anyone I know. If you’re in Melbourne you may have noticed her story in Mx (the free public transport paper) yesterday or on the Herald Sun website. I have such a huge amount of respect and admiration for this woman for going public with her story.

Stephanie got fed up with the abuse she received about her weight while using public transport and the fact that Mx constantly publishes attacks on fat people in their paper. She contacted the paper and they allowed her to share her story and she is receiving quite a bit of publicity about it now.

Before I lost 50 kilos I received quite a bit of abuse and nasty comments while using public transport (and in many other areas of my life). I would purposely skip certain trains or trams that were too busy and wait for the quieter ones where I wouldn’t feel in the way. I never used to take a seat because I felt like people were judging me for taking up too much space, so I would stand at back, despite the fact my feet were aching from standing on them for 8 hours a day while working in retail. When I lived closer to the city, by the time the tram came to my stop it was always full and I couldn’t push on like other people did because of the comments I would receive, so I started walking into the city to work because that was my only other option.

Just two days ago while on the tram I noticed a woman who was a bit larger sit next to a man who appeared irritated that she had sat next to him. A few minutes later when another seat became available elsewhere on the tram, he made a big point of getting up and moving, giving her one last disgusted look. I was mortified for her because I can remember that feeling.

There is nothing more crushing than receiving abuse from strangers calling you a fat cow or telling you to lose weight. Most times it happened to me when I was by myself, but the occasions when it happened in front of friends, family or colleagues was so much more humiliating. The abuse of fat people in society continues to tolerated and even encouraged. There is so much anger and hatred directed toward overweight people and an assumption that being fat means that you are lazy, unhealthy and lack discipline.

Being overweight is not a choice we make because we think it’s the fun and easy option. There are numerous complex reasons that people can be overweight and many of us that are fat are trying every single day of our lives to lose that excess weight. Most of what we have been told about weight loss has only hampered our ability to lose weight and the diets we have been put on our whole lives have made us fatter.

That is not to say that I think that any one who is larger than the norm should be trying to lose weight. I am a huge advocate of size acceptance and loving the body you have. I think you can be healthy at any size and I only wish that I was better at loving and accepting my body. It is just so hard when you have had people telling you your whole life that you are a disgusting fat pig because you end up believing them. We need more people like Stephanie standing up for the rights of overweight people so that we don't have to feel like second class citizens.

*****

Stephanie is also raising money for the Cancer Council by climbing the 46 floors of the building she works in. You can donate here: http://vic.cancercouncilfundraising.org.au/personalPage.aspx?registrationID=342014&langPref=en-CA&Referrer=direct%2fnone

5 comments:

  1. That is shocking, how awful. I'm just going to start reading Stephanie's blog from the start, thanks for the heads up.

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  2. I read the articles and unfortunately some of the comments as well. People can be so cruel! She's a brave woman!

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  3. That is sooo shocking for me to read as I ignorantly thought that something like that happening would not ever ben common place as I guess I assumed that grown adults would certainly behave ALOT better then that.

    I have never really used public transport in NZ as I live in the country and have always driven my car to work, but I can't imagine anything more humiliating then having a total stranger make such a personal comment and essentialy verbally attacking another person whom they don't even know.

    As I work as a school teacher I know that kids (espcially from age 10+) can be very cruel to other children, especially when it comes to appearance and a person's weight, but I would have never expected that kind of disgusting bullying behaviour from a grown adult who i suppose to have the maturity to behave themselves in a civilised fashion. If I ever heard an adult make a comment like that to an over weight person I don't think I could hold myself back from giving them a peice of my mind about their attitude and rudeness. I'm still shocked by your post, and now I'm off to read Stephanie's blog.

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  4. Thanks for blogging about this. I was complaining the other day about "friends" being racist. Any intolerance of anyone who is different to you is unacceptable - race, size, sexuality. I feel really sad that this happened to you (& others).

    I'm off to have a read of Stephanie's blog too.

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Awww thanks so much for the comment!