Worth Your Weight

March 28, 2008

Hated to Death

Filed under: fat acceptance — worthyourweight @ 3:18 pm

I recently encountered a statement along the lines of “No one has ever been killed by fat hatred.”

SeaFATtle’s A Place at the Table Memorials* asks us to reconsider if such a statement is true:

“A Place At the Table” honors the memory of people whose lives were needlessly shortened by size prejudice, discrimination based on weight, or fear of fat, and whose deaths were caused (or significantly contributed to) by such factors. Some of these people include:

  • those who have died as a result of weight-loss dieting, including the immediate effects of crash diets, as well as the long-term harm caused by yo-yo dieting;
  • those who have died from side effects and complications from weight-loss drugs like “fen/phen”;
  • those who have died from weight-loss surgery and its complications, after having their health ruined and their lives shortened by its long-term effects;
  • those who have died from eating disorders, which happen as a direct consequence of this culture’s phobia about fat and the resulting pressure to be thin at any cost;
  • those who have been misdiagnosed, or received misguided or inadequate medical care, by practitioners and insurance companies who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see beyond their size and treat the real problem in time;
  • those who had been so mistreated and abused by the medical profession because of their weight that they lost all faith in it, and so failed to go for diagnosis and treatment for a problem until it was too late;
  • those who were refused medical insurance because of their weight, or were denied jobs because of the size prejudice of potential employers, and were therefore unable to afford necessary medical treatment that could have prolonged or saved their lives;
  • those who died in abusive relationships, whose abusers focused on their weight or used it as an excuse to continue their battering;
  • those who, in moments of pain and despair when the fatphobic ridicule and rejection became too much to bear, have taken their own lives

The exhibit has 13 memorials thus far.  Each one is heartbreaking. Here is Kelly Yeomans’:

Kelly Yeomans was a thirteen-year-old girl who lived in Allenton, Derbyshire, a working-class town northeast of London. People described her as kind and caring, bubbly and charming. She played the tambourine in the Salvation Army Band. She visited with the elderly people at a local senior citizens’ home.

Kelly was teased and bullied by her schoolmates about her weight for years. They called her “fatty,” put salt in her lunch, and dumped her clothes in the garbage. Kelly tried to escape the abuse, to avoid giving the other kids the opportunity. She would wait until everyone else had gone before she’d leave gym class, so no one would see her in her gym clothes. She told school authorities that she was being harassed at school and at home, but nothing was done.

In the summer of 1997, the harassment got worse. For several nights running, a group of mo[r]e than a dozen teenagers gathered outside her family’s house. They shouted taunts, made jokes about lard and fat, and called her “Smelly Kelly.” They started tossing eggs at the house, and someone threw a package of butter through a window.

Kelly told her parents, “It’s nothing to do with you, but I can’t stand it anymore. I’m going to take an overdose.” Her family knew she was unhappy, but they didn’t believe she really meant it…but she did. On the night of September 28, Kelly Yeomans took an overdose of painkillers. Her parents found her dead in her bed the next morning.

*The site is currently down, but I’m linking to the Internet Archive’s cached version(s). Not all links may work, but I will update with a current link as soon as/if one becomes available.

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8 Comments

  1. That made me tear up. I knew someone similar in middle school- a girl named Kendra who created this macho, don’t screw with me attitude to deal with the bullying. The last time I saw her was several years ago, in Macy’s. She’d widdled herself down to nothing, weight-wise, and though she cheerfully told me it had come about naturally, her demeanor seemed forced, and I felt like there was maybe something not so natural lurking there. I regret not standing up for her (though I was nearly as ridiculed in those days) and for even joining in at times to be accepted by my peers. Kids can be so cruel.

    Comment by mistletow — March 28, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

  2. I don’t know if this was on the list, but if not it should be – http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007\11\20\story_20-11-2007_pg7_27

    Woman killed by her husband because he didn’t like her fat.

    I’d say fat-hatred directly killed Sobia. No one ever died of fat hatred – how dare anyone say that? Between WLS, deadly pills, and outright murders, what more do they want? (Oh yeah, genocide.)

    Comment by AnnieMcPhee — March 28, 2008 @ 6:52 pm

  3. Oh yes – and the misdiagnoses, how could I forget those? The doctors who won’t even *examine* someone who’s fat, much less treat them for anything but. Oh you’ve got a lot covered here. Thanks for this post.

    Comment by AnnieMcPhee — March 28, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

  4. Er – sincere apologies but that first link isn’t going to work for some reason, try: http://tinyurl.com/2wceu5

    Comment by AnnieMcPhee — March 28, 2008 @ 6:56 pm

  5. Thank you so much for posting about this.

    I’d been trying to think of something I could do in my mother’s memory, since her birthday would have been this coming Sunday. This seems like a very good idea of something to work on. Thanks.

    Comment by Thorn — March 28, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

  6. mistletow,
    I also wish I could take some of the courage I have now and go back in time to stand up for myself and others.

    AnnieMcPhee,
    I agree that the story you linked to should be added. I hope A Place At The Table is only on hiatus. A permanent memorial like that is very powerful and drives home what FA is ultimately fighting for.

    (((((((((((((((Thorn)))))))))))))))
    If you decide to share a placemat you make for your mother, I look forward to seeing it.

    Comment by worthyourweight — March 29, 2008 @ 2:03 am

  7. FWIW, I do know that SeaFATtle, which has done some great work including this memorial, has been mostly on hiatus for the last couple of years. One of the founders has been very busy with election issues and so they haven’t been as active as they used to be. But I am on their email list, so maybe I’ll ask them what’s happening with this site.

    Comment by Meowser — March 29, 2008 @ 2:53 am

  8. Thanks, Meowser!

    Comment by worthyourweight — March 29, 2008 @ 4:57 pm


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