Human Behavior?

It dawned on me today, as someone went out of their way to make sure I got into the elevator before the doors closed (I’m telling you, this guy nearly wrestled with the door) that people treat me differently now post-op than they did pre-op. Now, it could be argued that this may be a misunderstanding on my part, based on how my self-image and self-esteem has changed; but I don’t really think so. Based on my personal experience; I believe that most people treat obese people differently than they would a smaller/thinner person. It isn’t something totally obvious, people didn’t go out of their way to be mean to me in the past, but I was definitely treated differently in subtle ways; snide looks at the food I was eating at a restaurant (or the food I was buying at a supermarket), trying to hide a scoff if I ordered a diet soda; and basically automatically dismissing me because of my looks. Sizeism is something I’ve written about in the past, when I was exploring the Fat Acceptance Movement and also I’ve alluded to my past experiences with it; but it’s something that just keeps coming up. Things like what happened at the elevator today; how male co-workers started being a lot nicer to me and going out of their way to do favors for me once the pounds started melting off; or how even members of my own family seem more interested in what I have to say now than before.

Could it be that this is all in my head? That people are only reacting to my new confident attitude and therefore treat me better than before? Possibly, but things like Tyra Banks’ “Fat Suit Experiment” make me think that maybe, not so much.

In 2005, former model Tyra Banks donned a fat suit that made her look like she was 350 lbs to see if people would treat her differently. She went shopping, rode a bus and went on three blind dates wearing the fat suit and said she was “appalled” and “hurt” at how people treated her. They laughed in her face and snickered behind her back, one of her blind dates told her that if he’d brought her home to his parents’ house they would have asked him “What’s wrong with you?” Now, when the whole Tyra-Fatsuit thing first came out, I felt offended when I saw her crying during her talk show because she “understood what (fat people) went through everyday” because how could she understand what it was like just by wearing a fat suit for a couple of hours? I still think that her proclamations of “understanding” are ridiculous, but her little experiment does show how people are quick to ostracize larger people. It seems like this form of discrimination just keeps getting worse and worse. There was the Marie Claire article, where the “reporter” expressed her disgust at seeing a “very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.”But of course, it was okay for her to say that because she had “plump” friends. That’s just as bad as saying something racist about black people but saying it’s ok because you have a black friend. Ridiculous. And it isn’t just that silly magazine; not a day goes by that I don’t see something in the news about the scary “Obesity Epidemic” and how our health care costs keep going up because of it. Now, they’re even fat-shaming our kids! Georgia has these billboards now featuring pictures of chubby kids with captions like “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did.” Really? Like we don’t have enough bullying going around now you’re shaming these poor kids in billboards?! I’m all for parents encouraging their kids to eat healthy food, but I really don’t see how these billboards (or the commercials that go with it) help do anything but make a kid who may already feel bad about themselves just feel worse; or make a child that’s considered “normal” sized make even more fun of an overweight kid. And what about the poor kids in the ads themselves? How did the parents agree to this? This is just as bad as the anti-abortion billboards in NYC that featured the little African American girl.

So, this whole Sizeism thing is what’s on my mind today, and honestly, it makes me sad and more than a little pissed off. I wish things could change but that won’t happen until we all make an effort not to judge anyone based on appearance and/or calling out someone who does it in front of you.

How about you? Has anyone treated you differently because of the way you look? Do you think you’re quick to judge others based on what they look like?


9 thoughts on “Human Behavior?

  1. Oh Kat, I 100% agree on this one and I actually learned that it was happening at my wedding a couple Saturdays ago. As people were eating the food and enjoying the experience that me and my husband went broke providing for them, they were talking about how my marriage wasn’t going to end well and that I have fallen into a “rut” by marrying him. The comments came from 2 of my coworkers and I mistakenly saw them in an IM. I told another coworker how upset I was that I saw this IM with these comments and that I had no idea why they would say these things. Apparently, there were much worse comments made at the wedding and she told me they all had to do with my husbands “physical appearance”. I wanted to scream. She didn’t tell me what else was said because I was already very upset at that point.
    I guess they need to add obesity to the list of reasons for divorce now. lol.
    Oh and just to make it 100 times worse, the women who were saying these things are overweight themselves! It is not only normal weight people that hate obese people; its obese people who hate people like themselves.

    • Holy shit, that is disgusting. At your own WEDDING?!? Ugh! I don’t know what I would do, I’d be so mad!
      But you definitely have a point about overweight people hating on others that are the same, it’s sad but it’s something that I shamefully admit I did as well when I was heavier. Maybe it’s a way to boost yourself up? “At least I’m not as fat as so-and-so” was something I said more than once and I’m embarrassed to admit it.

  2. I can’t tell you how many doors were slammed in my face because of my size. I’ve witnessed a man (many different times in different places) holding a door for woman after woman after woman and then walk through himself only to let the door slam in my face as if I didn’t exist, yet he full on looked at me prior to walking through himself. This is something I’m trying to deal with ahead of time because I know I’m going to be pissed off the first time a guy holds the door for me when I’m thin. I’m also trying to come to grips with the fact that I’m going to just have to trust that people in the future are nice to me because I’m me, not because I’m thin. On a good note, because of sizeism and other -isms out there, I’ve learned to not judge people and give them a chance and by doing so, I’ve met some of the nicest and greatest people ever!

    • As much as I hated the outright rudeness of people, what really got under my skin the most was the people who just automatically dismissed me because of my size. They would just act like I wasn’t there and/or didn’t matter because either I wasn’t a threat (if they were women) or because they weren’t sexually attracted to me (if they were men). They just took me out of the equation and it used to annoy the shit out of me!

  3. It’s so sad but it’s true. Society looks at obese/overweight people like they have a contagious disease. As Annabelle said above I had so many doors slammed in my face when I was at my heaviest. It’s very apparent to me at work, people who didn’t/wouldn’t take the time to know me before are all about it now that I’m looking better/healthier.. it infuriates me and I don’t give those people the time of day now. Great post!

  4. I’ve sure written about this in my blog, but I think it’s worth pointing out again that I’m not angry about this disparity. At least, not now that I’m on the thin side. I’m just in shock. Total shock that people are treated so extremely differently based on their size. And it’s not just men treating me different (as a straight woman)…it’s other straight women too! So very bizarre.

  5. Speaking about people’s actions, I know I look extremely young and since entering the workforce it has been a constant struggle trying to have anyone listen to what I have to say as an adult and take me seriously. I am past half way to 30 and people treat me as if I just graduated high school.

    Well to counter this, I now where my glasses to EVERY meeting I have to be at…. and the strange thing is that it’s worked. For some reason now I’m taken more seriously and can bring ideas to the table without having them dismissed.

    What I’m trying to get at is that people are always going to treat other people differently according to appearances b/c those people aren’t happy with their own and they just want to bring you down so that they can feel up.

    And to Melinda: You are waaaay too nice, I would have kicked those ladies out of my wedding faster than they can say “what?”!

    • Amiga! Thanks for commenting! I can’t believe something so simple as wearing glasses makes people treat you differently. Ridiculous, huh?

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