Look, I captured a (feline) bully.

“Sit down piggy.  You just sit yourself down you fat b@#$ch!”  My mouth hung open as I heard these words leveled at me at a local restaurant. I asked, “Excuse me?  What did you say?” and the tirade went on and on.  Seriously.  They called me piggy and fat b!@#ch over and over again. Apparently these two young mothers (apparently sisters) didn’t have a whole lot of interesting things to say.  (Frankly, I’ve faced more creative bullying from 8-year-old kids.)  So, not knowing anything about me, they grasped at the one insult they felt sure would leave me dejected and destroyed.  But it didn’t quite work.  Neither dejected nor destroyed, I simply stood my ground, and looked at them and asked, “What is the matter with you people?”
I could go into a long drawn out story about how we got to this moment.  Two birthday parties right next to one another in a very crowded restaurant.  We could hash out details about  who gave whom a dirty look and which children were running amok.  And so on.  And so on.  But I can tell you that after everyone else in their party had left, and on their way out the door these two women, walked by our table and said, “I hope you enjoy your party, you b$#ches!”  Which led me to walk up to them and say, “Excuse me?”.  Thus launching them into the tiresome and oh so repetitive “fat piggy” tirade.

Like so many of us, I had a severe attack of staircase wit afterwards.  I thought of 1,000 things I wish I had said about the wonderful example they were setting for their darling children, the fact that they were willing to go to unbelievable lengths to avoid taking any personal responsibility for anything, and their astonishing lack of creativity in the playground taunting department.  But you know what I really wish?  I wish I had recorded them on my camera phone.  I wish I could save that moment and share it with the world.  I wish I could show others exactly what people of size put up with every day.  Because I know this happens every day.

In this particular situation, I knew I was headed into a minefield.  I was confronting someone who had bullied me.  But so often, while minding our own business, walking down the street, shopping at a grocery store or riding a bike, we face bullying and teasing and harsh words for no reason at all.  We are mooed at.  We have people comment about the contents of our plates or our shopping carts.  We have insults hurled at us from speeding cars.  And I could go on and on about the unspeakably horrible things people leave in the comments sections of our pages and blogs and online profiles.  Those of us who are fat, know this.  We know that abuse happens all the time.  And it happens to nearly all of us at one time or another.

But many folks who are average sized or thin, do not know about this abuse.  They have no idea what fat people go through.  I suspect many of them would be horrified if they saw this behavior.  And I think if they saw this with their own eyes on a blog or on YouTube, some of them just might choose to rally behind us fatties.

So the next time this happens, I hope I have the presence of mind to channel my inner documentary filmmaker, pull out my cell phone and record that nonsense for posterity.  I’ll let the world see the ugliness these bullies throw down.  Future bullies had just better watch out.  They may become an unwitting star in my big fat reality show.

And if you just happen to capture on your cell phone some video of the bullies being nasty, closed minded and possibly not very creative towards you, could you send me a link the video?  Just send the link to jeanette@thefatchick.com and put “I captured a bully” in the subject line.  I’m putting together a little project called “capture the bullies” to shine a light on this ongoing hateful nonsense.

In any case, it’s important to keep in mind that no matter what, we don’t have to let the bullies rule our lives and we don’t have to let them win.  Because as I along with several others have pointed out via Ragen Chastain’s amazing project, we are better than the bullies.

Stay strong my friends.


The Fat Chick

17 Comments. Leave new

  • Theresa Bakker
    November 26, 2012 8:53 am

    Big love to you, Jeanette. Not sure I would ever have it together enough to videotape such a thing, but I think it’s a great idea. Shame those who shame us.

  • How much do you want to bet that if you had pulled out your cell phone and started recording them, they would have shut up and left in a hurry? Bullies don’t want their bullying recorded for the world to see unless THEY are the ones doing the recording and posting. They have to be in control of the situation, and if YOU record it, you’re taking that control away from them (bullies can’t stand that).

    • Probably. But these women were so out of control. They had reached the stammering and spitting stage. At one point they threatened physical violence against me. So I’m not sure they would have been able to back down even if I had a cell phone camera pointed right at them. In retrospect, I’m glad my staircase wit didn’t win out. I probably would have said something that I would live to regret. But I am also glad that I called them out on their behavior. Getting a new cell phone with a better camera just in case.

  • Andrea Fuehrer
    November 26, 2012 1:01 pm

    When I lived in the inner city, I used to get the “fat bitch” comment thrown at me regularly. I moved to the suburbs 10 years ago, and that comment hasn’t been directed at me since. I’ve found that the lower the socioeconomic class, the more vicious and frequent the name calling. Shunning may be more the preferred instrument of shame in wealthier areas. Were differences in class or race also involved in this bullying? Sometimes people hide their racism by attacking a “safer” target, such as fatness. I haven’t seen discussions about this aspect of fat bigotry. I think it would make a very interesting subject of study. I’m sorry that you were the target of such abuse. Kudos to you for keeping your cool.

    • Hi Andrea, Well I was definitely out in the suburbs and both parties were white. Economic status may have been part of it, but I don’t know how I would tell for sure. I really think this was a case where there were some folks who were completely unwilling to look at how their behavior and that of their children impacted those around them. I think that these woman were willing to go to any length to not have to admit that they possibly could have been wrong or rude and lashed out with whatever they could think of at whoever was handy.

  • Wow. I think I’ve lived a charmed life so far, and that my 5’8 inches and overall demeanor must cause people who might do this to me some pause. I don’t doubt that it happens, as some of the people who did this bullying in grade schools and high schools must surely still be bullying to this day. I’m just naive enough to be amazed that people treat each other so poorly. I wonder if it’s because the MIdwest is so much heavier than the Coasts? I’m glad you got through it safely, though, Jeanette, and I do applaud your idea of filming this behavior.

  • I’m so sorry you had to go through this and glad that you are standing strong. I think the comment from Andrea is interesting – the overt bigotry versus the more covert, unstated, prejudice. I agree that most normal people would be horrified if they saw this behaviour on You Tube. In contrast, the general, unspoken form of anti-fat stigma is so entrenched in society as the norm that most people don’t even notice it. I think in some ways this clear obvious form of prejudice is preferable, if not pleasant.

  • Hugs! I wish you had thought of the camera idea sooner. But I wonder if pulling out the camera would have led to physical violence? Some people are just whacked!

    • I thought about that Susie. But if they were violent, I’d have it recorded. I was in a crowded restaurant with people in every direction. So I think if they had tried anything, they might be cooling their heels down at the station.

  • I am so sorry that you had to deal with that, Jeanette. Thank you for turning such a negative experience into encouragement for all of us.

  • I am so sorry you had to go through that, Jeanette! Thank you for taking such a negative experience and turning it into a positive experience for all of us.

  • Thanks for sharing.

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