Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I am a person, not an epidemic.

I am offended.

I am offended by the constant Chicken-Little shrieking in the media about "obesity", and what "is to be done" about it.

If you are one of the people running around, waving their hands in the air, getting all worked up over the "obesity epidemic", I want you to do me a favor: Sit down, and shut up. And listen.

When you talk about "obesity", you are using a word that is cleverly designed to remove the humanity from the equation. If you say "obesity", you don't have to face the reality of living, breathing, feeling people who happen to be fat. I think it's about time you face reality.

So here I am. I am a fat person. I'm right here, right now, and there YOU are, saying you have to "do something about" me. You can no longer hide behind your abstract concept of "obesity". What you are really saying is that you want to "do something" to change my body. MY body. And you know what? I am standing here, and I am telling you, "NO."

You are claiming to do this for my "health", but you aren't even asking me if I want it done. You see my body, and because you don't like what you see, you think that it is okay to shame and coerce me into making my body into your ideal.

This is not about "health", it is about freedom. I am not obligated to look the way anyone else wants me to look, and I am not obligated to work toward an arbitrary "health" goal that may or may not actually benefit my health anyway. But you would deny me the basic human dignity of deciding for myself how I want to live my life. And to that, I say, step off.


Kal said...

Bravo! Thank you sooooo much!

Anonymous said...

YES. To all of this.

So we don't fit some mythical ideal? SO WHAT? Our bodies are our business.

Book Girl said...

Yes! Yes! Absolutely! Been reading you for a short while and have only now had a chance to comment, but you are spot on with this. So sick of the fat hatred in this world.

Anonymous said...

What you are really saying is that you want want to "do something" to change my body. MY body. And you know what? I am standing here, and I am telling you, "NO."

AMEN. Preach on, sister.

Saundra said...

It's all ass-backwards, you know. I have spent eighteen years of my life starving myself to fit into an image my country tells me I must in order to be healthy. I am anorexic because I was overweight as a teen and told, despite my objections, I had to be consuming enormous amounts of calories and I needed to stop eating so much. So, at fourteen, I stopped eating altogether. I have been battling it, poor self-image, low self-esteem, and a constant sense of self-loathing ever since. When I was twenty-six, I was told I had PCOS and insulin resistance, which were the main contributing factors to my current weight issues, and I was told to eat. Take medication, alter my diet (what there was of it), and exercise moderately.

Then I went to a different doctor and his response was for me to staple my stomach.

Here I was, in treatment for starving myself because the world said I was ugly and fat and that it would rather humiliate me rather than accept/tolerate my body as it was, and this specialist had the gall on more than one occasion to tell me my only solution was to basically be made surgically anorexic (for that is what bariatric surgery essentially is).

Two more years have passed, I have refused such surgery, for if the only solution is starvation, then I can do that without shelling out twenty grand I simply do not have. I count my calories. I watch every piece of food. I judge every pound I gain. I judge every pound I lose. This world has made me a statistic without asking questions... without looking deeper than the BMI chart.

It's humiliating. It's degrading. It breeds such mental hurt. I never go a restaurant unless I know they use armless chairs and movable tables. I never fly, because it's so embarrassing to have to ask for a seatbelt extender or to ask the person next to me if they mind if I raise the armrest.

You're right.

We aren't people anymore.

I will say this: I saw my GYN recently, because I had been told over and over it was a deadly gamble should I wish to have children. My doctor looked over my chart, then looked at me, and said words that nearly made me cry. "Why shouldn't you have a baby? You're a healthy woman who just happens to weigh more than some, but still weigh less than others. It doesn't mean you shouldn't be allowed to have a child."

Something inside me blossomed because of that woman's words, and I hold onto it when people stare at me when I go grocery shopping.

buffpuff said...

So much fabulous, complex, thought-provoking writing going on in the fatosphere - but this, to me, encapsulates the entire issue in one brief, pithy nutshell. Bravo.

Anonymous said...

Great post. The way you phrased it, the "obesity epidemic" is eerily reminiscent of Nazi Germany's determination to eradicate anyone who didn't fit their ideals. Maybe I'm being paranoid.

Fat Academic said...

Awesome post! Love it, love it, love it.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post, Rio. Sometimes people ask me how my libertarianism intersects with my ideas about Size Acceptance, and boy, you've summed it up pretty well.

The obesity epi-panic is exactly that: a formulaic moral panic, designed to turn one set of citizens against another set, and to marginalize the second-class citizens and make them less deserving of, say, freedom and basic human rights, than other citizens.

What other group is told by big public agencies they should have their organs ritually mutilated?

What other group is being singled out to be named child abusers based solely on possessing those group statistics?

What other group is currently being blamed for everything from global warming, to airline bankruptcies, to the price of public transportation, to fuel prices?

Thanks for this post. :)

Bilt4cmfrt said...

WOW! Yah know, THIS is one of the ways that the Blogosphere in general and SA specifically can be so powerful. So many people looking at things from so many different angles. Your BOUND to run across a post presented from an angle or expressed in a way you never even THOUGHT of.

For me THIS is one of those posts.

VERY nicely put RioIriri!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful! You've said perfectly all the things I've struggled to express so many times, to so many people. This one's getting a bookmark and will probably get emailed to half the people I know!!!!!

Rebecca said...

Brilliant post! You are such a great writer.

Charlotte said...

There is so much that is good and right about this post.
Great job!

Andee J. said...

Rock the hell on, Rio.

Andee (Meowser)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I have recently been cast as the (obese) female lead in a play entitled "Fat Pig" - its about an original, beautiful, witty, and unique woman who happens to be overweight. A friend sent me a link to your post and I'm pasting a copy to the front of my script. Thank you, this is far more eloquent than anything I could have come up with. ~Jess