It is never OK, at any time, EVER, to call people names. I am very passionate about raising my kids to see ALL people as just that… people. Not black, not white, not heavy, not thin. I teach them that beauty is only determined by what is in their heart and that everyone is worth getting to know on a deeper level. My girls are very young but I have been talking openly about equality with them since they could listen. Why? Because I think any label that is designed to degrade, judge or segment someone is rude and that if we simply stopped doing it, we would be a happier, healthier society.
Recently child star, Raven Simone told Oprah Winfrey that she did not want to be labeled black or gay. Clearly she is black and she is gay. But her comments sent a shutter through the social media world as everyone debated the validity of her comments. I understood what she was saying and take them at face value. She was not saying that she was not black or not gay, but that she did not think that those were the definitions that defined her in life. She is a kind, loving human being with a passion for life. Her skin tone and sexual choices have no bearing on that. I got it. And I applaud it.
From my perspective, anyway, all labels are bad.
Recently, however, I got into a conversation about labels and the severity of some versus others. Clearly there are some that ignite our core and cause us to be totally appalled and uncomfortable when we hear them. In fact, after my ex moved out, I never heard the N word again. Thankfully. But a month or so ago, while around a group of people I did not know well, I heard it and, literally, stopped in my tracks stunned. It is never ever ever ever ever OK to call someone that word. EVER. Everyone in the room was clearly uncomfortable. When I asked him not to use that word again around me, he scoffed at me and went on with his night, as if it were my problem. Needless to say, I won’t be attending event with him around any time soon.
But I have noticed that other terms, which should get the same reaction, just don’t. On almost a daily basis on social media I see people throwing around the word ‘fat’ to negatively define people. It drives me absolutely mad! I can post a photo of someone who has wronged a child and comments like ‘That fat B*&^^* should be shot.” are posted. My question is, why does her being overweight have anything to do with anything? If you want to talk about her lack of moral character and her evil personality, I am totally on board with that. But defining her by her weight has nothing to do with her action. I find that I have the exact same, stopped in my tracks, stunned, reaction as I do with any other slur.
So is calling someone fat the same as a racial slur?
I think it is. I really do. Now, I realize that I will get hammered for this post and my opinion. But at some point someone has to stand up and say enough is enough. Someone has to point out that the damage caused by words goes so much deeper than the damage caused by a fist. That we are all people with lives and circumstances, successes and challenges, hearts and souls.
Slurs or degrading terminology of any kind is a form of bullying, in my opinion, and we all know what that does to kids and adults! So why is calling someone ‘fat’ OK and more acceptable than any other derogatory term?
Look, I am not perfect and neither are my kids. I am overweight by medical standards and I know it. My kids have asked my why my belly is so big and why my butt sticks out more than other women’s. I tell them I am working on being healthy and my shape will always be different than others. I have been in a store with my no-filter kids when they have pointed out a severely overweight person – loudly – and have apologized and stood, face beet red, while that person tries to get away as fast as they can.
I guess the whole point of this post is that I am tired of it. I am tired of trying to teach my kids to show respect and acceptance to everyone when so many seem to be aiming to teach them the opposite. I am tired of having to undo the prejudices and stereotypes that society keeps wanting to ram down their throats. I am tired of being the only one in a room full of 20 that speaks up when a slur is used to degrade someone.
When does it stop? When do we stand up and say that the next generation will be different. That we have evolved to equality in marriage and life decision, but not in the words we use to make ourselves feel superior over someone else? That not knowing a person and the life they live makes it OK to drag them down just because we want to?
When do we start taking words as seriously as actions? What do you think? Should all derogatory terms incite the same reaction?