When my friend Nikkie suggested that I write my next blog on a form of bigotry that is not often discussed, I was a little unsure of how to approach this topic. I still am. I have been sitting at the computer for a few hours trying to figure out how to write this particular blog entry. I realize that my own prejudice is likely to weigh heavily in my writing seeing as it is a topic of such discomfort for me. When Nikkie brought it up, though, I immediately thought of one of my recent presentations of “The Wall” from a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership seminar this summer.
After I presented, a young woman came up to me and told me that she loved the presentation but that she thought it was lacking in one important way. I had left out an incredibly common form of bigotry that needs to be addressed: “weight hate” or prejudice and bigotry based on someone being overweight. Her comment struck me because she is right in that issues of “weight hate” are not ones I often consider in my anti-oppression work.
For me, my own prejudice and bigotry enters the picture so easily. I carry my own baggage. I remember being pretty young and having my friend Kyle constantly comment on the fact that my mom was fat. I carried a lot of shame in that . . . though I do want to throw a quick shout-out to my mom who, through healthy diet and exercise, has managed to lose 90 lbs in the last few years. Due to my own baggage, though, it is so common for me to simply think, “If you’re overweight, it is a choice that you have made to live an unhealthy lifestyle.” After all, we live in a country where 25% of folks are considered “obese.”