“You disgust me” and “you inspire me” are two sides of the same coin

(Trigger warning: fat-phobia, ableism)

Maybe you’ve read this thing on Facebook:

image

And maybe you read the response from the guy in the photo. (If not, you totally should.)

So, I’m totally aware that I am not a person who has experienced being targeted by fat-phobia (add to that, I’m a dude, and there seems to be a major gender aspect to how fat-phobia plays out in general and in this article in particular). I feel privileged to have been able to participate in thoughtful conversations about this on Facebook and recognize that I’m more of an outside observer than if I were in the target group.

That said, I’ve been thinking about how closely related “you disgust me” and “you inspire me” are on the spectrum of “I don’t see you as fully human”.

Think about how disabled people are often marginalized by nondisabled folks (you disgust me!) until some nondisabled person makes the oh-so-generous leap to being ‘truly inspired’ by what that poor autistic person is able to accomplish despite being so obviously deficient.

Then we have the above post, which literally connects the language of ‘you disgust me’ to the language of ‘you inspire me’ — all in the service of some non-fat person making themselves feel good for not taking the shitty “normal” perspective on fat people. (See?? We were all supposed to be disgusted, but look – I’m inspired! You inspire me! In all of your deficiency.)

In either case, “you disgust me” and “you inspire me” both seem to reveal that the one expressing those sentiments does not view the recipient as fully equal, fully worthy. Which makes me sad, and more than a little angry, that folks like me can’t just let other folks be.

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2 Responses to ““You disgust me” and “you inspire me” are two sides of the same coin”

  1. Ron Irvine Says:

    The scale of “I don’t see you as fully human.” Great insight Tom!


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