An unexpected backlash/frontlash. People were listening!

Thank you, everyone, for commenting on and linking to my previous post! I’ll be answering comments this afternoon (LJ has been slow in forwarding them). Who’d think I could inadvertently create a fooforaw in a couple of venues when I was just trying to entertain you with a small incident?

Honestly, I had no idea this would be such a triggering issue for so many people. I just thought it was funny, and after so many YEARS of small incidents like this (in which the bullies probably don’t even see themselves as bullies, because they’re conditioned to think fat people are lazy and worthless by the media and the doctors who constantly preach what a health problem it is and how easy it is to “just diet and exercise”), I thought I would try a different approach. I mean, in my experience it doesn’t do any good to confront and question people and make a big stink, because then they think you are fat, lazy, and RUDE AND OBNOXIOUS to boot. This sort of thing has happened in stores, in offices (“I can’t believe you were brave enough to wear that” and, to my husband, “Why would you marry such a FAT b**ch?”), at home (“My God! All your fat rolls show! Put on a huge boxy blazer that’s three sizes too large and hide your nasty evil bulk!”–typical Mother and female relative response), and in school (you can fill in those blanks yourself.) I could often de-fuse the tension by making a joke or being a clown. Sometimes they even came to accept me as The Clown, or they were able to overcome the barriers that they usually threw up (ha, threw up!) between themselves and people they thought were unworthy or unattractive, and actually came to know me as a friend.

I am not into the whole fat acceptance movement, although I approve of anything that makes people happier and more confident about themselves in this cruel world. It’s just that I can’t wave a magic wand and change myself into something “acceptable,” and it does no good for me to go around hiding or hating myself, so I have to do SOMETHING other than wear a cloaking device, which would actually be my first choice. I diet and exercise and work on myself, but for several years my medical issues have made results very difficult to get and hold.

I just thought the whole thing was funny. Granted, my blood sugar might have been high or low–one never knows these days–and I’m fairly fatigued all the time from the responsibilities of taking care of people and keeping up appearances, so of course it was funny to ME. *grin* In the old days, they called this “sarcasm,” and most people would’ve recognized it. “Are you being sarcastic?” would be a more insightful question than “Are you mentally ill?”, which is the question that the fats/unfats threads seemed to think was appropriate. Hey, perhaps even the old Saturday Night Live skits that were sarcastic/sardonic back in the day would be considered high art now, because people take everything so seriously. Hee!

As for pursuing them in some way, I think I’ll leave that to the next person they are rude to (and that will happen soon enough–it’s an overall attitude and pattern with people who act like that.) I have no vendetta and don’t want to get people fired; I know from living a while that what goes around comes around, and if they do something like that to someone who DOES have a lot of energy for correcting everything, they’ll be straightened out. Or maybe they’ll go telling people, and someone will point out that it was supposed to clue them in about how they should be there to sell, not to judge. Or maybe they’ll just go on as they are–airheads, in my view, and not worth worrying about because they don’t want to change (which is the necessary impetus for change.)

I posted about the incident on the fatshionista community, thinking they’d laugh and try something similar to be silly, but after the first few comments of “that was neat!” and “we love that response,” there was a HUGE pile-on about how I should have taken the Teachable Moment and lectured so as to change hearts, etc. (and about how they didn’t believe this had happened at all–a HUGE analysis that astounded me, because of course my post was partly tongue-in-cheek and Benchleyized, and I thought that was obvious.) They held me up as a bad person for not Straightening Those People Out.

Well, perhaps they still have the energy for that because they’re young, but I no longer do. In my experience, I’ve found (and your mileage may differ) that you don’t change hearts and minds with some impassioned plea or a burst of logic like a debater. Do all those corner evangelists get converts? No, mostly they get snorts and jeers, and their passion results in people who turn against the religion they are preaching without ever giving it a chance, because they don’t want to be preached to. I feel it’s the same here: had I gone on and on about how they shouldn’t be rude to any customer or anyone, or how fat people are people too, they’d have tuned it out and been angry if I got them into trouble. It’s not my purpose to get people into trouble or raise a stink. (I used to watch my mother do that, and it was almost always way more trouble than it was worth.)

I’d rather give someone a piece of my heart than a piece of my mind. So I took a different approach that was just funny, and that should have made a smart clerk realize that they were being played–and then if they wondered why they had been played with, they might figure out for themselves that they’d been inappropriate. But apparently most people are very literal, and a group of posters took the issue to unfatshionista and carried on for quite a long thread about how pitiful the incident was, how made-up it is, how I must need a lot of attention, how I’m obnoxious, and the usual stuff that they do over there (it’s basically a snark comm.) They spent a lot of time entertaining themselves with that, which I suppose is a good thing . . . my work can evoke an emotional response! Yay?

Really . . . when I was younger, I used to think I had to correct EVERYONE and everything. When I moderated FidoNet WRITING, I used to bug people about grammar, math, and everything, as if I were on some sort of crusade. I truly BELIEVED that they needed to know how to form plurals and that it’s not spelled “writter,” ever. But I realized people generally don’t WANT TO HEAR IT. Unless they ask, they don’t want to learn; they’re happy in ignorance of direct objects or plural forms. Many who came there claiming to want to be writers were just that–they wanted to have written and be famous for it, not to write something timeless and lasting (that takes lots of work, and even then it may not happen.) I decided to stop wasting energy on crusades and teaching pigs to sing. I know that there’s always someone else who will come along to do that, and if it works, yay. I now try to change hearts and minds in a more subtle fashion through storytelling (novels with themes). That may not work, either, but at least it doesn’t lead to a lot of shouting and getting people into trouble (which always makes me feel guilty, anyway.) If the change is ready to happen, it almost doesn’t matter what you do–you are the catalyst, and the change comes when the trigger presents itself. I’ve seen this over and over.

But there’s gotta be a response to anything, so instead of going meek or going postal in this situation (which wasn’t a big deal because I wasn’t even really shopping), I took another route. It was just a whim to shake things up. Really, don’t take it too seriously.

I think art projects on the wall would be awe-inspiring, actually. The reason I would never try it here–well, there are reasons. My mother would go postal, because she sees this as an “Executive Home” and she already thinks I keep it like a pigsty and hates the various artworks and things that I like as offbeat. My husband would just sigh and shake his head, because anything weird or awful would embarrass him when he brought his friends home or when anyone stopped by. It would be too flamboyant to do that. But somebody should do it in a bohemian loft somewhere. I’d like to see photos.

I wish more people on the fat/unfat communities had laughed and appreciated the humor. That they didn’t gives me more evidence that I won’t connect with the audiences out there when I write; my style isn’t their style. I still believe my style reaches SOME people, but maybe not a large enough audience. It’s always an eye-opener when I get responses taking my sarcastic humor so seriously and saying “that didn’t happen and is not true, and therefore is of no value.”

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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