HomeIt's All Mental, Social ConstructLosing Weight Makes You Hate “Fat People?”

Mike and Molly, the TV show that compelled a Marie Claire author to declare that fatties should "get a room."

A lonnnnnnnnnng time ago, I received a lovely comment from a reader (I wonder if she’s still lurking) who brought up something I’d like to address:

I’ve been reading your site for a few weeks now, so glad I found it because just from lurking I’ve learned so much. Your blog is super inspirational because you’ve lost the weight, but unlike so many other blogs, you haven’t started hating overweight people or shaming others who haven’t lost the weight. I read some other blogs, where the writers have lost their weight, and all of sudden they hate overweight people.

I’m not gonna act like I don’t understand that. I do. Don’t get me wrong, though – understanding something is very different from accepting it as “right.”

To be honest, I don’t really follow other “weight loss blogs” because, realistically, I just don’t want to be inundated with “lose weight, get thin!, change your life” and “food will never taste as good as thin feels!” mantras all day. I just want to live my life and get my Serena Williams booty — er, I mean, Michelle Obama arms in peace. I don’t like the idea of prizing thinness over being fit, and I don’t like the tacit demonization of fat, either… ’cause even if it’s 4% or 40%, you’re gonna have a little.

Anyhow, there is a market to which that kind of message caters, though – there are tons of people who are overweight who feel as though they deserve to be shamed for not having lost the weight, and also believe that the shame will compel them to do what they need to do. I can’t comment on whether it has or will work for them. I only know I don’t respond to that, and do better to not have it around me.

I’m always checking myself for this, because while I have to discuss things in realistic terms – being overweight impacted my ability to run, my weight affects my ability to excel at certain sports – that doesn’t remove my responsibility to be compassionate. Not my responsibility to my readership to be compassionate, but my responsibility to myself, because that comes first to me. When I blog, I’m writing to myself. I write the words that I know I need to hear, and I know that I don’t respond to an attitude that has to put someone else down to make my choice appear to be the better choice. I also don’t respond to the desperation that alot of people write when when it comes to losing weight. I mean, if you’re “desperate,” that’s you, but I won’t contribute to or participate in that.

I do think this is an important issue, though, because lots of people who lose weight actually need to, in fact, demonize “fatness” and “fat people.” They need to see “fat” as the enemy in order to press on away from it. I just can’t do that. For me, “fat” isn’t the enemy. “Weakness” is the enemy. Not being able to run across the city if I forget to secure a ride home is the enemy. Not being able to survive the zombie invasion is the enemy. Not being able to flip upside down on the pole is the enemy. Not looking the way I want is the enemy. Striving toward those things will give me the body I want without hating people – people who, invariably, look the same way I did, were probably as stressed out and emotionally broken as I was, are battling the same demons I faced (and still face), and simply want to live without judgment and “fat-shaming,” which is simply just chastising people and unnecessarily criticizing people for being fat.

There’s also this thing… the idea that leaving the ranks of the “oppressed” to join the ranks of the “oppressors.” Leaving behind “The Fat Team” to join “The Fit Team,” a lot of these folks simply enjoy being able to have the “power” of finally being able to do the clowning instead of remembering how it felt to be the butt of the joke and stopping it in its tracks. There’s pleasure, for some, in being able to be the bully instead of showing compassion… and that’s what it takes for them. For some people, they just enjoy the chance to “finally be the bully.” I do believe, for these people who demonize fat and enjoy being able to be the bully, it’s simply a matter of prioritizing “being skinny” too highly. It’s mildly creepy to me.

I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that the idea of “demonizing fat people” smacks of anorexic behavior. Not even trying to be sensational, but it reminds me of the girl from Marie Claire a while back who wrote the blog post about “fatties” needing to get a room, because just the mere sight of them being out in public was enough to have her reaching for a barf bag (no pun intended.) The author of the post later admitted that she was an anorexic in recovery, and that this might’ve fueled her rant.

Ya think?

It has always been my personal belief that those of us who are on a quest to develop and maintain actual functional fitness – trying to achieve success or proficiency in a sport or competition – know that this is hard work. Losing a gang of weight? Hard work. Building muscle? Hard work. Committing yourself? Hard freaking work. Getting over yourself? Virtually impossible. It’s not something you mock someone or shame someone for because they haven’t achieved it yet… because you know how hard and long you fought to get there. You never perfect that art, because something will always test it. You’ll always feel challenged. And you know that.

It’s something we all should be mindful of, because at least in one form or another, we should understand. The problem is prevalent enough where either we’ve been there ourselves, or we know someone who has. They, just like we, deserve compassion and not shame. If you take anything away from my blog, please take that.

By | 2017-06-10T11:44:28+00:00 August 15th, 2013|It's All Mental, Social Construct|27 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and crtified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because lol why not.

27 Comments

  1. LN May 23, 2011 at 10:11 AM - Reply

    Amen and amen.

  2. Lilangel Logan May 23, 2011 at 11:21 AM - Reply

    Compassion! A wonderful message! 🙂

    I always find it so weird that people do that—get to a new point in their life and then forget what it was like to be at the old point. I guess its like you said—some feel they have to see it as the enemy. I just feel that even if fat is the enemy for some, the person most certainly isn’t! I wish people wouldn’t forget that everyone, regardless of differences, deserves respect.

  3. Daphne May 23, 2011 at 11:30 AM - Reply

    To be honest, I don’t really follow other “weight loss blogs” because, realistically, I just don’t want to be inundated with “lose weight, get thin!, change your life” and “food will never taste as good as thin feels!” mantras all day.

    This made me realize that I don’t really follow other such blogs, either, though I never thought about the WHY. But, thinking on it further, this is also the reason why I decided to stop reading some blogs, even those that weren’t necessarily “weight-loss” blogs, but still had the “fat-shaming” element. Didn’t make sense for me to spend time reading sites where the author(s), and/or commenters, clearly has issues with fatness and the people who deign to be the physical manifestation of such.

    It’s interesting how programs for drug and alcohol addiction usually have an element of sympathy built in, even while emphasizing personal responsibility. Yet, when it comes to health/weight loss, there’s considerably more shaming and less sympathy, or empathy. For those who have lost a significant amount of weight and/or gotten fit, one would think they would be even more sympathetic to those on the journey. It’s so sad that there are some, when they have “arrived,” quickly turn into the very people from whom they may have suffered.

    This is why I started really being mindful of what I read as I am on my journey, as there is a lot of twisted, disturbing thought patterns as it relates to health/thin/fat/etc that aren’t being addressed because the author(s) appear to “mean well,” and as long as you get physical results, it’s all good. That’s not the path I want to be on.

  4. JoAnna May 23, 2011 at 12:10 PM - Reply

    Welllll… Can I get an “Amen”?
    Erika,
    I live in Detroit, the place where you are encouraged to get in your car to drive 3 blocks to pick up some chips and pop. We have lots of fat people here, and I’m just lucky that I decided to change my life. I don’t understand the hate or disgust that I hear spewed from some people’s mouths. Fat people aren’t any dirtier than thin people. I might be dirtier now because I sweat so much at the gym, or doing yard work! Fat people arent any lazier than thin people when it comes to working than thin people. At my heaviest, I had 1 fulltime job, and 2 parttime jobs. I didn’t workout ’cause I was busy earning money to cover all my bills, and some of my relatives. Fat people aren’t less intelligent, just more efficient in energy usage. Why get up to change the TV channel when you can use a remote? Why walk your dog when you can hire a service? Why use up your precious time to mow the lawn and plant a garden when you can hire a landscaper and weekly mowning service? Why take the kids to the park to play when you can take them to Chuckie Cheeses? And why wear clothes full of spandex? ‘Cause it stretches to fit!! I’m been there. I’m not there anymore but I know why I did what I did then.

    I guess I look at look at it like gay marriage. If you don’t like it, don’t marry someone of the same sex! You don’t wanna be fat, then work on avoiding those things that make you fat. But outright hate takes up too much energy that would be better used on the elliptical, or digging a hole in my yard to plant a fruit tree.

    • Carolyn Matteo June 9, 2011 at 11:49 AM - Reply

      Excellent reply to a wonderful post. Amen to Erika and amen to you, Joanna.

  5. Danielle May 23, 2011 at 12:53 PM - Reply

    great post as always- i think that’s it’s a human trait to want to feel superior however a little empathy goes a long way.

  6. T.R. May 23, 2011 at 2:46 PM - Reply

    Erika,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Not just for bringing this to the forefront, though it was necessary, BUT for reminding me to stay compassionate to others and most importantly myself. I’ve been known in private to do my own ranting even though I’m still big and am still on my journey, falling and having to get back up NUMEROUS times. Your blog has put me in check about my own issues and forced me to see where my own FEAR and Self Image is at play. And I thought I’d worked most of that out…:O)

    To me FEAR is the basis of all negative emotions such as shame, hate, anger, bullying etc. And I think we can all admit that in this country the FEAR of FAT is enormous (no pun intended).

    I’ll keep this post brief…:O) okay I’ll just end before it gets any longer….Again, Erika thank you soooo very much for this post. I’ll keep it foremost in my mind next time I want to rant about myself or anyone else on this journey, even those at the so called “end”. :O)

  7. rose May 24, 2011 at 10:59 AM - Reply

    I struggle with achieving my weight goal, let alone maintain somewhere in between. When I lose a significant amount, I find myself judging others. Seeing them as lazy and disorganized. When the weight comes back I become less judgmental. I really want to reach my goal and maintain. I hope I will be able to help and not judge.

  8. Chichi Kix June 9, 2011 at 11:40 AM - Reply

    Sent over here by Erin Brown of Fit Mama Training, and SOOO happy she lead me here! What a positive, truthful, insightful post. I can certainly relate and I think there are some great messages in here for my readers. Faboosh!

  9. werknprogress July 10, 2011 at 5:18 PM - Reply

    WELL SAID ERIKA- while I don’t make fun of specifically fat people but I love making fun of the fat girls with loads of what appear to be self esteem and dress inappropriately for their size. So many love to dress and look hoochy like the so called skinny girls but don’t want to put the work in to look like them. I’m talking about the size 20 that will squeeze into a size 10 and dare you to say something to them. I’m talking about the ones that need to shop in Lane Bryant and head straight to the junior section. Those are the same ones that will quickly call the physically fit “skinny B*es”. I have a relative that is at least a size 18 and love to “borrow” her daughters size 8 clothing. Of course it is now stretched out and they both lose. They are the same ones that ridicule me for passing on the fried chicken and potato salad and bread at family functions. They mock the way I eat now because they don’t understand it and think I am crazy for changing the course of my physical life.
    At the same time, I try to help anyone who ask for my help. I never solicit it because I think this is a very personal journey and we have to individually decide when and what is best for us. Not every one get sick and tired of being sick and tired at the same juncture in our lives. Some never do.
    Sometimes people will tell me what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and it will be all BAD. Then they get mad at me for pointing it out. It confuses the heck out of me.

    • Asia July 18, 2011 at 11:14 PM - Reply

      How condescending are you?

      So making fun of those who you think are faking their self esteem is what you do?

      Making fun of anyone just shows your own personal hurts and weakness.

  10. Tasha July 11, 2011 at 6:08 AM - Reply

    Thank you Erica..once again you have proven why I adore your site.
    I appreciate you uplifting people instead of putting down people.

  11. Anne July 11, 2011 at 9:07 AM - Reply

    Well, I hate to say this but I hate my own fat. I cant wait until it’s gone. I love fat people just because we are the most judged, and the worse treated people around. We are looked at as lazy, stupid, greedy, smelly and any other negative thing people can think of to describe us. Living in a fat body is hell. And it’s hell to get out of it too. People who have never been fat will never, ever understand what we have to go through ever single day. When you actually have to work for a living and have to face people every day and you feel self conscious about your body. And your clothes never fit right, and you hope people don’t see how your thighs lap over each other when you walk, but you know they do. but at the same time people look past you when you speak to them as if you don’t exist, except for when they want to be mean to you for being a fat person, who they probably wish would just die . Yep it’s kinda crappy being a fat person.

    • Erika Nicole Kendall July 11, 2011 at 9:38 AM - Reply

      I hate to say this as well, but the way you think of yourself and judge yourself is one thing. Imposing that judgment on other people because of one’s personal insecurities is a-whole-nother thing entirely.

      In short (and, unfortunately by default, callously), feel how you want about yourself… but its important to allow others the space to be who they want to be. Fat or not. THAT is the point of what I wrote here.

  12. Anne July 11, 2011 at 10:28 AM - Reply

    I guess you’re right on something. I guess I’m kinda jaded about this weight thing, I have some issues to work on, first being if I don’t like my life I need to work on changing it. And I have been.We need to pull each others coat tails sometimes to help get our thinking correct…. Thanks for the heads up.

  13. Lorrie September 15, 2011 at 1:49 PM - Reply

    This article should be linked to the Christie Alley article…lol, she is definitely a fat hater. It is NOT a requirement to hate your old self in order to love your new self!

  14. Asia September 15, 2011 at 11:03 PM - Reply

    I wouldnt say hate fat people.

    However, I have met many who suddenly thought they were better than since they lost weight.

  15. Star Waters September 16, 2011 at 12:25 AM - Reply

    THERE, by the grace of God, I’d still be!

    In listening to my ‘Secret’ c.d.’s, on losing weight, it’s suggested that when you see and/or are approaching a ‘fat’ person, you look away from them and find someone who posses the body type that you most desire for yourself. Not to feel pity or criticize that person for their size. My past behavior would be to ‘remember’ how uncomfortable I felt being in a fat body. Going back and ‘feeling’ not being able to tie or fasten my own shoes. How exhausting it used to be, to climb up stairs. What you focus on and think about, is what you manifest for yourself.

    I have trained myself to do this little exercise. I immediately find a female who I would most like to look like. I ‘see’ myself being her size. I wonder what style of clothing I’d chose at her size. I am finding that ‘releasing’ unwanted pounds is what my body is now doing. I am now the size of people that I had admired in the past. With 111 pounds gone from my frame, I am now that normal size female. So, maybe it works!

  16. val January 31, 2012 at 11:39 PM - Reply

    I have lost 104pounds and I will never forget what it was like to be to big to weigh on a scale that maxed out at 300 pounds….we must encourage one another I love to invite and encourage other plus size people who are making changes in their life…we must remember karma is just so look at were u come from before you judge.

  17. LBrooke March 14, 2012 at 5:05 AM - Reply

    This post seriously struck a cord with me, and it’s old-ish– which is totally why you need to Carrie Bradshaw this stuff and put it in a book! =)

    Anyway, I feel like I deal with this battle often- mostly because I come from both sides. I’m only in my early 20’s, but I’ve been the overweight kid, then the anorexic and bulimic, and then what I am now.. which is *cringe* obese (pausing to see what I just wrote).

    When I had my eating disorder- the one that made me ‘skinny’. I did what you write here.. hated fat people, and even made fun of one (behind their back). It’s something that made me feel good at the time, that I was this person on the other side now… I could see what it’s like to say the fat joke or hear it, and it wasn’t about me anymore. But it still felt wrong, and I literally only did it that one time.

    While I was coming out of my eating disorder– I gained a ton of weight. I went from one addiction (not eating), to the next (eating). And sometimes, it’s hard for me to identify with the “fat person” that I am- which is ironic, because when I was thin it was hard for me to identify with the thin person!

    I re-read the last paragraph of this post. Because it’s what I’m going through right now: trying to accept myself as a PERSON, not a BODY. Wanting to lose weight so that I can be HEALTHY, not SKINNY. Accepting my flaws, like stretch marks, the possibility of extra skin, and the grueling hard work that I’m about to endure to lose all of this weight. Trying to look past societal, and media culture views of body image- and just love the one I’ve got because it’s the only one I’ll have (despite the constant day dreaming of accidentally rubbing a lamp, and a genie popping out to give me five wishes- in which I use one for having a perfect bod!– k, back to reality).

    I’ve never been really conscious of myself and my life, like REALLY conscious. I was fat, and too young to know what to do, and then skinny and too stuck in a disorder to know what my surroundings were like. Now I have to go through this challenge, and do work that I’ve never had to. Getting over myself, is definitely something I’m going to be working on!

    Super LOVED this post girl!

  18. Vee April 24, 2012 at 8:02 AM - Reply

    Great post!! Very compassionate.

  19. Jackie September 14, 2012 at 1:30 AM - Reply

    Thank you for your insight, going to publish this on my Tumblr now.

  20. Dedra June 16, 2013 at 7:57 AM - Reply

    I wouldn’t do this, It would make me. sympathize more than anything else. But I have seen this before and find it disgusting. That ‘I’m not like you anymore, ewww’ mentality is why we have such intolerance for overweight people. Why not help those like you, show them what you did and how you got healthy? No, some choose the Me Against Them option. Sad.

  21. Kiesha June 16, 2013 at 5:53 PM - Reply

    Thank You…Great insight!!! I will make sure I stay compassionate as I continue on my weight loss journey… 80lbs down and still counting….

  22. Julia August 20, 2013 at 11:18 AM - Reply

    Excellent post! I’m a long time reader who has never commented, but I truly appreciate your balanced, honest perspective on this issue.

    I’ve actually experienced the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve always been relatively thin–hey, I’ve got good genes–so I’ve never been in the position of being overweight and needing or wanting to get in shape. But I realized a year ago that… I couldn’t really run a mile or do 5 pushups on my hands and feet. I was definitely “skinny-fat,” for lack of a better term. So I made it priority to get stronger, and it’s been a hard journey. Are sprints and hills fun during a jog? Hell no. Do I like push ups? Not at all. But I continually work my ass off because the feeling of accomplishment once I hit that personal best during a run or actually do 15 “real” push ups is awesome. It makes me feel strong.

    Yet, I 100% noticed that during this strength-focused journey, certain friends and family members made shaming comments about my personal efforts. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You’re skinny, you don’t even need to work out” or “I’m not like you with all that free time to work out, I have XYZ to do.” One Saturday morning I literally received a text from a friend that said, “Woke up hungover. You’re probably on a f*cking run or something huh.” I replied, “Yep, I am.” Because… this is my choice. Exercise and creating strength-related goals is a priority to me personally. What I actually don’t have time for is worrying about if my workout or health accomplishment is going to make someone else feel bad, ya know?

    But at the same time, I kind of get why people respond so negatively sometimes to what others are doing health-wise, and it’s crazy to me how emotional exercise can be. You mentioned the “power” issue for some folks–well, in the past, I used to be insanely jealous because my sister was fit and flexible and strong. When she could hold a plank for a minute, and I couldn’t, I felt bad about myself. That wasn’t her fault; it was my issue. However, it took me a long time to realize that. And nowadays, of course it feels good to be at her level or match her fitness-wise! Maybe it’s a pride thing, too. At the same time, I have moments where I feel like the “powerful” one–the one in better shape–when working out with a friend, and other times, especially when I’ve taken a mini hiatus from exercise, I am humbled to note how easily such “roles” reverse.

    Your words about how we demonize or judge others–in their current health state, during their journey, from either ends of the “fat” or “thin” spectrum–are spot on. Sorry for the long response, but your post made me think of so many things I wanted to share! Thanks so much for writing it.

  23. christine August 22, 2013 at 9:09 AM - Reply

    Shudders..hate is such a strong word, I can honestly say I don’t hate anyone. If folks want to be overweight so be it, I just chose not to be. What I do dislike like is people who constantly complain about their situation and do nothing about it. Telling me about wanting to get a gastic bypass, with a cookie in your hand. If you want to risk your health, go ahead, who am I to judge. Your weight has no bearing on my life.

  24. tabbitha1968 August 22, 2013 at 4:24 PM - Reply

    I so appreciate this post. I have a real fear of becoming “that” person. I think it is so important to be proud of your accomplishment but ever better to remember where you “came” from, that you havent always been “here”, and lastly that you need to remain “here” not to get back “there”.

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