Curvy Conversations

Fat: The Last Acceptable Prejudice– Thoughts???

July 19 2013 | CeCe Olisa

I’m black, I’m a woman and I’m fat, all three have caused me moments of painful discrimination. I’ve been called the “N” word and the “B” word, but when I’ve been called the “F” word (Fat), it’s always… different.

 

I know that we’re all owning “fat” as a word and its nothing to be ashamed of, so that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how size prejudice isn’t acknowledged as an actual thing that happens.

If I told you that I was 99% sure I didn’t get a job because I was black or a woman, there is a specific course of action I could take to address that. But if I told you I was passed over on a job because of my weight, what could we do?

If I was standing on the street and a man was yelling racial slurs at me, the shame would be his. People would react to him, judge him and (hopefully) come to my aid. But I’ve seen a men yelling offensive things to a woman about her body size and no one said anything, somehow the shame of someone calling her fat belonged to her– why is that?

Why can I easily tell someone not to use a derogatory racial slur around me, but I sometimes let it slide when someone uses “Fat” as a synonym for lazy (i.e. “I’m being fat today and taking the elevator!”). If they used “black” as a synonym for lazy, I’d have steam coming out of my ears.

Do we ignore size prejudice because we perceive weight as a choice? Something that can easily be fixed with “willpower”? Some people ignorantly think the same thing about sexuality, but they’re still aware that sexuality discrimination is wrong, so that doesn’t seem like a valid excuse.

Again, I keep replacing weight with race, sex, gender and sexuality and thinking about how I would handle certain situations differently.  I know that I let friends talk about “fat” people negatively in front of me, with the unspoken understanding that I’m “different” but the truth is, I’m not.

I don’t think any prejudice should be acceptable, but since Fat is the last one on the list I thought I’d bring it up… thoughts???

 

 

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88 responses on “Fat: The Last Acceptable Prejudice– Thoughts???

  1. sarasylvester01@gmail.com

    You’re completely right. I’ve really noticed how bad the fat prejudice is this year since I’ve been losing weight. People are so much nicer and more friendly with me now. Cashiers and strangers make eye contact, smile and try to make conversation. I never even realized I was being treated poorly in the first place. It’s very sad and something that people should be made aware.

    1. nycece@gmail.com

      Augh, when I hear stories like this is makes me so sad. I can’t help but wonder who is judging passing me by and treating me differently because of my size… fascinating perspective!

    2. intschert.nicole.k@gmail.com

      I too, had an experience where I lost a significant amount of weight, and then the world opened up to me! I lost about 90 lbs, and everything was different about my everyday interactions. I’ve since put that weight (plus some) back on, and I’m hyperaware of how different my interactions with all kinds of people become again.

      I’ll say this, though- I still walk around like I own the world and I’m a P.Y.T., which has prevented a total reversion back to the “bad days.” I know we plus-size girls tend to ostracize ourselves, first, and then we let everyone else do it to us, too.

    3. samba1176@gmail.com

      1st congrats on your weight loss journey Sara. I’ve seen the treatment you mentioned above with a few friends. The change in how someone gets treated really makes me stop and think. So, now all of a sudden when someone loses a significant amount of weight (definitely something to celebrate) people that you’ve already known come out of nowhere and are more friendly & inviting…they are the same person they were before just with a lower number on the scale. Makes me sad. People are worthy either way.

  2. Sara

    You’re completely right. I’ve really noticed how bad the fat prejudice is this year since I’ve been losing weight. People are so much nicer and more friendly with me now. Cashiers and strangers make eye contact, smile and try to make conversation. I never even realized I was being treated poorly in the first place. It’s very sad and something that people should be made aware.

    1. CeCe Olisa

      Augh, when I hear stories like this is makes me so sad. I can’t help but wonder who is judging passing me by and treating me differently because of my size… fascinating perspective!

    2. Nikki Intschert

      I too, had an experience where I lost a significant amount of weight, and then the world opened up to me! I lost about 90 lbs, and everything was different about my everyday interactions. I’ve since put that weight (plus some) back on, and I’m hyperaware of how different my interactions with all kinds of people become again.

      I’ll say this, though- I still walk around like I own the world and I’m a P.Y.T., which has prevented a total reversion back to the “bad days.” I know we plus-size girls tend to ostracize ourselves, first, and then we let everyone else do it to us, too.

    3. More Than Cute in the Face

      1st congrats on your weight loss journey Sara. I’ve seen the treatment you mentioned above with a few friends. The change in how someone gets treated really makes me stop and think. So, now all of a sudden when someone loses a significant amount of weight (definitely something to celebrate) people that you’ve already known come out of nowhere and are more friendly & inviting…they are the same person they were before just with a lower number on the scale. Makes me sad. People are worthy either way.

  3. Memphis shinning start

    although any prejudice is wrong but being “fat is a choice that can be changed with hard work. I am a proud PSP and after trying to become the typical media size plus size woman I chose to stop trying to become something that i felt is acceptable and just accept myself. It’s like when some of us see an extremely thin woman we judge her and say i don’t ever want to get that thin she looks sick.

  4. Memphis shinning start

    although any prejudice is wrong but being “fat is a choice that can be changed with hard work. I am a proud PSP and after trying to become the typical media size plus size woman I chose to stop trying to become something that i felt is acceptable and just accept myself. It’s like when some of us see an extremely thin woman we judge her and say i don’t ever want to get that thin she looks sick.

  5. mallorytiffany@ymail.com

    although any prejudice is wrong but being “fat is a choice that can be changed with hard work. I am a proud PSP and after trying to become the typical media size plus size woman I chose to stop trying to become something that i felt is acceptable and just accept myself. It’s like when some of us see an extremely thin woman we judge her and say i don’t ever want to get that thin she looks sick.

  6. mallorytiffany@ymail.com

    although any prejudice is wrong but being “fat is a choice that can be changed with hard work. I am a proud PSP and after trying to become the typical media size plus size woman I chose to stop trying to become something that i felt is acceptable and just accept myself. It’s like when some of us see an extremely thin woman we judge her and say i don’t ever want to get that thin she looks sick.

  7. vanessa jackson

    This happened yesterday during my lunch as this young lady approached an area where me and several of my co-workers were having lunch. She had on a bodycon mini dress with a nice blazer and she was a PSP. She didn’t have on body smoothing undergarments so all eyes went her way as she confidently walked through. One coworker said to me she’s wrong for that, her momma should have told her. My response is she’s young, perhaps she has no guidance but she’s strutting like it’s nobodies business. The same person that said that to me I’ve seen wear some things I didn’t think fit her body well and so have I. Both of us, as well as the majority of those gawking were all PSPs. We’re even worse on others like us than the average size folks. Is there a prejudice, sure, do we get discriminated against, sure. Being overweight is a choice for some of us and some have health reasons for being overweight. The heart and mind also make choices to be loving to one another no matter size, race, image, etc. Just like we can change our appearance the ugliness on the inside can also be changed “IF” we choose to do so. I heard it said yes, I’m fat and I can lose weight, you’re ugly and you have a choice to lose that too. Great blog, change must come

    1. CeCe Olisa

      Yes, we are often worse towards eachother… and YES focusing on the outside isn’t enough if the inside is a mess… good points all around!

  8. vanessa jackson

    This happened yesterday during my lunch as this young lady approached an area where me and several of my co-workers were having lunch. She had on a bodycon mini dress with a nice blazer and she was a PSP. She didn’t have on body smoothing undergarments so all eyes went her way as she confidently walked through. One coworker said to me she’s wrong for that, her momma should have told her. My response is she’s young, perhaps she has no guidance but she’s strutting like it’s nobodies business. The same person that said that to me I’ve seen wear some things I didn’t think fit her body well and so have I. Both of us, as well as the majority of those gawking were all PSPs. We’re even worse on others like us than the average size folks. Is there a prejudice, sure, do we get discriminated against, sure. Being overweight is a choice for some of us and some have health reasons for being overweight. The heart and mind also make choices to be loving to one another no matter size, race, image, etc. Just like we can change our appearance the ugliness on the inside can also be changed “IF” we choose to do so. I heard it said yes, I’m fat and I can lose weight, you’re ugly and you have a choice to lose that too. Great blog, change must come

  9. lilshine7@gmail.com

    This happened yesterday during my lunch as this young lady approached an area where me and several of my co-workers were having lunch. She had on a bodycon mini dress with a nice blazer and she was a PSP. She didn’t have on body smoothing undergarments so all eyes went her way as she confidently walked through. One coworker said to me she’s wrong for that, her momma should have told her. My response is she’s young, perhaps she has no guidance but she’s strutting like it’s nobodies business. The same person that said that to me I’ve seen wear some things I didn’t think fit her body well and so have I. Both of us, as well as the majority of those gawking were all PSPs. We’re even worse on others like us than the average size folks. Is there a prejudice, sure, do we get discriminated against, sure. Being overweight is a choice for some of us and some have health reasons for being overweight. The heart and mind also make choices to be loving to one another no matter size, race, image, etc. Just like we can change our appearance the ugliness on the inside can also be changed “IF” we choose to do so. I heard it said yes, I’m fat and I can lose weight, you’re ugly and you have a choice to lose that too. Great blog, change must come

  10. lilshine7@gmail.com

    This happened yesterday during my lunch as this young lady approached an area where me and several of my co-workers were having lunch. She had on a bodycon mini dress with a nice blazer and she was a PSP. She didn’t have on body smoothing undergarments so all eyes went her way as she confidently walked through. One coworker said to me she’s wrong for that, her momma should have told her. My response is she’s young, perhaps she has no guidance but she’s strutting like it’s nobodies business. The same person that said that to me I’ve seen wear some things I didn’t think fit her body well and so have I. Both of us, as well as the majority of those gawking were all PSPs. We’re even worse on others like us than the average size folks. Is there a prejudice, sure, do we get discriminated against, sure. Being overweight is a choice for some of us and some have health reasons for being overweight. The heart and mind also make choices to be loving to one another no matter size, race, image, etc. Just like we can change our appearance the ugliness on the inside can also be changed “IF” we choose to do so. I heard it said yes, I’m fat and I can lose weight, you’re ugly and you have a choice to lose that too. Great blog, change must come

    1. nycece@gmail.com

      Yes, we are often worse towards eachother… and YES focusing on the outside isn’t enough if the inside is a mess… good points all around!

  11. Amanda Gray

    While I also think fat is still an acceptable prejudice, judging people on poverty is still also socially acceptable.

      1. Amanda Gray

        Yeah, I didn’t really think about it either until someone pointed it out to me but I do believe those are some of the last prejudices. I do think there are some that very specific, i.e. people only get lung cancer if they were smokers. Great blog though! 🙂

      1. Amanda

        Yeah, I didn’t really think about it either until someone pointed it out to me but I do believe those are some of the last prejudices. I do think there are some that very specific, i.e. people only get lung cancer if they were smokers. Great blog though! 🙂

  12. aj-gray@wiu.edu

    While I also think fat is still an acceptable prejudice, judging people on poverty is still also socially acceptable.

      1. aj-gray@wiu.edu

        Yeah, I didn’t really think about it either until someone pointed it out to me but I do believe those are some of the last prejudices. I do think there are some that very specific, i.e. people only get lung cancer if they were smokers. Great blog though! 🙂

  13. aj-gray@wiu.edu

    While I also think fat is still an acceptable prejudice, judging people on poverty is still also socially acceptable.

      1. aj-gray@wiu.edu

        Yeah, I didn’t really think about it either until someone pointed it out to me but I do believe those are some of the last prejudices. I do think there are some that very specific, i.e. people only get lung cancer if they were smokers. Great blog though! 🙂

  14. Vanessa

    I do agree that fat is the last prejudice acceptable. It has been women, black people, gays, Jewish in the past, and now none of these are considered so bad (most of the time !) but fat?! I wouldn’t care so much about being fat if people didn’t assume you were very lazy (I’ve done researches on the subject in the past, and people usually think you are not as intelligent, lazy, greedy, etc) because you’re big ! I know some very thin people who are really particularly lazy and eat for like 5000cal a day, but no one would call them fat, with all the bad stuff that comes with it.

    Funny fact : what you said about your friends saying you’re “different”. I’ve had that too, and it bothers me. I think they just know how you are not their stereotype of lazy=fat and so theyneed a different category for you ! During World war 2, the population slowly started avoiding Jewish people, BUT, at a very precise point, when they talked about it, they would say ” my neighbor is Jew, but he’s not a real one!” because they actually liked the person and because they knew him, knew it didn’t fit the stereotype. So at some point, everyone had “their” Jew, who was very different.

    Point of the long rant? Talk to people, because when you do. While we have nothing to prove (do we?!), obviously it would benefit some of us if people actually found out there are some very active, healthy PSPs, and it’s not an exception to meet one.

    Sorry if it’s confusing. English isn’t my first language.

    1. Nikki Intschert

      I think you hit that on the head, and it was the first time someone has resolved the cognitive dissonance I feel when this issue arises!

      For instance, friends might say something derogatory about a “fat woman,” which will prompt me to say “So what does that say about me?!” In turn, they fall over themselves to exclaim “Oh, but you’re not fat!” That is a blatantly wrong statement- I’m 300 lbs. I’m fat by literally anyone’s definition. But now I get it: I’m not exhibiting the “Fat stereotype,” because they know me -as a person. So I’m textbook fat, but not their preconceived notion of a Fat person.

      I’m 26 years old, and I’ve been battling confusion about how this has happened since I was 6… Thank you CeCe for bringing up the topic, and thank you Vanessa for making such a great, clear analogy to explain the behavior!

  15. Vanessa

    I do agree that fat is the last prejudice acceptable. It has been women, black people, gays, Jewish in the past, and now none of these are considered so bad (most of the time !) but fat?! I wouldn’t care so much about being fat if people didn’t assume you were very lazy (I’ve done researches on the subject in the past, and people usually think you are not as intelligent, lazy, greedy, etc) because you’re big ! I know some very thin people who are really particularly lazy and eat for like 5000cal a day, but no one would call them fat, with all the bad stuff that comes with it.

    Funny fact : what you said about your friends saying you’re “different”. I’ve had that too, and it bothers me. I think they just know how you are not their stereotype of lazy=fat and so theyneed a different category for you ! During World war 2, the population slowly started avoiding Jewish people, BUT, at a very precise point, when they talked about it, they would say ” my neighbor is Jew, but he’s not a real one!” because they actually liked the person and because they knew him, knew it didn’t fit the stereotype. So at some point, everyone had “their” Jew, who was very different.

    Point of the long rant? Talk to people, because when you do. While we have nothing to prove (do we?!), obviously it would benefit some of us if people actually found out there are some very active, healthy PSPs, and it’s not an exception to meet one.

    Sorry if it’s confusing. English isn’t my first language.

  16. vanessa.babin@gmail.com

    I do agree that fat is the last prejudice acceptable. It has been women, black people, gays, Jewish in the past, and now none of these are considered so bad (most of the time !) but fat?! I wouldn’t care so much about being fat if people didn’t assume you were very lazy (I’ve done researches on the subject in the past, and people usually think you are not as intelligent, lazy, greedy, etc) because you’re big ! I know some very thin people who are really particularly lazy and eat for like 5000cal a day, but no one would call them fat, with all the bad stuff that comes with it.
    Funny fact : what you said about your friends saying you’re “different”. I’ve had that too, and it bothers me. I think they just know how you are not their stereotype of lazy=fat and so theyneed a different category for you ! During World war 2, the population slowly started avoiding Jewish people, BUT, at a very precise point, when they talked about it, they would say ” my neighbor is Jew, but he’s not a real one!” because they actually liked the person and because they knew him, knew it didn’t fit the stereotype. So at some point, everyone had “their” Jew, who was very different.

    Point of the long rant? Talk to people, because when you do. While we have nothing to prove (do we?!), obviously it would benefit some of us if people actually found out there are some very active, healthy PSPs, and it’s not an exception to meet one.

    Sorry if it’s confusing. English isn’t my first language.

  17. vanessa.babin@gmail.com

    I do agree that fat is the last prejudice acceptable. It has been women, black people, gays, Jewish in the past, and now none of these are considered so bad (most of the time !) but fat?! I wouldn’t care so much about being fat if people didn’t assume you were very lazy (I’ve done researches on the subject in the past, and people usually think you are not as intelligent, lazy, greedy, etc) because you’re big ! I know some very thin people who are really particularly lazy and eat for like 5000cal a day, but no one would call them fat, with all the bad stuff that comes with it.
    Funny fact : what you said about your friends saying you’re “different”. I’ve had that too, and it bothers me. I think they just know how you are not their stereotype of lazy=fat and so theyneed a different category for you ! During World war 2, the population slowly started avoiding Jewish people, BUT, at a very precise point, when they talked about it, they would say ” my neighbor is Jew, but he’s not a real one!” because they actually liked the person and because they knew him, knew it didn’t fit the stereotype. So at some point, everyone had “their” Jew, who was very different.

    Point of the long rant? Talk to people, because when you do. While we have nothing to prove (do we?!), obviously it would benefit some of us if people actually found out there are some very active, healthy PSPs, and it’s not an exception to meet one.

    Sorry if it’s confusing. English isn’t my first language.

    1. intschert.nicole.k@gmail.com

      I think you hit that on the head, and it was the first time someone has resolved the cognitive dissonance I feel when this issue arises!
      For instance, friends might say something derogatory about a “fat woman,” which will prompt me to say “So what does that say about me?!” In turn, they fall over themselves to exclaim “Oh, but you’re not fat!” That is a blatantly wrong statement- I’m 300 lbs. I’m fat by literally anyone’s definition. But now I get it: I’m not exhibiting the “Fat stereotype,” because they know me -as a person. So I’m textbook fat, but not their preconceived notion of a Fat person.

      I’m 26 years old, and I’ve been battling confusion about how this has happened since I was 6… Thank you CeCe for bringing up the topic, and thank you Vanessa for making such a great, clear analogy to explain the behavior!

  18. paraveina@gmail.com

    There’s also intellectualism – its very socially acceptable to be derogatory towards someone’s level of intelligence.

  19. paraveina@gmail.com

    There’s also intellectualism – its very socially acceptable to be derogatory towards someone’s level of intelligence.

  20. lisa

    i think the difference is that (hypothetically) you could change your size, while you (hypothetically) can’t change your race or gender,

  21. lisa

    i think the difference is that (hypothetically) you could change your size, while you (hypothetically) can’t change your race or gender,

  22. lisagarcia@gmail.com

    i think the difference is that (hypothetically) you could change your size, while you (hypothetically) can’t change your race or gender,

  23. lisagarcia@gmail.com

    i think the difference is that (hypothetically) you could change your size, while you (hypothetically) can’t change your race or gender,

  24. Caitlin

    There’s also intellectualism – its very socially acceptable to be derogatory towards someone’s level of intelligence.

  25. Caitlin

    There’s also intellectualism – its very socially acceptable to be derogatory towards someone’s level of intelligence.

  26. samba1176@gmail.com

    1st congrats on your weight loss journey Sara. I’ve seen the treatment you mentioned above with a few friends. The change in how someone gets treated really makes me stop and think. So, now all of a sudden when someone loses a significant amount of weight (definitely something to celebrate) people that you’ve already known come out of nowhere and are more friendly & inviting…they are the same person they were before just with a lower number on the scale. Makes me sad. People are worthy either way.

  27. Cathy

    Unfortunately, I think there are many acceptable prejudices and most of them seem to deal with people’s outer appearance. Whether this is height, weight, the size of their breasts, the colour/length of their hair or the way they dress; apparently everything goes.
    A friend of mine is just over 7 feet tall and you wouldn’t believe how he is treated sometimes. People stare at him openly while pointing him out to their friends, take his picture without asking, giggle and make rude comments (the other week, a guy asked his gf if “everything about him is that big…”). Don’t get me wrong, I know his height has brought him some really awesome things, but some people can be really annoying about it too.

  28. Cathy

    Unfortunately, I think there are many acceptable prejudices and most of them seem to deal with people’s outer appearance. Whether this is height, weight, the size of their breasts, the colour/length of their hair or the way they dress; apparently everything goes.
    A friend of mine is just over 7 feet tall and you wouldn’t believe how he is treated sometimes. People stare at him openly while pointing him out to their friends, take his picture without asking, giggle and make rude comments (the other week, a guy asked his gf if “everything about him is that big…”). Don’t get me wrong, I know his height has brought him some really awesome things, but some people can be really annoying about it too.

  29. charlotte.esmee@hotmail.nl

    Unfortunately, I think there are many acceptable prejudices and most of them seem to deal with people’s outer appearance. Whether this is height, weight, the size of their breasts, the colour/length of their hair or the way they dress; apparently everything goes. A friend of mine is just over 7 feet tall and you wouldn’t believe how he is treated sometimes. People stare at him openly while pointing him out to their friends, take his picture without asking, giggle and make rude comments (the other week, a guy asked his gf if “everything about him is that big…”). Don’t get me wrong, I know his height has brought him some really awesome things, but some people can be really annoying about it too.

  30. charlotte.esmee@hotmail.nl

    Unfortunately, I think there are many acceptable prejudices and most of them seem to deal with people’s outer appearance. Whether this is height, weight, the size of their breasts, the colour/length of their hair or the way they dress; apparently everything goes. A friend of mine is just over 7 feet tall and you wouldn’t believe how he is treated sometimes. People stare at him openly while pointing him out to their friends, take his picture without asking, giggle and make rude comments (the other week, a guy asked his gf if “everything about him is that big…”). Don’t get me wrong, I know his height has brought him some really awesome things, but some people can be really annoying about it too.

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