I was a fat kid, a fat baby even. As were all the cousins and aunts on one side of my family. Since third grade, I’ve lost more weight than most people I know put together, going down by 100 pounds twice as an adult, then back up in a few years. Even when I was at a “normal” weight, I was overweight by the public standard (which, in America, is fucked up, not to mention confusing).
This whole topic is difficult for me to discuss intelligently, and not because of the reasons others think. Newsflash: I’m not ashamed, I’m not stupid, I’m not in denial. This isn’t defensiveness, it’s just that I have spent way too much time having to filter other people’s crap ideas and thinly disguised disgust.
It’s difficult because this is a fucking complicated minefield. I’ve got my own stuff and I’m trying to decode their stuff about it, because whether someone’s a twig or a fattie, they’ve got stuff about it. It’s all I can do to keep myself sane about my stuff and what I’m doing to change what I can and to accept what the endocrinologist tells me I can’t. Other people’s stuff about what they see as “my” problem is not in the least bit interesting to me, nor does it motivate me to do anything, other than want to stick a pencil in someone’s eye.
It’s all well and good to say you don’tintend to shame fat
kids or their parents, but the reality is, by framing this as an obesity
prevention initiative rather than one with benefits for children of all
sizes, by emphasizing BMI over fitness and setting a goal of, quite
literallyeliminating fat children — could you send a clearer
message to big kids that they’re unwanted? — you’re tapping into a deep
vein of fat hatred running through this culture.
As long as fat people remain scapegoats for everyone’s fears about
overconsumption, illness and mortality, our health will remain at risk
because of ignorance and prejudice as well as physical illnesses
correlated with obesity. And by framing this as a strategy to eliminate
childhood obesity rather than a positive nutrition and fitness strategy
for people of all sizes, you’re contributing to the problem. You’re
using people’s fear and disgust of fatties to sell this project —
because who could get excited about simply making nutritious food more
accessible or increasing opportunities for physical activity becauseit
would be good for all of us? No, history has shown that the public
only gets excited about boring stuff like that if you tell them it will
rid us of the monstrous scourge of obesity. So hey, who cares if it
means more fat kids get bullied by gym teachers and fellow students, and
berated by parents who are ashamed of their inability to produce
“normal” children, and harangued by medical professionals who think fat
is not just dangerous but repulsive?
I’m completely enthusiastic about the FLOTUS and her emphasis on health
and better eating, fresh local foods and exercise. Go for it, I will support you all the way.
But “singling out”, painting a bulls-eye on fat kids instead of
targeting behaviors, conditioning, nutrition, etc, is a ham-fisted
single-focus approach to an overlapping set of causal factors. You want
healthy kids, focus your very considerable resources on complex strategies to get kids healthy and keep them active.
And if you’re
worried about fat kids getting bullied and ridiculed, focus on stopping
the fucking bullies and haters.