About six years ago, I was helping a new intern get acclimated when we started talking about pets. The intern had a cat, which was described to me as furry, cute and somewhat timid.
“But,” the intern continued, “my cat doesn’t like big people. She’ll just screams when she’s around fat people. So, Megan, I’m sorry, but you can never meet my cat.”
I blankly stared at this intern, thinking I must have misunderstood this intern. Later, a coworker who had overheard commended me for my graceful handling of the comment. But, I wish I had said something in retort to the intern. After all these years, when that movie scene runs in my head, I respond with something like “Well, my cat doesn’t like stupid people. So, you can’t meet my cat, intern.”
Dubbed the “too fat to meet my cat” story, this anecdote lives on in the cannon of life stories I tell at camp fires or when men decide that making fun of a woman’s weight will have a positive effect on society.
Welcome to Fat Shaming Week, a seven-day celebration of people who like to put others down for their physical appearance.
It is also known as “another week on the Internet.”
This celebratory week was started by a blog that claims women needed to be reminded that no man will love them if they don’t thin up. It’s taken off on Twitter, where “#FatShamingWeek” is full of enlightened people who believe sending a tweet (or 20) off into the interwebs will decrease the self-esteem of a fat chick or two severely enough to motivate them into better diet and exercise plans. The topic was trending Wednesday.
Some of my favorites include:
Things have gotten so bad that men are now resorting to spiking girls drinks with Ephedra. #FatShamingWeek
— Ray Starke (@RaymondStarke) October 9, 2013
— Sunny Bunny (@CoelhoContente) October 11, 2013
These people believe the Fat Acceptance Movement subculture is allowing women to get fat and live happy lives.
Not a lot of women participating in #FatShamingWeek. Because women are the bigger part of the problem (pun intended). They condone being fat
— FeistyWoman (@Feisty_Woman) October 8, 2013
So, they reason, they will make being fat socially unacceptable. Hey, that’s how we solved racism:
Brutal, intense shaming prevents me from being racist in public. Why wouldn't it stop you from being fat in public? #FatShamingWeek
— Ethan C (@stompthewaffle) October 9, 2013
But, there are flaws in this plan. First, medical research has shown that fat shaming does not work. In fact, it sometimes leads to increased weight because of decreased self-esteem. Second, medical research has shown fat shaming does not work. One study found that the formerly obese would rather loose limbs or senses than be obese again. Third, medical research has show fat shaming does not work. Those polled said they would give up being a millionaire to be thin.
Fat people want to be thin. While Fat Acceptance is a subculture, it’s not so widespread that you need to have panic in the streets. Fat people are already shamed. Research has shown the obese are paid less as adults and bullied more as kids.
So, while some people are so over the top as to suggest I commit suicide:
If weight loss is too hard, you can always eat a bullet. #FatShamingWeek
— Snake (@JoeNoShoulders) October 9, 2013
there are just as many suggesting I just haven’t tried to get thin:
livingsocial and groupon have loads of cheap fitness deals you can sample. Don't like something? Try something else. Easy! #FatShamingWeek
— Kid Strangelove (@kidstrangelove) October 9, 2013
I promise to all of those who want more of fat shaming that I’ve been sufficiently shamed since first grade. There are some pretty powerful moments from my high school years through last year where men have specifically told me I am not a valuable person because of my appearance. Women do it too, but less directly.
Along the way, I’ve decided to stop seeking love from men. Because, after all:
Love is for thin people #fatshamingweek
— LaidNYC (@LaidNYC) October 9, 2013
But, I’ve also lived a pretty awesome life as a single girl who makes friends with guys without the worry of a “When Harry Met Sally” situation. (Even Harry admitted that a guy-girl friendship works when the girl is ugly.) I probably wouldn’t have moved cross-country twice if someone loved me. I probably wouldn’t be as fearless at speaking my mind if I were trying to impress guys.
So, with all this social latitude and time gained by not frolicking through meadows hand-in-hand, I can’t wait to be an awesome person who revolutionizes the world. Expect to see me on Jon Stewart one day, promoting my autobiography. I’m going to call it “Too Fat to Meet Your Cat, Intern.”