The AP put up an article this morning about the fact that Americans continue to stigmatize fat people. Here’s a snippet from the article:
The images are striking: Overweight boys and girls staring somberly from billboards and online videos, real-life embodiments of the blunt messages alongside.
“Chubby kids may not outlive their parents,” for example. Or: “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did.”
How many of you were fat as children?
I was. One of my most humiliating childhood memories was remembering my mother dragging me through the “Chubbette” department at Sears. I was red-faced and shamed, being dragged around by my mother, and unable to look the other “chubbettes” in the eye, because I was a fat girl and I couldn’t wear normal clothes.
Heh. Chubbette. At least boys got to be “Husky” – but freaking “chubbette”…? Of course, this was back in the late ’50s, and things were different then. (Lots of ugly words were in casual use – for example, my dad was fond of “nigger” and “kike” and “wop” and “spic.” But that’s a post for another day.)
Today I’m focusing on fat. Being fat. Being bullied. Wanting desperately to be invisible. Slinking through the corridors at school, praying that the bullies wouldn’t see me. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I was unmercifully teased and bullied and hounded at school, because, I was not only fat, I was also poor and I wore thick glasses. It was a hat trick of misery.
Now that I’m an adult, I’ve developed a severe allergy to bullies; undoubtedly that’s why I grew up to be a liberal, and why I react so strongly to teabaggers, Republicans and fundamentalist Christians. In school, there were several occasions that I drove away bullies who were picking on other kids because I couldn’t let that stuff go on even when I was 13.
I’ve also learned that bullying, nagging and stigmatizing do NOT work as weight loss incentives. The only time I am ever able to lose weight is when I’m feeling really positive and really good about myself. And being the butt of jokes or the recipient of nagging most certainly does NOT help me feel good about myself. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? When people nagged me about being fat, I had the almost irresistible urge to stuff every single piece of food I could find in my mouth – which I later learned had a name. It’s called “fuck you food.”
It’s tough, really tough, to be fat at any time. Being fat is its own punishment; believe me, I’ve been there. But it’s even tougher to be a fat kid. Especially today, in the climate of hatred, fear and bigotry fostered by the conservative right and with the anger and stress brought on by the deep recession and the growing income disparity in our country, fat kids are huge lumbering targets.
I understand that we’re all angry at something, someone, the economy, the Republicans, the Democrats…but please, let’s leave the children out of it.