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Model E. eating a cupcake at Flaming Geyser State Park. 
Hi friend,
 
Reader Michelle Molash has a great addition to last week's letter on who profits when fat people are hated:
 
“The entertainment industry profit from us. The fat buffoon who thinks he can do any number of things that only a thin person should do and how funny it is when he fails, John Candy, John Belushi, etc. We are in movies as the class clown or comic relief or we are lazy, evil, stupid, selfish. I’ve become quite sensitive to these things nowadays. I see the fat phobia in so many things I used to think were funny.”
 
This week, let's look at the interpersonal and social rewards of fat hatred.
 
Social bonding. Though diet culture encourages us to be vicious and toxic towards our own bodies and other people’s as well, it’s also an important bonding mechanism in our society. Here are some examples of how diet talk and fatphobia show up as bonding rituals:
  • Diet talk at work (“I’m so bad for eating this bagel”)
  • Family-wide and parent-child dieting
  • When people engage in body checking together (“My thighs are so huge!” “Well, have you seen my butt??”)
If you’ve ever had someone in a smaller body try to “save” you by telling you you’re fat or attempting to show you how to diet, that person was attempting to bond with you as well (though in a toxic way that you absolutely do not have to take them up on). 
 
(They’re also upholding oppressive systems, so see the next item on the list.)
 
8Rewards for upholding oppressive systems. There are real, tangible rewards for upholding unjust systems like body hierarchies, like avoiding the punishment that comes along with refusing to be part of the system. It’s also easy to feel that, by oppressing others, you yourself are moving up the hierarchy.
 
Some examples of people upholding oppressive systems include:
  • Internet trolls and haters
  • “Are you really going to eat all that?” at the Thanksgiving table
  • Concern trolling
  • Anyone who shows up on Instagram to say “Loving your body is fine, but that can’t be healthy
Related to the “escaping punishment” part of this one is the “good fatty” phenomenon, in which fat folks perform compliance with ultrafeminine beauty standards and/or Diet Very Loudly and/or Exercise Real Hard in order to prove that they’re worthy of being treated like and given some of the privileges of a thin person. 
 
(This is of course a perfectly valid way of surviving oppression and stigma, and I’m not describing it here with any judgment.)
 
Fear of being oppressed and/or losing privileges. Living in a culture that values thin and abled bodies above others is like spending all your time on a treadmill that’s set at a steep incline. 
 
No matter what else you’d like to prioritize in your life, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish or survive, you’ve got to keep up a steady pace on that treadmill or risk getting whisked down the incline and dumped into the vat of acid at the bottom marked OPPRESSION. 
 
Is it any wonder that it’s tempting, as you become exhausted, to pull yourself back up the slope a bit by reaching out and yanking down on the arms of the people on the next treadmills over?
 
An excellent example is the trolls that inevitably show up on fat folks’ social media posts. They act from a variety of motivations that include:
  • Oppressing fat folks as hard as they can to mark themselves as in the oppressor class (and thus not eligible to be treated like they treat others)
  • The social rewards of “owning” a fatty in debate, then taking screenshots back to dedicated fat-hatred forums
  • A sense of gaining personal power from mistreating others
Warmly,
Lindley
 
P.S. Share this week's letter or save to read later here

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The Conversation

Here's what's being discussed this week in the world of body acceptance and fat liberation:
 
» ‘Toddler Grandma Style,’ The Fashion Approach That Will Set You Free (read)
 
» Let me see what you're cooking with (watch)
 
» hijabi cottagecore for the timeline (see)
 
» 5 reasons why Ozempic is diet culture in a fancy dress (read)
 
» Society’s anti-fat narrative is that, “Fat people don’t take care of themselves.” Of course we do (watch)
 
🦄 Unicorn chaser: UNDERRATED BAKED GOODS TO NAME YOUR PETS AFTER (read)

"Do I want to be thin? Or do I just want to be treated like thin people are treated?" » Marisa Lyon

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