Well, I'm not sure if I did harm or good this morning...
My local radio station, Mix 106.5, has a morning show I listen to in the mornings. (Wake up to as my alarm, to be precise.) The hosts are Bill and Marla, and as a little backstory Bill himself is self-identified as "overweight." A couple of years ago, he made a weight comment that turned me off to their show for a while (don't remember the specifics). But now I'm back. Was back.
So this morning, I woke up to Bill and Marla presenting a news story about how Disneyland is closing It's a Small World for a year to dig the trenches deeper because the boats have been bottoming out as people get heavier. Bill made the comment, "I'm sorry, but if you're 400 pounds I don't want you in my boat." It just sat in my gut and churned there for a few minutes and I knew I was going to have to give up my favorite morning show again. But this time I wasn't giving it up without a fight. I called them. It went something like this, not that I can remember exactly:
Marla: Hi, who's this?
Me: Amanda. I actually wanted to talk to Billy about something he said, but it can be off the air. He kind of offended me and I wanted to smack him around a little.
M: Ooh, can I watch?
Billy: It doesn't have to be off the air, we can do it right here.
Me: Ok, well I just wanted to say that I'm actually over 400 pounds, and how come you don't want me in your boat?
B: Because they're bottoming out!
M: Have you been on It's a Small World?
Me: Yes, many times.
M: And have you had any problems?
Me: No, never.
--then he responds and I don't remember exactly the interplay here--
B: What about height?
M: I think that's a safety issue.
B: But weight is obviously a safety issue, too.
Me: Then they should build the rides better. Look, If I've paid my $100 to get into Disneyland I ought to be able to go on every damn ride in the park.
B: What about little people? What if they want to go on the rides?
Me: I don't know. I don't really have a good answer for that. But here's the thing: this is not the first time that thoughtless weight comments have come out of your mouth, Billy.
M: [something encouraging]
B: Well I do call myself a "chubby chaser." [I've never heard him say this...]
Me: Whatever... that's not the worst thing in the world.
B: [I think here is where he talked about how people - "maybe not you, please don't be offended here" - are walking around waiting to be offended, with a chip on their shoulder, etc....]
B: [Talks about how he really is an overweight person and he understands how hard it is.]
Me: You know, there's this thing called internalized oppression, where people who are members of a minority group think that it's OK to talk about that group because they understand how hard it is. [Yes, I know that's not really the real definition of internalized oppression. I didn't mean to mangle it, honest! I may have said it a little better than this, I hope, but I admit not much better - I had literally woken up 5 minutes ago at this point!!]
M: Is that like homophobia, where the biggest homophobes are really the biggest gay people?
Me: Um, sort of like that, I guess.
B: So now I'm fat AND gay?!
M and Me: [various forms of "no"]
Me: The thing is, fatness is the last bastion of acceptable discrimination and we have to fight it.
M: Yeah, fight the fat!
B: Hey, I'm fat, now I'm offended, she's offending me.... [something like that]
Me: [Breaking in] No, no, I said fight the discrimination! Fight the discrimination! Y'all are twisting my words.
B: [To Marla] Now you're offending. She's gonna have to smack you around.
M: [trying to wrap up, thanks me or something]
Me: You two have a good morning. [hangs up and sits back, cringing, to see what they make of me on the public airwaves...]
Two minutes later, or so, I was treated to hearing the whole conversation again as it was actually broadcast... Which is the only reason my memory is even remotely complete -- I was on the air for at least 3 minutes! That's a lot of conversation to remember accurately!
After I hung up, Billy talked to Marla about how he thinks some people out there are just walking around waiting to be offended, with a chip on their shoulders. So of course after a couple more songs three people back to back called in to soothe Billy and tell him how right he was and how wrong "that lady" was. Some agreed with him about the world being too easy to offend, others said that if I really was over 400 pounds I know I'm overweight and I shouldn't "take it out on [Billy]." One mom called in to say she took her son to Disneyland and he couldn't go on lots of rides that he wanted to go on because he wasn't tall enough, plus there are lots of rides that they recommend you not go on if you're pregnant or have heart problems. The third caller was a self-identified "very overweight" person (he mentioned 300 pounds in the conversation), who agreed with Billy that if we are choosing to be fat we should not expect the world to accommodate us, and so on. Etc. In the end, it was very easy for them to paint me into the "crazy fat-nazi"/"lazy fat person" corner and effectively make sure that not them nor any of their listeners had to do any hard thinking about oppression and discrimination.
Hence, I'm not sure if I did good or harm. But at least I spoke out.