Being fat is not good, even if it's a right

I was thinking of skipping over the kerfuffle about the obese Wisconsin news anchor’s response to the comments by the critical, personal-injury-lawyer fitness freak, but I haven’t blogged all week, and that’s what’s up right now.

My reactions — at least the ones I want to share — are not the typical ones. But if they were, that’d only be greater reason to take a pass.

Going by my only evidence of him, I don’t admire the commenter, Kenneth Krause. Doesn’t seem like a nice guy, and the picture of him floating on the ‘net suggests that he has body issues himself — in an absolute-value sort of way. (Absolute value, in math, is the concept that +5 and -5 are the same distance from zero and therefore equivalent.) It’s a complex comparison; I’m just saying that he’s chosen to be outside the norm.

Predictably, fat-acceptance advocates took the opportunity to restate their positions. Here’s an excerpt from the Fat Nutritionist:

Health is always and forever the argument weight bigots lean on to give a socially acceptable veneer to their harassment. Marianne has something to say about that: “If you gave a good goddamn about the health of fat people, you’d shut up about our fatness. You are destroying our mental health — and that can kill a person just as surely as anything else.” Every single fat person in the world already knows they are fat. They may not know their exact BMI, or where that BMI falls on the ridiculously arbitrary classification system from overweight to obese to morbidly obese, but it is very difficult in this culture not to be aware when your weight is higher than average, or higher than the cultural idea. Telling someone that they are fat, even when couched in expressions of “concern for their health” is not giving them any new information. It’s not helping them. And, especially when that person is a perfect stranger, it is mostly like a transparently aggressive maneuver to shame and put them in their place.

Though the movement has lots of good things to say, it glosses over what for me was a basic fact of my years of fatitude: Fatness is not good. That is *not* the same as saying that fat people are not good. My point is that the experience of being fat is not good. I hated being fat.

Yes, some of that had to do with fashion and other severe opinions, and if those had been different, my experience would have been different.

But I find that fat-acceptance folks — and there was a strong thread of it in Jennifer Livingston’s on-air retort — stop there, as if other people’s opinions are the only problem here. And that wasn’t my experience.

I was extremely fortunate in that I didn’t develop diabetes or other serious problems, but I still experienced shortness of breath from pedestrian activity and experienced low-grade joint pain. I sweated at the slightest movement and it actually hurt if I had to run to catch a bus. I often didn’t fit in chairs — in school, in arenas, on airplanes — and I broke three of them over the years. Very embarrassing, and when the owner was sitting next to me, even worse.

None of these had to do with how some random Joe judged me, though there was a lot of that, too, of course. From where I sit today, what I want to share is that what other people think of me is none of my business. This is largely because what they think is out of my control, and I’ve learned I’m better off addressing the things I can change.

I have more to say on this, but I’m going leave it for the next post. Please come back.

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