I’ll Take Missing the Point for $200, Alex 2


There is a difference between pointing out to someone that they have a weight issue and “calling” them fat. When it is used as an insult, it’s meant to degrade and objectify the person. It’s meant to tell them that they are worthless because that’s how media portrays overweight/obese people. I’m not completely sure how it works within the context of a partnered relationship, but calling someone fat is definitely a form of verbal and psychological abuse.

Interestingly, there is a correlation of various types of abuse in childhood and a person’s likelihood of one day being an overweight or obese adult. So, it may be considered aggressive to call an adult fat because it could potentially trigger that person to think about issues that they had as a child and abuse that they went through at that time. I base that on my personal experiences of being called fat as an adult triggering memories of childhood abuse that was related to my weight and that actually caused the weight.

Last night, I posted that comment as a response to someone saying, “How is telling someone they are fat abusive? Some people are fat. That’s how they’re bodies are. Is it that calling them fat is abusive or is it making their perceived fatness into an insult that is abusive? Because telling me I’m fat is like telling me I’m crude. Neither may be meant as a compliment, but both are correct.” I thought I had done a decent job with my response. I didn’t see how anyone could find it offensive, but apparently I was wrong and now my inbox is paying for my mistake.

First, from the person I initially responded to:

“Janet,
I do not have a “weight issue”. Fuck that shit. You may have an issue with my weight, but I’m just fat. Do not try to tell me that the way I am is an insult or that likening other people to me is abuse.
OK?
That’d be great.”

And, then, the ones where people obsessed on the first line and disregarded everything else.

But why would you point that out to anyone? It’s not like they don’t know! It’s not like it’s any of your fucking business! So you want to go around, pointing out the obvious to someone, that they have failed to live up to modern standards of the appropriate size, that people are judging them for that every day, and you think that’s not rude? On what fucking planet?

The only difference I can see is that one method is deemed* “politer” than the other. But telling someone either way is fucking rude.

*by idiots who think that the exact content of the message is important.”

“There’s also (and I’m prolly repeating at least one person, but wottheheck) the matter that being fat is not automatically an issue. Fat doesn’t equal unhealthy, but even if it did, it’s still rude and stupid to bring the matter up with someone, especially a stranger.

“No, they’re pretty much the same thing, except that the former is more passive-aggressive. I mean, why would you tell someone that? They know what they weigh. If you’re worried abou their health, well, diets don’t work in the long term. And being fat is much much less of a health issue than most people think.

It’s a bit like walking up to someone with a mole on their cheek and saying, “hey you’ve git a mole on your cheek!” It serves no purpose except to make that person feel more self-conscious.

And studies have shown that making people self-conscious about their weight is more likely to lead to weight gain than weight loss.”

“I can’t imagine a situation in which it would be helpful or appropriate for anyone (other than a person’s medical advisers) to make uninvited comments on a person’s weight.”

“Re: People pointing out how much others weigh: I fucking hate that.

I avoid going out to meet relatives and certain acquaintances if I even have the slightest suspicion that I’ve put on weight since the last time we met. I’m unfortunate enough to know way too many people who just love pointing out that I’ve gained some weight. Most of all I hate meeting SO’s mother, who takes these really annoying shots at tapping at my belly and smiling mockingly. Who does that? Do people like this really think I haven’t noticed I’ve gained weight? Do they seriously think being mocked for it is going to inspire me to lose weight? If running 10-16 km a day and eating around 1,000 calories less than what I need in a day isn’t making me lose fat, then I don’t know what to tell you. Not that they’d believe all this, of course, since being overweight is just a sign of being lazy and loving to eat and shitfuckshitfuckargh

(And no, I’m not saying men are generally shamed for being fat. I guess I just have fucking annoying people around me and a tendency to take things far too personally.)”

“So, um, why do we need to point out to people that they have “a weight issue”? People presumably know roughly what their own weight and/or size is, given that they have to, you know, buy clothes for themselves and stuff. Are you under the impression that you are giving them new and potentially revelatory information when you oh so kindly inform them that they are not slim?

I’m just not seeing how being passive-aggressive about it makes it any nicer, or why people are doing it in the first place.”

““Oh, hey! Did you know that you’re in a wheel chair? Is it because you can’t walk, or are you just THAT LAZY?”

<__>

STFU -_-;”

““You are short! Like, really short!”

“I had noticed, yeah.”

“Well, have you considered getting taller? I hear they can do marvelous things now by breaking the bones in your legs and putting bits of metal in.””

So, I tried to clear up any misunderstandings:

I think everyone is reading something into that post that I didn’t say or, at the very least, didn’t mean to even suggest.

When I said: There is a difference between pointing out to someone that they have a weight issue and “calling” them fat.
I meant: There is a difference between a doctor or a nurse pointing out to a patient that they need to lose weight and someone else calling someone fat as an insult. Calling a person fat is the same thing as insulting them. It doesn’t matter if the person is or is not fat, being fat is being used as a way to define them as a person, instead of other things like how they act. Now, a doctor or a nurse pointing it out can still be just as upsetting as someone else doing it, but they’re not using it to dehumanize a person.

When I said: When it is used as an insult, it’s meant to degrade and objectify the person. It’s meant to tell them that they are worthless because that’s how media portrays overweight/obese people.
I meant: Using fat as an insult is a way that another person is trying to make that person feel worse about themselves. That is due to a societal definition of a person’s beauty and worth as an individual being tied to being thin or in shape.

When I said: I’m not completely sure how it works within the context of a partnered relationship, but calling someone fat is definitely a form of verbal and psychological abuse.
I meant: As a person who has no experience in a relationship with a significant other, I cannot say for certain that this is what that particular reference was going for, but as a person who has endured years of abuse by others because of her weight, I am making an assumption based upon that experience. I am also making this assumption based on reports that have indicated that persons who are obese or overweight are more likely to have suffered some sort of abuse & that negative remarks about their body type have been shown to cause gains in weight.

When I said: Interestingly, there is a correlation of various types of abuse in childhood and a person’s likelihood of one day being an overweight or obese adult.
I meant: There is scientific research that backs up the idea that being abused can lead to a person being obese. There is a link between being molested/raped in pre-pubescence and being overweight. There is a similar link between being molested/raped during or after puberty and anorexia. There are also links between verbal/emotional abuse and weight gain.

When I said: So, it may be considered aggressive to call an adult fat because it could potentially trigger that person to think about issues that they had as a child and abuse that they went through at that time. I base that on my personal experiences of being called fat as an adult triggering memories of childhood abuse that was related to my weight and that actually caused the weight.
I meant: As a person who has been abused and is obese, being called fat reminds me of that abuse. My grandfather molested me when I was a small child. When I had to live with him a few years after that, he insulted me regularly and told me I was unlovable because of the weight. Since the weight was directly related to other abuse that he had schlepped on me, being called fat as an insult reminds me of both abuses. Being called that now can sometimes trigger me to self-injure, overeat, or attempt to starve myself. It reinforces negative beliefs that I have about myself and my worth because of that abuse.

And, of course, that comment is getting shit on, too, because it was so long.

What’s even more ridiculous is that the people who actually said shitty things about being fat or about calling people fat not being abusive were absolutely ignored. But my comment, which was not meant to be offensive, is apparently the shittiest thing in the whole world. Sometimes I just feel like interacting with other people isn’t worth it.


About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.


2 thoughts on “I’ll Take Missing the Point for $200, Alex

  • Z

    Take heart, Janet. The commentariat on WHTM is like a pool of bored and vicious piranhas who cannot wait for an opportunity to pounce on anyone who comes their way and, god forbid (or hallelujah! rather), says something politically incorrect. Pretty much anything that is not part of their established group-think is politically incorrect.

    When the unsuspecting victim makes such a “mistake,” she or he is torn to shreds in order to give the regulars something to do and make them feel better about themselves.

    It goes to show you how unhappy those people’s lives are. Only someone who is small-minded and/or hates herself or himself and her/his existence can take such merciless ongoing pleasure in unloading their misery on another – all in the name of straightening their errors, of course, and making them see “the light”, i.e. the one and only officially approved version of reality as certified by the WHTM Mean Girls (and Boys) Club (which sometimes has nothing to do with reality as known to the rest of the world).

    Once they are done ripping the victim to shreds… er, correcting him or her, they will demand an apology as a price of (only provisionary!) admission to their Club.

    It’s like perpetual middle school recess there, only worse.

    I’m saying this so you know that it is not about you. This is a very particular and unhealthy form of group dynamics that pervades the comment section on that otherwise interesting and useful site. Such unhealthy behaviors are not limited to WHTM, obviously, as they are quite common on thematic blogs that deal with high-octane controversial subjects; but it has to be said that these gals (and guys) take it to a whole new level. Their behavior, individual and collective, is atrocious.

    You feel lousy after being ganged up on and mistreated so, which is understandable. But keep in mind what I said above, and don’t sweat this small stuff, because that’s what it is.

    Be well, and take care of yourself.

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