Fat-shaming seems to be virtually omnipresent in our society. As with other forms of body-shaming, people come up with all sorts of weird excuses for their condemnation of people for something that is absolutely none of their business.
Taking awful to the next level, one mom explains why the very sight of a fat woman made her decide against enrolling her toddler at a particular daycare.
Whatever you're thinking that she's going to say ... it's worse.
A British woman named Hilary Freeman wrote a letter in which she tries to explain why she can't stand the idea of her daughter even spending time around a fat woman.
"The nursery assistant was clearly a lovely woman: kind and great with children. But as I watched her play with my two-year-old daughter, I felt a growing sense of unease."
If you're thinking "that's your problem, lady" you're very right.
"She was only in her 20s, but she was already obese -- morbidly so. She moved slowly and breathlessly, her face flushed."
Has anyone ever spent their day following a bunch of preschoolers around?
(I have; as a teenager I was a teaching assistant at a day camp for kids that age, and children that age are active enough to wear out anyone. Even a professional athlete -- seriously, there have been studies)
"Would she, I wondered, have the lightning reflexes needed to save an adventurous toddler from imminent danger?"
That is ... not, generally speaking, a requirement for daycare workers.
(Also, plenty of fat people have great reflexes ... she might be thinking of alcoholics)
"And what sort of unhealthy habits would she teach my daughter, who would be eating her lunch and tea there each day?"
First of all, "tea" is British for "snack."
Second of all, if you're thinking that "if my child has a teacher like that, they'll grow up to be like that" is an argument that you've heard before about, say, LGBT people, you're not alone.
The "think of the children" argument isn't usually used as a weapon against fat adults, but bigoted arguments are often interchangeable.
We have to wonder if she'd be trying this argument if she'd refused to enroll her daughter at a school with a woman in a wheelchair.
Would she still feel comfortable admitting that she feels that a disabled woman couldn't rescue her daughter?
Would she still suggest that children might hope to grow up to be paralyzed?
"Looking around, I noticed that she wasn’t the only extremely overweight member of staff. I couldn’t help worrying about the message this was sending to the children in their care: that being very fat is normal and -- when children adopt role models so readily -- even desirable."
First, being fat is a normal thing. Not universal, but ... it's normal for people to be fat. Just go anywhere and look around and notice that fat people are commonplace.
Second of all, her worry that little children will aspire to become fat themselves ia absurd. It sounds like she's joking, but as you continue to read, you'll find that this is a serious fear of hers.
"Is this snobbery or ‘fatism’? I don’t think so, but plenty will disagree with me."
The answer to her question is yes.
But she's right about disagreements.
"This is the first time I have publicly admitted to feeling this way. Aware that the reaction would be anger and vilification, I censored myself. I told everyone I preferred the other nursery because it was smaller and friendlier. I knew I would be accused of discrimination, or ‘fat-shaming’, if I admitted the truth."
Yeah. Lots of people have bigoted thoughts but don't give them voice because people will call them out for being awful.
Apparently, these days, bigots are taking pride in speaking out.
"It’s not politically correct to comment on anyone’s size any more, and certainly not to say anything negative about obesity. Some even see the word ‘fat’ as equivalent to a racial or homophobic slur."
Bigotry is bigotry. "Fat" isn't a slur, but if everyone used it like this woman does, it might be.
As for "politically correct," that's a meaningless term that people who want to be rude or bigoted use to describe meeting the bare minimum of politeness.
"Fat-positivity -- also known as fat acceptance -- has gone too far. Originally a response to discrimination against those who aren’t slim enough to fit into society’s beauty ideal, it’s now an excuse for the severely obese to celebrate their bodies, the consequences be damned."
Look, people are free to love or hate their flesh prisons. The "consequences" are none of her business and none of my business.
She talks about a woman who planned on raising her daughter to love her body no matter its form.
"People should not be fat-shamed, but I had to point out that it was not inevitable the woman’s daughter would become fat. Nobody is born obese."
Genetic predispositions exist.
"And, more importantly, being overweight is not healthy, so, rather than teaching her daughter to accept it, she could teach her that it was something to be avoided if possible ... and how."
Sure ... except that, as you'll see, this woman's idea of how to avoid becoming fat is to eat a frighteningly small amount of food per day.
"Perhaps I feel so strongly about this because I’m a slim person with a fat person inside, wanting to burst out. My body clings on to every calorie it can. A doctor told me evolution had ensured I would survive a famine -- not that useful for a 21st-century North London girl with a sedentary job."
That's the part of her letter that's most relatable. Fat-shaming tends to come from a place of fear.
But she quickly dashes any goodwill that she might have garnered.
So I have little sympathy for those who blame their genes or hormones for being fat. My grandmother was morbidly obese, and I have a hormonal condition -- an underactive thyroid -- which causes weight gain."
Genes and hormones are responsible, largely, for body type. You can exercise for multiple hours a day, every day, and still be overweight. Another person can binge eat and complain that they're underweight. That's biology.
Listen to Hilary Freeman's solution for her own weight:
"It wasn’t about dieting, it was about establishing a routine that would keep me slim for life: doing at least half-an-hour’s exercise every day and never eating more than 1,500 calories."
1,500 calories per day is not enough for an adult.
A Hardee's Monster Thickburger has 1,420 calories. On Hilary Freeman's diet, a person could eat one single (admittedly large) burger and only have room for 80 calories for the entire rest of the day.
She wants to groom her daughter to deny herself simple amounts of happiness in the same way. She wants to groom her daughter to do what most would describe as starving herself.
Now, her parenting aside, Hilary Freeman is welcome to eat as much or as little as she likes. That's none of our business.
It's only when she promotes that for others that we take issue.
She believes that promoting her own habits is morally superior to someone suggesting that everyone eat a dozen doughnuts per day, every day.
It is not. Both of those are personal choices that our none of our business.
That's not being "politically correct" or whatever, that's just part of a being a person who respects that other people can live their own lives.
And, again, her daughter cannot "catch" being fat from a fat teacher.