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???