This is an old letter and response (from October of last year), and I can’t remember if I saw posts on it at that time, but I was pretty impressed so I thought I’d post on it anyway. I clicked over from Feministe to read this Dear Prudence column because of Prudence’s response to a 20-year-old single mother. I agree with Lauren’s statement at Feministe that Prudence is overly sweeping and judgmental in her insistence on focusing on the mother’s age rather than the real issue at hand (a new roommate with a pit bull of questionable disposition).

But as I kept reading, I came across a letter from “Silently Offended,” who detailed his bad experiences with a coworker who was constantly reviling fat people in hateful and threatening terms. “Silently”‘s wife was fat, and although the comments were starting to become very stressful, he was unsure whether this was an issue he could legitimately take up with a supervisor. Here is part of Prudence’s response:

It wouldn’t matter if your wife was the size of Keira Knightley; it’s your co-worker who’s a pig. No one should have to listen to such bile about any group of people. And given that two-thirds of Americans are overweight, your colleague is daily wishing for the death of the majority of your firm’s customers, which can’t be good for business.

No shit! I don’t know enough about Prudence to know whether her attitudes about weight are generally enlightened or not, but this at least is a great unequivocal response. No bullshit about “health” mixed in where it’s not applicable, just the recognition that all of the prejudices people normally carry around about fat people need to be laid aside–no matter how convinced of their truth and importance these people might be–in favor of viewing fat people as a group of people who deserve to be treated fairly and reasonably just like anyone else (as opposed to an inhuman parade of headless, greedy, insurance-money-sucking, child-killing parodies of people whom–or perhaps more accurately “which”–we therefore need feel no compunction about hating). Definitely one of the bright media moments of the past week, which has been dominated primarily by New Year’s resolutions and diet commercials, so I wanted to share it.

Also, let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year. I don’t necessarily mean that in the way you usually hear it this time of year, but whatever happiness and health mean to you, and to whatever extent they are accessible to you, I wish you the best possible 2009.