I think it’s safe to say that fat people are some of the most hated individuals on the internet.
Terms like “ham beast,” “ham planet” and “land whale” are commonly paired with pictures of people who are frighteningly obese doing things that annoy the subscribers of r/fatpeoplehate, a Reddit site dedicated to fat shaming and discussion of why fat people are gross/terrible/lazy/evil/pathetic/shameful. It doesn’t stop with the morbidly obese though — even mildly doughy people are pulled into the net to be shamed. On Reddit’s most angry subreddit, anything over skinny isn’t just incorrect — it’s evil. But are the size-obsessed denizens of r/fatpeoplehate wrong?
The toxic subreddit is already reaching its own critical mass. It’s threatening to supernova as a result of its extreme viewpoints. On the one hand, it is insanely popular, constantly adding new subscribers, many of whom are likely fat people spying on “the enemy.” But on the other hand, because of its popularity, r/fatpeoplehate is in danger of destroying itself. Offensive pushes have come from sites like Imgur, who are allegedly banning any r/fatpeoplehate posts from reaching the front page of their main site. We’ve of course reached out to Imgur for comment and will update when they respond.
Additionally, a petition has sprung up on Change.org seeking to ban the subreddit outright. Over 200 people have signed the petition so far, but like many activist platforms dealing with an agenda that the internet trolls find unpopular, its comments have become overrun with snark, sarcasm and mockery.
Commentary and public discussion are increasing on the matter as well. Recently, we ran a story about fat shaming that itself became a heated forum for discussion. People Magazine had a cover story featuring what they termed “The World’s First Size 22 Supermodel!” Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition recently featured their first plus-sized model and groups like NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) are fighting for “fat people rights.” Hell, you might say fat is the new gay.
Even overweight celebrities are getting in on the discussion. Popular obese YouTube gamer Boogie2988 recently did a video in which he pleaded with the internet for some sort of moratorium on making fun of fat people.
Of course, the first comment was mocking him for being fat.
But had the troll listened to the points Boogie was making, he would have found some good logic. Yes, fat people did this to themselves, yes, they are not fun to look at. Yes, they are going to be adversely affected by health problems and yes, they need to make better life choices.
But there is clearly much more going on with fat people than just being some singularly-focused eating machines. Mental issues play into it, poor family dynamics play into it. In short, it isn’t quite as simple as “putting down the fork.” As Boogie argues it, the internet needs to just give fat people a break for a while so they can do what it takes to get back on track.
There are some problems with “fat people logic” as well though. Boogie is working on going down in size, but many severely overweight people are not. As Boogie says, “You do you, I’ll do me.” This wouldn’t be a problem, except fat people are impacting the people around them — whether it is comfort on airplanes, tight spaces in general or screwing with health insurance rates. And don’t get me started on rubbing up against the sweating. So in a certain sphere, overweight people do impact healthy people. It isn’t that simple to leave the issue alone.
Further, there is a dangerous precedent to “glamorizing” obesity. People Magazine’s supermodel story is great because the intent of the story is that fat people need someone to show how clothes will look on a person of increased size. The clothing options for fat people are an atrocious headache — it’s positive to have someone who can show off what is available.
But the Sports Illustrated piece gets it wrong. The fight for fat acceptance shouldn’t be towards saying “Hey! Fat is sexy!” Fat isn’t sexy. If you talked to fat people, I’m sure none of the sane ones would say they like being fat. People don’t LIKE being fat, they’d change it if they could (and many fat people fight to do just that daily). I’m sure they like eating what they want, but that isn’t the same thing. So what is the rationale with Sports Illustrated (other than a one-time gimmick to briefly resuscitate their downtrending magazine) displaying an overweight girl in a genre that’s all about health and wellness? If fat people truly want to adhere to the fact that “obesity is a disease,” then they don’t get to say it’s acceptable or attractive. That door doesn’t swing both ways. Spare us your punnery here, trolls.
Much of the U.S. is overweight. Obesity is rapidly becoming a global pandemic. In short, being fat is a real issue for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that healthy people have to be cruel about it. Do I think r/FatPeopleHate should be banned? Absolutely not. Their attitude is corrosive — both to overweight people and themselves (there seems to be so much anger in there … I feel sad for them, honestly). Fat people have a right to exist and make bad choices, but so do angry thin people. It’s complicated, but that freedom is part of what makes this country great. And when you complain, fat people, you’re just stooping to their ugly level.
It’s no fun to suffer — and everyone is equally human (again, trolls, don’t bother). But instead of punishing people who disagree with us or hurt our feelings doesn’t make us stronger or better. We’ve all got to work harder to eradicate obesity in a positive way, not accept it as “they way things are now.” End of story.
I don’t think this will sway r/fatpeoplehate any, but fellow fat people, could we at least please stop having our pictures taken because we went through the McDonald’s drive-thru on our Rascal scooter? Please?