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Fat Shaming and Fairy Tales

I recently read an article about a guy named Sean.  He was having a good time dancing and abruptly stopped having fun when he noticed people laughing and making fun of him.

"Good time" turns to "most embarrassing moment ever" quickly. 

It was a 'fat shaming' experience.  The guy is big.  He was simply having fun and someone took a picture of the guy posting it online publicly shaming him for being fat.

I enjoy a good time.  I enjoy being stupid, silly and crazy.  What I don't enjoy is being made fun of while I do it...or ever.  There is a HUGE difference between making fun of someone being crazy and having fun with someone who is being crazy.  You can laugh along and be crazy too OR you can laugh at them and poke fun of them.  Big difference in how it is received emotionally.  

The latter is not acceptable.  Actually, in the world that we live in, it seems that it may actually be acceptable for many people to shame, bully, and take advantage of others.  Why is it that way?! 

I've been encouraged by seeing the response of others that don't know this guy that was 'fat shamed'.  They've stepped up and decided to throw a dance party for the guy.  Starting with a women's group [props for you girls...for doing that]!  Famous people, organizations, and others have decided to take a stand for this guy.  My fear is that this generosity will end with one guy.  

I am stoked for this guy that he may have new confidence in life.  What could have been, and probably still is in his mind, one of the most embarrassing moments has been turned into the craziest ride of his life.  People have given over $30,000 so that this guy can have a dance party!  How crazy is that?!  I have a feeling that this dance party that he is going to have is going to be C-R-A-Z-Y!

And then reality will hit.

What was done still remains.  He will still be a large man that will still have to struggle with people giving him looks or shaming him, less publicly I'm sure.  I don't know if he wants to lose weight. He might not want too.  He possibly could have a clean and clear bill of health from his doctors and not see the health benefits of losing weight.  That's for him to decide - not you, me, fat shaming picture taker or anyone else.  I'll be honest though.  I always have this fear, this gut feeling, when it comes to stories like this.  Maybe it's just my cynicism but outside of the dance parties and 15 minutes of fame - what have we done to change his or anyone else's future for the better.  Is this another one-hit wonder of generosity or are we going to help him and others in the same boat.

Let's empower people with the tools to make themselves better.  We can't do the work for them but why not lead them to the door and let them choose to walk in or walk away.  Let's be grand and great in gesture sure, but let's also follow up with something more tangible than a pumpkin carriage and glass slippers.  Let the rich and famous come riding in as the knight in shining armor coming to rescue the poor peasant person unable to defend themselves but let's also equip both sides with knowledge and tools that promote self-confidence and respect.  

I was watching a new show called "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" on Netflix.  Kimmy was kidnapped and put into a cult when she was younger and was rescued as an adult and is trying to live in New York City.  She found a roommate but she tried to keep her past out of conversations. He, the roommate, said something to her that was spot on:

"People love hearing terrible details of news stories. One, it's titillating like a horror movie. Two, it makes them feel like a good person because they care about a stranger. Three, it makes people feel safe that it didn't happen to them."

Seriously, how true are those things?  Can I tell you something?  Of course I can, we can put anything on the internet for a while longer still.

I keep a portable scanner radio in my house so that I can know what is going on when sirens are going off.  I can hear what the firemen are telling the home base.  I can listen to the police as they report to command.  I like to know those things and partly because I'm nosy.  Some of it is due to the excitement of it all and another part because it lets me know that I'm safe.  It became real to me though one night when it was my friend's house that the firemen were responding too.  The fire was in their garage and burnt the thing to the ground.  It didn't touch their house but they lost a lot due to the fire.

I wanted to be there for them.  We offered to help out any way we could.  

Did I do that for any of the other many, many fires that have come across that scanner?  No I didn't.  I had a relationship with them and so I wanted the best for them.  Yes, the grand gesture of offering help to them was there immediately but that could only last so long.  That initial fight or flight response would wear off.  Eventually, the fire is out and as time gets in between the date of the fire and the present - things go back to the way they were.  The fire is second thought just like when reality will again hit Sean.

This needs to be more than a bunch of people jumping on the bandwagon to help one guy.  Let's help and equip this guy to then go and change the lives of others. 

While this is a great story of others coming to the aid of someone that was put out, I want for it to be more than that.  This is not the only story that has left me wanting more for the person shamed or in need.  Life is more than being in the news for a little bit, a visit to the Ellen show and a Twitter trend.  While those things are probably pretty fun - I can't get that second picture of him out of my head.  He's standing there with his hands on his hips and his head hung in shame and embarrassment.  I've been there.  That's not fun and you hold onto that despite what you say.

I can't say that I know the answer.  I'd be lying if I said I did.  To be honest, at this point in the conversation - it's not about the Sean and the Fat Shaming any more.  He may not want his life to be any different.  He may have a great life but what has been sold to all of us is that he was shamed and needs rescuing.  

What we need to realize is that this is about us having an opportunity to take a stand for someone else AND equip them in the process. 

I give praise to the organization that sent out the dance party invite to Sean and for all of the people who have supported him publicly and with their own money.  I don't know very many men that wouldn't want to attend a dance party with 1700+ women and be the only guy?!  

My challenge is this:

When the lights go out, the clock strikes twelve, and the party is over - I challenge you to have changed his life and not just have given him a vacation.