Fat Hatred Kills, Part Three

Guest post by Thorn 

Yep, it’s me again.

Are you exhausted by this story yet? Wrung out? Wondering what fresh hell I’m going to visit upon you today?

Trust me, I know just how you feel.

But sad to say, the story still isn’t over yet.

After the funeral I packed up my husband and my kids and headed home. Two weeks later I returned, this time on my own, for the interment of my mom’s ashes. We’d elected to have a little ceremony for it, presented by this pastor who’d known my mom really well. The cemetery was beautiful, it was sunny and warm outside.

I’d spent those intervening two weeks railing to everyone I knew about Joan’s asshattery, and had managed to work out some of my fury. I still felt distant to the family, but I’d decided to try to get past it. Joan was and always has been a rude bint and we all knew it. She’d been talked to about her behavior, and there wasn’t anything more to do about it but move on.

So after the interment ceremony, when we all went to a nearby coffee shop together, I tried to just be calm and focus on the next step: helping Rose out as much as I could, seeing as she’d been stuck with a lot of the heavy lifting in dealing with Mom’s estate.

So when it was my turn to order, I ordered just like I normally would – a skim-milk chai latte and a cranberry muffin, which I chose because I like cranberry muffins, not because it was low-fat.

I sat with Rose and Joan, who’d been helping Rose out a bunch, and we discussed handling Mom’s condo. Things were starting to wind down, and I got a call from my husband back home. I stepped outside to talk to him, and as I walked back inside after I hung up I was met by Uncle John.

He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me off to a corner. My first instinct was that he was going to say something kind to me, after the snotting on his lapel incident at Mom’s funeral. “So hey, you remember that thing Joan was talking about?”

I pondered. After I’d left, Joan had gotten pretty deeply involved in helping Rose with clearing up Mom’s affairs. “I don’t know, she’s talked about a lot of things,” I said. “Which thing in particular?”

John looked uncomfortable and stammered, “You know, the uh… the weight thing.”

My heart plummeted.

“Yeah, I remember,” I replied dully.

“You gonna work on that?”

What could I say?

“Yeah,” I mumbled.

“Good. We wanna keep you around for a good long time, you hear?”

I nodded silently and John gave my shoulders a final squeeze before releasing me and walking away.

I’ve never been bulimic, thank dog, but at that moment, I thought perhaps I could understand the impulse. My half-finished skim-milk chai latte and low-fat cranberry muffin curdled in my stomach and I threw the rest of my food away. I was so angry, I felt sure if I opened my mouth I would either scream or vomit.

I did my best to avoid John until it was time to leave.

Finally we all left, and I fumed the entire way back.

I tried to talk to my dad and his wife about how angry I was. And while they agreed that it was seriously ill-mannered of John to bring it up then (apparently my shouted, “Am I not allowed to FUCKING mourn my mother in peace?? Is that too goddamn much to ask??” was an unassailable point), they just wouldn’t get behind the rest.

I mentioned the twin-studies showing weight to be about 80% genetic.* I mentioned the experiment about weight set-points and how naturally thin people have to ingest as much as 10,000 calories a day in order to become fat. I pointed out the several people on both sides of my family tree who are fat. And finally I pointed out that my fatness hurts no one but myself, and it is my body and my choice to accept myself and strive to be healthy at whatever size I might be, or to indulge in self-hatred and go on diet after diet, hoping that somehow I will wind up being part of that lucky 5% or less who manage to maintain their weight loss for over five years.

My dad and his (naturally thin) wife just couldn’t get behind me on any of those points, though. It was all about John’s bad timing.

Later, at our mom’s condo, I told my sister about what had happened. She said, “Did you tell him to go fuck himself?”

Rose has always had a talent for getting right to the heart of a matter.

I admitted I’d been too shocked to do much but nod along. She went off on a little tirade of her own, and finally announced that she was calling our aunt Brenda about this. She said how this was just the limit, how if they love me so much and are doing this because they want me around for a good, long time, how come they’re doing it in such a way that if they keep this shit up, I’m just not ever going to come visit them at all?

We ranted together about what jackassery it all was, and I felt better, knowing that at least my sister understood, and at least she was willing to stand up for me, even if she didn’t entirely understand all my reasons for being so mad either.

I haven’t been back down at this point, and find myself unable to look forward to the big family picnic which takes place every summer. Am I going to get treated to another lecture? If anything, in the aftermath of my mother’s death, I’ve more likely gained weight than lost anything. Am I going to have someone give me stern looks if I have my annual serving of Aunt Tina’s Candy Apple Salad? What if I go back for seconds? Am I going to have to explain how I only ever have it once a year, and promise to eat nothing but lettuce and water for dinner that night?

I’m not upset at being called fat. Heaven knows I’ve been called far worse. And besides – I am fat. I’ve been fat for close to 20 years now. I’m well aware of it.

What I’m upset about is the fact that apparently the importance of lecturing someone about being fat outweighs (har har! oh, the funny pun!) the importance of being kind and compassionate to someone whose mother died suddenly just a few days before. And how it’s so very very important that you don’t dare pass up even a single opportunity to remind them of their fat and just how much they need to be ashamed of themselves and their bodies, even if that opportunity is a mere hour after having their mother’s ashes committed to soil.

And the part that really gets me? The part that makes me want to grab each of them by the shoulders and shake until their teeth rattle? Fat didn’t kill my mother. It was a blood clot. Not cholesterol. Not a Twinkie. Not any of those things. Yes, obesity is one of the many, many risk factors for DVT, but it’s certainly not the only one. And it is the only risk factor Mom had, at least until it got bad enough that it forced her into a thoroughly sedentary lifestyle.

Being fat didn’t kill my mom. What killed her was being too ashamed of being fat to go see a doctor on an even moderately regular basis. What killed her was being so ashamed of her fat that she didn’t advocate for herself when she needed to. What killed her was the message she got, day in and day out, that if she wasn’t considered fuckable by the majority of the population, she didn’t deserve to be treated with dignity or respect. What killed her was a fucking DOCTOR deciding that his Hippocratic Oath didn’t cover fat chicks, and thus my mom’s health wasn’t any of his concern.

That’s fat hatred.

And that’s what killed my mother.

And if I’m not careful, if I don’t call these fuckers on their bullshit now, if I don’t stand up for myself right this very moment, it could kill me too.

* All things I had learned since starting to read this very blog a month or two before Mom’s death, so thanks to Kate for helping me be educated enough to fight this stuff when I needed it most.

49 thoughts on “Fat Hatred Kills, Part Three

  1. Oh Thorn, this series positively moves me to tears. I have no real equivalency, but my parents pushed and pushed and pushed me on this “losing weight=health” thing for years, and in March after my Dad was killed my Mom spoke to me in private and started in on me AGAIN about losing weight because “I just lost a husband and I don’t want to lose a daughter too.” And what can you say? You can’t lash out, because as much as you’re hurting you know that she’s hurting more, she’s the primary mourner. Thus does fatphobia compound family tragedies even more.

  2. Goddess, Thorn. You are so right, standing up for yourself in the face of this is so killer important. There is absolutely no, zero, zip, ZILCH proof that intentional weight loss improves longevity. There has never ever been a study that has demonstrated that. Not one. Ever. All of us need that have that little factoid in our arsenals and never let it go. People have been so brainwashed, so deeply, deeply brainwashed. It’s beyond hate. It’s true brainwashing.

  3. Part II had me shouting last night, sitting in my home office and cursing to my husband about the shear, screaming injustice of the way you were treated.

    Part III has moved me somewhere past anger. I’m ready to join BFB’s new organization (if Paul goes ahead with it). We cannot settle for glorified social clubs while people are suffering like this!

    Thorn, I’ve had those uncomfortable moments with my relatives, too, and each time, I reacted much like you did–stunned acquiescence. At the time, I even believed they were in the right.

    No more. I will not silently endure any more of this hateful crap, not even from my grandmother. And I’ll be thinking of you as I stand up for myself.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  4. I hope you go to your family reunion.

    I hope you eat Candy Apple Salad and love it.

    If anyone criricizes you for it, I hope they wind up wearing it.

    (Perhaps you should wear a t-shirt that says “fat hatred killed my mother!”)

    I hope telling your story here, and getting support for your well-deserved rage, will help you to feel entitled to call out rudeness when it’s being waved in your face, to defend your integrity as a human being, and to have a vast collection of clever, barbed retorts at your disposal.

  5. Thorn, I want to thank you for sharing this. I haven’t spoken to my mother in almost 9 years, mainly because she was very abusive to me as a child, and even as an adult. However, she is in her 70’s now, my dad’s health isn’t all that great, and I’m considering making a visit to see my dad. I can’t ever remember a time when my mother told me she loved me, or held me, or comforted me, but I want to try and see if we can work things out (I made some really nasty comments to her about 15 years ago when I moved out of state). It scares the hell out of me to go and see her because I’ve gained a lot of weight since I saw her last, and I know that’s one of the things she’s going to jump my case about. However, I have decided to go anyway, and my husband will be going along, thank god, and he will stick up for me too. I am going to write my mother a letter, and tell her that there are certain things I refuse to discuss with her (and list them), that I want us to have a decent relationship, and if she can’t deal with it, to let me know.
    Reading about what you have had to deal with makes me determined not to deal with it with my family.
    I sincerely hope that you can grieve for the loss of your mother and not have to deal with anything else. Sometimes, cutting people out of your life until they get over their well-meaning, but uninformed health advice, is all you can do.

  6. You are pretty much my new ass-kicking hero, Thorn. You thoroughly rock in every single way. I just read part of this out loud to my BFF, who I’ve been re-telling your blog posts to for the past two days, and we were both suitably pissed off on your behalf. You ROCK.

  7. Oh wow, Thorn, again wow. I feel for you.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. Powerful, powerful stuff. You have so much courage.

  8. Thanks yet again, Thorn, for sharing your story. Somehow narratives of actual people’s life experiences have a tendency to “activize” me more than simple statistics and facts.

    Last summer, while visiting my parents, my Dad commented on the three Miller Lights I had drunk throughout the day’s celebrations (I drink light beer primarily because I don’t want to be stinking drunk, as it generally has less alcohol, not for its low calories — and I like downing a few chilly brews on a hot day). Dad said “No wonder you’re so chubby.” (This from my dad, who’s body type is EXACTLY like mine, and who drinks a couple of beers, or more, every day).

    In the past, I would have blown it off, bit my tongue, swallowed my irritation. Instead, I turned to him and said:

    “Dad, I really don’t want to hear any more comments about my weight. There’s only one person whose opinion about my body I care about, and she’s standing right there, (I indicated my partner, who is naturally thin) and she happens to adore my body.”

    It didn’t stop all the “fat-concern” for the rest of the visit, but it sure changed how I experienced my remaining time there.

    I heartily endorse the suggestion of you forwarding your pieces to your family members.

  9. A very eloquent, and passionate account of your experiences thorn. It seems the Fat=Death asshattery that is being preached is only going to get worse. I just wish they would at least try to balance it with truths on both sides (Or post things from the side that is actually correct :P).

    Some what off-topic question here: Can someone give me a link to the articles about the high genetic factor of weight? I’ve always known it to be greatly disposed to genetics, but is it really 80%?

  10. Thank you so much for posting all of this, Thorn.

    I too live in dread of “the weight thing” being brought up by relatives at family gatherings. Thankfully these gatherings do not happen very often, but I’m now much better prepared to tell the “we’re only concerned about your health” ones to shove it. (I may have to buy a whole carton of Rethinking Thin or something to hand out.) At the very least I can say “Well, I just had a pretty thorough physical check-up with my doctor, and she says I’m doing just fine. I’m sure if she thought my weight was a problem, she’d bring it up.”

  11. I started responding to part II earlier today and stopped, wondering if perhaps what I was about to say was inappropriate. But the plain fact is that each and every one of these people who claim to care played a role in the death of your mother. They could have supported her and told her she was beautiful and wonderful just as she was. But those who “care” never seem to take that approach. They probably gave her the same crap for years that you’ve seen since your Mom’s passing. And she believed them and the doctor and society.

    I am so sorry for your loss, Thorn. And I’m sorry that people saw fit to use what they believed to be the circumstances surrounding your mother’s death as a club to bludgeon you with. I agree with your sister – the next family member who brings up your weight should unceremoniously be told to fuck off.

  12. I hope things get better for you. I honestly don’t know why people feel the need to point out someone else’s weight–like one isn’t aware of it oneself. It’s extremely condescending to do such, as though one lives without mirrors or doesn’t know the health risks of being too fat or thin.

    And of course, your weight is no one else’s business but your own.

    Over-concern about weight is probably more unhealthy than actual over- or under-weight itself. I have suffered from disordered eating, specifically bulimia, for a long time. I was an overweight child and by the time I was 12 or so (and with very few friends) I was deeply ashamed of my body, a shame I’ve never really come to terms with…It is unfortunate that western society puts a higher premium on beauty than simple health.

    I hope you find healing and realize that, however misplaced and thoughtless your aunt’s comments, at least they show she does care about you and wants you to be healthy. I worry about my mother, who is seriously overweight. I do not want to lose her early. But, I would never tell her to go on a diet; if she’s ready to, I’d support her all the way, but it’s her choice, her life. Hopefully, your aunt will realize this too and support you at whatever weight you may be. :)

  13. I am glad you have found your voice. Feels good, doesn’t it.
    And, you are right about what killed your mother.
    Sobi

  14. You go girl, I am overweight but dress beautifully and hide my fatty areas in nice skirts and show off my curves and good areas. I have been called stunningly beautiful by people and I get a lot of jealous looks all the time from the skinny bitches out there who are starving themsleves. People are so weight obsessed these days, they are all diluded. And doctors are the biggest morons of them all their skinny bitch nurses too, they follow what the drug companies say, not by individual patient! You have to be your own health advocate, and not be embarrased when getting weighed so you don’t go to the doctor, but I can understand where yor poor mum was coming from! Give attitude all back to them, and you will feel better, especially when you start to heal after your mom’s passing, you will feel stronger, it will take time but it will work, God Bless,
    Linet

  15. Linet, most thin people are thin for the same reason most fat people are fat – genetics. HAES and size-acceptance doesn’t mean bashing thin women. Especially in a thread about mourning and loss and blatant sizeism.

  16. I can’t even talk after reading this. When I was 20 years old my father told me I was “the fattest, ugliest thing he had ever seen”. Twenty-three years later and he’s been dead two years and I’m still not healed from that, although I’m trying with all my might. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart. I know you don’t know me from Adam’s housecat but please know that you have my deepest sympathy and my utmost respect.

  17. Oh Thorn, my heart goes out to you. My mom’s death was also preventable. A week before she died of an aortic aneurysm, we took her to the emergency room because she was short of breath and her face was greyish. She mentioned that she’d run out of her thyroid meds and was told “Well, then you’ve gained some weight and it’s making it hard for you to get your breath.” And she was handed some samples and sent home.

    A week later she was back with crushing chest pain, but her EKG was normal (it wasn’t her heart after all). She was retaining water severely, short of breath, and her chest had a bluish tint. All symptoms of a bleeding aneurysm. She was given lasix and put in CCU for observation. 24 hours later she was dead, and no attempt had been made to find out WHY her chest hurt and she couldn’t breath. After all, she was fat.

    I’m fortunate in that I didn’t get subjected to the type of “loving abuse” you did (I long ago established CLEARLY with my family that my weight is not subject for discussions I myself don’t initiate), but still… there was this attitude that my mother’s death was her own fault for “being fat” when the truth is – like you – my mother’s death was due to her preventable health issues being dismissed as just feeling like crap cause she was fat.

    And that? SUCKS.

  18. This series may be the most important thing on the fatosphere. Thorn, thank you so much for this — I know you had to make yourself vulnerable to put it out there, but I genuinely believe it will help save people.

  19. Kate – Thanks for giving Thorn the space to write this very important story.

    Thorn – You have a strong voice and your awareness on the subject + your anger can be channeled into something positive. I’d encourage you to think about how you can take this fat hatred and become an advocate for those who may suffer like your Mom. You would be powerful and determined, and we would be behind you!

  20. Damn.. damn damn is all I can say. I’m so sorry for your loss Thorn. I would’nt even talk to those relatives again if I were you. I’m probably more cold hearted than you are though.

    This broke my heart, and I’ve passed it on to some friends as well.

    I hope you are healing and dealing with your loss along with your sister.

    Peace to both of you.

  21. I think it is so sad when families strain relationships because of their “concern.” My father has done this to me for years. In fact the first instance of fat bashing I recall from him is when he told me my best friend in kindergarden was “kinda fat.” Once I went away for college I guess I stopped tolerating his constant “concern” about my weight. (I don’t really remember it from before then, but my friends said he would sometimes say stuff in frong of them.) We’ve had ridiculous screaming fights, where at one point I had to physically restrain him to get him to listen to a single word I’ve said. (But that’s more because he “knows everything” than because he’s fatphobic.) And the thing is, if he could just let it go I think we could be friends again. But he wont, or can’t or whatever.

    He just has to remind me he knows whats best for me and tell me how concerned he is every time I drink a gd glass of my favorite juice (apricot, it’s like “the worst” apparently) that my mom buys for me and I only have when I come home.

    No one benefits from this, ever, no one ever hears their family member/friend say “hey, you’re fat, you should get skinny… because you might die or something.” and think “Gee I’m so glad this person is saving my life.” All it does is ruin relationships.

    There is never an appropriate time to bring this up, because it is just not appropriate to bring up. Having an “intervention” with someone for being fat, isn’t the same as having an “intervention” with someone who does drugs, or is an alchoholic. However somewhere along the line I think people decided that it was. Telling someone you are concerned about their behavior is a little different from telling someone you are concerned about who they are, or what they look like. “I am concerned because I’ve noticed you binge (eating/drinking) and that’s really unhealthy.” vs. “I’m concerned about you, You’re very Short, and don’t you know that short people don’t make as much money, you should really try to grow more.”

  22. Pingback: First, Do No Harm at Shakesville

  23. Big hugs to you all.

    Thorn, that offer to fly wherever and slap the shit out of talk to your aunt and uncle is open as long as you want it to be.

  24. I think you should wear a shirt to the picnic that says “Mention my weight, get a fork up your nose.”

    And then follow through.

    I really… I mean, jeez. Losing your mom is bad enough. With all this crap on top? I don’t even have words.

  25. Thank you again for sharing all of this. This one really hit me, because I know that as gung-ho fat acceptance as I am, if confronted in the way your uncle confronted you, I would almost certainly mumble out a “yeah”. I’m pretty sure I have to my parents who thankfully are actually very hands-off relating to my body but that hasn’t made me free from conflicts. Anti-fat attitudes carry such privilege and presumed authority that disagreeing just isn’t allowed. Its like saying the sky is green and grass is purple. These people don’t think about hating fat or fat people. Its just part of how they understand the world. Its almost casual to them, which makes it so hard to confront because anything you say can be responded with a patronizing, “well, you know that isn’t true”. Its about the most discouraging thing you can imagine, but knowing that it is a shared experience can absolutely take the edge off of it. Again, thank you.

  26. Far out, Thorn.! This is all so… so… ARGH! I’m so sorry about your loss, and so angry about the … well, words fail me.

    About your releatives: prepare, then call them out, girl, call them out good.

    It can work; take heart. I used to have problems with rude in-laws – one Aunt in particular – asking in their ever-so-concerned but half-joking (hur hur!) way “So, when are you having kids?”. The first couple of times I mumbled something polite but fumed and seethed. Alone, I was furious, and practised over and over the response I knew I wanted to say but would never be brave enough to. The next time she tried it, it just came out without a second thought: “Maybe when you get some manners.” {large bright smile, walk away}. Oddly enough they’ve been no trouble at all since. Rude? Yeah. But oh so effective, especially from ms sweetness and light.

    Thorn, thank you for telling your story. You are brave and strong. All the very best.

  27. Thorn,
    I just got around to giving your posts the thorough reading they deserved yesterday. My heart goes out to you and to all the other people posting their horror stories. And that you had to deal with fat-hate under the ever-ready guise of “for your health” from family while trying to deal with all this makes it even more heinous. I’m so glad that you all are creating a site to deal with this and chronicle this incredible harm being done.
    Thanks for being so brave.
    M

  28. Thorn,
    First, I am incensed that these people treat you like this.
    Second, at the picnic, could you say, “What killed my mother was not her fat. It was you nagging at her to lose weight, which made her believe that her doctor was right when he told her not to come back until she had lost 50 pounds, so that she died needlessly and painfully of a condition that medical care could have taken care of. I take after my mother. I’ve got the gene for fat. I’d so much rather have it, and die of it, than the gene for tormenting people that you seem to have.”

  29. To Thorn and all who have commented so far, thank you. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou, thankyou for expressing what I have felt in my heart for so long. I have never been so moved and enraged all at once. I feel both utterly defeated and ready to wage war against this, this *thing* that is fat hatred. I want to melt into a puddle while simultaneously wishing that I knew how to remove a fat-bigot’s larynx with my bare, chubby, rage-clenched fingers.

    I am so grateful, Thorn, that in your grief you took the opportunity to educate and empower us. There is no reason in your mother’s death, yet with your actions you have probably saved the lives of others, or more accurately, empowered others to save themselves. I’ll even be grateful for your Aunt and Uncle, for their tragic insensitivity and self-righteousness have shown me how NOT to comfort a loved one in mourning.
    -Casey

  30. Your story reignited all the anger I have inside me from the fat-hatred I experience in my own life, from my own family. I’m 5’7 and just barely over 200lbs. I’ve been “fat”, for maybe 4 years, now. My family absolutely cannot stand it.

    My parents have tried multiple times to “seize control” of my eating habits because they feel that I obviously can’t control myself. I’ve reacted with nothing but outright fury. They say over and over again that they worry about my health, especially since my mom’s side of the family has a history of diabetes. But I know that’s not the problem.

    The problem is that my mom has suffered with being unable to accept her own body and has had to deal with eating disorders for a large portion of her life. And now that her own daughter has gotten over her own eating disorders and is absolutely loving her “fat-burdened” body, she can’t understand it or simply get over it.

    My younger brothers are overweight themselves- the middle brother moreso than the younger brother. My mom says NOTHING about his weight. Absolutely nothing. My brother will eat not only his portion of food, but then take seconds, and then will take up anyone else’s left-overs. My parents. Say. Nothing.

    I have my first serving and then ask if we could have dessert later. My parents don’t react too well.

    It drives me absolutely insane, and I simply fume on the inside just thinking about it.

    I LOVE my body. I LOVE being fat. I feel sexy! I feel sexier and more womanly at 200lbs than I ever did at 125lbs!

    But nope, all they can see if that I’m the embarrassingly fat daughter.

  31. Dear Thorn,

    I sympathize with what you are going through. Sometimes, in the moment, it’s just too shocking and difficult to stand up for yourself, and that’s hard.

    I think your best course of action is to not go to the picnic. Instead, send a letter to your relatives, and tell them that you were so hurt by their actions surrounding your Mother’s death that you no longer feel you can trust them. That their comments to you (in particular those of your Uncle John described here) about something they have absolutely zero personal experience with is emblematic of why your mother is dead. If that is the sort of famly “support” she had in addition to the actions of her doctor, they had their part in her death. Tell them bluntly that it would be emotionally unhealthy for you to expose yourself to their hatefulness and bigotry. And that when they can behave themselves in a loving, supportive manner, you’ll be happy to come back, *but not until then*. Until you can depend on there being no verbal attacks, you can not afford to make yourself vulnerable to them.

    Do not listen to them tell you they were cruel “for your own good”, or “because they care for you so much”. If they love you, they will accept you as you are. Take it or leave it, it’s the only deal on the table.

    Do not worry about hurting their feelings. They did not worry about hurting yours. Don’t put yourself in the line of fire again. If they choose not to respect you, then the truth is you haven’t actually lost anything but a guilt trip.

    I wish all the best for you. Having lost both of my own parents suddenly this year, I have some idea of what you’re going through. Be strong.

  32. this post made me cry because i could totally identify with it. i have my own “fat story” that involves my mother…

    i am 5’5 and have been 270-ish for about 2 years now – i know i am big and am trying to eat healthy, but that is besides the point. my mother called me up early this year, told me i was an ungrateful child for all that she had done for me … and that i had turned into a fat slob… and i needed to do something about it. it literally tore my heatt. why would you say something like to your daughter of all people? i told her that it was uncalled for and have not spoken with her since.

    i appreciate your story …

  33. It never ceases to amaze me, the sheer insensitivity of those who are not overweight towards the overweight. She keeps acting like your mom died cause she was overweight, not because she had a problem, and was EMOTIONALLY ABUSED by a doctor to a point where she didn’t dare visit another one?! I don’t know about you, but I’d have disowned Joan. Seriously, that’s it. She would be dead to me.

    However, as much as that would feel satisfying, there’s the matter of intent. You can’t really hate someone, if their hurtful words come from a core of ignorance. Although, I think maybe you saying to Joan, “Your ignorance about how my mother really died, is alot like how despite my irritation, I should be accepting of your right to be a completely insensitive ass, because you just don’t know any better. Maybe you should work on learning how to treat other people better. Or does thin privilage, also come with the privilage to treat anyone who’s more overweight than you like s**t until they loose weight. My mom is DEAD, because of juvenile people like you. Who see health as a black and white issue, like a 2 year old child. You’re an ADULT, start acting like it. Stop this baby-babbling BS about how “Well I want yah to stay awound for a vewy vewy wong time, pwease twy to wose weh wayyight”. She could’ve gotten help if there were less people like you out there, who pretend that being fat is a choice. That act like she died because she ate too much, health isn’t that simple. She didn’t get the help she needed because a doctor told her lies. You should be saying, “You’re right let’s fight this prejudice together!” instead of contributing to it, and acting as if you pretend to be understanding by saying “uh the weight thing” like you’re afraid of attack. Instead of thinking perhaps there’s a very good reason I’m being attacked, when all you can talk about is weight loss after my mother died because of her inability to STARVE herself thin.”

    That turned into a rather long rant, but it brings up my point, at how angry I am against people who use infantile reasoning to advocate fat prejudice. The only way I see thinking that fat = bad health and thin = good health thinking is reasonable, is if it’s coming from a 2 year old. That’s the exact age level of logic it comes down to. Maybe for Joan, it’d be simpler to say “If someone thin died, I wouldn’t play pretend sympathy and act as if they asked for it. Why is it ok for someone to behave so inhumanely if the deceased is fat? You really can’t see that this is a result of a society that is so focused on perfection, that it’s pratically Naziesque? Oh just go back to your shopping, buying trendy purses, and other shallow pursuits. Silly me, for thinking that you could comprehend something on this level.”

  34. My condolences on your mom’s death. My own mom is still alive, and things like this make me appreciate it even more.

    I guess you just have to treasure every minute with your parents while they are still around… you never know when you will have to say goodbye.

    Life is uncertain. That scares me.

    I’m a fat girl myself, and I think it’s horrible the way people treated your mom. It’s like her size was the only thing people saw about her; and the little comments started to accumulate; and eventually she started believing those people. I mean, what else can you do but believe it, when everybody says it, and they Mean Well, too? So much can be disguised as “wanting the best” for somebody!

    What I want for fat people: Clothes that fit. Being welcome at the fitness center. Being able to eat enough food to nourish yourself, without being stared at. Being allowed to wear swimsuits and tank tops and shorts without people thinking that somebody so horrendously huge needs to hide her horrible fat!

    Yeah, being fat isn’t too healthy; but there are way worse things that you can do to yourself that nobody seems to get annoyed with you about. And, anyway, I measured my blood pressure today–120 over 72. Healthy. Normal. My heart and lungs are fine, too. I work just as hard as my thin co-workers at my physical job; and I can lift and carry more than they can. I ride my bike to work. And I sure couldn’t swim as well as I do, without all that bouyant fat!

    People need to stop being so uptight about other people’s bodies. You know what kills more than fat ever did? Stress. Especially the kind of stress you’re under when everybody insists you lose weight, that you’re fat because your character is flawed, and that if you’d just lose weight, your life would be So Much Better.

    One of my friends (another fat girl) once commented that “On life’s social ladder, the fat people and the mentally disabled people are at the bottom.” Pretty true. Considering I’m autistic, I qualify for both things. If I could rearrange that ladder, I’d put the jerks at the bottom, where they belong!

  35. My Dad is fat, and was recently hospitalized for high blood pressure. If he got any criticism for being fat, it wasn’t when any of the rest of us were around, and he didn’t tell us. In his case, unlike some others, his health issues are related to his weight (he basically has Syndrome X – he has weight concentrated around his stomach, high blood pressure, and a pre-diabetic blood sugar problem called hypoglycemia). And he is going to work on improving his health, partly by losing weight. But it wasn’t treated as a moral issue or as reason not to treat his high blood pressure. So I think fat is a feminist issue (incidentally, my mother, who is also fat and gets treated worse for it, actually has a healthier type and distribution of fat than my father).
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=17032545&ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVAbstractPlus puts the heritability lower than 80% – 34% for boys and 74% for girls. Still, for girls that’s very high heritability.
    Another issue is overlooking the dangers of being underweight. I’ve heard many people who are concerned that they are too thin being told ‘you’re lucky’ even though it’s much healthier to be too fat than too thin. Personally, I’m not sure what my BMI is but I suspect it’s low. I ‘eat like a bird’, often miss meals and am a picky eater, which isn’t good for my health.

  36. Ettina, I absolutely think fat is a feminist issue, but I also think a lot of men get exactly the same crap. I’m glad for your dad’s sake that he hasn’t, though.

    Also, while diet changes and exercise might help reverse your dad’s health problems, they might not cause him to lose weight, and it really doesn’t matter if he does. Weight loss in itself doesn’t help with that stuff — if it did, lipsuction would cure them.

  37. Thank you so much for posting this. Everything else I could think to say has been said. So, again, thank you.

  38. Thank you cellar door, the reason this ‘skinny bitch’ is looking at the more curvaceous ones is she wishes she looked like that, and can’t. I’ve had to endure repeated concerns that I had an eating disorder, until people see me eat, and then they wonder if I have bulimia…. And I’m not even that thin, just thinner than most.

    And thank you Thorn for your post. It’s sad, and maddening. I’ve friends who are in your situation, and am appalled by the number of people who think they need to just change their lifestyle – they are usually the most healthy people I know, in terms of lifestyle.

  39. Hi. (hugs) I am not overweight but have experienced cruelty and prejudice because of my physical appearance and because I have a disability. I really feel for you. I’ll say a prayer for you.

    I think you should forgive your family, though. If you stay angry with them, you’ll be letting them control your feelings. I know from experience that forgiving people who are patronising and/or cruel s the best way to cope.

  40. WOW…………I am rendered speechless, b/c so much is inside. I want to scream , and cry. Yes I read all 3 parts.
    I feel for you. I just wanted to go up to your family and zlap them fir their callousness and insensitivity. Do they think fat people have no feelings?
    Yes I fight with people all the time about how my weight should NOT be dinner table discussion. First it was the smokers, now it is fat people, next it will be teeth not as shiny bright as halogen lamps, or personal hygeine issues.

    WE are moving into a utopia and if you don’t fit the bill you are chastised.
    I say BULLSHIT!
    When people start on me for my weight, I tell them “Yea I can loose the weight but you will still be an ASSHOLE!”

    I think I will put that on a t-shirt!

  41. i only recently started reading kate harding, too, and what i have learned is that even intelligent, caring people spout the same fat-hating bullshit out of pure ignorance of the facts. and the facts have been deliberately obscured by people who make it their business to take money from fat people, over and over again, to do the opposite of what they promise (results not typical!) and ‘help’ the perfectly healthy fat folks of the world learn the disordered eating patters, the counter-intuitive mindset, that is the only logical path to making their health worse. and, ironically, fatter than ever.

    everyone hears the ads. nearly no one hears the facts. i am so thankful for kate, because without her sternly worded lectures, here, i’m quite sure i could be as big an asshat as any of your wretched family members. it is horrifically embarrassing to realize that as an extremely critical consumer of media lies, that i bought this shit too. i have no idea how to get it across to your family, but kate harding worked for me. and i am not a naturally fat person.

    for as heartbreaking as this story is, i can’t let you get away with the last paragraph, where you say (in essence) that your mom died because she was unwilling to fight for the heath care she deserved. she refused to throw herself on the mercy of the fat bigots, and that is really the most reasonable thing she could do. i myself once had the personality to stand and deliver in the face of asshattery, too – and i just lost interest sometime in my third decade. why put myself through that, and for what ends?

    the blame lies squarely with the bigots who drove her away, who neglected their professional duty, and who shamed her. fuck them right in the ear.

    ignorance is largely to blame. that’s what we’re fighting, here. thanks to kate, we can fight it with facts.

  42. Hallie, I’m not sure how you misunderstood “What killed her was a fucking DOCTOR deciding that his Hippocratic Oath didn’t cover fat chicks, and thus my mom’s health wasn’t any of his concern,” but Thorn is well aware that fat hatred is to blame for her mother’s death, hence the title of this series.

  43. I stumbled on this post whilst idly surfing, and yes I’m a little late to the thread but did want to contribute.

    Thorn, I am so sorry that you ran the gamut of crass ignorance that is so prevalent in so many families. To me, you are an absolute hero and you have my deepest respect. I can identify strongly with the story of your Mum and her dreadful experience of neglectful, incompetent doctors.

    I have been fat all of my life. I was adopted at 3 weeks old by two skinny blonde runners, so lifestyle was not responsible for my weight. Genes are, my biological parents were both very fat and I never lived with them. I was brought up, loved, educated, very active and have endured fat hatred for all of my life but never from either of my parents.

    I have experienced this hatred not just from society (there’s been plenty of that) but also from the medical profession here in the UK. Doctors and nurses take one look at me and immediately assume that as I am fat I must be ignorant, uneducated, stupid, in denial, a liar and just plain old not worthy of respect as a human being.

    I have a serious health condition which is totally unrelated to being fat. Yet I have had to endure a senior surgeon berating me loudly on an open mixed ward, telling me that I was obviously eating nothing but burgers and butter and if I didn’t lose weight I would die a slow painful death that he would be happy to watch as I clearly deserved my (fictional) fate. No matter how I stood up for myself (I used to be scared of no one and erudite enough to let them know it) he countered my arguments with mockery and abuse and the whole episode ended with him and his team of four doctors and three nurses standing around my bed, laughing loudly at me. I could do nothing but lie there after and listen to other patients deciding to have go and offer further insults.

    For the rest of my hospital stay I was referred to as “blubberguts” and “daisy in denial” by some of the senior nurses. One student nurse was so appalled by my treatment that she summoned Patient Liason and after the offending staff had been spoken to, my treatment improved a little. It didn’t stop one senior nurse witholding my prn morphine and making comments such as “if we find the cakes you have hidden in your bed, then you can have the pain relief like a good girl instead of a silly, stubborn fatty”.

    I was still so ill when discharged I did not have the energy to pursue a formal complaint. After a year of recovery, I was out of the time limit for the cumbersome, slow moving formal NHS complaints procedure.

    This happened four years ago and I still have nightmares about those three weeks of hell. I actively avoid going to the doctors and even though I am extremely fit, have low cholesterol, no sign of diabetes and an olympian resting heart rate of 53, I am living in fear of hospital admission and the inevitable bullying and neglect I know I will endure.

    Despite being fit, educated, willing to stand up for my rights, I know I stand little chance of ensuring appropriate care that isn’t laden with “lose weight and we will treat you as something other than a worthless pile of shit”.

    When will the world learn that bullying and punishment will do nothing for a person’s wellbeing other than destroy it?

    I can understand why and how your Mother lost her confidence.

    I have lost mine, and all faith in human nature.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  44. Thorn ur story very deep and it very much reminds me of my own family well mines is as bad as urs thus i really don’t have a family all i have is a sister,mom and a aunt and there all big and thats all i have pretty much :( and my mom is also 300 p but shes sitll kicking it thank GOD:) and i also wish ur aunt was as nice as mine . but no famiy is prefect. i wish the very much good and happyness for u and ur sister and ur mother R.I.P oh and ur mother also reminds me of my good grandmother who was sweet and kind but die in the year i was born. i had a pleaer read ur blog u sould really make this in to a book i know many with dramas like this.HI MY name is rita iam 16 yo and 280p :)

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