The hypocrisy of fat shaming Nazis
Since I am a prominent Jewish woman on the internet, I have obviously received my fair share of ant-Semitic and sexist harassment. And much of that harassment has been focused on my looks. I apparently have a Jewish nose, frizzy Jew hair, and “Khazer milkers” (my breasts). These white supremacists claim they can tell I’m Jewish, that I’m not part of their “master race,” by my looks. So what exactly are we saying when we post a picture of a white supremacist who maybe is overweight or unattractive and mockingly ask, “Is this the master race?”
This is what happened last week after someone posted a picture of an overweight man holding a Nazi flag.
In my town, across from the park that honors our local AFB, literally 10 minutes ago. pic.twitter.com/2oAcR4HaL3
— Amber (@AmberD1116) August 2, 2020
The image quickly went viral, with most of the comments mocking the man’s looks. A number of Twitter uses asked if this was what the “master race” was really supposed to look like. Others went so far as to comment that even Hitler would weep at the sight of him, as if Hitler’s opinions on looks have any value. Since the man was from Idaho, there were also a lot of jokes at the expense of a whole state, as well as some gendered insults about the man’s need for a bra.
One day he’ll release his manifesto. Working title: Chow Mein Kampf. https://t.co/AuBUj6s6Bd
— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) August 2, 2020
It’s tempting to mock white supremacists with their own logic and beauty standards. The hypocrisy and delusion about their relative looks and status can seem like an opportunity to point out the ridiculous and heinous nature of their views.
But we should resist the urge. For in using their standards to mock them, we are validating those white supremacist beauty standards. If we mock an overweight Nazi for his weight, we are in fact saying that one’s weight is relevant to any conversation about their value in the world.
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This isn’t about the individual Nazi’s feelings. This isn’t about defending individuals from fat shaming who certainly deserve no defense from any decent humans. Rather, it’s about saying we refuse to hold up white supremacist beauty standards. We would rather tear them down.
It’s not just Nazis. The conversation around body shaming and slut shaming our political enemies has become more prominent with the election of President Trump. As a vain man who has extra weight on him and isn’t particularly attractive, yet who is known for insulting women and judging them based on their looks, it might seem like an obvious tactic to mock Trump’s appearance, and many did so and continue to do so. Similarly, with Melania Trump’s history of nude modeling and the GOP’s emphasis on sexual morality, many have engaged in slut shaming, supposedly to point out the hypocrisy there.
But the truth is, this kind of behavior doesn’t hurt the Trumps. It doesn’t cause the GOP to all of a sudden care about their own hypocrisy.
All it does is send the message that weight, sexual history, and looks in general are things that should be mocked.
Look no further than the #MarALardass hashtag that trended last year to see how gleefully people jumped on insulting Trump’s weight.
— Tara Dublin Doesn’t Want You to Get Sick ? (@taradublinrocks) June 14, 2020
Many in Resistance Twitter have nude pictures of Melania at the ready to tweet anytime they think conservative women need to be taken down a peg. Even Ted Lieu made an ableist ad that advertised his ability to drink water correctly.
This kind of mocking political commentary always ultimately makes a link between weight, sexual promiscuity, and the fitness to be the first family in the White House. And it’s just wrong.
There is no inherent moral virtue in one’s weight or lack of sexual history. And this line of political engagement sends a message to the people around you that their weight, ability to drink a glass of water easily, or promiscuity lessens them in your eyes.
When we joke about an overweight white supremacist and the “master race,” we do more than just engage in hurtful fat shaming; we validate their white supremacist views. We engage in the exact dehumanizing behavior that Nazis used to explain why Aryan women were better stock than Jewish women. Ableism, fat shaming, and slut shaming only amplify the Nazi project.
Well, he definitely has one thing Obama doesn’t have: manboobs… pic.twitter.com/qKKAFNl8Bm
— Andy Ostroy (@AndyOstroy) March 11, 2019
If white supremacists could be convinced with logic, they wouldn’t be white supremacists. So really, what are we doing by supposedly mocking their hypocrisy? The exercise serves no point other than to get out aggression and perhaps make ourselves feel a bit better if we’re more attractive than the fascist yelling about the “master race.”
Instead of succumbing to these urges, we must prioritize tearing down systems of white supremacy and the harmful beauty standards that persist to this day. After all, the disgusting thing about a Nazi isn’t his looks or weight; it’s his ideas.
Mia Brett is a PhD candidate in American Legal History and a cofounder of the All Women’s Progress Think Tank. She lives in Brooklyn with her dog Tchotchke. Follow her on Twitter @QueenMab87.