Maybe Elizabeth Bennett Wasn’t Lying About Her Age

Holy cow. I just read this old news story about Elizabeth Bennett’s nephew, who lived to be at least 106 and who had a daughter who took care of him who was 80. So, you know, maybe Elizabeth lived forever, too. Although, the descendant of this nephew calls her “Elizabeth Hensley Bennett.” Which would seem to indicate that Bennett is a married name? But I see in the forums that folks are pretty sure that Bennett is her maiden name and that Hensley is a dude she just had kids with. I didn’t find any Bennetts in the 1810 census, but I didn’t find Demonbreun in there, either, so I could just be a bad study.

But check her here in the 1850 census, living among a bunch of Demonbreuns.

She’s from Virginia?!

Man I would love to know how and when she came to Nashville.

It’s Kind of Creepy Out There

I’m in the grouchy stage of not-writing. Ha ha ha. I know. What’s different? But I’d like to have some good chunks of writing time to start really getting into the book and I just don’t have it. And it’s making me grouchy.

The weather has a cool edge to it this morning, which is disconcerting. It’s almost like fall is in the air, though I suppose it’s probably just the spring that has been muted under our early summer.

Goofus continues not to leaf. It also continues to have buds that seem to have green on them. I just don’t fucking know.

I wrote a post for Pith the comments under which have already grown so stupid that I’m not going to read any more of them. Once you see someone being all “I’m going to insist you’re saying all this stuff that’s the opposite of what you’re saying, just so that I can argue with a position I’m more comfortable opposing,” all hope is lost. At least for me.

I mean, seriously, if saying that pictures accompanying stories about obesity should reflect the bodies of the people you’re actually talking about and show faces, like how real people are photographed, means I’m saying they shouldn’t run photos… well, then, what’s there to argue?

I got into it a little in that post, but I think there’s a reason they don’t show obese people, but always show the asses of morbidly obese people. It’s not just what I said there but it’s also that “fat” is both a physical characteristic and a moral judgement.

I’m obese. Like the death fats. And I have people telling me, still, all the time that I’m not really fat. And I’m never quite sure how they mean that. That I’m fat but I’m not really fat, like those huge people? Or that I’m fat, but I’m not gross like those fat people who don’t dress well or don’t bathe very often or what? Or weirder (and I do sometimes get this impression) that I am literally not fat, no matter what my actual body looks like, because to be fat is to be gross and they don’t find me gross.

I get bullshit for being fat. I have heard enough that no one will ever love me because I’m fat to last a lifetime.

But it’s weirder that I have a kind of thin privilege, too, not because I’m not fat, but because I don’t read as poor or uneducated or dirty or a minority. It’s like if we’re standing at the intersection of weight, gender, race, and class, because I’m an educated white woman who meets some basic level of conventionally not ugly, I can sometimes use the “not fat” road, even though I actually am. Yes, I often get kicked off it, but as often as I get kicked off it, I get people trying to pull me back onto it.

Believe me, I don’t want people running around calling me Fatty-Boombalatty or anything, and so it’s not like, if you say, “Oh, but you’re not really fat” that I’m going to put you under my boob and smother you with it or something. I’m happy to hide in plain sight, even if that makes me a coward.

But it’s creepy to not be seen for who you really are.

And it’s especially creepy when it shows you that “fat” in our society is more a judgment of a person’s worth than a neutral descriptor of the type of body they have.

That, especially, is why I think you don’t see an average obese person’s photo next to stories about the obesity epidemic. They need to show you a person “everyone” agrees is disgusting in order to motivate you to see the obesity epidemic as a problem. Seeing what obesity actually looks like for most people–in other words, a neutral photo of the actual issue under discussion–would not kick up the same levels of revulsion. Hell, I even think showing a morbidly obese person–her whole body and face–wouldn’t do it.

Those photos are designed to make it as easy as possible for you to make a moral judgment about the value of that person. If they give you other cues–that she’s conventionally not ugly, that she’s well-groomed, that she’s got a lively sparkle in her eye, that she’s confident–you won’t shove her down the “something to be ashamed of and hidden” road.

(I don’t have all morning so I’m glossing over the whole issue of using a woman’s fat ass, usually clad in affordable clothing, to illustrate a problem that has leveled off among poor and middle class women, but is rising in rich men, but it’s there.)