Leukaemia survivor lashes out at bullies who 'fat shamed' her

Kathy Schofield has spoken out on Facebook against her bullies, after she was harassed while exercising at Caroline Bay. Photo / Facebook
Kathy Schofield has spoken out on Facebook against her bullies, after she was harassed while exercising at Caroline Bay. Photo / Facebook

A leukaemia survivor has lashed out at bullies who "fat shamed" her twice in a day.

Waimate woman Kathy Schofield, who has a rare form of the cancer, said that she was using the outdoor exercise equipment at Caroline Bay in Timaru when a group of people yelled out a car window at her.

She was later verbally abused outside a Waimate supermarket.

Schofield addressed the bullies in a heartfelt Facebook post.

"Hey FAT SHAMERS. To the girls in the car down at the bay when I was using the exercise equipment, shrieking with laughter and hollering out the window, and to the guys in the car at the supermarket making comments and vomiting noises when I walked past. I want you to know something. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU."

She said she used to be a "skinny girl" before she got sick.

"I had a whole bunch of little strokes, then one massive one. I found out I have leukemia. I take medication that makes me gain weight, gives me heart palpitations. I can't 'exert' myself in case of further strokes. I have to be kept low in iron which exhausts me, makes me breathless. I struggle, daily, to hoist my big self around to have some semblance of a life. Even with all that, I still try to do my best. To walk, eat well, to keep on keeping on," she said.

"I wish I could have my old body and life back. I wish it every minute of every day. But I'm not really mad that I'm fat. Its a direct result of wanting to live."

She said she could tell that by the way the bullies reacted that they would never have survived what she went through.

"You think being fat is awful, you wanna try leukemia? You stupid people, it could happen to you. Or maybe your mother, or sister, or girlfriend. How will you feel when someone moos at her?"

She added: "So I will keep struggling to exercise, and you can laugh all you like. I don't need to lose anything. I already won."

Women's Health Action Trust director Julie Radford-Poupard said Schofield was "amazing" for speaking up.

"I think it's really brave because often when people are bullied they internalise that and for her to come out and say 'it's not okay', and putting feelings and consequences to what happened, she sounds like an amazing woman."

She said body shaming was all too common, even though it could be hugely destructive.

"We've got such strong evidence now which shows that poor body image leads to lower self-esteem, low confidence, risk-taking behaviours and a whole raft of poor health outcomes. Not to mention it makes you feel terrible."

There was not a great deal of support available for people who experienced this type of bullying.

"We don't even have a legal redress -- there's nothing legally we can do to stop people discriminating against people because of their body size."

- NZ Herald

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