Fat Boys

Like I was telling Coble this morning, I’ve accepted that I’m fat because I’m decadent, lazy and immoral, hell-bent on ruining the Earth and hogging all the natural resources, while I fuck your spouses and eat your ice cream.  That’s fair.  I’ve made my soft and cuddly bed.  I’ll lie in it.

But I’m fascinated by the way we gender “fat” as “female.”  I’ve long suspected that this is because there’s that cultural meme that women, no matter what we set out to do, are miserable failures.  If you work outside the home, you’re ruining your children.  If you stay at home with your kids, you’re a bad feminist.  If you don’t have kids, you’re selfish.  If you do have kids, you’re ruining the environment.  Etc. Etc. Etc.

Fatness is just one more way for women to fail and making a woman’s weight cause for public concern–“it’s not healthy!”–is, I think, obviously another excuse to put women’s bodies on display and to normalize the idea that individual women must be prepared to be publicly scrutinized at any moment.

But then I read this little bit of news.  I’m sure you all saw it, about how fat people tend to make their friends fat. I quote almost in whole:

Findings: 1) Your chances of becoming obese go up by more than half (and in some cases by 171 percent) if your friend becomes obese. 2) This effect exceeds the effect of having an obese sibling or spouse. 3) The effect happens even if your friend is far away. 4) Fat neighbors had no effect. 5) “Persons of the same sex had relatively greater influence on each other than those of the opposite sex.” Theories: 1) The results can’t be explained by fat people befriending each other; the social connection causes the fat transfer. 2) Common genes, food, or environments can’t explain the comparative results involving friends, siblings, spouses, and neighbors. 3) Maybe you emulate your fat friends. 4) Maybe they loosen your “norms about the acceptability of being overweight.”

But check out this paragraph in the study itself:

 The sex of the ego and alter also appeared to be important. When the sample was restricted to same-sex friendships (87% of the total), the probability of obesity in an ego increased by 71% (95% CI, 13 to 145) if the alter became obese. For friends of the opposite sex, however, there was no significant association (P=0.64). Among friends of the same sex, a man had a 100% (95% CI, 26 to 197) increase in the chance of becoming obese if his male friend became obese, whereas the female-to-female spread of obesity was not significant (38% increased chance; 95% CI, –39 to 161).

Let me make this clear: The ego is the person being studied and the alter is his or her friend.  If the ego and the alter are opposite sex, there’s no significant association between one’s obesity and the other’s.  AND, and I quote, “the female-to-female spread of obesity was not significant.”

What’s this mean?

In plain English, even though news outlets such as Slate.com passed this off as a story about obese people, this is actually a story about obese men.  Women don’t get fat from each other.  Men do.

So, why don’t any of the stories acknowledge that?  Why does the NEJM not seem able to acknowledge what its own study finds?  Why can’t we talk plainly about men and fat?

Here’s my suspicion.  We tend to think of women as inherently lazy, inherently not trying hard enough.  So, if a woman is fat, it’s easy enough to assume she’s just a fuck up.

We don’t tend to think of men as fuck ups, though.

I was thinking about this this morning, how the Butcher has himself a belly even though he walks to and from work every day.  Or my uncle, out there working construction for twelve hours at a time, and his big old pot belly.  Shoot, the recalcitrant brother is so popular as a plumber because he’s scrawny enough to fit where most plumbers can’t.

Why are working class men fat?  If they’re doing manual labor all day and we’ve been told that the reason we all are fat is that we’ve moved to a progressively more sedentary lifestyle, why are they fat, too?

I think we desperately don’t want to ask ourselves those questions because they point to outside factors.  We’ve done our best to equate fatness with moral turpitude and general laziness.  People are fat because they’re just not trying hard enough.

But what if people are fat not just because of what they willingly put into their bodies, but also because of what they cannot help but put into their bodies?

Well, At Least No White People are Being Affected

Before I get started with this post, may I just point out that the Scene this week is remarkably good and interesting? I have half a mind to call and ask if everything’s okay over there, since I cannot remember the last time they put out an issue I felt compelled to read so thoroughly.

This week’s Scene had two interesting stories (not counting the one about naked people).

Story One: “The Tennessee Department of Labor has shut down Ceja Enterprises on Nolensville Road for evading workers’ compensation laws.” P.J. Tobia explains:

She [Ceja] calls herself a notario, a term for which there is no English equivalent. In Central American countries, a notario is a sort of super lawyer empowered to issue judicial opinions, make binding financial judgments and perform legal marriages. But Ceja is not legally allowed to do any of those things. But non-English-speaking immigrants are led to believe otherwise.

Specifically, Ceja was taking money from people to help them with their immigration issues when she was no more qualified to navigate the immigration system than I am. I’m sure you can see the implications of this. You can come to this country, go to a person who has a business that no one has bothered to shut down, that you think is all about helping you remain here legally, pay that person a great deal of money, and find yourself on the wrong end of a deportation, even though you thought you were jumping through the right hoops.

Story Two: If you’re black and there’s a possibility you might be a criminal in another city, Nashville will ship your ass off without even so much as sending your photo ahead to see if you’re really the right guy. In fact, you might get to go to the Memphis jail, which, as you might recall, is known as one of the most fun places to spend a night, what with the spoon-raping and all, and once you’re done in that hellhole, they’re release you onto the streets without so much as a way to call your wife and tell her that you’ve been nabbed by your city and shipped west.

I mention these two things because, as we all know, these same folks who are randomly kidnapping black citizens and sending them off to whatever jail is unfortunate enough to need a black person of similar name and who had to leave it to the Department of Labor to finally shut down an obvious con artist preying on people who are trying to follow the law, are also working with Immigration under a 287 (g) Memorandum of Agreement designed to empower local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration statutes.

Gee, I bet nothing could go wrong with that.

I mean, it’s not like this is Carrollton, Georgia or something.

Another Contest

Bridgett sent me a link to this contest and I’m thinking I should submit “Honey” to it.  I want to do some minor revisions, now that I’ve seen it on stage.  For one–and this may be shocking to those of you who read me–I think there’s too much cussing in it.

I don’t know why, but shits and fuck mes and such that aren’t jarring to me at all to read do jar me to see.  So, I want to tone those down some.

Also, there are a few lines I want to smooth over.

Otherwise, I kind of think it’s good.  I don’t know.

I thought the actors were so genius with it that they may have made something mediocre into something memorable.

Still, I’m a woman playwrite residing in Tennessee and damn, it’d be really weird and cool to see another cast perform it.

Argh.  It tickles me and makes me want to throw up to even consider it.

Tee hee hee blegh ack ack ha ha is the sound my soul is making right now.