Saturday, April 28, 2007

Changing this way of thinking

As a sufferer of both asthma and fibromyalgia, I am well aware that many people seem to believe that these and other illnesses are the result of fatness. These people only see the fat; they do not know the internal workings of my body, nor do they know anything about my history. They are unaware of my skinny childhood body, which was active as can be (more so than today's overprotected, television-raised children), but afflicted with exercise-induced asthma. I instinctively would reduce my activity when I felt short of breath. I wouldn't become truly aware of it until high school, when cruel P.E. teachers would scream horrible things at me because I could not run a full mile without wheezing. I was screwing up their "presidential fitness test" score, or whatever the hell it was, by not running a mile. I would walk for a bit to catch my breath, ignoring the hateful words of the teacher, and the subsequent snickers of classmates.

I now believe that if these teachers truly cared about fitness, they would have recognized my situation and sent me to the nurse, which would have resulted in my parents being forced to get me treated. As it was, I didn't receive any treatment until I was old enough to take myself to the doctor (21 years old) and pay for it out of pocket. Also note that one of these fabulously healthy PE instructors, one that had called me names, died of a heart attack my senior year, while he was shoveling snow. Hooray for vigorous exercise.

At the time of these events, I was very thin. You could see my ribs and pelvis. I had a 24-inch waist. None of the aforementioned people would have attributed my asthma to my being fat at that time, would they? So why do they do it now? Asthma medications work in a number of ways; some are anti-inflammatory, while some are bronchodilators. None of them remove fat from your body! Asthma is caused by the muscles around the bronchi squeezing the bronchi, making them constricted, and by the bronchi being irritated and producing mucus. It is not caused by fat squishing the lungs. It is not caused by globs of fat accumulating in your lungs. Losing weight does not cure asthma. So let's stop this nonsense, okay?

Another example: I am very fair-skinned. I have mostly northwestern European heritage, and I burn to a crisp in the summer sun. Once the burn heals, I become pale again. There are some really lame people out there who comment on my fairness being a negative thing, but it's now pretty well-known that someone who is naturally pale can do serious damage to themselves by trying to become a shade of brown that they are not genetically programmed to become. One theory exists that being Caucasian is beneficial in northern climates so that we can do the vitamin D thing in reduced sunlight. Darker skinned people have lots of nice melanin to filter out the harsh rays of tropical locations. People developed different skin tones as adaptations to different environments. Why wouldn't we develop different body types too? Why do we all have to fit into the same medical criteria?

Here's the other thing: Diabetes and being fat. If you've heard of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), you might be surprised to know that the cyst part is actually a symptom of another problem, not an isolated issue. In a nutshell, PCOS is the result of insulin resistance, which also causes weight gain because the body's cells do not utilize glucose properly (so it gets converted into fat). Insulin resistance is also a precursor to type II diabetes--the insulin resistance itself creates the diabetic situation; the fat is a side effect, not the cause of the diabetes. Insulin resistance is primarily a genetic thing. Now, here's the question: Why would someone look at a syndrome that CAUSES weight gain by its metabolic effects and try to say that the syndrome itself is caused by being fat? This is not a chicken/egg situation, here. If A causes B, why would you claim that someone's B caused the A? I'll tell you why: Because it's one more effing excuse to justify the shitty treatment that is continually piled on fat people. It's one more shaky reason to support our twisted image of the ideal body.

But NO. STOP IT. Someone's genes flip a switch and create a health issue for them--asthma, diabetes, insulin resistance, what-have-you. Don't you think it's already hard enough without getting treated like some kind of moral degenerate for it? Before passing judgement on a fat person who has another health condition, bear in mind that you do NOT know their history. You do NOT know how their body works, what their DNA is, or any of those things. Treat the people around you like HUMAN BEINGS, regardless of their weight.

No comments: