My Venus of Willendorf Song!

It’s called “Venus if You Will…” and my “band name” is Normal Fauna. I played everything — the keyboard parts for piano, bass and congas, plus live tambourines and shakers, plus did the vocals. It’s available on Garageband.com for downloading or streaming (there’s a low-fi stream available if you’re on dialup). Click on the link below, then on the song link on the right side of the page. Hope you enjoy!

http://www.garageband.com/artist/normalfauna

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In Which the Fat Lady Singer Buys a Microphone

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Goddess bless midlife crises.  After age 40, and the dissolution of my marriage — and after more than a dozen years in which I barely sang in the shower — there must have been something in me that felt like it was “safe” to play and sing and write again. Maybe it was the feeling that as an Eccentric Old Bat I could do whatever I damn well wanted without worrying about being hip and cool, I don’t know. Read the rest of this entry »

Another fat child taken from her parents

The British Medical Association recently rejected a motion to label “childhood obesity” as “parental neglect”, but that’s apparently doing nothing to protect fat children. Yesterday an eight-year-old girl in the UK was reported to be removed from her home for being fat.

This is shocking and infuriating on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin.

I guess I’ll start with their underlying assumption that it is “parental behaviour that leads to childhood obesity.” It’s not. Which they would know if any of them bothered to read the literature. From a recent review in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society  Understanding the Aetiology of Childhood Obesity:

The results of twin studies indicate that the heritability for BMI is approximately 0.70, approaching that for height…Surprisingly, studies of adult twin pairs tend to find shared environmental effects [e.g. home environment] to be extremely small,  indicating that most of the environmental influences on weight are unique to the individual. Adoption studies provide the strongest evidence, because children grow up sharing a home environment with family members to whom they are genetically unrelated. They find similar results: adults who were adopted at birth do not resemble either their adoptive siblings or their adoptive parents in adiposity.

So, yes, what the mother’s pleading for us to understand is absolutely right, weight is mainly genetic.  When people see fat parents with fat kids, the conclusion they jump to – that the fat parents “teach” their children to be fat – is wrong. 

It’s true genetics is not the only determinant of weight – it’s just the overwhelming determinant. But the remainder, “the environment,” – which we’re led to believe is code for “a bad lifestyle” or “parents neglecting their children” – is NOT code for these things. “Environment” means everything that is not purely genetic. All the infinite variables which affect each of us differently. And it includes variables like prenatal environment – which has an important impact on future weight and growth – but which aren’t exactly things even the most diligent parent can go back and change.

So, no, you can no more look at a child and know what the parents are doing than you can look at a fat adult and know what their lifestyle is like.

But these people think they can, because they’re ignorant. And the justification given for ripping this child from her family is positively psychotic:

[a child’s weight] may not be an immediately life-threatening issue, but it can affect a child’s life chances, their potential and long-term health. If we can do something about that we should.

Even if you believed the fantasy that a foster home can take a fat child and magically make her permanently thin, I can’t imagine how spectacularly stupid or delusional you have to be to think that forcibly taking a eight-year-old from her parents can improve her “life chances” or “potential.”  On the other hand, if their goal is to “traumatize her for life,” then they’re maybe on to something.

Ugly Fat Politics

Well I had intended to keep up during my vacation, but it just didn’t happen. If you sent me an email in the past couple of weeks, I’ll try to respond within the next few days, but bear with me. I’m still washing the sand and sun out of my clothes and my synapses, so I may be on the slow side.

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Anyway now I’m trying to catch up on the fat politics of the last two weeks without harshing my post-vaca mellows.

Wishful thinking. Back into the fire.

I know this stuff is old news by now, but I have to talk about two long-simmering tropes in fat politics that seem to be coming into their own in the past two weeks:

1. Fat People as scapegoats for the decline and fall of the U.S. (empire): The Sacramento News and Review published a revolting opinion piece by an occasional columnist named Jaime O’Neill. I’ve listened to a lot of hate radio and most of them can’t touch the viciousness O’Neill summons in this hate manifesto. He could give lessons in dehumanization.

I didn’t really want to reread the essay on the grounds it might cause me to punch in my computer screen, but I risked it to pull out the final paragraph:

Our heritage requires of us, as citizens, that we be more than a nation of overstuffed swine wallowing in the mud of our laziness and indifference. We must reclaim our bodies and our minds from those who’ve snatched them from us. If we can regain our bodies and our minds, maybe we can regain our country, too.

Yee-ha. He hits the age-old notes of fascism with perfect pitch. It’s time to purify the social body, cleanse our collective bodies and minds, drive out or whip into shape the unacceptables who bring with them moral decay.

Read the rest of this entry »

Do You Love to Eat What Your Mom Loves to Eat?

There are days I really relate to Roseanne Barr’s old joke:  “I don’t call myself a feminist.  I prefer the term ‘killer bitch.'”  This is one of those days.

Via Kate Harding’s site, I just got tipped off to an article in the Kansas City Star that came excruciatingly close, ohsoclose, to acknowledging that all the public handwringing about Childhood Obesity Boogaboogabooga is doing kids more harm than good.  The first page of the article makes many of the same points that a similar story that Sandy Szwarc posted on July 4 on Junkfood Science, that said all the billions-with-a-b spent on trying to get kids to diet eat “healthier” is actually making them hate vegetables even more than they already do, and hasn’t made them lose any weight either.

I take a breath. Could it be? An actual Paid Media Source admitting that you can’t make kids like things they dislike, or want to consume things voluntarily that don’t taste good to them? And that even if you could, it wouldn’t turn most fat kids into thin ones? Read the rest of this entry »

Gina Kolata on NPR’s Science Friday