There’s an interesting debate that’s been building for a long time in regards to the notion of “fat shaming” — essentially, it’s thin people making commentary on Facebook and social media about what they think is right in regards to body size. Oftentimes it comes out as meaner than perhaps intended, but the belief is that sometimes it’s necessary to be this mean — it’s the only way overweight people will “listen,” hence the “shaming” part. Believe that if you want, or don’t — that’s one viewpoint in a growing storm.
The latest talking point is in regards to a fitness trainer who posted a photo to Facebook he took of an enormously overweight person at Busch Stadium during a St. Louis Cardinals game. Though her face is not visible and he doesn’t identify her by name, the fact that he did such a thing — even making commentary on her eating habits — is invoking the “bully” word. As in, the trainer Keith Hausher bullied this woman and has now opened up a can of worms. As he tells it on his company’s Facebook page where he posted the photo, he’s also not backing down from his actions. He points out that the story took on a slant via the news reporting of it that he did not intend — his point was that the people who sat beside this individual should be allowed to enjoy the game comfortably, which is a fair point as well.
But here’s where things get sticky. See in commenting on issues like this one, people who are standing up for the “body love” agenda frequently engage in bullying of their own. Take, for instance, this female commenter who posted the comment that Hausher probably has a small dick. Because people who are mean are compensating for something evidently.
Do you see how that doesn’t work though? How that negates every argument you are making if you use a bullying tactic to fight bullying? And yet, it’s one of the most common methods of retaliation online — to call someone stupid or moronic or fat or thin or ugly or having a small dick or small breasts, reducing who they are to a single concept if we don’t agree with their comments.
See, if you’re interested in removing bullying as you claim to be, you don’t get to do that. That is the realm of bullies. You might not agree with Mr. Hausher’s viewpoints, but that doesn’t make him stupid, ugly or the owner of a tiny p*nis. Even if he does have a tiny p*nis, why would you use that as a judgment of him as a person?
If the internet hasn’t collectively made us more angry as a society it has certainly made us more aware of other people’s anger. But if we’re going to stomp out bullying and intolerance and be a better society for it, we can’t throw self-righteous anger at self-righteous anger. That isn’t going to solve anything.