posted by meowser
I’m going to run with the ball I picked up at Lara Frater’s place about the CDC’s new clue-allergic LEAN Works program.
This new program is wrong on some many levels.
1. It’s discriminatory. Are jobs going to weigh people or demand intimate information from their personal life? Programs like this don’t encourage healthiness, they encourage companies to fire fat employees regardless of their health.
2. It’s filled with factual errors as well as lack of information. Many “Facts” have footnote numbers next to them, but I have yet to find those notes in the materials. The $117 billion “obesity” cost has always been a shaky number.
3. It encourages disordered eating. Healthy fat people may take it upon themselves to lose weight when they don’t really need too.
Those are good ones. I’d like to add a couple more to that list:
4. Inasfar as a fat person might have physical or mental health problems (remember, the latter go towards health care costs too!), it’s incredibly short-sighted to assume that said physical or mental health problems in a fat person are caused directly by their fat, or that weight loss — should that person go through the ordeal of trying to lose a great deal of weight and succeed — would result in a reduction in health care usage during time of employment by that person. (If, let’s say, I get to quit seeing an endocrinologist but wind up needing a psychiatrist instead, how is that a reduction in expense?) Which leads me right into number 5.
5. If you want everyone to have “perfect” numbers in everything, it’s going to cost you. “Perfect” numbers, inasfar as they’re even possible to create in someone who doesn’t replicate them naturally, usually mean pills. Pills require lab work. Multiple pills require even more lab work and multiple doctor visits — often from specialists, who are even more expensive than general practitioners — to monitor efficacy and safety. “Successful” dieting, when it does happen, often requires multiple medication adjustments and the addition of even more pills to suppress appetite. And the pills themselves are not without risk, either. Insulin sensitizers and statins and antihypertensives and appetite suppressing agents have side effects. Sometimes really freaking HUGE side effects. And if said weight loss plan involves taking people off their “fattening” antidepressants and neuroleptics, then what? Monkeying with everyone’s brain and body chemistry to get them slimmed down as much as possible, and with gorgeous blood pressure and blood sugar and lipid panel right up to the 65th-birthday sendoff? Is. Going. To. Be. Ex. Pen. Sive. Don’t kid yourselves, CDC, and don’t kid employers, either. If I’m going to monkey with my brain and body chemistry, I don’t want some bean-counting yutz at my company with no fucking medical degree overruling my doctors’ agreements with me about what I “should” be taking. They don’t know what they’re getting themselves into if they go that route. (Fortunately, my company hasn’t, and I doubt they will, for reasons I will elucidate below.)
6. And also inasfar as a fat person might have physical or mental health problems…hmm, let’s see, what’s that toothy monster hiding in the bushes? Oh, hello…it’s STRESS. Nice teeth ya got there. Now, what could possibly cause a fat person to be stressed out? Certainly not the relentless pressure from all corners since they were single-digit ages to slim down and being told they aren’t really hungry, that a few lettuce leaves and celery stalks would fill their stomachs just fine and if they craved anything more than that, they were just being greedy and selfish. Certainly not being overworked and underpaid for decades because they couldn’t fit into an Armani suit. Certainly not being refused friends and lovers and apartments and educations and pretty much anything else a person could be refused, just because they didn’t burn calories as fast as their peers did. Certainly not their own children being embarrassed to be seen with them and their spouses calling them ugly and either threatening to leave or just flat out dumping them for no other reason but weight. Certainly not their own families of origin constantly criticizing them for their greedy appetites. Noooo, that doesn’t take a toll on people’s physical or mental health at all. Nobody ever needs serious medical attention because of stuff like that. Yeah. Ha. Ha ha ha. (And speaking of “Ha ha ha,” how is it the Blanche DuBoises of the world are the ones who “need” psychiatrists, while the Stanley Kowalskis just go right on screwing around with people with no conscience?)
Oh, and 7. DIETS DON’T WORK. They didn’t work in 1909, and they don’t work now. A diet actually working, without any further toll in physical or mental health to the dieter, is a fluke. “Fluke” does not mean “never ever happens,” but it does mean “don’t hold your breath.” And guess what — the CDC’s own data indicate that only 2% of Americans in the “normal” BMI range were “obese” 10 years earlier, and that includes people who lost weight without trying. Do they not even hear themselves?
It’s always fascinating to see people who don’t actually have to work for a living (that is, have their schedules completely governed by an employer with very limited flexibility) snotting off on the alleged costliness of those of us who do. Let me tell you something. Our employers, for the most part, are getting us cheap. Really. Most of us have at-will employment — that is, they can let us go any time they feel like it and not have to tell us why. You can’t even prove weight-based discrimination (or for that matter, any other kind) if nobody actually says to you, “Go home and take your undesirable-for-this-reason ass with you.” And they get away with underpaying us, too, because they know that for many of us, our opportunities are limited, especially once we get up over 40. (Anyone care to compare the relative health-care expenses of affluent thin people and affluent fatasses, versus nonaffluent thin and fat? No? My ears, they hurt from the cricket noises.)
They want to replace us all with thin people to save money? Good luck with that. Thin people are going to demand higher salaries and turn over faster voluntarily, and training new people is costly. And thin, young, conventionally attractive, well educated, currently able people aren’t going to accept nearly as much shit from management as fatties (and older people, and PWD, and people with less education) do. Why should they? They can go somewhere else if they don’t get respect where they are. And “desirable” employees have babies and get sick and need to see psychiatrists, too — so, so much for the low-maintenance thing. Humans are expensive, even extremely compliant ones. I’m sure they’d all love to have an all-robotic work force if they could, only they’d still have to have people around to fix the robots. So inconvenient.
In my particular line of work, being hired remotely and working remotely, without your boss ever laying eyes on you, is industry standard. My company alone has thousands of remote employees, and there are multiple others like it. There’s a reason they don’t install “cams” on all our computers and survey all our activities night and day — it would cost too much. Can you imagine? Having to babysit thousands of working adults around the clock (it’s also a 24/7/365 line of work), every single day? It would be ridiculous. I’m sure they’d love to know what we’re all up to when we’re on the clock. I’m sure they’d love to know about the quick sex we’re having and the chin hairs we’re tweezing and what unsavory political activities we might be participating in, and why we think we can eat Frosted Mini-Wheats with a spoon and type at the same time…but it’s easier for them not to know. It’s not easy to find people who can do what we do with the required speed and accuracy. Two years of experience is usually necessary to land a job like this, and believe me, you want that experience, because you’re going to be paid by the line and that means being able to make out mumble-mouthed diction and fuzzy cell-phone-speaker transmission and sixties that sound like fifties even on a noise-cancelling headset without having to look up every other word, or you’re not going to be paid even minimum wage.
It’s probably not much of a stretch — even without having met a single one of my fellow remote employees ever — to assume that my line of work employs a lot of old people, a lot of fat people, and a lot of people with disabilities, in various combinations of the three. Because thin young hipsters, for the most part, don’t want these jobs. They don’t pay enough. They make you work weekends and holidays. There’s no prestige. And it’s not the most interesting work, frankly, it’s very repetitive. Yeah, but I can stick my finger into any orifice I want, any time I want, and nobody will know! I’m allowed naps! I say gooshy things to my pets, the same thing every single night, and they can sit in my lap while I work! Oh yeah…and my boss doesn’t have to know about every single little piddly-shit health issue I might have either, unless it keeps me from doing my job. Having a shit attack or a crying jag? No problem. Nobody has to know. It’s a beautiful thing.
If they don’t care if I fart, I can only imagine what a pain in the ass it would be for them to have to monitor all our farts, and whatever else is going on in our bodies and brains, to Save Health Care Money. If the CDC brainiacs want me to use up less health care, physical AND mental, what they need to do is build a time machine that will go back forty-cough years, and tell everyone I ever came in contact with that I’m fucking autistic and they should let up on me, and also that I have PCOS and that’s why I’m so hungry and hairy. Also, HIPAA violations anyone? It’s currently illegal in America for your company or anyone else to go nosing around in your medical records without your permission. My company is in the health care business. They know that. I’m pretty well convinced that that’s another reason they’re not going there. Know what else is expensive? Lawsuits.
I may complain about my job, but I think I’m healthier in this job than I would be if I had to work in an office. Getting to decide for myself when I need a break, instead of my employer unilaterally making that decision, makes me healthier. Not having to disclose my autism unless I choose to do so (I haven’t had much luck hiding the fact that I’m “different” otherwise) makes me healthier. Getting to have home-cooked food for virtually every meal, and so does eating it when I’m hungry, not when the clock says it’s time. All those things are tremendous stress reducers. For someone who’s not in a chattering-class occupation, I get treated pretty well. I’ve had other jobs and know it could be much, much worse. And yes, I’m a big fatty fatass who goes to therapy every other week and the psychiatrist every few months and just had a big problem with my back and leg requiring physical therapy. Think that’s expensive? Imagine what deliberately setting out to drive me bonkers might cost.