Archive for July, 2010
The Elf and I watched See No Evil, Hear No Evil the Richard Pryor / Gene Wilder comedy about a blind man and a deaf man struggling to clear their names after they are framed for murder.
One of my favorite scenes is when Pryor’s character’s sister asks him something along the lines of: “Why do you have to pass for being sighted? It’s a disease in your mind, like not wanting to admit you’re black.”
Pryor vaults out of his subway seat: “I’m black? Why didn’t you tell me this before? Does Dad know?”
That’s what I think of when I hear UK Ministers deciding to be brutally honest by calling “fat” people “fat”:
GPs and other health professionals should tell people they are fat rather than obese, England’s public health minister says. Anne Milton told the BBC the term fat was more likely to motivate them into losing weight. She said it was important people should take “personal responsibility” for their lifestyles. But health experts said the word could stigmatise those who are overweight. NHS should use term fat instead of obese, says minister
Of all the crackpot weight loss theories, this one — verbally abuse fat people into losing weight — has got to be my favorite.
Usually reporters like to offer counterpoint, too, like this one: “But health experts said the word could stigmatise those who are overweight.” As though the only problem with that strategy is that it might make people feel bad.
Stigmatizing is the point. The whole theory is that we don’t know we’re fat, or that we’re not embarrassed enough about our fatness to do anything about it. But that’s not the problem. Most fat people I know are pretty well aware that they’re fat. They call themselves fat. They often hate themselves for being fat.
If self-loathing is not enough to make them lose weight, maybe there’s something else going on. Maybe it’s the kind of food they eat, or the kind of work they do, or maybe their body shape is really what it’s supposed to be. Could be different case by case.
But as long as medical professionals comfort themselves by saying their inability to treat obesity is due to fat people’s pig-headedness and not to their own incompetence, we’ll never know. Some people here need to take some personal responsibility, and it’s not the fatties.