If this PostSecret confession doesn’t break your heart, you are a bad person.
Last week I chatted with the Canadian Broadcasting Company for a segment they’re doing on humor and power. I used hateful jokes about fat people as an example of how patterns in comedy reveal our biases: who it is okay to revile, whose feelings we can dismiss, who we see as less-than-human.
I was surprised when the host said that some argue that pointing out people’s weight isn’t offensive because it’s “just a fact.” I responded, “Sociologists don’t believe in that kind of fact.” Two hundreds years ago being called fat would have been a compliment: it represented power, success, wealth, and (yes) health. Today the meaning of fat has changed. The word is now a weapon. For the person who wrote this secret, fatness is not a fact; it’s a “humiliat[ion].” This is what dehumanization feels like.
Whoever you are, I wish I could give your warm, comfy body a big giant hug.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.