Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Real Truth About Fattist Folk

A mean lady wrote a pretty terrible confessional in the Daily Mail this week. And when you have a habit of talking about women and body image as I do, then the phone starts to ring with people asking you to discuss things like that.

Except I don’t really like to. Because I was at one point a secret Fattist myself.

I was in a wheelchair from the age of 26. I was in it for a few years. I didn’t like it much so I tried lots of ways to get cured so I could get out of it. One of these treatments was abroad. It involved changing flights at Atlanta airport in Georgia, USA.

I hadn’t been out of the house for 18 months at this stage. So people in general were quite a shock to the system. I wasn’t used to them staring at me, because I’d been housebound since being disabled so I wasn’t around anyone except my mum. And people did stare. They stared at the chair. They stared at me because I weighed 6 stone and despite being 5’9″ could only wear children’s clothes.

When I got to Georgia I was told (in a slooooow LOUD voice because people in wheelchairs are seemingly always addressed in sloooow LOUD voices) that my wheelchair had been misplaced in transit, so I’d have to wait for an airport-issued one. And someone to push it.

It became clear pretty quickly that this wasn’t going to happen. Because all of the airport-issued wheelchairs were taken. By people who were too big to walk around such a large airport.

I was really confused by this. Because I was actually disabled rather than just unable to walk long distances due to my weight. I was carried, (I kid you not, luckily for them I weighed as much as a child) to an airport sofa. Where I proceeded to watch as some of the largest people I have ever seen in my life were wheeled away to their connecting flights.

Eventually a very old wheelchair was found and two members of airport staff were grabbed by an air stewardess and asked to push me through passport control. They were not best pleased by the request. They were also confusingly just as heavy-if not more so- than the ones being pushed around in chairs. These lasses truly did not want to push my rickety old wheelchair around such a vast airport. And fair play to them, because it looked like it was going to be very hard work. Which began a round of My Most Favourite Conversation Ever:

Staff Member 1: You push the cripple

Staff member 2: No man. YOU push the damn cripple.

After a few minutes No1 backed down so No2 did indeed push the damn cripple through passport control. where I enjoyed a round of My Most Favourite Conversation Ever: Part Two

Staff Member 2: Are you dying? Because you look like you dying.

Me: Hopefully not. But thanks terribly for asking.

Staff Member 2: Just so you know we ain’t going to the bathroom. I don’t get paid enough for that sh*t.

Me: Duly noted.

I’d never hated anyone before that day. And I’ve never hated anyone since. But I hated those women. I thought about them for so long afterwards. The things they had said. The way they looked at me. I hated people who I felt couldn’t be arsed to walk round a f*cking airport. I hated the staff who had deemed me less important than the fat people. And the fat airport staff members who had seen me as disgusting because I was too thin.

And I was incredibly wrong to do so.

And I only did it because I was very unhappy.

Nobody has the right to judge a person’s internal world on their external appearance. Not me, not the bigoted airport staff. Not a mean lady who happens to write for the Daily Mail. And any of us that do use someone’s outsides to appraise them is a very sad person with too much time on their hands.

I was a very sad person. I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair. I didn’t want my twenties to be like that. But they were. And I was so angry. I chose to direct that anger on the people standing right in front of me. On their appearance. Just like the mean lady in the Daily Mail.

Fattist folk are just unhappy people. That’s the truth of it. Happy people don’t have prejudices because they don’t spend their time fixated on the people that surround them. They just live their own happy lives. All prejudice comes from a deeply unhappy place inside ourselves. If we fix the sadness and hurt and anger by channeling it into more positive things?Then no one feels bad anymore.

Fat or thin. Disabled or Able-bodied. We can all be as one.

 

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Magaluf sex acts, Lord of the Flies & why raising the legal drinking age won’t help

There’s been a massive outcry this week over the young lass who allegedly performed sex acts on 24+ blokes in a nightclub in Magaluf. A lot of people seem to think it’s an indication of our crumbling society. Part of the dangers of drinking. Others have ignored the drinking and seem pretty stuck on this being a case of double standards. Sexism.

I really don’t feel like either are particularly relevant. Would it have made the papers if it had been a young boy performing sex acts on women whilst being a drunk Brit Abroad?

Yes.

Yes because it taps into a well-worn, often touted theory that our country is going to hell and so are our young people. That we should shame them and show them the error of their ways, safe and smug in the knowledge that technology did not advance in time for any of our f*ck ups to be recorded on mobile devices. That we may not have our youth anymore, but at least our dignity remains intact.

If we are shocked that this happened in public? Then we need to reconsider what that really means. Because it didn’t happen in a local nightclub. It took place somewhere that is flocked to by children, worked in by children/adults that have never really grown up. A place that has a Lord of the Flies mentality. There is always anarchy when young people are held exclusively responsible for themselves. Drunk or Sober.

Put a young person who does not know themself yet in an unregulated environment like this, and mass consensual sex acts are the least of your problems. Because that’s the real danger here. Raising young adults who do not know themselves. Have no idea of what boundaries are, no self-esteem. Then letting them loose and plying them with alcohol amongst their peers.

We did this.

Not them.

There is one other place where young people are in charge of themselves. Where they get to keep their drinking away from responsible, mature, fully grown up supervision. where Lord of the Flies or young adult totalitarianism reigns supreme:

America.

Having a general drinking age of over 21 means that young adults are forced to conduct their drinking behind closed doors. When they do that no one is regulating their behaviour. And horrendous things happen when young people who haven’t fully developed a moral code get together and alcohol is consumed. Things that shock us in the UK when we read about them, but are quite commonplace in The States.

We are making a huge mistake in the U.K. by having the legal age of drinking the same as the year we become adults. Alcohol is not a right of passage, it isn’t synonymous with adulthood. Yet having it at 21 spells clear disaster as our friends in the U.S. have clearly demonstrated. Having it at 16 would be stupid because no young person should associate sex with alcohol any more than they already do.

I like 17. It gives kids a year at home to be supervised before they go off to Uni. Time to breathe, Be around alcohol legally and get to experiment with it in front of adults. I like that it’s the same year we are also able to learn to drive. Give a kid the option of supposed freedom like alcohol, and actual freedom like being independent enough to drive?  Most will choose the former. The ones that don’t are a great indicator of early addiction issues, right in front of our noses. Early enough for us to do something about.

Way before it gets to the point of being a poor, lost, inebriated 24 year old lass performing mass sex acts in a grotty Magaluf nightclub.

It’s not nice that another young girl has been humiliated because of a lack of knowing herself. It’s awful that she won’t be the last. But it’s not an excuse to have a public outcry about young people drinking. Not when we could be refocusing our efforts on actually doing something about it to make sure it happens less in the future.

Because cheap alcohol and the freedom to get as drunk as we like doesn’t appeal to a young person who does know themselves. Knows who they are. What they stand for. What they will not accept. How they want to be treated by other people. Young girls who have a sense of self-worth don’t feel the need to bow to peer pressure.

They don’t end up as cheap media fodder.