If this PostSecret confession doesn’t break your heart, you are a bad person.

fatjudge

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, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.