So how do we deal with dehumanizing “encouragement”?

My take on the dehumanizing encouragement towards people who seen to be “less than us” in some way, seems to resonate with many folks who have been the targets of that kind of “encouragement”. It leaves me wondering, now what? What’s the best way to disrupt that stuff? For the ones who find themselves targeted in the moment? For those of us who are not the direct targets but who are present when it occurs?

In the case of the fat-phobic, supposedly-encouraging Facebook post, predictably, there are a whole lot of non-fat people who see absolutely nothing wrong, because the writer’s intentions are good. if you read the comments of the stories discussing this, there are all kinds of people who can’t be bothered with, say, the perspective of the one who was singled out in the first place, but instead go straight to defending the perceived intent of the one who wrote it. He was trying to be complimentary! Jeez, this is what you get for trying to encourage someone. Right, because what matters most here is that we not accidentally discount the feelings of the guy who did the harmful thing – as opposed to the one who was (accidentally?) actually harmed in the first place.

Eff that. 

But clearly, “good intentions” are the first line of defense when it’s pointed out that someone’s encouragement isn’t encouraging. So any response needs to be ready to deal with that, ready to hold onto the clear distinction that it’s not about what you meant, it’s about what you did. That feels important. But beyond this, I’m not sure I have any good ideas about how to effectively transform the situation, beyond simply stopping it. Although maybe stopping it is sufficient. Ideas? What would you say in the moment, as the target, as an observer?


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