How I Stood Up To Cyber Bullies Who Fat-Shamed Me, Simply For Speaking My Mind

Posted by Kavya Khashnobish in #NoPlace4Hate, Body Image
October 13, 2017
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me rewind and get you up-to-date. This story begins with me commenting on a Facebook post of a friend, which led to our having a conversation on the topic. The conversation was about an incident of sexism to which I happened to bear witness to. Out of nowhere, Bully A steps into the middle of our conversation uninvited, and patronisingly advises me to let the incident pass because it had not happened to me, and I was a mere witness.

Note: The above comments did not appear in the order it has shown. It has been placed to keep with the narrative of the article.
Note: The above comments did not appear in the order it has been shown. It has been placed to keep with the narrative of the article.

When I tried to reason with him saying that the issue at hand was much larger than the issue of people being directly involved in cases of sexism, he retorted saying that the only large issue around was me, which was soon followed by the comment: “Stop fucking complaining you fat ignorant fucking idiot.” Then entered Bully B, who (would you believe it?) was tagged by Bully A. Bully B started out by saying “Hahahaha” and then went on to imply that I was talking about this issue only because I wanted attention and wanted people to think that I am cool and a rebel. And this time too, I tried reasoning. But, alas, only to be met with a transphobic meme. Then entered Bully C, asking why if I hate boys, I get haircuts like them, and then proceeded to suggest that I go kidnap some little boys. I sure as hell hope that was a pathetic and disturbing attempt at humour.

Note: The above comments did not appear in the order it has shown. It has been placed to keep with the narrative of the article.
Note: The above comments did not appear in the order it has shown. It has been placed to keep with the narrative of the article.

Anyway, long story short, what followed were a series of comments attacking my weight saying that I can believe whatever “floats my boat,” but that, with me in it, the boat would have some trouble floating. Because, you see, I am “an empty as well as a big vessel.”

Now, I love being a fat girl. I call myself fat and I love my body for what it is. And this is a fact that is no secret to those who know me. But I wasn’t always like this. I was constantly bullied for being fat all through my school life, to the point where I was contemplating suicide because of just how much hate I had within me for my body and for how I looked. I felt powerless to speak up to against people who bullied me then. Thanks to how society taught me to look at my body, I believed every word they said. But now, after a few years and a lot of unlearning of harmful social constructs, I do not believe them anymore. Not one bit. And the next step in this process of self-recovery was to call out people who call people ‘fat’ as a derogatory comment, and who resort to shaming people’s bodies when they have nothing better to say.

I was facing a situation like the old times. I was faced by cowards who, when they ran out of valid arguments, began using sexist comments against me. What is outrageous is the fact that they were not shaming me for what they thought were stupid arguments, but rather for being a fat girl who was (what they thought were) making stupid arguments, a seemingly unforgivable offence. This is implying that just because I am fat, I am deemed worthless, as are my opinions.

At this point, I would like to make clear that shots were fired at each other from both ends. I called them things like ‘man-child’ and ‘submissive little shit’, in response to their sexist comments. For each time they were called these names, I was called a ‘sissy little shit’, ‘fucking idiot’, and a few more along the same lines, none of which I took the slightest offence to. What they did not see coming their way was that I would publicly call them out on their vile behaviour. And so all they could come up with in response was to point at my comments calling them ‘little shits’ and such, and at my decision to make public their comments in an attempt to make a rather weak case of me cyber-bullying them. The irony of it!

The reason that I felt the need to call them out is because this was not an isolated incident. Body shaming is happening to women all over the world, and especially on online forums, where women are constantly attacked on the basis of their physical appearance as a means to shoot down their opinions. This is made evident by the number of people with whom my experience has resonated, and who have shared my post along with their support and testimonials of similar experiences that they have had.

This brings us to the larger issue at hand that women across the world are constantly being body shamed, and their opinions, whether valid or otherwise, are invalidated simply on the basis of their physical appearance. Female voices, whenever raised for a valid issue, are in general faced with much backlash, and there is a constant attempt to silence them. The troubling responses that my own attempt at calling out this oppressive system was met with served only to further reiterate the need for such a calling out.

My calling out was met with comments that are laced in misogyny such as “Dicks out for *insert Bully B’s name*”; “Are the sisters famous yet?”; “Kardashians part 2”; “Who is her pull, da?”; “You are fat, big deal. Stop crying and bringing feminism into this.”

6Never mind the fact that more than half of the comments under Bully B’s response post is a cesspool of misogyny; the comment that steals the show is: “Hey *calls Bully B’s name*, did you tell everyone that you were not bullying, but whaling?” to which Bully B replied “If only it were that easy.”

Considering the fact that this is the sort of thing that passes off as a ‘joke’ even in 2016, as a feeble attempt at covering up their misogyny, and having fun at the expense of their bodies, how is it acceptable that women are not even allowed to express their disapproval of such sexism?

My haters might believe that my calling them out was in an attempt to gain cheap popularity or to be a ‘cool rebel’. All I have to ask is this: how can people so unabashedly make such regressive comments, play dirty on a public forum, and then expect to be given a free pass?

I urge anyone who has faced situations like this to find the courage in them to not take such comments lying down, but to call out these bullies each time that they dare display such ignorant behaviour.