Uptown Bourgeois is an arts, news, and culture blog created by New York-based freelance writer Jefferey Spivey. UB explores universal themes through a black, queer lens. 

An Open Letter To Some Of The Members Of A Men's Health Facebook Group Who Misunderstood My Fat Shaming Article

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Dear Trolls From The PFM/Men’s & Boys’ Health Facebook Group:

I thought about calling this article, “If You Comment On Articles Without Reading Them, You’re An Asshole.” But I changed my mind. (Because I realize how juvenile that sounds.  And how much it would take away from the real message of this article.)  However, that alternate title does accurately communicate the level of anger I feel about your response to my fat shaming article that I shared ‘round the blogosphere yesterday.  While the post led to a mostly positive and productive conversation in most networks, I surprisingly received some backlash from all of you.  Yes, I publicly denounced fat shaming other men in a group about advancing men’s health, and I was trolled or completely misunderstood not by 1 but 5 different members of this group.

Before I dive into the real discussion at hand here, let me clarify a few things.  My piece was not in any way, shape, or form a justification or celebration of obesity.  I believe that all men need to live healthy and long lives.  My argument was that the definition of healthy can vary tremendously, and mainstream media/certain communities only advocate for one definition of that healthy life.  Guys that are ripped beyond belief are often the only definition of healthy that we see.  And it’s possible that this super ripped guy has done a lot of unhealthy shit to look that way.  While another kind of flabby guy could have a clean bill of health and just not fit the lean physique mold.  You don’t have to be ripped to be healthy.  That was my message, and I stand by it.  I’m not saying it’s okay to be unhealthy.  I’m saying it’s okay to be you, and it’s okay to see more men in the media that look like you.  That’s it.  And for the record, IMG models (the largest modeling agency in the world) seems to agree with me as they’ve just announced the addition of a plus size men’s board to their repertoire.  So, there.

Now on to you trolls.  At first, I didn’t understand why anyone would disagree with treating other people with kindness.  But a closer look into your comments (and profiles) cleared that up for me.  You are all precisely the very people I’m denouncing in my article.  I’m calling out your despicable, childish behavior.  And you don’t like it one bit.  No one ever likes to be called out for saying or doing nasty things.  It’s not a fun feeling. I get it.  Just so my readers can have context, your comments are posted below.

 

You must’ve known you’d eventually be called out which is why 3 of you either have Star Wars characters as your profile pics or no pics at all.  Because how could you maintain the upper hand in judging other people’s appearances if those people could actually see you too?  Isn’t it funny how some of the most judgmental commenters never show their faces? It’s the first identifying trait of a troll.  And I want you all to know how it feels to be made fun of in a public space so that maybe you can understand why someone would advocate the end of bullying others about their weight.

"I want you all to know how it feels to be made fun of in a public space so that maybe you can understand why someone would advocate the end of bullying others about their weight."

At quick glance of commenter #1’s profile, you seem like someone who’s most likely been the victim of body shaming, but because of total lack of muscle and not an excess of fat.  I have a lamp fixture on my desk that has more muscle definition.  You seem like the Screech-type that spent many of his high school days eating lunch in a bathroom stall or turned upside down in a trash can with an intense wedgie to boot.  But I’m not judging you.  I think it’s wrong that bullies ruined what could have been some of the best days of your life.   And I think it’s wrong that you now make fun of fat people as some sort of twisted revenge.

Commenter #2, you seem to have a problem with literacy.  Nowhere in my article did I shame bodybuilders.  I did say that bodybuilding is a dated concept that has a small, dedicated fanbase.  With all of the advancements in fitness, I feel that many of the beliefs and best practices in bodybuilding are in opposition of modern knowledge and exercise.  I didn’t say anything negative about the bodybuilding physique.  I have a lot of respect and admiration for those who participate.  I tried to locate something on your profile that indicated your level of expertise on the topic, but all I could find were photos of Darth Vader and some karate competition from the 90s.  Unless those karate photos are current.  Which means you haven’t seen men’s fashion outside of the dojo in, like, 25 years.

Commenter #3.  Oh boy.  You’re one of the two that dared to show your face AND leave an irrelevant and inarticulate comment.  Your profile photo looks like a Dungeons and Dragons fan photo that was taken in your basement.  I get why you don’t care if people are too fat or too skinny.  Because you don’t look like you’ve digested anything other than Marvel Comics or anime in your lifetime.  With long, wiry hair hanging down your back, I’m sure you’ve been on the receiving end of an androgyny joke once or twice.  Or you’ve been mistaken for a $2 version of Criss Angel.

And #4.  What the hell are you even talking about? First, I’m glad you completely missed the irony of the featured photo, as it showed different body types and very comically poked fun at the physiques of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Jonah Hill.  Second, where do you live where you need to be a competitor and strong working man? Are you located in Sparta? Do you spend your days hunting and gathering so that you have enough energy to defend your people against the enemy? And third, you’re right that proper encouragement shouldn’t be considered fat shaming.  But posting a picture of a celebrity’s weight gain in a series titled Livin’ Large is not positive encouragement, my friend.  But you only would've seen this detail if you actually read my fucking article.

"Isn’t it funny how some of the most judgmental commenters never show their faces?"

And lastly, we come to yet another commenter with a Darth Vader photo as his profile pic.  Shame is a healthy and helpful tool? Perhaps when it comes from within.  But not when others inflict it upon you.  I think there’s a lot more that separates us from monkeys than our feelings of shame.  But thanks for the evolution lesson.  And I think you might be taking a dig at the women’s issues currently taking place in the public conversation.  As someone who’s such a fan of Star Wars that he posts it as his public profile photo, you more than likely don’t have the physical strength to fend off all the hate that will come your way.  So you may want to change your position.

So how did that feel boys? Probably not great, right? That’s how fat people feel when you tell them they just need to exercise and stop complaining about the hate and judgment they receive from thinner people.  You don’t know the backstory of any person you so righteously shame.  These people could suffer from genetic issues beyond their control, or they could just simply be okay with their bodies.  They could come from backgrounds where education about healthy living was extremely limited or where resources to do so weren’t available.  It’s not as simple as your petty, tiny minds would like to believe.  I can’t speak to most of your physiques as 3 of you are so proud of what you’ve accomplished that you’re not even present in your own profile photos.  And for the two that are, you may want to follow the other guys’ leads.

Just as it wasn’t okay for others to judge you as nerds for your seemingly unhealthy preoccupation with science fiction or your aversion to muscle building activities or your complete misunderstanding of men’s fashion, it’s not okay for you to judge others because of their weight.  So please, take a minute to think before you comment.

Sincerely,

Your fellow group member (who may possibly remove himself from this group in the next 30 seconds and join a group where people read above an 8th grade reading level)

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