More is needed here than the best of intentions

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.

All of which is to say is I’m gladKate’s on the job, reMichelle Obama’s plan against childhood obesity:

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.

11 thoughts on “More is needed here than the best of intentions

  1. i always ate good. but i got a tad chubby and when i hit 149 5’5 1/2″, i did not diet but started to exercise and got down to about 120 by junior yr over summer. and 20+ years later, i am at around 135 and i just stopped so much fizzy drink. but mostly, i cook at home and exercise a little. oh hell, i do not diet tho and i graze. i just had 5 pieces of fresh italian bread w/ BUTTER! but i am lucky. do it before you hit 250. its much easier.

  2. thanks for posting this, virgotex.
    I’m a big fan of Michelle Obama. I’m NOT a fan in any way shape or form of the “can’t be too rich or too thin” thinking that goes on in this country.
    For one thing, there’s a huge — and I mean a HUGE fracking difference — between “thin” as in that Olsen girl, Paris Hilton, or Kate Moss and healthy.
    There’s a new guy on TV I kinda like the build of — Mark Valley, on “Human Target.”
    I think he’s a former soldier. Dude’s not “cut”, just looks and moves like he’s fit. So I’m cool with him not being stick-thin, yo.

    Sorry to yell there, but it is so freaking obvious. Children used to walk and bike to school, play outside in non-organized situations, bike or walk to activities–and now they are toted everywhere in SUVs with DVD players in the backseat for the entertainment. Enough.

  4. You know? There were fat kids before the internet. Quit saying that stupid shit about making them walk everywhere. Or hey, if it’s so great, why not walk with your kids???
    Oh, wait. that was supposed to be all caps.
    Back to the issue at hand. Should the First Lady have positioned it this way? No. But it’s a start, and maybe if we don’t scream at everybody til their backs are against the wall, we can work from it.

  5. I also was on the heavy side and agree that the populace isn’t going to make a lifestyle change just because someone says to.
    But I can’t get away from 2 facts.
    First, Earl Butz in the Reagan years spearheaded massive corn subsidies including, as pansy notes, high fructose corn syrup. This made it cheap enough that an extremely high number of foods have corn syrup. To make it worse, according to the govt food labeling, Fructose isn’t a sugar (take that you chemists). So you can drop boatloads of corn syrup in a food and advertise it as being sugar free.
    Additionally, the corn subsidies made it much cheaper to feed livestock corn. Some will even hold that virtually every food you eat is derived from corn.
    So in effect, the govt has surrepticiously been forcing us to follow their corn agenda.
    Second, there is one exception where a govt program for lifestyle modification has been effective. The Finns in the Karelia district had health problems that followed from high fat diet, high alcohol consumption, high smoking rate. A program for lifestyle modification was introduced and was effective in changing the high-risk behaviors with resultant improvement in medical status including both lab tests (such as lower cholesterol) and in lower incidence of sickness and mortality.
    One of the products in this move is the butter substitute Benecol.

  6. Anyone here remember President Kennedy’s presidential fitness program in the 60s? We were trying to make sure Merican kids were as fit as those crazy commies’ kids, so presidential fitness tests were implemented, with awards and badges for achieving fitness levels. Like many things back then, money and resources were poured into schools to achieve results to thwart the Soviets getting an upper hand.
    I’m just saying… it would be nice to push a fitness/healthy eating program for ALL kids — and FUND it — really put the resources into public schools to do this: hire PE teachers, nutritionists, nurses, make school lunches healthy, build gyms and pools and refurbish playing fields, buy balls and jump ropes, etc.
    My kids’ schools in the upper midwest had almost NO gym classes at all (budget cuts had eliminated most PE teachers from schools), and gym/play equipment had to be bought by the PTA. In order for our kids to learn to jump rope or play basketball or soccer, parents had to volunteer to teach them at lunch and supervise play. I personally bought jump ropes and a DVD of double dutch jumping for the kids to watch on rainy days, so they could learn to jump in the hallways and at their ONE lousy little recess after lunch. I also bought the pop-up soccer goals and soccer shirts and balls for the kids to wear to learn to play soccer. But, now that I am no longer there, is it even happening anymore? Also, even then, even with parents making the extra effort to try to get some activity into their kids’ days at school, there were always bureaucrats in the school system finding fault with any initiatives the parents made and shutting things down.
    We are ex-pats now and my kids’ schools over here in Europe have a LOT of sports, recess/break time, and very healthy hot lunches. There are multiple PE teachers, even at a small school. The kids swim, run, play soccer, learn other sports, play at recess (no matter the weather — outside, running around), learn to dance even! Every lunch includes a lot of veg and fruit, and the kids eat on plates with silverware, not plastic trash.
    Don’t we value our children in the US enough to give them what the Europeans give their children? Do we only throw resources at our children when it is a security issue, like in the Cold War?

  7. good point, hausfrau. As I’m sure you’re aware, there are still ongoing controversies here too re taking soda machines out of schools, as well as the eeeevil socialist proposal to tax soda and “juice” drinks. Juice drinks meaning drinks that may have juice in them, but whose primary ingredient is either sugar or corn syrup.

  8. I started reading quotes from Michael Pollan to my daughter. She started seeing the reason. We’re voluntarily changing our lifestyle.
    I remember the president’s physical fitness program. It worked, somewhat. Not enough gold stars handed out.

  9. I think its for the own goods of obese kids. But, it will not be so easy. As we all know that lots of Americans are obese due to lifestyle. If adult can’t avoid to get fat, how much more those kids?

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