I feel like I start each new blog post I write with ‘sorry it’s been so long!’ But. . .well. . .sorry it’s been so long. 😛 Let’s jump right in!
In case you haven’t heard the story of the Fat Man Dancing, a fat man was spotted recently at a show, dancing his heart out and having a good time. That is, until people decided to start taking his picture and laugh at him, shaming him into stopping.
That second picture. My heart breaks for him so much. The photos were uploaded to a site notorious for fat shaming folks. In case you can’t read the text, it says “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”
In a stunning display of internet activism, the photo went viral on reddit, and then a writer named Cassandra Fairbanks put out a call to her followers to find this man and throw him a dance party. In an effort headed almost entirely by women, he was located, a GoFundMe account was set up to finance the party, and even celebrities like Pharrell Williams, Moby, and Ellie Goulding wanted to join in on the fun. The dance party hasn’t happened yet, but it sounds like it’ll be a blast!
But watching this story unfold as it happened, I became curious. And I wasn’t the only one. A friend of mine posted a facebook status and asked, if the situation had been reversed, would the results have been the same? What do you think?
Let’s say a very fat woman was at a concert, alone, dancing her heart out. Let’s say a group of people laughed at her until she stopped, took photos of her, and posted them on the same site with the same caption. Would a man start a call to his followers to try to find her? Would a bunch of men throw her a dance party to celebrate #fatwomandancing?
I’m sad to say it, but I don’t think so. We live in a time where there are multiple threads on multiple websites dedicated to the shaming and humiliation of fat people (mostly from pictures they find through trolling the body positive tags on sites like Tumblr and Instagram), and the majority of the fat people they find are women. (And while this certainly isn’t a fact, my hypothesis is that most of the people who submit these photos are men.) And when it comes to fat women, we get a double dose of hatred, for being fat, and for being female.
Like it or not, sexism is rampant in our society. While we’ve surely made progress, women are still not given the same opportunities as men. And when it comes to physical appearance? Well, it doesn’t matter if you’re talented, smart, or kind; whatever positive traits you possess are completely overshadowed if you happen to be fat or otherwise not conventionally attractive. A perfect example: a couple months ago, a very famous fantasy author by the name of Colleen McCullough died in Australia. In addition to being an author, she was also an accomplished neuroscientist.
This was her obituary:
If I’d had so many accomplishments under my belt over the years and yet the second sentence of my obituary talked about how I was fat and homely, I’d be spinning in my grave. And you see this very often–the most important part about a woman is her appearance. You can see it:
- From this male news reporter who wore the same suit for an entire year to see if anyone would notice (they didn’t) after he saw his female co-anchor get criticized multiple times for what she wore.
- From the multiple celebrities who call out interviewers who care more about their fashion choices than their accomplishments.
- From Hillary Clinton herself (love her or hate her!)
- These aren’t so much looks based, but check out the abuse folks like Anita Sarkeesian and Ashley Judd suffer simply for being women having interests in male-dominated fields.
More or less, a woman’s most important ‘job’ is to be attractive for men. So if a dancing fat woman (in this culture, fat = ‘fails at the job of being attractive for men’) was posted online and publicly shamed, would thousands of men come to her rescue and throw her a dance party?
I hate to say it, but my money is on ‘No.’ And this is due to the toxic combination of fatphobia and sexism suffered by most fat women. And it reminds me that we as a society have to do better.