I think I spent enough time peering into the dark and twisted cave of hate and ignorance. So I’m going to move up into the light of reason. It’s easier to breathe up here.
Richard Cohen wrote a great editorial in the Washington Post. (Pointed out by a reader of the Big Fat Blog forums). Cohen’s editorial discusses Gina Kolata’s Rethinking Thin; the “war on obesity” as a moral panic; and fat in presidential politics:
The incessant message is that you are overweight because you lack willpower. Willpower is, of course, right up there with morality — the two being almost synonymous in the minds of many people….This explains why a presidential candidate must be trim. To be overweight, even pleasantly so, suggests a lack of self-discipline. That, of course, is utter nonsense.
He also notes how Bush’s persistent leanness has had no apparent impact on his ability to think:
Not only does he subscribe to silly nostrums — celibacy instead of condoms for the young and restless, for instance — but he has also led us into a disastrous war for which there appears to be no end in sight. Still, the man looks good.
Celibacy as a “silly nostrum.” Interesting. I’m not sure if his bringing celibacy up in this context was an intentional comparison, but if not, then I’ll do it. At the risk of ….well what the hell, I’m just going to go ahead and repeat myself:
“Dieting” as a response to to health risks associated with fat has a lot in common with “abstinence education” as a response to the AIDS epidemic. Both are ineffective means of improving public health. Both pit public health against the people they presume to “help,” putting them in hopelessly moralizing and paternalistic relationships. But both “solutions” are tenaciously clung to and promoted by certain quarters, for reasons that are political, ideological, economic, or some combination of all three
And both of which have the larger effect of shaming and victim-blaming than they do of making anyone thin (or abstinent). And least of all making us healthy.
Think I can make a bumper sticker out of that?