What happens when a woman is fat and healthy, can prove (medically and athletically) that she is healthy, and advocates for Health at Every Size so that others can see by her example that health is something they can also achieve? The fat-haters go batshit with rage.
Ragen Chastain, of Dances with Fat is a corporate CEO, choreographer for and a principle dancer in Fat Bottom Cabaret, and a three-time National Champion partner dancer currently seeking her first World Professional title. She is very healthy, and very fit. When asked rude personal questions she posted the results of her medical exam, pictures of her feats of strength, and even videos of her dances. Most people, even when faced with this reality v/s their preconceived notions of “fat”, were either supportive or polite. Then there were the people who spewed venom like this:
You are a stupid bitch. You are a liar to say that you are fat and healthy, there’s no such thing. Nobody cares how flexible you are (this move isn’t even that hard) or how well you dance because you’re still a fucking fattass. I bet your ankle shattered 5 seconds after this was taken. If I see you in the street I will slap you across your triple chins you dumb fat bitch.
Wow. that is some nasty hate right there. Why such animosity? Why would the poster want to “slap” her, simply because of her weight? Ms. Chastain speculates that they may just be mad in response to cognitive dissonance; angry because she upsets their perception of what is real. Respectfully, I disagree. I think it is the vehement, albeit subconscious, defense of patriarchal hegemony in action.
This defense of patriarchy can come from the women who are benefitted (or hope to benefit from) subservience to the patriarchy, as well as men who benefit from (or hope to benefit from) the status quo. But their loathing of Ms. Chastain comes from their fear/rage that she represents a real, tangible challenge to the patriarchal ideal of femininity, which threatens the structure of the patriarchy as a whole.
To be a ‘good’ female in the Western hegemonic patriarchy you need to be thin. Everyone ignores the fact that thin can be genetically determined. Thin has been culturally constructed to mean that the person is self-controlled (and thus able to master her various appetites), hard-working, physically-fit, yet simultaneously ‘small’ and passive. Thin women are now ‘ideal’ women, or ‘good’ women. Beauty, in culture, reflects the ideal, so the ideal woman must at least look delicate, since her ‘smallness’ shows she meets all the criteria to be female. Women who are fat are not part of the patriarchal ideal because they ‘take up space’ without permission, they have clearly been feeding themselves (not exclusively taking care of others), and they are not ‘small’ to contrast with a ‘large’ masculinity. If women are pressured to be thin, they can be stopped from become ‘too big for their britches’ and resisting control. [If you want to get a bigger picture of the research and philosophy behind these claims, I recommend Susan Bordo’s Unbearable Weight, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, and the edited volume Bodies Out of Bounds, to start with.]
In my opinion, the vitriol the posters showed toward Ms. Chastain came from their hatred of her unspoken resistance. She is not small, yet refuse to admit this makes her a ‘bad’ woman. She is not passive, she is both actively eating and actively living. She is not following the patricidal ideology, and therefore she is ‘bad’ and deserves to be ‘punished’.
Fat-haters are such asshats.