This morning, my girlfriend threw a fit. I looked up from my keyboard and noted that she was harnessing her Super Power Gay Rage.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“This is bullshit.” She was referring to a couple of articles, Sized up: why fat is a queer and feminist issue, and Fat Liberation is Totally Queer. ”I get really irritated when the fat acceptance movement nudges itself into queer issues. I understand that a lot of gay women do struggle with fat phobia, but I don’t think it’s my responsibility as a gay woman to get behind fat acceptance due to the sheer prevalence of fat lesbians. Fatness and gayness are mutually exclusive. They have nothing to do with each other.”
I began to open the articles to which she was referring as she continued her rant:
“I understand how many queer women are overweight, and they shouldn’t suffer discrimination because they are overweight. They are shamed because it is their fault that they are fat, and they are being pressured to be a different way. But unlike my degree of fatness, I truly cannot change my gayness.
“I actually have control over whether I am fat. One day I finally woke up and faced reality. I lost nearly 70 pounds and I’m barely 5’8″. I’m not saying its easy; but what you put into your body and what you do to you body is in your control. Your sexual orientation is not.
“Instead of putting their focus and energy into changing their problem, they put their energy into making it easier to live in a world with their problem. They try to label fat as not a problem!”
Oh, but it is. I already wrote about it, flippantly.
Unacceptable! Here is a neat little write-up of the economic costs of obesity.Obesity accounts for 21 percent of health care costs. Obesity, as far as the military is concerned is a national security threat. Obesity contributes significantly to rising health care costs, how insurance policies are structured, time loss at work, sick days, ridiculous infrastructure modifications like larger seats in airplanes and restaurants, emergency medical responses, fertility complications, and more.
And we should just sit back and accept it because now everyone these days is fat?
Unlike being a minority, being young, old, gay, or handicapped, being fat is controllable.
I found myself annoyed by the author of the articles, Anna Mollow. She appears to have read a few books and referenced a few articles. Sometimes I found myself in agreement with what she says, but then I’d get thrown off the horse . For example,
Risks associated with being “morbidly obese” are no greater than that of being male, and “overweight” people live longer than people of “normal” weight.
She is correct. Level of fatness is a risk factor for other diseases. If you’re fat, for example, is it statistically more likely that you have nutrition-related illnesses, like heart disease or diabetes. But then she says that overweight people live longer than normal weight people. I ask her to point to one obese centenarian, or to explain why restricted calorie diets promote longevity.
“Obesity is not a problem, and it certainly should not be labeled as a disease,” goes the rhetoric.
“We need to explicitly and unequivocally reject the notion that body size is a ‘lifestyle choice’ that can or should be changed,” writes Ms. Mollow.
Hold on a second! How dare you mislead your readers into thinking that body size is interchangeable with body fatness?
Recently, the American Medical Association decided to label obesity as a disease. Donald Bucklin writes,
My initial thought was — what took so long? This decision seems a little curious because we are 10-plus years into the well-established epidemic.
A well-established epidemic. Look around, people! Most of you can’t even see the fatness because we are all fat! Leave the country. Travel somewhere else. Remark at the people who are tiny compared to your own countrymen, who eat smaller portions, walk more, and frequently seek out fresher food. Go to Europe and see the continuum of fatness over northern latitudes, where the habits, wealth, and food variety of the peoples are more like that of the United States. After some time acclimating there, you will be shocked when you see a morbidly obese person, just as Europeans are shocked when they step off an airplane at an American airport and see a sea of massive people.
Your perspective has changed. Do you remember the stages of acceptance? Denial is first.
We are fat. Get over it. It is a problem. And obesity, perhaps, should be considered a disease. After all, obesity is a degree of fatness, as heart disease is a degree of artery plaque. The line must be drawn somewhere, and there will be a few casualties of the label–people like myself who have a BMI of 26 (overweight), but the body fat percentage of a healthy athlete, with perfect cholesterol, a low and steady heart rate, a resilient liver, and more. I am a statistic, and I’m not pissed about it–because I’m not fat. Or, more appropriately, because I know that lines must be drawn somewhere.
You think fat doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy because you find a few books and articles to support your position? Because you have combed the “literature” of the last ten years which sold to a market of fat people? Go ahead, read Gary Taubes. You’ll feel great.
Have you considered fatness as not only correlated with longevity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and everything else, but as also a hazard?
“You have a social responsibility NOT to be fat. If there’s a fire in my office building and the elevators aren’t working, your fat body is probably what’s getting between me and the fire escape.” –Anonymous
Ever think about your posture? What your fat does to your spine? Your lack of control and balance over your own body, as well as your eating, drinking, and movement habits? Do you spend 5+ hours a day moving? Probably not. Do you drink your calories? I bet you do. Do you starve yourself on a crash diet and wreck your metabolism and blame the set point theory later? Did you damage your hypothalamus? Hmmm… (Let the record state that I am 100% sensitive to weight issues when they are the result of medical problems. Steroids, psych drugs, and many other things have a profound impact on a person’s ability to regulate his or her weight. But this is not the epidemic we’re talking about.)
I get how fat is a feminist issue; I’ve read some Susie Orbach. But do us all a favor and don’t taint the queer acceptance movement with the fat acceptance movement.
“I don’t think it’s okay to discriminate against someone or hate people or shame people. But don’t pretend this isn’t a problem and go and say you are just a part of ‘diversity,’” your girlfriend adds.
“The war against fat, like efforts to “cure,” “convert,” or “repair” queer sexualities, will fail,” Ms. Mollow write.
God, I hope not.