In the mid 2010s, a new movement started up at the same time that various health organizations warned of the increasing costs (both human and financial) of obesity. The Fat Accepance Movement insisted that there was really no cost at all of being fat. You could have Health At Every Size, any critique of obesity or fatness was a form of discrimination, and fat people deserved the partner of the attractiveness of their choice.
For each and every action there is a reaction, and it was fascinating to see a new kind of hatred arise and develop first hand.
It started out innocently enough on Reddit anyways: with the subreddit "fatpeoplestories". It was in the style of "weeaboostories" in which people basically ranted about an unpleasant encounter with a specific kind of person. The rules to "fatpeoplestories" were quite simple - it was not enough that the person was simply overweight. They had to be somehow unpleasant and fat in a particularly obnoxious way, and/or have the tale be related to them being fat.
After a while a certain "template" emerged, to the point in which the stories got particularly "cookie-cutter". Greentext was almost certainly used, and descriptions of the fat person's approach being described in terms of floors shaking, water glasses rippling, random objects in the room starting to be affected by gravitational pull, dense shadow, horrible stench, and so forth. The protagonist of all these stories was usually female and/or height/weight proportionate and put upon or otherwise severely inconvenienced by the fat person in the story.
In general the stories tended to one of six genres:
- "She ate all the food/tried to have sex with my boyfriend..." - In which the usually female antagonist is left alone with a tray of cookies designed for charity or to feed an army of volunteers, or was meant for Special Olympics competitors or small children - and upon return the food has vanished and the fat person is coated in a small film of what was left, usually whining that she was hunnnnngryyyyyyyy. The narrative also sometimes included, in the same vein, the idea that the girl thinks "dogs love bones, men love meat" and makes an obvious (often literally) naked play for the protagonist's significant other, usually in the presence of same. The general idea evolved that fat people are considered to be slaves to their appetites, any appetites, and a complete disregard for anything that would otherwise stop them: decency, morality, fairness or even ownership of the target of said appetite is less important than immediate gratification, by any means necessary.
- "She was absolutely vile and disgusting..." - In which the protagonist is somehow forced to deal with someone whose clothes don't fit, who hasn't showered in forever, whose hair is greasy, whose breath is enough to make a vulture vomit, whose fat rolls go everywhere, etc. The narrative here suggests that fat people are unattractive, and uncaring about their own appearance. In nature, when an animal stops grooming itself, this is usually a sign of great sickness or distress, so the narrative here is that fat people not only are without morals, but without fundamental animal ideas about caring for self.
- "Oh my God, I went to my dorm room on the first day of school and..." - In which the protagonist is forced to live with someone who is fat, so in addition to everyone having to deal with food theft as in part 1 and enduring close proximity to part 2, also has to deal with the indignity of mountains of unwashed dishes, roaches, fleas, rats and worse. ("We tried to open her door and the McDonald's wrappers were three feet deep") Because of communal fridge and stove, no food is safe, and if the protagonist brings a boyfriend around she comes out of her bedroom/area practically naked, batting her eyes at him. Her share of the bills go unpaid, the apartment becomes damaged, certainly unlivable. This is because the fat person's natural narcissism and self-hatred makes it impossible for her to live with others. Not only is she a parasite but an unpleasant one, bringing drama and fights in her wake.
- "We went hiking/camping/joined the military, and you wouldn't believe..." - In which you think the fat person wouldn't want to partake in exercise or something strenuous, or were looking forward to the fat person doing something useful with their lives - but then you find out they only wanted to go because they were forced to, or because they were looking forward to being at a campfire and in close proximity to the protagonist's boyfriend. If there is a road trip, there will be mention of the fat person showing up with a garbage bag full of snacks, which would have been presumed to be for all concerned but turn out to be eaten entirely by the fat person not even a quarter of the way there. Any food brought for the trip, left unguarded, will be eaten before arrival. Any physical activity will turn out to be a huge torment for everyone involved as almost immediately the fat person will want to take breaks, sit down, be carried, complain it's too difficult, and so forth (three hundred yards into a ten mile hike, for example). The ambient whining and so forth will drag everyone's enjoyment and progress down to completely unmanageable proportions. The narrative here is that if you think they're doing something that resembles work, it will be for some unpleasant ulterior motive or hustle and the actual work will be delegated to others.
- "We were in this social situation..." At a convention? Expect loud clothing, a louder mouth. Racist invective, open farting, If everyone's going to dinner, she will insist on stopping off for food, more than once, enroute to the restaurant. And complain they don't sell fries at a sushi place. The general narrative is, you cannot take a fat person ANYWHERE, because they are so needy, dependent, food-addicted, unpleasant, ugly, smelly, and prey to the immediate satisfaction of any bodily whim that it isn't worth them being out of their homes.
- "I'm a medical professional, and..." Uncooperative, whiny and unninsured people clatter in with completely avoidable health problems. If they need to be moved they won't attempt to move by themselves in any way leading to nurses becoming injured. Morbid flesh, leaking fluids, food found rotting between skin folds, mushrooms growing in fat piles, necrosis, ulcerations, extremities rotting off, every horror story you could imagine. "This is why your hospital bill is so much."
Fatpeoplestories couldn't contain all the conversation Reddit wanted to have about the obese, especially when some of the stories were more about someone's justifications for being fat. Stories that consisted basically of confusion about how the body works ("I have a condition", "I have a thyroid problem", "I eat like a bird and still gain weight (shovels in another handful of M&Ms)", "sodas don't contain calories") and so forth became relegated to a new subreddit, "Fatlogic". It was a natural evolution to take the mockery of some passing commentary on "MUH CONDISHUN" (sic) or "MAH THIGHROID" (sic) and separate that out into its own category and build a subreddit around it.
These subreddits didn't escape notice. The body positivity and Health At Every Size communities trolled or otherwise dismissed Reddit as a pile of bigots. Unfortunately, many of them, such as the infamous Ragen Chastain, had a tendency to rebut criticism of obesity with simply saying things like "fuck you". In fact, she built her own echo chamber, the for-pay subscription-enhanced blog "Dances With Fat", in which she discusses being a body positivity activist and a crusader in terms of combating sizism and so forth. She and others bemoaned what they referred to as "thin privilege", namely the idea that if one is thinner, food bills are cheaper, clothing is more available and doesn't cost so much, you're not expected to pay for two seats because one isn't big enough (which is discrimination), etc.
She's also a huckster par excellence with a flair for self-aggrandizement. Claiming to be a "trained researcher" and "former CEO", unfortunately her detractors were excellent fact-checkers and showed she ran a failed small business at one point (consisting of organizing people's belongings if I remember correctly) and her training in research was one semester in a Texas University.
Her claim to be an "elite athlete" based on completing a marathon and holding some kind of medal in dance competitions is also misleading - she completed the marathon well after closing time on the honor system and spent significant amounts of time sitting around and "resting", in other words she did 26.1 miles worth of walking in one day (she spent close to an hour performing a bowel movement). In fact, she was beaten by a significant margin, in terms of time, by a 92 year old cancer survivor. Health at every size, indeed. As for her dance competition, well, they're in weight classes. She showed up for one event and won by default.
So in other words, here you have a loud, obnoxious, activist, unpleasant and frankly lying human being huckstering her way into support, speaking fees, and money from other obese people looking for a closed echo chamber in which to justify their own existence. And it fell in every single way into the established prejudices of fatpeoplestories and fatlogic. Not only was she in it for whatever she could take, and socially unpleasant, but she espoused every single anti-medicine, anti-logic, and anti-physics knowledge about calories in vs calories out. It was like the two sides were feeding off each other in a very unpleasant feedback loop.
It had to happen eventually: on the sidebar of both fatpeoplestories and fatlogic, there were mentions that hate against fat people per se would not be tolerated. "We are not fatpeoplehate".
Which was a cue for the charmingly named "thepeniswizard" and others to MAKE such a thing, and have no holds barred in their thin pride.
And everything up to date which was sort of "wink wink", "nudge nudge" became obviously and glaringly out in the open. The dehumanizing and polarizing of the two camps with terms like hamplanet for fat person and "shitlord" for thin person critical of obesity became in the latter part something to be literally proud of. Fat people were openly ridiculed, and spoken of in terms like "lardbucket", "manatee", "hamplanet", with their "Scooty Puffs" (disabled electric scooters) and "McBeetus" (McDonald's). The fact that everything suddenly had a second derivative meant it was easier to talk about it derisively, easier to distance oneself from the reality, and easier to erase everyone's core humanity. Watching this evolution gave me an insight into how one would start off seeing differences in someone of color, and then finding tribal differences, drawing lines between two groups of people, and then inventing horrible words like "n----r" and letting all manner of inhuman hatred flow from that disassociation.
They found people online who were fat, and taunted them. Whereas other subs had rules against using pictures or identifiers of real people, fatpeoplehate said hey, you posted it publicly, it's for public consumption. Most disgustingly (in terms of how they were treated), they found people like the Slaton sisters of Kentucky, two girls with a vlog who epitomized everything the community had grown to hate. At the risk of sounding like I too am piling on them, I cannot help but call this situation out for what it is. Their videos show two very obese 20something girls with few manners. They're on state aid but still manage to eat mountains of junk food and the older one is constantly in and out of hospital with pneumonia and breathing issues. Their trailer is filthy. They fart and belch openly with abandon. They have a drawl. They have Amazon wishlists to try to get others to buy things for them. The younger one has obviously constantly-picked at acne and the older one is so fat her forehead droops over her eyes and on both girls their jowls have forced their lips into a permanent fishlike pucker. The whole thing is a would-be reality show with two immobile losers with no lives, no jobs, no significant others, literally entombed in a dirty trailer and imprisoned in failing, unhealthy bodies - and yet calling themselves "amazing" and demanding tribute of gifts.
Amy, the younger of the two tearfully posted the last vlog entry in a while: Tammy had been rushed to hospital again with pneumonia and was in a medically induced coma. So seriously, in fact that Amy was starting a gofundme to pay for the funeral, which she had been quoted would be three times as much because of the size of the coffin and the need for many extra pallbearers. Some thought this a deliberate ploy for money, but Amy's not an actress, and her tears are genuine. In that moment I saw someone who'd posted online, just like everyone else: made videos, just like everyone else. Someone sobbing in grief and disbelief - who was about to lose her best friend and closest family member and was scared and preparing for loss and an even lonelier life without her sister.
To which the Internet said: "this is what you get. You're fat. And you deserve to die."
Frankly, I don't really care about the minutiae of this debate. Obesity kills and hurts people before it does, but the idea that we somehow value one shape over the other is insane in this day and age. But regardless of how one side is right in some ways and wrong in others, and the other vice versa, there's no sane, human or other reason to wish literal death on someone. Ever.