This article from the L.A. Times runs down some recent examples of fatism, such as the save-the-whales PETA ad, the mandatory “fat class” graduation requirement, and the proposed bill outlawing restaurant dining by obese people in Mississippi.
The pattern, the Times posits, is that slim people are “fed up” with the obese. Some choice quotes, bolding mine:
Michael Kellner, a trim, 37-year-old public relations professional who lives in San Francisco, is among the disgusted: “I am completely and utterly frustrated with rising healthcare costs due to the deluge of fat Americans taxing the healthcare system. I’m in shape and have been all my life because I don’t soothe myself with food all day.”
Way to snap judge, there, Michael Kellner! And you’re so right on. In fact, after reading your quote, I had to go “soothe myself” with a can of frosting, which I licked off my fingers because I couldn’t be bothered to find a spoon.
Actually now I’m thinking about the whole issue of self-medicating with food. I’ve done it: gained weight during periods of great stress, partially because I learned to associate food with comfort and love as a child. I’m sure I’m not alone. But it doesn’t mean some asshole like this Kellner guy knows what the fuck he’s talking about, or has a right to judge fat people on that basis. Sometimes self-medicating with food in response to legitimate stress is a better alternative to things like suicide or alcoholism. And you can’t, obviously, assume that thin people never do something and fat people always do something, which I think is the salient point. Anyway, moving on.
Los Angeles actor Jim Dailakis feels most frustrated with the fat issue when he travels. “I understand some people have issues that are uncontrollable. However, why is it that if I say anything about being stuck between two huge people on an airplane, I’m being politically incorrect? I work out religiously, watch what I eat and am very healthy. Yes, I’m fed up with it.”
I think we’ve talked the issue of discomfort on airplanes into the ground, haven’t we? The hypocricy of obese people being targeted for making others uncomfortable when, A) they’re uncomfortable themselves, because airplanes suck; and B) it’s a horrible self-conscious experience to fly while fat anyway; and C) you don’t see people attacking parents who bring crying, screaming, or seat-kicking children, who also make flying uncomfortable. We all know all of this, so… moving on again.
“In our society, being heavy has become more of a stigma lately because we’re struggling with other issues of consumption,” says Abigail Saguy, associate professor of sociology at UCLA. The economic climate, a recent history of people buying more than they can afford as well as environmental issues, including the depletion of our planet’s resources, are making people feel more angry about society’s overconsumption, she says. Obviously overweight people are an easy target… If people feel they’re sacrificing, then see someone spilling over an airplane seat, they feel angry that that person is not making the same sacrifices they are.
If public health officials, employers and still-slim Americans channel their concerns properly, it will have a positive effect, health experts say. “There’s no better example of what happens when public health takes on an issue than what we’ve seen happen with tobacco over the past 10 years…” “Not long ago, the thought of not allowing people in a building to smoke wasn’t realistic; now it’s common. Similarly, in some schools the thought of banning sugary drinks and junk food seems completely unrealistic, but that will change too. The changes will meet resistance, but over time, healthy ideas will gain acceptance.”
Once again, I hope people who want to ban junk food in schools (which I’m obviously not against) will stop demonizing fat people en route to enacting positive change. And also, the idea that it’s only “still-slim Americans” who will have a voice about public health is really, dangerously fucked up.
So, that’s a lot of ground to cover in one post. What do you guys think?
Thanks to @Knifemouth for the link!
Posted by mo pie