Intersection of disability and fat — bigotry abounds around them
An ecard was posted to a site on Facebook, which was then posted to Rolls Not Trolls on Facebook. This ecard happens to resonate with me particularly since I am fat and disabled.
I don’t know who created this ecard, but frankly, there is no way in hell I would ever want to meet this person, let alone get to know them better. However, if I did happen to meet the creator of this card, I would have quite a few questions for him/her/whoever.
Hey nasty ecard creator, just exactly how can you tell that the fat person using a handicapped parking spot is not disabled and is just lazy? How can you tell that the fat person using that handicapped spot is even capable of walking that three miles? How do you know that fat person is capable of not only walking that distance, but also doing jumping jacks the whole way? Do you know more than that fat person’s doctor about that person’s disability?
I’ll tell you what, it takes a doctor’s recommendation to get that handicapped placard or license plate. You can’t just walk into the DMV and tell them “Hey, I’m disabled and I need a handicapped placard so I can use those sweet handicapped spaces.” They want proof, including a form that a doctor has to fill out before one can even start the process of getting a handicapped placard.
One of the commenters on Rolls Not Trolls said there was a comedian on the BBC laying into fat users of mobility scooters, power chairs, store mobility carts, and advocating throwing them off and telling them to get up and walk. Granted, this is in the UK, but I can see it spreading to other places — fat users of said mobility devices report a big increase in abuse even as an online petition spawned by a Guardian article supported a law restricting use of personal mobility devices only to the “deserving.”
Several times I’ve been at Walmart waiting for a mobility cart when an elderly person comes in, wants a mobility cart, and gets pissed because the store associate gives me the next available one. They seem to think their age/disability trumps my age/disability and the fact that I’ve been waiting longer than they have. Thankfully, every time this has happened, the store associate tells them I get the cart first because I’ve been waiting longer. When I need it, I get on the cart, get my shopping done in the least amount of time possible, and get the hell out of the store so other disabled people have a chance to shop (I also plug the cart back in when I’m done using it so the battery will have a chance to recharge, something that most people fail to do).
Who gets to determine who’s “deserving” of a mobility device? If you want insurance or Medicare to pay for one, you have to have a prescription and a letter from your doctor documenting exactly why you need that mobility device. Oh, and it better not be just because you can’t navigate the outside world, but can still navigate your home. Because if you can still manage to walk around your home, you’re shit out of luck, baby.
Insurance and Medicare don’t give a rat’s ass if it’s nearly impossible for you to go shopping without a mobility aid or vacation without one or go out to dinner without one or do anything outside your house without one. They pretty much say “Fuck you, you’re supposed to rely on friends and family to get your groceries. You can shop online for anything else you need, and you don’t need to go on vacation or out to dinner if you’re disabled.”
My response to that comedian who thinks fat people on mobility scooters need to be tossed off them and told to walk is this: “Just try it, motherfucker, I dare you. You’ll have a fight on your hands from this fat woman, and probably from my husband too (he does not appreciate strangers manhandling his wife).”
For your information, those of you who are judging that fat person on the mobility device, there are those of us who are disabled who had to pay for our scooters ourselves, and I can guarantee you that that isn’t a decision we entered into lightly. Those things are not cheap and they aren’t something we’d buy if we were just being too fucking lazy to walk. How many disabled people (or even how many fat people) do you know who can afford to pay upwards of $3,000 for a mobility scooter or power chair? That doesn’t even include the cost of a lift to load/unload the scooter/chair from a vehicle so it can be used — that’s another $3,000 or more. Just try pushing one of those things up a ramp when you’re disabled.
Then there’s the cost of having a vehicle that can haul that scooter/chair around — not something just any car can do. My scooter weighs 180 lbs., and is 4′ long by 22″ wide by 38″ tall (if the steering column and seat back aren’t collapsed). None of the newer cars have a trunk big enough for my scooter, but it does fit nicely in the back of my minivan, and our lift makes it possible for me to load/unload the scooter by myself, which means I can go to doctors’ appointments on days when my husband is working. I can also go shopping by myself and actually get out of the house and do things on my own. It allows me the freedom to live my life in a way that hadn’t been available to me in a long time.
I paid for my mobility scooter because I can still walk around my house (sorta, kinda, maybe) and Medicare/TriCare won’t pay for one so I can do the shopping and navigate the outside world. Telling me that I’m fat, not disabled, just shows how ignorant and bigoted you are. You don’t have a clue what my disability is or how I became disabled. You don’t have a clue why I’m fat and you sure as hell don’t know what my health status is.
The same goes for every disabled person and every fat person you see. You don’t know why they’re disabled, you don’t know why they’re fat, and you sure as hell don’t know their health status. And none of that is your business. Comments like yours, and that bigoted ecard creator, are just some of the things that make life less enjoyable for everyone.
If you’re that bigoted toward disabled and fat people, who else are you marginalizing? Who else are you judging? How many other people are you saying aren’t worthy of living a happy, fulfilled life? If you’re this judgmental toward one group of people (those who are fat and disabled), how many other people are you negatively judging?
Sounds to me like you two asshats, and all of those who agree with you or think these kinds of comments/cards are funny, need to take a look at your own lives and see what’s lacking in them — improve your own lives before you start telling other people how to improve theirs.