Don't Look Away

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

Your Fat Friend has written a terrific piece about thin people who find comments sections on fat advocacy pieces too harrowing to read: "Your Fat Friend Wants You to Read the Comments."
I shared a few comments with you in the hope of finding a witness to the cacophony in response to my handful of tweets — someone who could confirm the absurdity and harshness of strangers' responses. I should've anticipated what you would say.

Don't read the comments. I never do.

You, like so many other thin friends, were shaken, and found the comments too harrowing to continue reading.

I was surprised. These comments weren't anything I didn't hear regularly. These are words that strangers will readily say to me, face to face. Passersby shout epithets on the street. When turned down for a date, men snap "fat bitch" back at me with startling ease. Family members offer an unwelcome and unsolicited onslaught of diet advice and surgeon recommendations. Coworkers complain loudly about sitting next to passengers smaller than me. These comments are as ubiquitous as the air that I breathe. And like the air, they are invisible to you.

[...] I don't read the comments. I never do.

But, my darling friend, the comments are the one passage from your world to mine. The comments are what I breathe every day — the heavy smog that thickens in my lungs. The cloudy mess I exhale when I tell you what has happened. The thick skin that has brought me this far, and allowed me to take so much in stride.

I need you to peer into the world I walk through every day. I need you to read the comments.
There is much, much more at the link, and I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing.

It's a very good companion piece to one I wrote in October 2013: "I Wouldn't Even If I Could." That's about the advice that I should "just ignore" fat hatred, while Your Fat Friend's is about thin people confessing that they just ignore it (because they can).

Both of those dynamics are part and parcel of entrenching thin privilege by pretending that marginalization and abuse of fat people doesn't exist, even as such insistence is rooted in evidence of fat hatred's harm.

To posit that ignoring fat hatred is a viable option for fat people is absurd and cruel.

And any thin person who wants to do effective ally work in solidarity with fat people will never ask us to salve their discomfort at evidence of our abuse by ignoring it. Read the comments. Don't just ignore what our lived experiences really look like.

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