It’s About Human Decency

There are many things about the world I cannot understand and hate is one of them.

Over the past few weeks, report after report has rolled in of gay teens and young adults committing suicide due to bullying at school or in their community. It’s something that makes me so sad, so angry and upset, that it’s hard for me to write this post. How, tell me, can someone bully a person so persistently, so viciously, that that person feels they cannot live in this world any longer? How can someone commit themselves so fully to hating a person that it drives their target to take their own life? How could anyone ever think they have the right to treat another human being that way?

I don’t care what you believe. You could think that homosexuality is a choice, that the “gay lifestyle” will corrupt our world. You could think that all gay people are sinners, aliens, crazy people. I don’t care what you think or how crazy your opinions are.

Surely, we can all get behind human decency. I’m certain we all agree that treating people with respect, no matter what the situation, is important.

The problem is that I’m not seeing that. I don’t see that in the world, in the news media, in the way people treat others on TV, in classes, in their everyday interaction. Something has happened to our ability to be respectful. We have forgotten the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. We have forgotten it, and children are dying.

We’ve all been victims of taunting and name-calling. Whether it’s someone calling us fat, ugly, too tall, whether it’s someone deriding our religious beliefs or political affiliation, whether it’s someone bullying us for our race, gender, sexual preference, we’ve all dealt with it on some level. We all know how it feels. Most of us have probably participated in it at some point in our lives. It’s a part of life. One group gets picked on. That group picks on another group so they can feel superior. The chain continues down, trickles down the line, until someone gets told too many times they’re not worth it. They shouldn’t be alive. And so, they go home and hang themselves. They find a gun and shoot themselves. The taunting turns to something sinister. The taunting takes a life.

It’s easy to forget that pain. It’s easy for us to forget how our words can hurt others. It’s simple to think of it as “just a joke” or something that you “didn’t mean.” But we all have a breaking point. These people were broken one too many times.

It comes down to human decency. This should be our wake up call. Think about how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves. Every life is worth it.

I was teaching some sixth graders yesterday, and they were being particularly loud. I had to ask them numerous times to quiet down. I had just reached my breaking point when the program director walked in and started yelling at the kids.

“When the teacher is talking, you don’t talk! She has had to ask you so many times to be quiet! It takes one word for a human to understand! She should only have to say one word and you should be quiet. You’ve stopped being human right now. You’ve stopped being human!

It was a lesson in respect, and it struck a chord with me. We’ve stopped being human. It takes one word for a human to understand that they need to be respectful. It took us five lives.

Let this be our wake-up call.

Let us remember how to be decent.

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First JigglyTroll

Most of my readers know that my blog is extremely young. Just got it up and running in March. So imagine my perverted glee in getting my first anti-fat comment. Finally someone to shout at. “Tara” posted a comment reading:

wow, you spend a few months away from American food and portion sizes and you accidentally loose 20 pounds, I think you broke your magic set point. Fat people are ugly because they are a bloated mockery of the human form. Just keep telling yourself you are fat due to magical set point and not due to lifestyle you’ll go far in like like that.

I particularly like the line I bolded. It really cracks me up. I think it shall make an appearance in my next poem, it’s that good.

I’m actually really really interested in where this came from. I mean, I did say that I accidentally lost 20 pounds in Ecuador, but I don’t think I have EVER spoken about set points, nor do I think I’ve ever excused my fat as a “set point” issue. I had actually written in my first draft of that post a little explanation of how I think I lost that weight. Short version: lifestyle change. To expand: high altitude (Quito is around 10,000 feet) + more walking + eating my biggest meal in the middle of the day + perpetually fresh veggies and fruits = accidental weight loss. It was complete accident because I ate TONS of bread, drank TONS of pop, and even indulged in cookies and chips on a much more regular basis than I do at home. It still eludes me as to how I lost so much, but I really don’t care enough anymore.

So, I’d like to say to Tara, stop hating. You’re playing a silly game. You came all the way here, read my entire post, just to say “Ahhh, teh fatties are ugly.” And obviously, you don’t get the point of our community. We’re here to support each other. We want to come together and throw off the societal chains you hold us under, (and trust me, someday we WILL change your mind). Maybe one day you’ll have the guts to do something like that, but for now, let me wag my plus-sized gut around as a flag for my revolution. Your insults don’t hurt, and I won’t give you the satisfaction of a post all about you in the future, because you aren’t that special. Just know my stand: your pettiness is noted and rejected. Please continue living your life as a minion of society, but I won’t let you drag me down with you.

I got the grace and the body to carry the weight of your insults and throw them where they belong, in the garbage. You obviously have too thin a frame to handle them, and so you dump in the wrong places. Take your loathing elsewhere. I’m too happy to care.

Everyone else, please feel free to continue posting. And, if you so choose, feel free to tear into our troll friend. It’s fresh meat for your tigers. (Someone has to jump on her typos and grammar, pleeeeease.) Just please, as Kate Harding suggests, be good natured and delightful. Wittiness and sass are always appreciated with me.

Belly Dancing

Sorry that I’ve dropped off the face of the planet yet again. This weekend brought with it a Student Leadership Retreat on my campus, the celebration of one of my best friends’ birthdays, and a series of long conversations with various people. So now, I’ll just throw some stuff out there:

1. Thanks to everyone who watched my video! I’m glad I put it up! It’s been good to get so much feedback on it!

2. BFD Blog has a great post on the People Magazine’s Top 100 Beautiful People article, go check it out here.

3. I’m going to do my last documentary project for class about BELLY DANCING! Wooo! Hopefully there will be some body image stuff to talk about there! I’m super excited!

4. If you’re in need of a little bit of relaxation, check out this video from Planet Earth. It’s uplifting in it’s beauty.

5. Let me know in a comment what you’re reading/what’s new with you all! I haven’t had much time to browse lately, so…

Made of Honor: the Fat Bridesmaid

Today, I went with my girlfriends to go see the new Patrick Dempsey movie, Made of Honor. Naturally, I was excited because Patrick Dempsey is just…beautiful. *sigh* Anywho, as the name and previews implies, the movie is My Best Friend’s Wedding-esque, though flip-flopped. Dempsey’s character ends up being the Maid of Honor for his best (female) friend.

Though the movie was good, I couldn’t quite get over one of the characters. One of the bridesmaids was a fat girl named Hilary. She’s short, but pretty, and obviously fat. The first scene we really see her in, the bridesmaids are discussing dress sizes. One goes, “I’m a 2.” and then Hilary says, “And I’m an 8.” The whole table pauses to look at her. The third bridesmaid (the tactful one), turns to Hilary and says, “You know, Hilary, wouldn’t you maybe be a bit more comfortable in, say, a 12?” Hilary then launches into how she’s doing this big liquid diet thing, and that she’s going to lose the weight (in nine days, mind) and look great in her dress, and snatch up a sexy sexy man at the wedding.

How many problems do I have with this scene?

1. She’s beautiful as is. She doesn’t need to lose weight. This is the inherent problem.

2. In my opinion, she wouldn’t even fit into a size 12. She looks a little bigger than that. I’d say she were at least a 16. This is a problem because she is downsized for no reason. What’s wrong with calling her what she is? And doesn’t that present a negative body image for women?

3. She thinks she’ll lose a significant amount of weight on a crash diet, and it’s just so she can look good for a man. First, she’s wrong, she’d never lose that much. Second, why the hell can’t men see her as beautiful as she is?

4. The other girls seem to have no problem with it. Yes, they’re skeptical of the result, but it’s natural. They don’t slap her and say “WAKE UP HONEY!” nor do they say “You’re fine just the way you are. Don’t you dare torture yourself like that.” It’s just…sad.

Throughout the rest of the movie, Patrick Dempsey is constantly asking her to eat something, and half the time she’s acting like she’s about to faint from lack of food (!). Ummm, can we say EATING DISORDER IN PROGRESS? Help the poor girl!

Then, finally, when they’re at the wedding, the bridesmaids have a whole minute or so long scene of trying to squeeze her into the dress. They eventually succeed, and she’s all relieved. Then, as soon as they sit down at the wedding, the dress pops at a seam, and all the men lend her safety pins from their kilts for her to pin the seam back together. To be honest, I was embarrassed by that whole bit. It made me feel uncomfortable and angry, and made me not want to watch the movie. I don’t know if I can express why. Maybe out of empathy for poor Hilary, or maybe because I felt for all fat women, I just was extremely angry at this portrayal of the fat girl. This is all we knew of her. She’s just the fat bridesmaid who needs to starve herself so she can get a man.

Ugh. I’m really sick of that. And I feel like I’m uber aware of it because it’s always on my mind. How are fat people really portrayed in the media? Considering my post on Spanglish, and now this post, I think we can see. We become ashamed of them, sad for them, pity them. What message does that send to our women and girls? To our entire society.

Let’s make more Hairspray type movies, eh?

Fat Stats

Today was a day full of lots of Fat stuff for me. To start, I went downtown with Lisa earlier today to do the street interviews for my personal essay. Audio issues aside, it was verrrrry interesting. But more will come on that tomorrow. I also had “Group” today, for the first time since last year. By “Group” I mean the overweight women group I attend at the Counseling Center every week. We all get around and gab about fat issues and life as an overweight woman. It was great. I also had poetry, with my big FAT collection, as I’ve taken to calling it. So there it is, as well. Those poems will be up after I’m satisfied with them…

Today was also extremely busy, but I have an article I want to talk about.

I found this article this morning, and found it deeply disturbing. Though the author is making the point I think needs to be made, the statistics in the article make me deeeeply sad.

A group of women who had previously been obese and lost weight were asked if they would prefer to be obese again or to go blind. Alarmingly, 89 percent stated they would rather be blind than gain back the weight they had lost, and 91 percent of this group said they would rather lose a limb than be heavy again.

Does that make anyone else extremely angry? Go without one of your senses? Or gain some weight? Alarmingly, people would rather live without ever seeing their child walk, the sunset, their brother’s wedding, etc. than be fat. I think we need a little bit of perspective here. Sadly, all the thincentricity is making people BLIND in a completely different way.

Next, lets talk about fat employees, who are paid “12 percent less” than thin employees.

Employers and co-workers described obese employees as “lazy, less competent, less productive and emotionally unstable.” Physicians and nurses said that obese patients were “dishonest, noncompliant, lazy and lacking self-control.”

To this, my friend Jamie commented to me after I sent her the story, “You know what’s really scary? How much the things people said about their ‘obese’ coworkers sounded EXACTLY like things people said (and, frighteningly still do say) about black people until it was made illegal.” Sound scary familiar? And too true to bear? Look at this:

Mental health professionals were given two nearly identical patient profiles except one of the two patients was labeled obese. These providers diagnosed the obese client with more psychological problems and predicted a poor outcome with treatment.

And this:

Children ages 3-11 were shown photos of a child with a facial disfigurement, a child in a wheelchair, a child with an amputated limb and an overweight child. They ranked the overweight child as the least desirable playmate.

How deep-rooted is this evil? I firstly can’t even believe they conducted that experiment, but since its done and overwhelmingly anti-fat, can’t we see that we are brainwashing our kids! As young as age THREE they are picking on the fat child. How utterly depressing. I can see the ghost of eating-disorders-to-come.

All in all, its the same old weightism making the same point. It makes me want to cry. Utterly and completely breakdown and yell at the world.

But, my dears, that is what this blog is for. Lets all yell our anger to the hilltops on three. One…two…threee!