By Katiee McKinstry & Janet Conroy-Quirk

Trigger Warning: Talk of eating disorders, fat shaming, and more.

Last week, 17-year-old Elvia “Rose” Ramirez passed away from COVID-19, making her the youngest person to have passed from the virus in North Dakota. After her passing, Inforum released an article detailing her life and the beautiful person she was. However, soon many people took to social media, fat-shaming Ramirez, saying she only passed from COVID at such a young age because she was fat. 

This is not okay. 

As social media began to take notice of Ramirez’s death, everyone seemed to have something to say about it, and not a lot of it was positive. Twitter user @dessiemayliyah_ began to screenshot the comments people were making about Ramirez on Facebook, and tweeted them out to the world. 

“I can’t even explain how much this hurt me,” @dessiemayliyah_ said.

The derogatory Facebook comments came from people that shared the Inforum article on Ramirez’s passing. “The 24 McChickens and 5 gallons of dr pepper from McDonald’s a day had nothing to do with it…” a Facebook user said. 

Likewise, another Facebook had something to say, “Head a** should probably lay off the double quarter pounder with extra sauce 16 large fries a 5 gallon bottle of diet coke just to be safe and go outside and run.”

.These Facebook friends are saying incredibly hurtful things, about a child. What they said is disgusting, disturbing and all around vicious. As a society, we must move past the diet culture -infused need to believe that fat equals unhealthy. It doesn’t. To fat shame a child, for passing away from a virus, during a pandemic?  There is no excuse.

The pandemic has fueled the diet culture fire. Remember at the beginning of quarantine, everyone was posting their #quarantinebodies bragging about gaining weight? While Bold other advocates  attempted to promote fat positivity and libration,  the behavior was still very triggering and upsetting to those in the fat positive community. Separating fat people from COVID-19 deaths is necessary, because it is grossly unfair and cruel to blame someone’s body size as the reason they contracted COVID.

Anyone, anywhere can contract COVID, even the trolls sitting behind their computer screens making fun of a child. This response is not new, by any stretch, as fat people have faced this kind of discourse for as long as there’s been media. However, it’s what we do with this rhetoric that matters. To strive for fat liberation, we have to change the narrative surrounding fat bodies. Being respectful, first of all. 

Ramirez had a beautiful life, and it was taken far too soon. Twitter user @saturnloft shared that she wanted to be an artist and loved cats. A story from KGYR-TV reports that her mother had to say her goodbyes by phone. If that image inspires namecalling and fast food jokes rather than tears, then we have a very serious problem in this country. But we knew that. Ramirez did not deserve to receive this insurmountable hate from Facebook trolls. She was 17, and she belongs here on this earth. COVID-19 took a wonderful human being from the world, and she deserves so much better. 

“To literally all of the b*tches that keep saying ‘being fat is a choice’ etc– There are many reasons people can be overweight or obese including hormonal issues, disordered eating, and even stress and depression,” Twitter user @ratslime_ said. “This was a young woman with her whole life ahead of her.”