Thursday, March 13, 2008

Big Buts, Part Seven: Do I Hate Thin People?

"But Rio, why do you hate thin people so much?"


I get this a lot. I really do not understand it. I challenge anyone to look through my blog and find anything saying that I hate thin people, or that they suck, or anything of the sort.

I believe in fat acceptance. Accepting fat people does not mean that you then hate thin people. I can't imagine how someone would believe otherwise, unless they're the type that, when they lose one outlet for their hatred and venom, they must immediately transfer it to another target. Being a feminist does not mean someone hates men*, it means that they want women to be treated like human beings, equal to men. You don't have to sacrifice one group to give another group rights and respect! As a fat person, I want to be treated as respectfully as a thin person is treated in our society. As a woman, I want the same rights and respect as a man.

Imagine this:
Two people, Casey and Dana. Casey is standing up on a platform, while Dana is down below. Casey has access to a bunch of rocks to throw at Dana, while Dana has none, and would not have the strength to throw them high enough to hit Casey anyway. Now, there are several options we could take here:
- Dana climbs up to the platform where Casey is, and knocks Casey off the platform, switching their roles. Now Dana is privileged, while Casey is not. This results in an endless struggle where the two switch places in a cycle of vengeance.

- Casey climbs down to where Dana is, sacrificing privilege to gain equal footing. This doesn't benefit Dana that much, except that Casey isn't throwing rocks, but because Casey resents being lowered to Dana's situation, there are fistfights and discord between them.

- Casey lowers a rope and helps Dana up to the platform, putting them both on equal footing. This DOES benefit Dana, of course, and Casey has to sacrifice very little to do this--and may even benefit from Dana's experience, ideas, and companionship.

It is not necessary to tear down one group of people in order to put a less privileged one on equal footing. What we DO have to sacrifice in order to do this, though, is the idea that we need to have someone beneath us in order to feel important. Finding your self-worth is pretty hard, and we are unfortunately taught the dirty shortcut of ranking ourselves over someone else. Dehumanizing other people, however, is harmful to everyone involved in the long run--when you throw rocks at someone (metaphorically or literally), you create a cycle of hatred and vengeance that can be very difficult to break. Admitting that you were wrong in the way you treated someone is really, really tough, but it's absolutely necessary if you want to find your true self-worth, which is independent from someone else being inferior to you.

So, in short, no, I don't hate thin people. Thin people who read my writings and believe otherwise may want to examine why they are reacting this way; I believe that it is probably because I'm refusing to acknowledge their "superior" status. That's really uncomfortable, obviously. It probably stings a bit when I say things like, "Yes, you have worked really hard to become thin, but that doesn't actually mean anything to me," especially when those who have lost a lot of weight are accustomed to high praise from just about everyone else. There's also the upsetting idea that putting a lot of effort into something doesn't make that something valuable to everyone else. What you did to lose weight was for your own benefit; it is not some kind of heroic, humanitarian task, no matter how much people piss and moan about health care costs.

On a final note, I want to mention that, if I hated thin people, I wouldn't have married one. In my social life, I don't treat thin friends any differently from fat friends. I don't tell thin people to eat more, to gain weight, or anything of the sort--because a person's body size is none of my business. No, I don't hate thin people. No, I don't want you to go and gain weight if you're thin. I just don't think your body size has anything to do with your value as a human being, and I won't accept it when others behave as if it does.

*This does NOT mean that there are no feminists who hate men; it means that hating men is not a requirement of feminism.


Karen said...

I'm thin and I didn't ever think you hated thin people. But I also didn't put actual work into getting or maintaining my thinness, so there's not really an example here I have to feel like you're ignoring.

Mercurior said...

some people just love to hate, people assume, if i say this group, i mean everyone. but i dont. i know there are always exceptions, but i dont count those.

I hate people who beleive they are superior, because of X or Y.. really i dont care if a person is thin or fat or with 3 heads from outer space. if they are nice people thats all that matters.

But trying to defend yourself from some nasty comments, it seems to me, that according to some who think your inferior, that you DARE contradict them, that you should see them as being better because of A or B. a sort of they want to be superior, but are afraid of being told they arent.

Self worth is a good thing, so long as its not take to extremes.

Anonymous said...

Sports Night!

Also, yes, you don't have to hate in order to accept. However, when you are getting the rocks thrown at you, sometimes it's hard to gain that perspective.

Andee said...

Yeah, exactly. The ex-fatties are the worst of the bunch, I think, when it comes to accusing us of hating thin people, and it comes down to us not bowing down to them the way they've been conditioned to believe everyone would when they lost weight. I've yet to have a naturally thin person accuse me of being anti-thin people, funny how that works.

I mean, which is it? Is it so easy to lose 25% or more of your body weight and keep it off for good that absolutely anyone can do it with just a token effort, and therefore it's completely unremarkable and as unworthy of stranger praise as changing the litterbox? Or is it something so arduous and difficult and requires so much extraordinary sacrifice and sweat that you can't blame the average person for not succeeding at it? You can't have it both ways.

Andee (Meowser)

Anonymous said...

"There's also the upsetting idea that putting a lot of effort into something doesn't make that something valuable to everyone else."

This is a lesson most video gamers know rather well.

"Hey I won Paper Mario!"

"Great...uh, so you want to talk about such and such show on TV"

LoL, seriously that's how it is.

k said...

I like this because it is about balance. I never think about how it affects me when people go on and on about someone who has lost weight. I mean, I am happy for them, if they are happy...but it does make it seem like a huge accomplishment for the world, rather than one person becoming more what they want to be. I've lived with all that my whole life, and trying to piece together what is okay for me to believe in or listen to and what isn't is still difficult for me. Thanks for your thoughts!