Comments on fatphobia on the internet
I may have spoken before about a project I’ve become involved with — a friend of mine is doing a study and a series of papers and articles from a qualitative perspective on the fat acceptance movement within Australia. She’s interviewed a great deal of people involved in the movement and I am one of them. It’s been a fascinating experience, sometimes challenging, sometimes upsetting and sometimes angry-making.
A photographer has become involved with the project as well. He’s been taking a series of photographs of each of us, and how we navigate our fat experiences with our day-to-day lives, how our experiences impact the way we conduct ourselves and what we are all like as people. For example, earlier in the project, he joined myself and another member for a shopping trip and accompanied my sister and myself to her haircut, then later on to our home to photograph us preparing to cook dinner together.
The friend wanted a photographer involved in order to challenge the ‘headless fatty’ stereotype and perhaps give the media outlets photographs to choose from, of fat people who have been photographed WITH their consent. The goal is for people to recognise that fat people are people. Not objects of ridicule, not an example to be made of. Human beings with lives and loves. And heads.
A couple of media outlets have already interviewed my friend and a few other people involved in the project. The results haven’t exactly been positive. I know they’ve been very upsetting to my friend and the people involved. While the articles themselves were neutral to positive, the comments were not. I cannot emphasise how bad some of the comments were. I told myself I wasn’t going to read them, but I couldn’t help myself. I wish I didn’t. Misogynistic slurs, fatphobic comments, Godwin’s Law, it was all there.
I recognise that the internet can give a voice to all manner of dickheads and I in no way want to take away the right to say whatever you want to say. But I expect to be able to challenge what people say, especially if it’s coming from a misinformed place. However, I also recognise that in this case, doing so would do nothing but give me a headache from repeated brick wall bangings, so I did not get involved. I’m thankful to those who did, despite some very hurtful, personal comments hurled their way. I am still pleased to be part of this project and will continue to be a part of it, no matter what.