It would be silly to pretend that obesity and the attendant health risks is the healthiest thing possible for a person. But I will argue until I'm blue in the face that scapegoating overweight and obese as lazy and expensive and dangerous to the public is not only irresponsible and cruel. It also steals from us the opportunity of looking at our culture and seeing what causes food and body imbalances at a collective level.
Wait. So, does this mean we're not all going to spontaneously become victims of an Engorgio charm? Picture me shocked. Oh so shocked < /sarcasm >. Then picture me rolling my eyes aaaaaall the way into the back of my skull, my eye-roll is so epic.
There's a Fat Pride post up at Forever in Hell, and one of the articles linked to is this one. In the usual journalistic fashion seen nearly everywhere except possibly The New Yorker and the pre-Rupert Murdoch Wall Street Journal, the CNN article proceeds so that things are boiled down to the point where they aren't even true, just for a good sound bite. To wit:
"Although most people agree that promoting super-skinny models as the feminine (or masculine) ideal isn't healthy, will the opposite -- accepting that being overweight or obese is fine -- undermine the progress being made toward heart health?"
The entire article is based on this false dichotomy. The opposite of "promoting super-skinny models as the feminine (or masculine) ideal" is not "accepting that being overweight or obese is fine." If you're accepting something as "fine," then you are by definition NOT promoting it as the ideal. Fine does not equal ideal. In the above context, "fine" means "acceptable." End of story. The opposite of promoting extremely underweight models as the ideal would be promoting extremely overweight models as the ideal, not simply promoting the belief that being overweight might not be the most undesirable thing in the imaginable world. The article rattles off more sound bites (editors and PR professionals everywhere: "Yay!") from medical professionals all parroting the point that being fat is one of the worst things you can do to your body, when taking numerous risk factors and organ systems into account. CNN squeezes in a few nods to "fat doesn't necessarily mean unfit," but pulls the rug right out from under them with following paragraphs beginning with the ominous, "But is A really A?" formula that teenage essay writers the world over employ to make their thesis sound more intricate and deep than it really is.
This article and some of the comments over at Hell (and most of the comments at CNN) utterly miss the point. The idea behind the Fat Pride/Fat Acceptance movement isn't to give people an excuse to stay overweight or obese, as the CNN article blatantly suggests. The idea, which for some reason otherwise rational adults seem to have trouble understanding, is that accepting a chubby or overweight or obese person as just as human as an average weight or underweight or anorexic person is merely accepting the truth. For some reason, people haven't really made that leap yet. At least, not many people. Articles like this one and its false premises only serve to push some deep-seated button in many of us. We read about "healthy at any weight" and somehow it translates in our minds to, "Everyone's going to become fat because this will give them the excuse to sit on their asses and be lazy, and then I'll be surrounded by FAT PEOPLE! Or worse! I'll BE a fat person!" And then everyone runs around in distracted circles, screaming and waving their arms over their heads until they run into a fat person to scorn. Fat people aren't people, don't you know? They're lazy blobs.
Articles like this make sure people continue Not Getting It. They do such a huge disservice to our collective psyche and our cultural understanding of truth and logic.
Went to the doctor yesterday and my weight was down from the last visit. This wasn't surprising, since I weigh myself weekly at home to at least keep in touch with reality, even if I'm not having such a good go at controlling reality. My weight yesterday was the same number as it was when I went to a doctor's appointment in February 2004 and was mistakenly told my weight by the nurse for the first time since I went into treatment for my eating disorder in February 2003. In '04 the number announcement elicited surprise: I couldn't believe I didn't weight at least ten pounds more. One would hope I'd made some progress in the dysmorphia area, but apparently not. I found myself pondering today, in the shower, that if I didn't have my scale on hand, I'd have been just as shocked by yesterday's doctor's office scale. (I won't get into the nurse telling me, upon noting that this weight was a loss, "Good for you, baby!" That's a whole other post. One I've already written. At least five times.)
In possibly related news, I totally had a Naked Anxiety Dream last night.
It's frustrating, of course, because I know that this is Not A Good Thing. (The weight and dysmorphia thing, not the Dream thing. Dreams are neither here nor there, except in the sublime moment of waking in which you realize that, no, you did not just parade in front of half the city stark naked, or, no, truly, you didn't just murder the Pope and hide his body and the police aren't just one clue from catching you and throwing you in solitary confinement for life.) (What? You know you've had that dream too.) Anyway, check out Olympe up there. She's hot, nay, hawt. She is pretty much what I expect to see in the mirror. (She even has my color hair. Win.) Now, that's not ACTUALLY what I see - BDD* is not hallucination, as is too often pictured in caricatures of a skeleton standing in front of a morbidly obese mirror image. I don't ACTUALLY see flesh in excess of what's on my bones. But I don't see things quite as they are, either. It's not that I look bigger to myself than I do to other people, but I look, I suppose, more appropriate to me than I do to people who know me. BDD is an experience of sight and wanting to see. The experience of the body in an eating disorder (as distinct from body dysmorphic disorder: the two are not synonymous) can be described as feeling appropriate in one's skin, versus looking. BDD and BN/AN* basically rely on the sense of sight or the sense of feeling, respectively, from an experiential point of view.
*BDD - Body Dysmorphic Disorder
BN - Bulimia Nervosa
AN - Anorexia Nervosa