|Elderly man, looking angry pointing a finger, caption says: "Back in my day wheelchairs were for disabled people, not fat people.|
Because one isn't enough, I'll give you another one. I had lots of choice.
|Elderly woman, looking annoyed, wearing a read scarf around her head, caption reads: Back in my day wheelchairs were for disabled people, not fat ones|
I'm not sure why I was sent this picture of the elderly man and the caption about weight and wheelchairs, I know that the person thought it really funny, the note that came with it suggested I might find it funny too. I don't. I wondered, at the time, if there were more to the message than a simple, 'ha ha isn't this funny?'
I know that most people associate my disability and my use of a wheelchair with my weight. It's astonishing how many people develop medical insight into the lives of others and how desperate they are to share that insight. I always correct them, my weight isn't the reason I use a wheelchair, I have been heavy all my life and I've walked all my life, that is up until the catastrophic illness that resulted in my wheelchair use.
I have to admit something here. Deep down inside me I really care that people know that I have a disability and that has resulted in the use of the wheelchair. I really care that they understand that this isn't a weight issue.
And now, I'm not sure why. I think that I may have, in deep recesses of my psyche, a bit of prejudice against being fat myself or others being fat. I have lived all my life at the blunt end of people's harsh value judgements about me, their assumption that my weight gives them permission to hurt me. I know all that. Maybe I've internalized some of it. I've striven all my life to rid myself of prejudices and biases against other people. I don't see how they serve any purpose but to close off my world, to shush other and different voices, to remove a band of colour from the rainbow. I don't want them.
Wheelchairs are made for people who need them.
Can we agree on this simple statement.
Why someone needs one is no one's business. Wheelchairs make movement possible for those who's movements have been restricted.
I've taken the time to check and the comments that accompany the two images above are horrible, disgusting and violent. The Internet allows a place for people to air their prejudices and get applause in return. There were very, very, few people who said anything in opposition to those who think that all fat people are lazy, unemployed, benefit scrounging, losers. This should be no surprise. As I write this there is a British journalist and television personality who is attacking Kelly Clarkson about her weight. She said, in defense of herself: "I feel it's my responsibility to point out to chubsters that they need to get up off their ass, stop costing me money as a taxpayer, and get out there and run a little bit more." Even more concerning is the fact that she considers hurting others as acceptable: "It doesn't hurt me if I hurt someone's feelings." I think she will find, in the future that it does. This is the kind of person who would fall about laughing and rush to click 'like' on either of the pictures above.
It's about hate.
Pure and simple.
Some, like me, carry around extra weight. And maybe that's part of the reason that I don't want or need to carry around the weight of prejudice and hatred. Of anyone.