April 04, 2007

Fine As Far As It Goes . . .

but there truly are people who use obesity to commit slow suicide.

Yet I'm happy for Joy; she seems like a hell of a girl.

H/t: the Cotillion girls.

UPDATE: CTG on the "fat" issue.

Again, it's complicated for me. I theorize that my mother has made a point of being heavy in order to keep men away from her in her later years. (She is intrinsically a very attractive woman.) Mostly, her strong body is able to handle the consequences, and the liver problems, diabetes and high blood pressure are treatable with the right medications. She's 70 now, and will be around for a good long time.

My aunt, however, is significantly heavier, and more addicted to carbs. Not to mention the fact that she is extraordinarily inactive—and, until recently, she smoked. Her greater obesity has led to a greater level of diabetes. Despite her being four years my mother's junior, I know I will lose her before I lose my mother.

I had the following exchange with my mom a few years ago:

Me: "My friend Dean Esmay says that many obese people don't actually overeat."

My mom: "Oh. How interesting. But I do."

At which point she proceeded to take another bite of the huge salad she was eating. (Because my mother eats compulsively, she tries to only keep healthful foods in the house. This is the main reason she won't stay at my aunt's place any more: the aunt keeps too many sugary and carby treats around, and these trigger binging on icky food.)

Food and obesity are linked, and in many cases there is a behavioral component. The problem is that you don't know from looking at a person whether that's the case. And you don't know what someone's genetic predisposition is from that single, judgemental glance.

It can, indeed, be a moral problem: there are certainly fat gluttons. But the biochemistry is complex, and there are several conditions that make people look "fat." And even in the case of the true pedal-to-the-metal food addict, there are worse things they could be binging on. (Drinking and driving, anyone?)

So this is an individual problem, with many solutions. One of which is societal acceptance of the fact that some people are naturally heavy.

UPDATE 2: Dean Esmay posts the Joy Nash video, and comments:

It's a metabolic issue, not a character issue.

By the way, the majority of Americans are overweight, and a third are medically obese. I guess we're just all slobs with character flaws, eh?

We're taking over. Give us your pizza or we'll destroy you.

I remember a discussion at my writer's workshop one day, when a skinny woman wrote about the temptation to judge when she saw an overweight woman ordering a salad at a restaurant.

Several of us were curious about why she would be tempted to condemn the ordering of a salad, of all things. "Um, even if you accept the premise that it's someone else's business what someone else is eating . . . what's to judge about the salad?" I enquired.

"Well, the thought would be 'oh, who does she think she's fooling?'" she responded.

I sort of blinked, and realized that anti-fat bigotry is at astonishing levels in some circles. If we intend to judge the overweight for ordering a steak and a baked potato, and we intend to judge them for ordering a salad, is there any choice they could make that would not incur presumption from those at surrounding tables? Answer: hell, no.

Yeah. Plenty of Americans eat too much. But improve your own damn health regimen: not someone else's.

Posted by Attila Girl at April 4, 2007 03:13 AM | TrackBack

see my post on this :-)

Posted by: caltechgirl at April 4, 2007 11:18 AM

"The problem is that you don't know from looking at a person whether that's the case. And you don't know what someone's genetic predisposition is from that single, judgemental glance."


Posted by: caltechgirl at April 4, 2007 03:04 PM

We do know, however, that if a person consumes more calories than they burn, they put on weight.

A person who is overweight has, for a lengthy period of time, done exactly this.

To reverse that situation requires both the knowledge of how to do it, and the willpower to do it. It invariably requires a permanent change to eating and exercise habits.

The fact that some people can do this with small adjustments to their lifestyle, while others can achieve gains only through rigorous effort for a long period of time, really does not justify those in the latter group when they give up.

Posted by: John at April 4, 2007 05:40 PM

There are people who, in order to maintain a "healthy weight," would have to live on fewer calories than required to get much nutrition at all--basically a starvation diet.

There are people whose metabolisms are simply too efficient, and are otherwise quite healthy. And it's just possible that they are not waiting for "justification" from the rest of us in order to be happy. Ya know?

As a matter of fact, I doubt that my aunt and mother, who probably do a decent job of meeting your expectations when it comes to fat people, are interested in whether you and and I can "justify" their eating/exercise patterns.

Posted by: Attila Girl at April 4, 2007 06:05 PM

Hair clips and socks . . . Egad!

Posted by: Sissy Willis at April 5, 2007 05:09 AM

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
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