I’m pretty much past being shocked by the hateful things people say to and about fat people for daring to exist in the world, but every once in a while, the trolls still manage to surprise me. In this case, it’s a bunch of redditors making fun of a woman with a spinal injury who’s trying to raise the three grand she needs for a scooter on GoFundMe. Because, you know, she’s fat, and obviously spinal injuries magically fix themselves if you lose weight.
Atchka’s post at Fierce Freethinking Fatties has a really good explanation of the situation, as well as what it illustrates about fat hatred. Casey is literally the poster child for “doing everything right.” She has a medical issue that’s responsible for her weight, and she was extremely active until she had a freaking spinal fracture. And yet, none of that counts for anything in the minds of the haters. If you’re fat, you literally cannot be active enough to prove to these people that you aren’t spending 23 and a half hours a day on the couch eating donuts. They can see pictures of you dancing, running, whatever, and they will make up weird justifications for why that isn’t real exercise, deliberately misunderstand things you say, or otherwise stick their fingers in their ears and go “LALALA, can’t hear you! LOL UR FAT.” You could literally lap them on the track, running backwards and blindfolded, and they’d find some way to claim that they’re more active—and therefore a more worthwhile person–than you.
This comes only a few days after one of Ragen Chastain’s obsessed trolls sent out a phony fact-checking email about her dance championships, trying to “prove” that she hasn’t really won competitions.
I do understand where it comes from. Cognitive dissonance is not a fun feeling, so it’s easy to twist reality to suit your biases. And everybody does that to some extent. But the extent of willful denial of reality these people show, not to mention the level of obsession required to spend hours of your life trashing someone on a forum or sending fraudulent emails to try to screw over their speaking engagements, it just boggles the mind.
In light of this kind of pervasive harassment, it really bothers me that people treat internet bullying as a minor inconvenience, or something that’s completely apart from “the real world,” when that’s not true at all. The trolls don’t live on their own little island somewhere—they’re right here in the real world with the rest of us. They could be your coworker, your neighbor, your cousin. And I sincerely doubt that anyone who’s that full of hate is limiting their nastiness to online interactions. Not to mention that cyberbullying *frequently* crosses into the victim’s “real life.” Often, that’s the whole point—find out and distribute their personal information, lie about them to their boss or their friends. It’s not something you can walk away from by turning off the computer.