By Quinn, Fattitude Blogging Intern*
#ifthebeatleshadbeenfat is the latest hashtag adding to fat stigma. In general, Twitter and other social media give us the chance to connect and sometimes these connections are good and sometimes they’re bad. Social media allows us to connect to communities that support us but unfortunately it also enables anonymous bullying and the stigmatization of groups of people using hateful hashtags. And of course, fat people are at the receiving end of a good part of them.
You have probably seen the hashtag #ifthebeatleshadbeenfat on your news feed and with it a simplistic joke or pun lacking originality and wit. It seems that intelligent and witty humour requires too much effort for those who think fat shaming is acceptable. And then these same folks judge fat people saying we are lazy! Go figure! Below I will examine some of the kinds of comments that were connected to this hashtag. TRIGGER WARNING: Fat-shaming and trolling ahead.
Many of comments of the associated with the hashtag are saying the same hurtful things that have always been associated with being fat. ‘You eat my food’. ‘You are not exciting’. ‘You eat too much doughnuts/cake (insert any other moralized food) and thin people do not’ and other negative ideas associated false fat/thin dichotomy.
Theses tweets are telling all kind of lies regarding fat people and trying to make us feel bad. These comments are a question of privilege an condemnation.
Just breaking down the hashtag on its own makes you think that fat is a determining factor in culture. The implication is that there would be a difference, if The Beatles were fat. Do you think they would lose their celebrity status if they were fat – what if they had been fat from the beginning? #ifthebeatleshadbeenfat can easily be translated into: no matter what you do and what talents you have, if you are fat, you are not worthy of success and recognition.
Some comments that accompany the hashtag mention health issues like diabetes. How is this supposed to be funny?! Besides, are they mentioning any health issues related to drinking alcohol or them getting lung cancer through smoking? No. The focus on health is part of propaganda of control. Health is undefinable therefore easily manipulated as a concept. It makes a great tool of control. Here’s an excellent article on this.
#ifthebeatleshadbeenfat is as irrational and irritating as the hashtag #ifthebeatleshadbeengay. What would have been so different about them? Ah yeah, their songs would have been about boys not girls and they would have been far more oppressed and maybe relegated to the gay subculture of their time since being gay was illegal in England until 1967. What if the oppression of fat people is very similar to the oppression of the QUILTBAG community of those days. Fat people have a ‘lifestyle’ not approved by the mainstream culture and its discourse. Just like people who were not heterosexual were thought to ‘lead an unhealthy lifestyle’. Being fat or queer are not lifestyles; we are who we are.
Tweets those associated with the #ifthebeatleshadbeenfat use words like ‘flab’ to devalue and police fat bodies, equating fat people to animals like walrus and pigs to dehumanize fat people even further. This narrative is nothing new to fat folks who have to endure this kind of abuse at some point of their lives or at times from everywhere around them. This, however, does not make fat shaming less serious. We have to pay attention to our sense of humor and make sure it is not so charged with social oppression and discrimination.
We need body positivity hashtags and social media handles that empower all bodies and promote individuals to express themselves just as they are. It is necessary to promote the acceptance of all bodies: fat bodies, thin bodies, athletic bodies, ethnic bodies, disabled bodies, old bodies. In particular, we need more fat positive social media for our girls, our children and ourselves to feel we are all worthy and that we are enough just the way we are. If we feel empowered to live to our fullest potential, we will contribute to the world with our talents.
#Ifthebeatleshadbeenfat, they would still be fantastic and creative musicians and artists, because size would not have affected their talents, it would only have changed their experience of oppression.
Some Twitter users agree on this.
*This blog post is the opinion of a particular Fattitude interns – and does not necessarily reflect the position of Fattitude, Inc.