Paul Campos has written another excellent editorial discussing Gina Kolata’s new book, Rethinking Thin. I’ll quote my favorite part:
This inspires me to point something out to my more liberal readers. Remember that particularly clueless right-wing acquaintance of yours? The one who believes that anybody in America can become rich, because he thinks about poverty in a completely unscientific, anecdotal way, which allows him to treat the exceptional case as typical? The one who can’t seem to understand the simplest structural arguments about the nature of social inequality?
The next time you see some fat people and get disgusted by their failure to “take care of themselves,” think about your clueless friend.
It was my favorite for one thing because he nailed it. Everything that’s wrong with every argument I’ve ever had about fat. I’ll quote it again because I love it. “they think…in a completely unscientific, anecdotal way, which allows him to treat the exceptional case as typical?” If one person can lose weight, everyone can be thin. Thus fat is a choice. It is proven.
But also because I appreciated the minisermon to the liberal crowd. It’s a bane for me. I don’t think I ever stop feeling that sharp bite of disillusionment and depression when it happens. When liberals, my friends, my allies – from sophisticated feminists to staunch nonconformists – suddenly start talking about fat in terms that ring of nothing so much as Victorian moralism.
There is no apparent cognitive dissonance as they expound on the need to educate the fat (and the obviously ignorant) in how to “eat properly” and live correctly. As they associate fat with poverty, and assume ignorance or laziness rather than discrimination. As they then without missing a beat, turn us into symbols for greed and consumerism. As they deploy caricatures and stereotypes of the fat that, if applied to any other group, would fill them with outrage. As they urge us to keep trying to become “normal” no matter what we want, or what the personal cost. To redouble our efforts when we fail. And then redouble them again. To restrain our urges, control our bodies, to not be a burden on society that we surely must see we are.
And all of this, in the name of helping us.
Of course it’s not all liberals. I don’t even think most. And it’s not a “liberal thing” – it’s pervasive in the society. It’s just so much more strange and dismaying when liberals do it.