Photo Credit: gizmodo.com
Recently three women who ate at Chilly D’s restaurant in Stockton, California got more than they bargained for on their receipt. At the top Jeff their server had entered “Fat Girls” as the descriptor.
The ladies report that when they complained to the manager he "had like a smirk on his face, like it was funny but trying not to laugh."
All the women did was commit the cultural sin of EWF (Eating While Fat) in public! But in addition to having felt insulted by their server and laughed at by his manager, they are now subject to all kinds of self-certified internet dieticians scrutinizing and commenting about what they ate, their health etc. Public health does not mean that other people's health is the public's business.
Recently, other patrons have reported getting receipts that said included everything from vulgar commands to racial descriptions. What happened to customer service? Why does a person’s physical appearance even concern the waiter or chasier providing said supposed customer service?
I have reclaimed the word fat to describe myself, it’s one of the ways that I tell the bullies they can’t have my lunch money anymore. So the thing I find most sad about this is that calling someone fat, simply describing the body that many of us live in every day, is considered a hilarious insult. When I am describing myself I’ll often say “I’m the short, fat brunette with her hair in a bun.” Very frequently someone says “Don’t call yourself fat!” Not once has someone said “Don’t call yourself brunette!” If the receipt had said “Brunette Girls” would there have been this much of an issue? Would the manager have been smirking? I doubt it, and I think it’s because there isn’t a nationwide “War on Brunettes”.
We are encouraged by the diet industry, the media, and even the government to look at fat people and stereotype them -- to wage war against them -- based on how they look. So instead of “fat” being a descriptor of body size (like “tall”), it’s a term that is loaded with negative stereotype and assumption about someone’s habits, health, intelligence, fitness and more. Then we are assured that, if someone is fat, those things are everybody’s business and should be the subject conversation and unsolicited advice. For those reasons putting “fat girls” on a receipt as a descriptor may be a bad idea. But let’s be clear, that’s not because there is something wrong with fat people. It’s because there is something very wrong with the way fat people are treated.