This post came from a recent Facebook post which resulted in a lot of discussions regarding the use of the word “fat”. The gist of the post was that this person had witness a woman walking her kid to school and the kid was drinking a liquid breakfast, akin to our Instant Breakfast, from what I could gather. In itself not a bad observation, but the term used to describe the woman was “fat”.
Holy Lord call the papers!!
People jumped on this person from all sides saying that he was anywhere from “insensitive”, to “judgemental”, to “bigoted”. While, as it was pointed out by a few, this is probably a culture thing, with some people and cultures more acceptable to “calling a spade a spade”, the mere fact that they chose to use the term “fat” to describe the mother really brought a reaction from many readers (with the majority of negative comments coming from women I noticed … whatever that means).
As someone whose blog and online persona uses this very word (Fat Slow Triathlete) it obviously caught my attention and made me start thinking a bit on this term and its use.
Personally, as a description, I have no problem with the word. I do have a problem if it is used in a disrespectful way, or used as a way to demean or degrade someone. Was it used this way? Not in my opinion. It was simply stated as “I saw a fat mother walking her kid…”. Maybe it has something to do with the gender? Would the same reaction had happened if they had stated “I saw a fat dad walking his kid … “? Probably not. It seems much more acceptable to call a man “fat” than it is to call a woman “fat”. Not sure why? Probably because men are realistic and we know we are fat? Who knows? There’s a big difference, in my mind, between walking up to someone and saying “Jeezy Creezy you’re FAT” and describing someone to a group of people as “fat”.
Where it took a turn toward the absurd was a comment that stated it was “bigoted”. No. I am sorry. It does not fit that category. Bigotry is defined as someone who, as a result of their prejudices, treats other people with fear, distrust, hatred, contempt, or intolerance on the basis of a person’s ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or other characteristics. I guess “fat” could fall into disability (thanks AMA – don’t get me started on that again!) or in “other characteristics” but the state of “being fat” is not a “protected class” (as I stated in the Facebook comments). You cannot be fired for saying someone is “fat” unless it is done to create a hostile work environment, which falls under an entirely different paradigm. You CAN be fired for being fat, especially if it prevents you from performing your daily job tasks (which is why I am surrounded by obese and morbidly obese co-workers … you don’t have to be fit to sit in a cubicle). Appearances are used against people in the workforce all the time. Not out in the open of course, because that would be wrong. Have you ever seen a fat, unattractive pharmaceutical rep? Nope. I haven’t. How about a fat Tampa Bay Buc cheerleader? Nope. A fat waitress at Hooters? Nope.
So, if I am calling myself the “Fat Slow Triathlete” am I being bigoted against myself? Long time readers of this blog know the reason for me using this title, so I won’t go into the full Treatise, but let’s just say that in order to pull people off the couch and reach this group of people that may want to start and may be intimidated, I chose the title to put them at ease and to hopefully show that even if your not built like Mirinda Carfrea or Pete Jacobs, you can run triathlons and finish them. So to be correct, should I not be “fat”? Or “slow”? or even “old”.
I should be the “Weight Challenged Speed Sensitive Age Impaired Triathlete”.
Let’s go with that!