It’s Like We’re Psychic Here at Tiny Cat Pants

Why, it was just the other day in the comments to this post that Emjaybee and Jo were really digging at the ties between the obesity panic and the… I guess for the sake of parallelism… the birthing panic.

And what do we have in The Tennessean today?

Panic about how fat women are ruining their unborn babies’ lives with their fatty fat fat.

Well, it’s science, so you can’t argue with it. Fat women have caused us all to be fat.

And yet… where did all these fat women come from to make the fat babies that cause us all to be fat, unlike the olden days?

I think it’s time we all sat down with our grandmas and let them know what terrible people they are.

Ha. I’m snarky because I’m so excited about how this is going to lead to the suggestion that fat women just not breed so much, you know, for the children.

Anyway, excuse me. I have to go ruin America.

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25 thoughts on “It’s Like We’re Psychic Here at Tiny Cat Pants

  1. Yeah, I really should have told my grandmothers, and their mothers, and their mothers, that they shouldn’t have been fat because that made my mother fat which made me fat which made my kids fat which made my grandkids fat which is going to make their kids fat, into perpetuity. At least our line of fat asses isn’t going to die out any time soon, seeing as how most of my past relatives lived well into their 80s and 90s, in spite of being fat (maybe because of being fat?).
    As for me, I’m going to continue being fat at the world so they had better get used to it.

  2. Breaking: scientists have show that people in the same family tend to share many of the same features! In other news, water wet.

  3. My people have been fat since there have been photographs to confirm that they were fat. A few of us have been slender (like my mom and my daughter), but most of us have weighed from 30-50 pounds more than what other adults in our generation have weighed. So if mothers are to blame — and blame the mommy is a game with a long supermarket-science history — then how do you account for my skinny mom having me and me having my rail-thin daughter?

    I think readers are smart enough to see that this is bullshit. They may not immediately grasp the politics of it, but in their own experience, they’ll know this just doesn’t make sense.

  4. The more I think about it, the more this also pisses me off because it’s like they’ve found a (or another) socially sanctioned way of dogging on black women in this state.

    The birth results for black women (regardless of class) in this state are scarily terrible–they have much higher infant mortality rates, much higher maternal mortality rates, much higher rates of incredibly premature births.

    And I’m sorry, but it’s just not possible that that many women in this state all just are shitty women who fuck it up for their babies because they are so stupid.

    Same with the poor women in this state (regarless of race).

    But this is yet another way for health care providers in this state to blame women for fucking things up instead of looking to see what kinds of systemic things might be going wrong.

    But I’m sorry. If you’re a part of a profession that was still sterilizing black women over in Memphis against their will and without their knowledge within my lifetime, it’s time for you to be a little humble when you talk about what the people you treat are doing wrong and whether they’re fit mothers.

    This just really, really pisses me off–that the discussion about what to do about our miserable birth outcomes is going to focus on how women are fucking up (and bully for them for finding ways to get to talk about how poor and black women are fucking it up the worst without drawing attention to them blaming poor and black women as if “obese” hasn’t become code for that).

  5. This may be on topic this might be off topic but there’s this program ABC has been running for the past month or so – “Secrets of Your Mind” – last night the focus was an obese woman who apparently had “tried everything” to lose weight and the action of last resort was brain surgery – to go in and electrify part of one area that supposedly controls hunger – and it worked.

    But sitting there – halfway watching the program – I couldn’t help but think of it as “the woman was so desperate she was having someone open up her skull!!!”

    Let me also add that people today aren’t really overweight for the same reasons that people in the past were overweight. Before I get slammed – let me clairify – some cases are genetic. But our grandparents didn’t have a McDonald’s on every corner, platters (not plates) served to them at restaurants and they didn’t sit at desks all day.

  6. Yeah, but they did eat a shit ton of lard and lots of beef and starches. A regular meal my grandma made included noodles and biscuits and potatoes. I couldn’t eat that every day if I tried.

    It’s weird that we believe we’re eating worse than we ever did, when clearly, in a lot of ways, we’re eating better.

    My fear is that something is very wrong with all of us, probably something environmental, and, instead of looking at rising obesity rates in certain populations as being a warning about all our health and an indication of where the problem thing is most concentrated, we’re busy being all “Oh, well, it’s that we eat shittier than we did.” Or “they’re just not trying hard enough.”

    Or it’s going to be like ulcers and in 15 years they’re going to be all “Oh, it’s a bacteria in your gut. Take this.” And people will not remember how folks used to think ulcers were caused by stress.

  7. My fear is that something is very wrong with all of us, probably something environmenta

    Yes – and this is probably all the preservatives that is in our food, not to mention antibiotics in our chicken and beef. Not to mention the stuff that lines the soda cans.

    Also, yeah, our ancestors ate lard and stuff, but most of them worked out in the elements with their hands – they worked hard and they worked it off. It’s not like they went back and sat down at a computer. They were much more active than our generations.

    I mean, I have a copy of a letter my (paternal) Grandmother wrote one month after Daddy was born. She mentioned getting out in the field and tending to the corn in the red dirt. Today, women 1 month after giving birth are still resting. Times were hard back then – and people worked harder than most of us do now. I maintain that makes a difference.

    I concur on the ulcer bit.

  8. I think it is kind of telling that the photograph of the baby included specifically states that she is a healthy weight but it appears to have been selected because the way she is crying scrunches up her face so she appears to be a baby that might be beyond that weight.

    I also think that quote about how one should want to have a normal pregnancy with a normal weight baby is pretty lame. Oh, really? That’s the idea? I’m so glad they got an actual doctor to clarify that difficult point. Now all those people with high risk pregnancies can just stop bringing it on themselves. It seems like a case of poor interviewing to illustrate a poor point.

  9. But many people worked hard and ate what is now considered “healthy” — stewed greens, whole grains, dried beans — and were still fat by our standards. Nobody gave a shit that my grandmother or my great-grandmother weighed over 200 pounds. They just cut a bigger pattern and bought a little more fabric.

    We are, as a culture, obsessed with everyone else’s bodily bidness. We like to measure and judge and create hierarchy, especially if it helps to regulate women and drive them to buy stuff they don’t otherwise feel compelled to buy.

  10. drive them to buy stuff they don’t otherwise feel compelled to buy.

    This may be the root of it. Part of our obsession with “beauty” is due to the fact that there are alot of talented marketers who want to make sure we realize that we are NOT “beautiful” but that their product can surely help us get that way. And it’s not something men are insulated from either.

  11. Today, women 1 month after giving birth are still resting.

    Who’s resting? I came home from the hospital with my new baby and baked a cake with my 3-year-old that afternoon! ;) Of course I had to sit down when I realized my abdominal muscles were basically nonfunctional and it felt like my top half and my bottom half were unconnected…

    Activity levels were way higher across the board. And some folks were still fat.

    B, I couldn’t agree more about scary environmental causes. There are also compounding factors in that soils have been depleted of minerals, we eat weird refined things (flour, oils, etc.) all the time, and for most of us in the US life is just more sedentary (thanks to cars even more than computers).

    I wish that medicine would reframe the debate to leave fatness/obesity out of the equation entirely. I think if we stripped away the societal debate about obesity then we could really start to look at things like diabetes and heart disease and where and when they occur, and what the changes are there. (As you mentioned, Aunt B.)

    It’s just that fat is so outwardly visible and provides such an unparalleled opportunity for shame and blame…why would we want to give that up? :/

  12. Dolphin – yes – exactly. That’s why I avoid “beauty” magazines. They just make people (me) feel like I am lacking.

    Jo – No disrespect intended, just poor wording… what I should have said is most maternity leaves are 6 weeks or so. Back in the day there was no such thing.

  13. Beth — oh no no no no, I didn’t mean it like that! I was merely making a joke about my own ridiculous behavior — in my own family the legend of Great-Grandma dropping foal and heading directly back out to the garden patch with hoe in hand looms large!

  14. If my choices are
    A) squatting in a field to deliver my baby while still sowing or reaping while supposedly being svelte (and thus beautiful and apparently healthy) but only living to 60 if I’m lucky
    or
    B) being fat behind my desk and then on my couch with beer and friends and living (only) to 72
    I’m going with B every single time.

    I still haven’t read any data from this obesity panic that makes me long to live in an earlier time.

  15. I think Jo’s story makes a good point. If you want to compare the post-partum experience three generations ago to now you have to consider that these days a rather large percentage of women are having tol recover from some pretty invasive abdominal surgery after they’ve given birth. It takes awhile to get over having your internal organs sitting on your the outside of your abdomen.

  16. Well, my ill-advised cookery occurred after a drug-free vaginal birth — but even after as natural a birth as you can get, abdominal muscles have been stretched to their limit for months, and pelvic tendons and ligaments are loosey-goosey, and taking the stairs is a BAD idea for a few days.

    The recommendation in generations past was actually for extended periods of bedrest postpartum — at least a week or two — whereas now women are encouraged to get up and move around as soon as possible, even after cesarean birth.

    I suspect Great-Grandma actually spent a couple weeks on bedrest after each baby, as was the fashion at the time. At any rate she birthed six babies and lived to be 93, four-foot-eleven and stout. ;)

  17. I wasn’t going to get in this water because I don’t want to fight with anybody–even people I’ve never met.

    I am generally mum on this topic anymore because I don’t wish to get too personal. But I’ve said what I’m about to say to B and a few others privately.

    About 6-8 months ago it was confirmed that I have an additional autoimmune disease which is very rare. I know that it is very rare; so far according to the CDC there are 8 people in Nashville who have it–three of whom (me included) are treated by the same doctor.

    This autoimmune disease changes the nature of fat cells in your body. Once you have it, the only way you can lose these fat cells is to have them surgically removed. This is one of the few diseases where liposuction is covered by insurance.

    Not only are many of the existing fat cells in your body changed, but there are also new abnormal fat cells generated as a byproduct of disease process. People with this disease (which name I will not share at the risk of folks googling it and thinking they’re experts after reading half a wikipedia article) are literally fat because of an illness.

    And yes, it’s rare. But as I’ve been put under a goblot of microscopes–literally and figuratively–I can attest that what doctors actually know about the creation of fat cells, the types of fat cells and the reduction of those fat cells is actually very very small.

    There are a lot of theories. Many people–especially those who say things like “eat less, exercise more”–are taking a theory and espousing it as fact.

    So whenever a discussion turns to fat and the nature of overweight, what most people think they know just is NOT A PROVEN, DOCUMENTED FACT at all.

    I caution anyone against drawing any type of conclusion regarding the nature of obesity beyond “we just don’t have enough knowledge yet.”

    Because we don’t. We think we know after years of drowning in agitprop and anecdata. But we do not know.

  18. What Coble said — we only know enough about this to know we haven’t got a clue what the hell is going on.

  19. Thank you, Katherine, for sharing that.

    I also think it’s interesting that much of what people think they know about dieting and weight loss goes back to the ancient Greeks, really. People who would never espouse theories of yellow bile will happily spout nonsense about dieting that was brought to you by the exact same people who thought your uterus could up and wander around inside your body and make you crazy.

  20. I clicked over and read your comment, Aunt B, and I think it’s well-said.

    But holy shit some of those people over there are scary. I just found one who is saying that if you’re obese, you’re disabled. WTF?

  21. B, that was an excellent comment. Not that I’d expect any different. I read it, but didn’t want to read any of the others. Helen’s comment here reassures me that I made the right decision.

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