Fat-Shaming Internet Trolls: Be Better For Your Kids' Sake
“OMGGGG I feel so sorry for your husband and kids for having to live with your gross fat ass.”
That is an actual comment I received on an essay I recently wrote. The essay was about life in a fat body. It’s one of the things I write about most. I do it because sharing experiences is important. It makes life less lonely. I feel better when I put my feelings into words. Also, I get to connect with a lot of other fat babes who are out here living the same experience I am. I love my work and my community, and no internet asshole is going to insult me into stopping.
Before anyone tells me this is just par for the course or that I asked for this by putting my life out there on the internet, just don’t. I’ve heard all before. I’m over it.
No. Be better.
I shouldn’t be expected to give up my expectation for common decency. I am realistic enough to know this is just how it is, but I’m allowed to be annoyed about it.
There is no reason to insult a stranger just because you don’t like something they said online. Shutting the hell up is a really valid and underused option on social media.
This person didn’t really think my husband and kids are somehow suffering because I’m fat. They don’t pity my family. Don’t be ridiculous. It’s just a really hurtful thing to say, and the internet makes people want to be mean. I still don’t know why that is.
Just in case you’re wondering, my kids aren’t being raised by assholes, so they don’t know that people think fat is such a terrible thing to be. That’s some diet culture bullshit, and it doesn’t have a place in our home.
To my babies, I’m not their fat mom. I’m just their mom. My hands fix all their boo-boos. My shoulder soaks up all their tears. And of course, my debit card pays for the popcorn on all of their Target runs.
They’re happy. They don’t need anyone to feel sorry for them because they live with me. They don’t need anyone to pity them at all. They’re glad they live with me. They have everything they need and most of what they want. It’s a good freaking life.
Pitying a child because their parent isn’t your idea of perfect is really gross. All kinds of families can be healthy and happy. If you think a fat mom is the worst thing a kid can have, you have turned a blind eye to a lot of real atrocities.
There are kids all over the world who don’t even have access to clean water or adequate medical care. Girls in some countries still can’t seek an education. Some children are subject to horrible abuse every single day at the hands of people who were supposed to protect them.
Let’s spend our energy, time and money worrying about how to make things better for those kids, okay? Maybe moving forward, we don’t waste our concern on my healthy, white, middle-class American kids who are literally dripping in twenty kinds of privilege they did nothing to earn. I’m far more concerned that they will not learn to acknowledge their own good fortune and speak up for marginalized people than I am that they are suffering in any way at all. They’re fine.
But you know who might not be fine?
Kids who live in a home where their parents routinely say things that are cruel and judgmental, not just about fat bodies but about anyone who falls short of their personal ideal.
If those kids are not suffering now, hate and cruelty like that could set the stage for their future sorrow.
Because we just don’t know what our kids’ bodies might look like later. We don’t know who they are going to be. A skinny kid could become a fat teenager or adult. It happens all the time.
What happens when your precious baby finds themselves in a body that is thick or chubby or even all the way fat like me? Do you have any idea who much it will hurt when the voice in their head is yours, telling them how inadequate and unattractive they are?
Mean people aren’t only mean online. That shit is ingrained. I have a hunch that disdain for fat people isn’t the only thing kids hear in a home where their parent is so condescending. By disparaging anyone who you deem unworthy, you could be setting your children up for a lifetime of self-hatred.
The way we talk in front of our kids deeply matters. Our words hold the power to shape their world and their self-image. Kids should not see their parents making sweeping judgments about whole groups of people — whether it’s shaming body size, or a darker hatred like racism, xenophobia, religious prejudice, or homophobia.
When you’re ugly to strangers, you might raise a mean-spirited person who acts just like you. That would be bad enough.
But you could also break your sweet child’s spirit, teaching them that they will never be enough for you. And I’d argue that’s way worse.
It sucks for me when strangers say rude shit to me, but I am a grown woman. I can give assholes the digital finger and rest easy knowing who I am.
I’ll never convince even one internet stranger to be nicer to me. I accept that. It annoys me, but it doesn’t hurt. I already got my chance to grow up. I don’t need reassurance and my kids don’t need pity. Our life is really beautiful.
But, internet trolls, for the sake of your own freaking children, could you just do better? They deserve so much more than a snarky parent who thinks it makes sense to insult people because of the size of their body.
Knock it the fuck off.
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