Today is Obesity Task Force Day on the Hill and I have been trying to discern whether the obese will be able to use this task force to do tasks we need done (I, for instance, could use some help with weeding) or if the task force will give me tasks to accomplish. I have become the person who makes fun of the obesity task force.
I joke, because, of course because it’s kind of funny to watch well-meaning people pretend like it’s not about finding you disgusting and wanting to ensure no further people like you exist in the state, that really, it’s about health.
I mean, please. If it was about health, why didn’t they call it the Healthy Tennesseans Task Force?
Well-meaning people never like it when you point out that you understand that they hate you. No, no, we don’t hate you, we just find you disgusting we think you need to “be healthy.”
Well, I’m not going to be healthy (or less disgusting looking). I’ve got some shit going on with my body (which, if you read here you know) and it is what it is. Since some of the shit going on with my body is an incredibly common thing they estimate one in ten women has, whether she knows it or not, I imagine a lot of the women and girls you look at and feel disgusted by are concerned for their health are also experiencing the same thing.
I can’t tell you how incredibly angry it still makes me that I saw doctors my whole life who were all, “You’re too fat.” “You’re lying about what you’re eating and how much exercise you’re getting.” “You must loose weight.” and it wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that a doctor said, “Hmm, if even part of what you’re saying is true, something is not right here. Let’s investigate.”
And, lo and behold. I was/am stuck with this ongoing crap I will have to medicate myself about for the rest of my life. But which I have always had. It was always there, just waiting to be discovered.
Do I still wish I were going to wake up one day and weigh 155 pounds? Not as much as I did, but yeah. Sometimes.
But here’s the thing. I don’t want to devote my life to it–I don’t want to devote my life to shit that has, my whole life, made me miserable. Maybe that makes me a weak person to admit that in public, but that’s the truth. I have been on the “if only I try harder, then [that person will love me/I’ll be thin and beautiful/all my dreams will come true]” merry-go-round my whole damn life.
And fuck it if I’m going to sit here and have some state task force dress it up like, if I don’t try harder, I’m failing the people of Tennessee.
People of Tennessee, I’m playing in the garden. I’m taking my dog to the park. I’m lounging in the hammock, talking to my friends and watching the cats hunt. I pay my bills on time. I pay my taxes. I’m not giving meth to your children. I’m living a good life, that makes me happy; I’m not failing you.
There’s nothing about me to be afraid of. It’s not actually unpleasant to be fat (nor is it pleasant). It’s just having a body.
I know you mean well, Obesity Task Force, but I also get that you hate and are disgusted by me.
I have gotten that message my whole life (ironically enough, even back when I weighed 155 pounds).
And I’m here to tell you that drumming into a fat person that you are disgusted by her are concerned about her “health,” may indeed make her desperately wish she were not fat, but it has done NOTHING to make us a less fat society.
I looked at the Tennessee Obesity Task Force page. And these are their targeted areas:
- Increased physical activity.
- Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- Decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Increased breastfeeding initiation and duration.
- Reduced consumption of high-energy-dense foods.
- Decreased screen (TV/Video) time.
Notice there’s nothing about improving neighborhood safety so that kids can play outside or walk to school. Nothing about addressing levels of pollution and the rise of asthma in our population. Nothing about early screening and treatment of endocrine disorders. Nothing about addressing whether people can get timely health care for conditions that, if left untreated, could make it harder for them to be mobile.
It’s all about how, if people are fat, it’s because they are fucking up.
And yet, it’s somehow impolite for fat people to react with hostility to the hostile message we’re being met with, because people mean well.
I know I’ve told this story a million times, but I think of it often, how a history professor we had told us about how all the “good” women of Chicago who were benefactors of Hull House would go into the tenements and hold classes teaching the women in the slums how to cook eggs properly and how to properly keep their apartments clean. And this program went on for a while until one of the immigrant women said, “It’s not that I don’t know how to cook eggs; I’ve got no money for eggs. It’s not that I don’t know how to clean my home; our only window opens onto the vent for the coal-fired furnace.”
And here we are, a hundred years later, and the Obesity Task Force has discerned a problem and is going to come in and teach us all how to eat and move around.
Well, the poor people whose lives you’ve diagnosed from the outside are going to discern the same strain of clueless bullshit from you guys.
And I’m writing this post so that when it happens I can sit back and say, “I told you so.”
But I’m a bitch like that.