Thursday, 3 December 2015

wish you weren't here

An incident took place this week that has been playing on my mind. Usually I refrain from writing my opinion on the internet when it comes to topical issues for fear of I'm adding to the white noise that perpetuates the internet however, I was thinking how important it is for people to voice their opinions on things they desire change in.

overweight haters, bopo, body positivity, underground fat-shaming, fat-shaming, fat shaming postcards, callie thorpe, from the corners of the curve
(Image Sourced from The Guardian)

The issue was brought to my attention by blogger Callie Thorpe (check out her amazing blog here) via her Facebook page when she discovered that people had been handing out fat-shaming postcards on the tube in London to unsuspecting fat people just going about their everyday lives and daring to exist. This group referred to themselves as 'Overweight Haters' on the cards and presented some very strong and interesting  predictable arguments as to why being fat is inherently wrong and disgusting. Furthermore, they have single-handedly managed to solve the obesity epidemic (much to the British governments joy) with the insightful suggestion that fat people should just "eat less". My suggestion is that we should turn to these great minds and ask for their help with other important matters, like their opinions on Syria...

 I hate the simplification of issues. The assumption that being fat can be so easily defined and consequently, solved. People are diverse. We all have different experiences and ideas and perspectives. We are raised in unique environments and we face different obstacles. This is regardless of size, colour of skin, height, gender and any of the other things we like to divide and define ourselves by. You don't just get one type of fat person so how can we apply one easy solution to 'fix' the problem. Anyone who thinks that being overweight is as simple as eating too much is stupid. You expect this simple thought process from children but not from adults. Not from people that know how complicated life can be. 

The part the amused me most, was the promise that with weight loss comes unfaltering happiness. After all, none of us know any slim people who are unhappy or, dare I say it, single. Slim people don't suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. That's an exclusive club for overweight people and one that I currently hold a membership for. The argument that fat equals unhappiness and slimness equals happiness is a shallow and ignorant theory but that isn't too surprising of people who refer to other human beings as ugly, label themselves as 'haters' and think they have the right to comment on other people's bodies. Also, when did single become such a dirty word? 

What is it they resent? Apparently fat people "consume" too much but last time I checked that was the entirety of the western world. Our society is built on consumption and consequently we buy more than we need, waste more than we should and then we pump all the crap we've wasted our slave-waged money on into the ground and then quibble over having to spend five pence on a plastic bag but, I digress.

The argument that overweight people are wasting NHS resources is weak and, as always, overly simplified. The NHS is a 'publically funded national healthcare system' which is 'funded primarily by taxation, providing[sic] free or low-cost healthcare to all legal residents of the U.K'. It is condition free and paid for by tax paying residents so please tell me why fat people aren't entitled to seek the medical help they are paying for? If this is the case then cut our taxes because why are we paying into a system that we aren't allowed to benefit from.

 Regardless of whether a persons' health issues are self inflicted or not, the NHS was set up to care for people. If we take the argument that self inflicted illnesses, injuries and medical problems should not be included in/nor is the responsibility of the NHS, as it is a waste of money, then we have to consider all of the ways in which people inflict health problems on themselves. You can't just marginalize one group. Smokers, alcoholics and drug users being the obvious examples but we then have to include people with eating disorders and people that self harm. We would also have to include those that go drinking on a Friday/Saturday night and consume so much alcohol that they end up scaling a wall, falling off and breaking their leg. Based on the 'Overweight Haters' argument, they are, also, not entitled to seek medical help as their injury was caused by their inability to exercise their self control when it came to alcohol consumption. If you were to remove self inflicted health problems from doctors surgeries and hospitals you wouldn't have many patients left. The NHS would be rich but, you'd also have a society of ill people unable to work and left to sort themselves out despite the system they were paying into each and every month.

People who smoke, do not smoke because they want lung cancer, alcoholics don't want cirrhosis of the liver and overweight people do not want heart disease. They also don't want people giving them shitty postcards while they are on their commute home from work, informing them that they are 'fat, ugly humans'. Everybody has the right to exist exactly as they are. No one needs to be 'fixed' or should have to apologise for they way the look or the choices they make (even if the choices people make are inadvisable). People need help and support and kindness. If people want to make changes for themselves they should do so, not because they feel they aren't good enough or because they have been humiliated in public.

As J.K Rowling once said,

'Is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'? Not to me.'

Maybe someone should print that on a postcard and hand it out.

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