Wednesday, November 02, 2011

You want to what?

Recently I was listening to a podcast that I normally really enjoy.

And then the host dropped one of those statements about fat people that sends me into instant fat rage.

He essentially expressed his discomfort when he sees fat people and followed it up at some point by saying that when he saw "really fat" people eating "bad" food he wants to slap the food out of their hands. Of course he followed it up by claiming that it's only because he cares and it pains him to see people destroy themselves.

I had to turn it off.

I was going to write the host but it turned into an I take that shit personally type rant and I'm not in the mood.

Instead let me say this.

Because I am a Black person who is also fat I have heard this kind of pseudo-caring thing a lot.

Strangers have told me not to eat X thing, not to buy that pack of sliced turkey, not to drink that soda, not to eat those fries or whatever. Of course they know that I am fat and clearly Black and because I may choose to eat some fries or chips, I must be ignorant of food science and nutrition so they must educate me.

Here is the fact.

If you look at me without ever having spoken to me, you are not my parent, you are not a loved one, you are not my doctor and you are not walking around in my skin and you decide that it's suddenly your job to tell me how to live my life in my body, fuck you.

The idea that anyone has the obligation to anyone else to eat a certain way is so rooted in a paternalistic privileged viewpoint it makes me want to spit.

People who talk about wanting to take the Mcdonald's away from the awful ignorant fatties never -ever- talk about taking that same shitty food out of the hands of thin people.


Because if you see a visibly thin person, it is assumed that person works out regularly eats like an angel and poops unicorns. They are "good" in this persons(this person being the person making this judgement) eyes because they appear to be what the supposed image of health is.

This person does not question the thin persons eating habits. This person does not decide that the thin person is a "bad" person.

this person sees a body that is not like their own nor does it fit their mental image of "health" and suddenly this aberrant person becomes less than. This aberrant person becomes an object to be pitied not out of concern for their well being, nor out of the worry about insurance costs, but out of bias and often at the root of it hate.

This is not okay.

Let's talk about insurance costs for a moment.

The rallying cry of health moralists in the last few years has revolved around "YOU FAT PEOPLE STOP FATTING YOU COST ME MONEY".

Fatness and obesity alone are not responsible for soaring medical costs.

I rarely hear people who trot out this view talk about how the medical industry is just that, an industry. How a perfectly healthy person with no insurance could go to the ER get treated with an aspirin and a compress and the price of insurance is dinged.

IN the long run if you were really ever so concerned about the health of anyone, you would encourage them to get regular medical treatment. What often winds up killing obese people or causing them to become a cost issue is that they are often shamed out of seeking medical attention for anything by medical professionals, news fright stories about all the ways obese people are ever so awful, by family, by friends. By strangers who can't keep their opinions about other peoples bodies to themselves.

Ask yourself this. If you believe that by dint of being obese, I will destroy your personal medical costs why is that? How do you really know if I have any medical problems at all? How do you know that I don't work or pay for insurance too?

Also ask yourself, what happens when someone doesn't go to the doctor for decades? Or gets mistreated by doctors for decades?

What happens when a woman is so shamed by her doctor about her weight she is not given a mammogram? What happens when ten or fifteen years go by and she finds a lump but it's too late because she could not get quality treatment early enough? Does her having waited or not been diagnosed make her a bad person or is a large part of the blame for the cost and situation on the doctors who wouldn't treat her for what she needed or said she was too fat to get a mammogram or made her feel so awful about herself that she couldn't bear going back?

The thing about healthcare is that in America we get distracted by news bits and scare tactics.

We are distracted from the fact that healthcare in America is shameful. We let the message that if you are not "good" you are undeserving of getting quality care. We let the industry tell us forty seven different things and are expected to obey without question.

If I as a fat person am in good health for me (we'll get to the awful binarism of "health" morality in a minute) why should I absolutely have to lose weight?

Because some people don't find it attractive?

Or is it so that I will buy diet pills and get dangerous weight loss surgery?

Or is it so I can fit some arbitrary image of health?

Now health binarism. In America we have the misguided belief that is supported at every turn that either one is absolutely healthy or absolutely not.

We drink the Koolaid that makes us believe and support the idea that there are peaks and paragons of fitness and health that we must all aspire to be like.

What we are not taught to see is that it's an impossibility.

It would only be possible for me to be healthy in the same way someone else is healthy if we were the same person.

Human biology at the very bottom of it is all the same. We all have organs, we all have joints we all have blood.

What gets in the way of the binary view of health is that no two bodies are healthy or ill in the same way.

If you don't believe me tell me how is it possible that two people of the same approximate height weight age and habits, one may be prone to colds or kidney infections and the other isn't?

The thing is if you genuinely care for someone's health you wouldn't focus on the one thing you can see which is their weight. If you genuinely have concern for the health for other people, be concerned about their overall health which includes their mental health. And it is bad for the mental health of people to be the focus of judgement when it's absolutely not warranted or frankly any of your business.

If you want to bemoan your rising insurance costs make sure you talk about the millions of uninsured people who get sick sometimes, the exorbitant cost of ongoing medical care, people who get cancer and lose their insurance, babies born to parents who are under or not insured, the hospitals who will charge you 400$ for a Tyelenol, the people who have chronic illnesses and are uninsured who have to go to the ER for treatment they should be able to get from a regular doctor.

Or keep your blame with your genitals in your pants.

Okay I'll continue this later. Tomorrow or Friday I'm going to talk about the vast problems with reliance on food science for all your opinions about fat people.

Homo Out.


maggie said...

pooping unicorns? OUCH.


Helena said...

This was a fantastic post, Shannon, and very insightful. I find it so fascinating that the United States is so obsessed with binaries: male and female, black and white, rich and poor, straight and gay. Anyone falling outside of these is ridiculed and forced to move back into the 'correct' category. Is it any wonder kids are being bullied for being different when all media is telling people they can only be this or that? Fantastic post, really. It has sparked some ideas of my own.

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