Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dear Abigail

Necklace: Kate Spade | Top: Target | Skirt: Target | Heels: Urban Outfitters

We need to talk. Or more importantly, Abigail van Buren and I need to talk.

Today's article for Dear Abby included a letter writer who wanted advice on how to deal with her mother, who is uncomfortable with how the author, who is overweight, dresses around the house. Abby's response, to say the least, was devastating. I'm not quoting the letter or the response here because of possible copyright issues, but I urge anyone who reads this blog and respects me as a human (instead of a fatty fat who won't stop eating god get over it and eat some lettuce, etc.) should read the letter, and then read this:

The only word that can truly describe Abby's response is "presumptuous", and the only word that can truly describe my response is "disappointed". I agree with the first half of Abby's response--when you're in someone else's home, you have to respect their wishes. If someone wants you to take your shoes off, you take your shoes off, right? Even if it's your mom (hell, ESPECIALLY if it's your mom) you do what she says.


Abby's additional paragraph noting that the writer's mom would be prouder if she basically got off her ass and did something about losing some weight is what is called "fat shaming". This was noted by many in the comments, which mostly call Abby out on her sanctimoniousness and the lack of necessity to discuss the writer's weight. Dealing with your mom does not equal dealing with your weight. I've had my fair share of arguments with my mom over my weight and what I wear, though mostly this was when I was younger and struggling to dress myself; my mom wanted me to wear colours and dresses. All I wanted to wear was baggy jeans and hoodies that made me look even larger than I already was, or clothing that was way too small because I didn't know there were other options. (I think we're both happier now that I've accepted colours and dresses as my general dress code!) However, those were arguments that danced around much deeper situations, which is how a lot of daughters fight with their moms. And as a side note, my mom was disgusted by Abby's response.

Abby has no knowledge of the writer's personal health, whether or not she has medical issues, or perhaps even is overweight but it's ALL muscle. (Most NFL linebackers are considered obese, but most of them are also in excellent shape.) Some diseases and disorders make it nigh impossible to lose weight. Perhaps the writer has already lost 100 pounds and is really proud of her accomplishment, and Abby's cutting her down is going to give her a complex. We have no idea. What disturbs me most, though, is that as a longtime Dear Abby reader, I know Abby has always supported and advocating for being oneself and fuck the rest. Especially when it comes to LGBTQ rights and women's rights, Abby has been firmly in the corner of supporting everyone equally and treating all people with respect. However, this comes as an extreme slap in the face: for those of us who read Dear Abby and are not normally sized, this comes across as "you're fat so you're subhuman and you deserve to only make other people happy instead of yourself". And that is deeply disturbing.

Fat shaming--which involves making a person feel bad about his or her weight, either directly or indirectly--is wrong. ANY body shaming ("You're too thin! You need a burger!") is wrong. Flat out. We are all human. We all have emotions. We all have bodies, which are absolutely fascinating things and the fact that they work day in and day out to keep us alive should be celebrated, regardless of how said body looks. At the end of the day, our bodies should not be fodder for anyone else. We should be concerned with only ourselves and our happiness, and however it comes. Relying on someone else's happiness, as Abby suggests the letter writer should do with her mother, is crude, disturbing, and completely off the mark. And at the end of the day, the only business anyone should be into is his or her own. I'm not going to ask a stranger about his or her finances or sex life, right? So why the fuck is it cool do do that with weight? Being overweight, or underweight, or black, or white, or having tattoos, or having blue hair, or being pregnant, does not mean that one's body has become open season for discussion. It should never be that way.

I can only hope that Abby takes the time to read the comments on her response (and the letter I wrote her) and reconsiders her response and what she actually said. No one wants to read Dear Abby if Abby's going to be harsh. If you want that, you need to go read Carolyn Hax instead.

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