Khi­tam lives with her four young chil­dren, hus­band Ab­del­salam, and his el­derly par­ents in a sin­gle, damp room of a half-built apart­ment block near Tripoli, Le­banon.

The Guardian - Weekend - - Front | Experience -

There are holes in the walls and ceil­ing and they share a toi­let with other refugee fam­i­lies crammed into the build­ing. Khi­tam and Ab­del­salam are men­tally and phys­i­cally ex­hausted af­ter years of strug­gling to sur­vive, un­able to earn a liv­ing and fight­ing a daily, relentless bat­tle to feed their chil­dren. Right now, they are ter­ri­fied by the prospect of an­other win­ter in their cold, unin­su­lated sin­gle room. An­other win­ter where they will feel ev­ery blast of icy wind. An­other win­ter where ev­ery time their chil­dren cough or sneeze they will fear they have con­tracted a lethal res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tion like pneu­mo­nia or tu­ber­cu­lo­sis. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, needs your sup­port to help par­ents pro­tect their chil­dren this win­ter. Please will you give £75 to pro­vide a refugee fam­ily like Khi­tam’s with a win­ter sur­vival kit to pro­tect against the freez­ing weather? The kit con­tains essen­tials such as a heat­ing stove, ther­mal blan­kets and a tar­pau­lin for in­su­la­tion. It could mean sur­vival for a fam­ily like Khi­tam’s. Last win­ter, as a re­sult of their ex­posed and un­san­i­tary liv­ing con­di­tions, Khi­tam and all four of her chil­dren be­came ill. Baby Bi­lal had a high tem­per­a­ture and di­ar­rhoea. Her sons Khaled ( 3, pic­tured) and Ab­dul Rah­man (8) had chest in­fec­tions and their sis­ter Fa­timah ( 4) con­tracted worms. Khi­tam her­self de­vel­oped painful on her throat and lost her voice. With­out ac­cess to a free health­care sys­tem like we have in the UK, Khi­tam be­came over­whelmed with worry about how to pay for the treat­ment and medicines her chil­dren needed. “I felt help­less. My chil­dren were cough­ing and cry­ing and there was noth­ing I could do.” Khi­tam be­lieves that with­out as­sis­tance from UNHCR “my chil­dren would be dead”. Across Le­banon and Jor­dan, six of the last seven win­ters have brought heavy snow­fall and tem­per­a­tures reg­u­larly drop be­low 0°C. 1.7 mil­lion Syr­ian refugees are liv­ing, like Khi­tam’s fam­ily, in un­fin­ished or derelict build­ings, or in makeshift shel­ters, some­times made of lit­tle more than wood and plas­tic sheet­ing. This com­ing win­ter, when tem­per­a­tures are likely to fall be­low zero, the lives of the most vul­ner­a­ble: young chil­dren, preg­nant women and the el­derly, are at grave risk from hy­pother­mia, frost­bite and dis­eases like pneu­mo­nia. With a gift of £75 you can pro­vide a win­ter sur­vival kit con­tain­ing a stove, blan­kets, jerry can and a tar­pau­lin to help a fam­ily in­su­late and heat their home. Please give to­day – you could save the lives of chil­dren like Khi­tam’s.

“Liv­ing here, in these con­di­tions, I can­not keep my chil­dren healthy.”

HG I used to get so an­noyed. [Points down.] Hips: come on.

RG I have a woman’s body. I get called Sir, ev­ery day.

HG It’s so lazy. It’s just the short hair and the height, isn’t it? Some­one tagged me in a post on Twit­ter, and it said, “Fuckin’ dyke, wear­ing a hat. There’s no need to wear a hat at night, ex­cept to say you’re a les­bian.” [Both laugh.]

RG I didn’t re­alise that was part of the code. There’s al­ways some­thing. When you’re not what peo­ple ex­pect from a woman, they’re al­ways go­ing to be an­gry about it.

HG And also, when that’s not what they’re an­gry about, they’re an­gry about your words or what you do. I’m just so amazed that men still think that they’ve set­tled the ar­gu­ment by telling women they’re so fat and ugly that they wouldn’t fuck ’em. I de­cided that for my­self. [Laughs.]

RG When­ever they say, “I would never fuck you”, I just think, thank God . You’re not on my list, ei­ther. It goes to show how deep that au­thor­ity is in­grained for them, that they gen­uinely think telling you this is a thing.

HG But they si­lence you and stop lis­ten­ing just be­cause you don’t stack up. I used my white­ness to its full ef­fect when I was younger, be­cause

I had the su­per­power of in­vis­i­bil­ity and I could dis­ap­pear in a room.

RG I would love that power. Ugh. I would love it.

HG It helps that I’m pear-shaped. I re­mem­ber once, when I first started com­edy, I heard, “You don’t even know she’s fat till she stands up.” .” Oh, good God. But I’d writ­ten all those jokes: “I’m like an ice­berg.” It’s wound into your self­worth and how you think about your­self. It’s wo­ven in at that ten­der age when you first start see­ing your­self, and it doesn’t stop.

RG It doesn’t. The trolls get so in­censed by a woman hav­ing an opin­ion or a thought or dar­ing to think she’s funny, which, by the way, I’m very fuck­ing funny, thank you.

HG Yeah, I’m nail­ing it.

RG Right? Not an is­sue.

HG I’m nail­ing the funny. I’ve got to curb the earnest­ness a bit. But, light and shade.

RG But they know the weak spots, so they go for ap­pear­ance. They know that you can be smart and tal­ented and funny, but it doesn’t mat­ter if you’re not hot.

HG When I did the Em­mys – I pre­sented one, I didn’t win one, that’s very im­por­tant to know

– I got peo­ple com­pli­ment­ing me, and even peo­ple who think they iden­tify with me, talk­ing about my body. Stop talk­ing about my body!

It’s like: “A win for fat girls”. What? Is it? Now that you’ve said that? “Jeez, you need to look at a tread­mill.” I do. And I walk past it.

What’s frus­trat­ing is that I want to tell peo­ple just how hard trauma and shame is, and that’s what makes you un­com­fort­able in your skin. That’s what makes you un­healthy, that will shorten your life. The weight it­self? Peo­ple like you and I, we can hold it. RG Ab­so­lutely. Peo­ple keep talk­ing about how fat is un­healthy. Be­cause we don’t go to the doc­tor, be­cause we know what we’re go­ing to get at the doc­tor – I’ve gone to the doc­tor for a sore throat, and he’s been like, “Lose weight.”

HG “Don’t drink Coke.” I don’t.

RG I need some amox­i­cillin be­cause I have strep throat, so weight loss is not a so­lu­tion for strep. I’m a dif­fer­ent kind of doc­tor, but I know that. I’ve had a stom­ach is­sue for about 10-12 years now, and it’s pretty de­bil­i­tat­ing. I’ve gone to doc­tors in four dif­fer­ent states, just to try and fig­ure it out. Each doc­tor has told me, lose weight. Now I’ve lost 150lb, and my stom­ach still hurts. So per­haps now we could try some­thing dif­fer­ent.

HG I had gall­stones when I was 15.

RG Me too! When I was 15.

HG We’re ba­si­cally the same per­son.

RG We are! Twins. [Laughs.] We look just alike.

HG Maybe that guy thought you were me on the plane. That’s my de­mo­graphic, rich white men who laugh at women.

RG They love you, I’m sure they do.

HG You know, I have a strange de­mo­graphic. My old de­mo­graphic was sur­pris­ingly wide. Older women, sub­ur­ban mums, fam­i­lies and a lot of straight guys. That’s re­ally what drove me to do­ing Nanette, be­cause I thought, whoa, I don’t know how to talk to this. I thought I was putting my­self back in the mar­gins, but in hind­sight I can see that I was drilling down on the hu­man con­di­tion – and hey, ev­ery­one’s got it.

RG There are times when peo­ple come up to me in the sign­ing lines at my events and they start talk­ing to me about my work, and they re­ally know my work, and they’re not what I would have as­sumed to be my pri­mary de­mo­graphic.

HG It’s re­ally nice, isn’t it?

RG It is re­ally nice. And I think, I have a lit­tle more reach than I thought

When I was younger, I had the su­per­power of in­vis­i­bil­ity

gguyy lane hoto o riends, ughA guy on a plane took a photo of me, to text his friends, to laugh at me

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