Losing weight doesn’t give you a pass to bully fat people

Here’s a quick pop quiz: when is it okay to bully somebody?

  1. When you’ve been in their shoes
  2. When you disagree with how they live
  3. When you covet their delicious steak
  4. Never

If you answered “d,” congratulations! You may actually be a decent human being. (If you didn’t, seriously — get your own goddamn steak, and stop whining.)

In my Internet travels, I keep encountering people who fat-shame others, and then justify it by saying, “Well, I lost weight and I had to work my ass off to do it, so why can’t they?”

Ragen Chastain has already addressed this thoroughly: If I Can Do It, Anybody Can’t:

We all have things that we are naturally good at, things that we can do with a struggle, and things that aren’t possible for us.  It’s completely foolish to assume that  list is the same for every person.

Here’s something: I worked my ass off to be able to sing well. I wasn’t born a good singer. I started singing at the age of 12, and my voice was kind of goofy sounding — I didn’t have perfect control over my intonation, volume, and tone. My range was very limited. So I practiced every day until I developed a 3.5-octave range, and my singing role was good enough to land me leading roles in every high school musical I auditioned for, not to mention paying gigs as a wedding singer.

So shouldn’t everybody be able to learn to sing as well as I can? After all, I worked hard, so why can’t they?

Well, because some people just don’t have a sense of pitch. Or they might have disabilities that prevent them from being able to make their voices resonate, or breathe the way singing requires you to breathe. Maybe, even, they simply aren’t interested in being singers, and are happy with the way they are.

“No!” I object. “Surely, they must be lazy! Surely, there must be something morally wrong with them!”

Do you see where I’m going with this?

People who lose weight and go on to fat-shame others make me especially upset because they’ve been there. They know what it’s like to be shamed and bullied. They know how a fatphobic society makes it difficult to live in your own skin. And instead of taking that anger out on the fatphobia itself, they turn it on the same people they used to see in the plus size section of the retail store.

Guess what? Not everyone can lose weight. In fact, most people can’t.

You know what everyone can do? Stop being a bully. You can make that change today.

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