While I do not recommend the experience of getting hate mail and harassment for months on end (never-ending), what the experience does have going for it is a glimpse into the mindset of the people who hate and fear fatness.
They all basically say the same 4 or 5 things, over and over, with very little variation. I've addressed a few in the past. But there's one motif that I haven't discussed yet, and that is the disgust.
People are not shy about telling me that my body disgusts them. I've been fat basically my whole life, and people were always telling me that my body (that I) disgusted them.
So it doesn't surprise me that a recurring theme of the abusive hate mail I get is, "Fat people can't wipe their own asses" or something about cleaning fat folds.
And I've been thinking about that- how this disgust is used to dehumanize and other fat people. It's so common.
When I notice these patterns- these people saying almost the exact same thing, over and over- I wonder where this propaganda began. It sticks out, and I wonder about it.
Ok, so let's address the supposed issue at hand first- yes. Some fat people need assistive devices or other assistance to clean themselves after using the bathroom, or in order to maintain hygiene in other ways. So do some thin people.
There's a word for people who need assistance or accommodation with tasks that others take for granted- it's called disabled. And if you make fun of disabled people- you are a terrible person. You should feel bad about yourself.
There is also another group of people who need help with cleaning themselves after pooping. Those people are called babies.
So how can we reconcile the mainstream view of fat bodies as disgusting and babies as cute? It's pretty simple. Disgust is used as a propaganda weapon by the powerful to further dehumanize marginalized groups of people.
You can see it in the ways menstruation is discussed (when it's discussed at all). A bodily process that fully half the world's population will experience at some point is treated like it is the most filthy and profane thing imaginable.
The blood and the stains and the clumps of tissue. Tampons and pads and how can we hide this terrible curse/crime??
Contrast that with the comedic way mainstream culture treats semen.
Can you imagine the role reversal in It's Something About Mary, when instead of putting semen in her hair- Cameron Diaz gently brushes menstrual blood into Ben Stiller's hair? Just super casual like.
(I imagined the look on a Generic Dude face when presented with this scenario, and just about fell out laughing. Omg LOL 4EVER.)
I am sure to receive all manner of outraged replies to this- all along the same lines- but do you think it's ok for someone to get so fat that they can't do... whatever. Blah blah.
Yeah. I think it's ok. I mean, what you do even mean, is it ok? What kind of question is that? Is it ok that this person over here that makes me uncomfortable- that I find disgusting and can't find any empathy towards- is it ok if that person is alive and continues to exist?
YES. YESSSSSSSSS. For fuck's sake and for the people in the back- YES IT IS OK.
You don't get to decide who is "not ok", who isn't allowed to live, who should make their entire life and existence into an apology.
Because NO ONE should have to do that.
(Except maybe the people who spend their time looking for vulnerable people to harass. Y'all could stand to do some apologizing.)
And all this disgust and bias against fat people reinforces fatphobia that can be deadly.
It's hard as hell to get decent medical care when doctors see fat"...patients is a great waste of their time, viewing these patients as annoying and noncompliant."
Disgust is used against all sorts of groups. If you start to listen for it, you will here it everywhere. And it's something to watch out for.
Because disgust is the death of empathy.