A Note On Fat Shaming and Social Media

 

There’s a hashtag trending at the moment which is the laziest, lowest hanging fruit fat joke you can imagine about the current US President. I mean they all are, no hashtag jokes are good, no mocking nickname in the history of mocking nicknames has been half as funny as the emotionally stunted 15 year old who came up with it thinks it is. But no, this one is especially bad, especially egregious and singles 45’s weight out as the point of attack.

The reasons for using it are apparently:

  • The President lied on his physical.

and

  • It’ll get under his skin.

Firstly, the lies. Yep, almost certainly.

So?

He lies about everything. Constantly. This is a literal matter of public record and if you’re genuinely surprised by that then I hope your eyes are adjusting to light outside the bunker after being underground for so long.

As for it getting under his skin? No, it won’t and if it did what the Hell difference would it make? He exists in a state of perpetual fury, disgusted and terrified by a world that he doesn’t understand and for the most part feels exactly the same about him. There is no ground to gain here. There is no advantage, no victory. That’s obvious to anyone with more than 10 seconds spare and 6 neutrons to rub together but hey, maybe the thin, rich white man who started the hashtag had stuff on his mind. After all, he has apologized to anyone who found offence with it.

Cool tweet. Still bullying. Here’s why.

First, this is shitty satire and we live in an ecosystem of shitty satire so for this to stand out, and it does, it has to be unusually bad. There is no wit here. There is no artifice. There is no greater point being made beyond Nelson pointing and laughing at someone and going ‘HA HA!’. Crucially too, it’s not even about the President’s never ending parade of appalling actions, it’s about his looks which manages to be facile at the same time as stealing from his own terrible playbook.

We are 2.5 years into a Presidency dominated by endless petty and personal attacks. The Republicans have systematically damaged people’s faith in truth, in the facts and done so in a manner where any push-back is met with self righteous bleating about civility because they’re terrified of any opinion which wasn’t whittled from William F. Buckley Jr’s calcified remains. This is GREAT. It means they are wide open on EVERYTHING.

EVERYTHING.

And instead of going for literally any one of the never ending legion of his terrible policies and worse decisions, the hashtag originator goes for…his weight. With a side order of ‘Did
you know he’s also bald!! And vain about it!” Satire isn’t dead but my God if this is the best there is then it’s time to take it somewhere quiet and tell it about the bunnies.

Secondly, have you ever met any bullies? Were they cool? Then why become one? Because this is bullying, and bullying as we’ll see on far more than a personal level. Pick on a personal weakness and mock it in public for applause and you gain…what? The moral high ground? High fives from the School football team? An opening to perhaps discuss one of the innumerable areas this President is doing potentially irreparable damage to like an adult? Or is it a chance for more bovine arrogant slogan bleating across the blasted hellscape of Twitter? And if it’s that last one, if the people using this hashtag really are just doing it to get social media famous, then how many RTs does an immortal soul go for? What ratio is the price for power? Follow up question, how the fuck do you sleep at night?

Because make no mistake this goes much, much further than 45. Every time that hashtag appears on someone’s screen, Nelson points and laughs at every single fat person who sees it. And if the hashtag shows up in a tweet in their timeline? Then they hear the person who used it, pointing and laughing at them because that’s exactly what they’re doing. Their friends. Their family. Laughing at them because they’re fat. Saying they’re just like the worst President in living memory. Saying his worst quality in his endless flotilla of terrible qualities is that he’s fat. It doesn’t matter if you hate his policies, Hell it doesn’t even matter if you hate the man. His weight, his size, the space he takes up is the only thing that matters about him as far as this venomous little corner of social media is concerned. And, as a result, we’re told that’s the only thing that matters about us. Again.

45’s entire ethos demands intelligent, ethical, compassionate opposition. This is none of that. Be better than it. Be better than him. That’s it.