Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A troll among many trolls

I don't normally bother with trolls, but this one sent me an email to my work address that is so vile, I have to share it here with all of you.

Barry, I suspect you are what I think of as a self-loather. Maybe you were once fat. Maybe you're fat now. Maybe you're deathly afraid you will be fat in the future.

Personally, I love how you toss aside research in favor of your own baseless and warped opinions. That Barry, he sure knows better than those high-falutin' doctors who actually research this stuff!

Since you think shame is a good health-care strategy, I'll take your idea a step further and see if shame is a good strategy for curing haters like you. Probably not, alas.

I hope my readers will respond to you in the same spirit in which you wrote to me.

I was mystified and angered by your article in the Times today. Are you actually arguing that obesity is a healthy lifestyle? Are you really saying that fat people have no control over their food intake and amount of exercise? Eating too much is nothing to be proud of, just as drinking too much alcohol is nothing to celebrate. You are lying to yourself if you think you are not shoving far too many calories into your mouth. You're fat because you can't control yourself--it's that simple.

The reason we stigmatize obesity is because it really is a choice, unlike skin color, ethnicity and the religion you were raised in. Obesity is a signal to others that this fat person is living an important part of his/her life totally out of control. It signals a lack of self-discipline and a warped sense of self-worth. Your position on this means means you're proud of your lack of control about how much, and what, you eat. It's delusional to be proud and pleased that you are out of breath when you climb stairs, that you are heading for a horrible old age--if you live that long, that making love to your partner is a problem instead of a happy event, and that you can't perform simple tasks from properly wiping your ass on the toilet to picking up an earring you've dropped.

Delusional: For example, you state that the emotional stress of the prejudice against fat people causes the health issues that result from obesity. That is not science, that is nonsense. We know stress can be a contributing factor to poor health, but you're trying to blame others for the conditions you create by eating too much. Reminds me of alcoholics saying they drink too much because of all the pressure on them to stop drinking.

On the one hand you blame doctors for relating to obese people differently than normal weight folks because, as you say, doctors believe fat patients won't follow orders, won't show up for appointments etc. Then later in your article you say fat people don't show up for doctor appointments because they feel bad about themselves and worry about how doctors will relate to them. Doctors know from experience that fat people miss appointments and can't or won't take care of their own health. Of course they relate differently to people like you who disdain main stream medical advice.

When Lincoln University tried to help fat kids get well and avoid incipient heart and other diseases, you condemn them for their efforts. What you fail to understand is that your stance actually kills people by making gluttony and self abuse through food a good choice, a choice to be proud of. What you are doing diminishes the real harm of prejudice which punishes innocent people for the color of their skin or their ethnicity--things they can't and should not want to change.

But obesity is a lifestyle choice, like smoking and alcoholism, a self-destructive lifestyle choice that harms the people who choose to follow that course. Anyone can get thinner and improve their overall health. It is not easy but rarely are the important life choices easy. That doesn't make your choice a virtue. It is difficult to diet and exercise on a regular basis and change your attitude about stuffing as much food as you can into your face. We've all heard the reasons people live your way, and none of them are good, abuse as a child, the comfort derived from eating lots of fatty creamy things, the hit of sugar, the bad habits of a deprived upbringing blah blah blah. We rightfully despise drunks who abuse themselves and others, ruin careers and the lives of those who love them. Similarly obese people are wearing a big sign that says "it's all about me and screw you who object to my overeating, it's costs to society, it's bad example to young people, it's strong signal that I'm out of control. I do it because it feels good and I'm proud of that." This is called selfish and irresponsible--nothing to be proud of.

Think about the damage your article has done. Making a virtue out of a lifestyle that any scientist, medical person or just plain educated folks know is harmful. Shame on you.
Barry XXXX


Monday, March 15, 2010

The stigma of obesity

I'm delighted that the New York Times has run this piece, even though they cut the fabulous Marilyn Wann from my final draft.

Let me know what you think. And if you're feeling brave, venture on over to the New York Times' blog discussion of it. It's a stunning example of how deeply ingrained fat stigma is in our culture. Sheesh.

And a big welcome to Jezzies who land here. Love the photo of Gabby that ran with the post today.