Fatsronauts 101

Fatsronauts 101 is a series in which I address assumptions and stereotypes about fat people that treat us as a monolith and are used to dehumanize and marginalize us. If there is a stereotype you'd like me to address, email me.

[Content Note: Fat bias; disablism.]

#22: All fat people are lazy and/or weak.

This topic was requested by Shaker CeltGurl60, and it's another one of those Fat 101 topics on which I could write an entire book, but it's really as simple as this: No, not all fat people are lazy and/or weak.

As with virtually all stereotypes about fat people, laziness and weakness are qualities that some humans have, irrespective of their size. There are people of all sizes who are lazy and/or weak—and there are lots of people who are regarded as "lazy" or "weak" who are really people with disabilities that might not be visible.

Some fat people might be fat at least in part because they are sedentary, which is not actually the same thing as laziness or weakness, which may be wholly a choice, or may be due to illness or injury, or any one of a number of other reasons.

And there are a whole lot of fat people who will say, "Yes, I'm fat because I don't get enough exercise," or even, "because I am lazy," because it's easier to say that, to confess to the assumptions made about them all the time, to repeat internalized hatred of self, a hatred for which fat people are frequently commended, than it is to reveal a painful vulnerability by admitting that they don't move more than they do because they have been shamed and humiliated into non-movement by fat-hating bullies.

It isn't when I'm sitting on my couch watching TV that I'm yelled at by some rando about how fat I am. It's when I'm outside, walking the dogs or riding a bike or just strolling down the sidewalk. It's when I'm doing the things that fat haters ostensibly want my fat ass to do that I am subjected to the most humiliating discouragements of being fat in public.

Which is to say nothing of the shaming and bullying of fat people that goes on at many gyms and other activity centers.

It is incredibly easy for lots of fat people to feel that they are emotionally weak, that there's something wrong with them, for not being able to muster the strength to be visibly active when being visibly active risks being targeted by heaploads of nasty abuse, from which you will have few defenders.

And that in turn makes it easier to acquiesce, "Yes, I'm lazy," than it is to say, "I'm not lazy; I'm just tired of being abused."

An awful lot of fat people are asked to make the choice between their physical health and their emotional health. That isn't about being lazy. And it isn't about being weak.

"Weakness" is an accusation routinely lobbed at both our emotional constitutions and our actual bodies. There is no universal truth about fat people's strength, except for the fact that is is wrong to suggest that none of us are strong.

I can only speak for myself, but I am strong in both body and mind. I navigate a colossal amount of fat hatred every day of my life, and I still walk into the world with my head held high, and that is an act of both will and bravery.

I walk into the world on strong legs, thinking sometimes about the irony that it is the "calories in, calories out!" crowd of genius troll scientists screaming at me about "basic math!" who are most likely to fail to understand that carrying around my fat body for decades has made me physically strong.

That is not every fat person's experience; it is mine. But I am not exceptional. I am just inclined to speak.



#21: Fat bodies have no feeling.
#20: Fat people aren't that bright.
#19: All fat people hate/want to change their bodies.
#18: You can diagnose fat people's health issues by looking at them.
#17: Fat people's choices are always dictated by their fat.
#16: You are helping fat people by shaming them.
#15: Fat people hate having their pictures taken.
#14: All fat people are unhealthy.
#13: Fat people looooooooooove Twinkies!
#12: Fat people don't like/want to see media representations of themselves.
#11: No one wants to be fat.
#10: Fat people need you to intervene in their lives.
#9: Fat people don't know how they look.
#8: Fat people don't deserve anything nice.
#7: Fat people are permission slips for thin people to eat what they want.
#6: Any fat person eating a salad or exercising is trying to lose weight.
#5: Fat is axiomatically ugly.
#4: Fat people eat enormous amounts of food.
#3: Fat people are jolly/mean, and fat people are shy/loud.
#2: I can tell how someone eats all the time, because of how they eat around me.
#1: Everyone who is fat is fat for the same reason.

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