I pity trolls who hate me because I’m fat

Lindy West

The American feminist performer Lindy West happily describes herself as fat, but she can’t understand why strangers think her size gives them the right to send her abusive messages online. Speaking to the BBC, she explains that when she finally got the chance to confront one of her trolls, she ended up pitying him.

Today I woke up to an email with the subject line “Fat”. The body of the email simply read “Oink, oink”. I get emails and tweets like this every day and this is one of the mildest ones.

The sender and thousands like him can’t stand that I’m a fat woman living a happy, fulfilling and joyous life.

Getting comments like this is cumulatively draining and it’s alarming that so many people in the world are so eager to be cruel. Yet as a writer and a performer I’m expected to put up with such hate as it’s “just part of the job”.

But can you imagine if this happened at any other workplace? If it was acceptable for thousands of people to come up to you and say the most hurtful, violent and threatening things they can think of?

Find out more

A few years ago I experienced the most upsetting abuse so far from an online troll. A stranger had made a Twitter account impersonating my father who had passed away 18 months earlier. He even had a picture that he must have taken from my dad’s obituary, which had been published online.

The bio said “embarrassed father of an idiot” and the location said “a dirt hole”. This man sent me nasty messages from the fake account.

I wrote an article that mentioned how it had affected me and he must have read it. He emailed and apologised to me. I couldn’t believe an online troll would do that – I’d never heard of it happening before.

So last year I asked him to speak to me on the radio show This American Life to explain why he did what he did. He told me he had found out about my father after searching for my name online and created the fake account from it.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Lindy West won the Women’s Media Center’s Social Media Award in 2013

He said: “I felt horrible almost immediately afterwards. Usually I would put out all this internet hate and forget about it. But this one stayed with me.”

comments powered by Disqus