Weighty

14 Nov

Anyone else read CNN on a daily basis?

Lost among the stories of murder, rape, pillage, amputated limbs and burning buildings have lately been some rather odd stories.

What exactly is newsworthy about people losing weight?

All around the world people starve. In our own countries, people are malnourished because they can’t afford the proper food, or they don’t know what they should be eating. We’re at war. Our economies may slip into recession in the near future.

And yet some guy loses weight and that’s worth tacking on a major news site. He didn’t save a child, or a platoon. He didn’t rescue a dog, cure cancer or fly around the world in a balloon. Yet he’s front page news.

Is fat really so repulsive, such a scandal, that someone who loses a ton of weight is a hero? Will they write a story about him in a few years when he’s likely to have gained the weight back? Will he be as special and delightful when he’s chubby? Will we write odes to his name?

I’m fat. I may stay this way forever. I may find a way to lose it after all this time. I don’t know. Most of the time I don’t much care. What I do know is that it’s bloody insulting and infuriating to see these little articles devoted to weight loss on a news site, articles telling me that I’m not special unless I shrink down in size, that I don’t matter unless I’m little.

I don’t want to be little. I’m perfectly happy being a giant, thank you very much. I don’t want to hear about their caloric restriction. I want to hear about people doing things, real things, writing novels, solving murders, fixing wars. Meaningful things. How is losing weight meaningful? You’re still gonna die! What you weigh will have no bearing on how meaningful your life was-not if you truly live your life.

I’m tired of it-I’m tired of the celebrity of skinny, of anorexia, of denial. My body wants food like a car wants gas. It shall have it’s gas. My tongue wants taste like the sea wants water. It shall have it’s taste. My life will be defined by more than my waist size or by the amount of chub that hangs over my belt. I am more than the sum of my ass.

Now why isn’t THAT newsworthy?

10 Responses to “Weighty”

  1. Hannah November 14, 2007 at 8:52 am #

    I thought I was the only one bothered by that story – or indeed any of the items I’ve been seeing lately on the big US news sites.

    I always wonder how the reporter hears about these folks. Do they call up the station and pitch their “heroism”? Or do desperate reporters just hang out at gyms and salad bars looking for the skinny guy with the hungry look on his face, munching an energy bar?

  2. Carin November 14, 2007 at 9:08 am #

    I’ve got one thing to say. CBC, man, CBC. They have some crap, but less crap than goddamn CNN.

  3. daisybones November 14, 2007 at 9:19 am #

    See, it’s the headline that belies the real problem here: “Tired of slights, embarrassment, Man loses 87 pouds.” That is bullshit. Now this headline, OK: “It Being Slow News Day, We Celebrate A Gentleman Who Shed 87 Pounds After Diabetes and Heart Risk Diagnoses. And Actually There is Other Better News but it is Too Ugly For Mass Consumption”

    I really do buy that being overweight is a health risk indicator but the emphasis on it as an aesthetic issue is what creates such an unhealthy dichotomy where we have anorexia and obesity on two extremes of a scale that is a skewed reality.

  4. thordora November 14, 2007 at 9:38 am #

    See, anymore, I don’t really buy that it’s a health risk-I think we’ve been conditioned to believe that anyone overweight is this HUGE health risk, which isn’t true. I’m in fairly good shape-no indication of diabetes, perfect BP, not heart issues other than those I may have inherited, despite techinically being obese, if not morbidly so. My stamina is that of most skinny people, if not better. Hell check out Shapely Prose for the story of a woman who is “obese” and doing freaking triathalons (http://kateharding.net/2007/10/22/guest-blogger-sarah-why-the-fat-girl-on-a-bike-blog-is-going-on-hiatus/) (That’s part of it-I don’t know if her blog is back up or not. Lovely how some people don’t consider her an athelte.. Fat doesn’t always equal weakness or illness. If it did, we’d all be dead by now.

    The fact that people try to convince all of us that being fat is the worst thing we could do for us and the people around us bothers me. A lot.

  5. bine November 14, 2007 at 10:44 am #

    hmpf. i don’t know. stories like that may certainly be inspiring or encouraging for people who think they need to lose weight and fear they can’t do it. but it certainly isn’t headline news material. absolutely not. the yellow press can cover that.

    i’m a big fan of sarah (the fat girl on a bike) since i’ve discovered her two months ago. she makes me want to do a triathlon.
    on the health risk – well, i would regard you as an exception to the rule. most people who are overweight or obese are at a serious health risk – because they’re eating the wrong stuff and not moving enough. i reached my “breaking point”, as they so sweetly call it on CNN, when i couldn’t climb the stairs to my flat without having to drop into a chair afterwards and puffing for a minute or more. if i hadn’t felt so unfit i wouldn’t have minded the fat so much. eh, to get to the point, i don’t think it’s the weight that makes the health risk, it’s the wrong lifestyles.

  6. cerebralmum November 14, 2007 at 10:50 am #

    From reading through a lot of the science, and junking all the bad science that comes from politicising the issue – on both sides – I agree with daisybones that it is an “indicator”. It doesn’t indicate anything to any pleb on the street who looks sideways at someone big, but I think that a doctor does need to consider it in conjunction with all the other lifestyle factors. The real question is, why is a stranger’s health anybody’s business? Why do people make connections between size (whatever size) and character that have absolutely no basis in reality? Not just why is weight loss newsworthy, but why is extremely fat newsworthy? Why is skinny newsworthy? I think everybody cops it from all sides. It sucks.

  7. Netter November 14, 2007 at 10:58 am #

    Because they want to shame all the fat people into not being such lazy, gluttonous slobs? I do find those types of stories inspirational, but mainly because I’m out of shape. I’d like to find the time to train for marathons or exercise everyday. I didn’t need inspiration when I was fit but still fat, too fat to be socially acceptable. I’m sure my cholesterol and triglycerides are high, but my BP was only ever high when I was in labor (and I think having to wear the stupid cuff for 14 hours was part of the reason it was high), and even as a fat, pregnant lady I passed the glucose tolerance test. Fat does not equal unhealthy, just as skinny does not mean healthy.

  8. Kathy November 14, 2007 at 11:39 am #

    I saw the post about the cyclist a few weeks ago. It’s a shame that society is so narrow-minded that someone who’s not skinny can’t be praised for her athletic abilities without the “Oh but she’s so fat.” Thin does not equal fit, thin does not equal health. (Actually, I’m living proof that thin does not equal fit. I’m very out of shape right now, but still thin.)

  9. Brooke November 14, 2007 at 4:36 pm #

    I think your stance, your proclamation of a wonderful life worth living AS IT IS, should be news. Is actually news most of us hunger for. I want those stories on the front page, inspiring me and my children to love the life we have. To honor who we are and do something meaningful with the gifts we are given.

    And, like you, I doubt the true health risks they threaten to the healthfully overweight. We come in all sizes. I, for one, come from a long line of women who withstood famine and farmlife and childbirth because of their size, not in spite of it. This story lives in my DNA. As a marathon runner who never dips below 150 pounds WHILE Training, I know there is wisdom in my body that it wants to be this way. Not that I don’t mindfuck it all and torture myself in the face of cultural stereotypes and wish I could care less even when I do buy into the crap…but I also want more than this for myself. I want the peace you choose for yourself and the willingness to chuck it all.

    Thank you for being newsworthy in my life today. This was my headline. And a reminder.

  10. Magdalena November 14, 2007 at 4:52 pm #

    I was perfectly healthy when I was fat- but I did not have the stamina I do now. I would have liked to think so, but I am quicker without the weight. I had no crazy obsessions with weight, just calm, happy, and fat. I was under no false impression though, that staying that way wouldn’t end up being harder on me as I got older. I got tired easily.
    When I was skinny, I was sick. I let it rule me. I was obsessed. Skinny as ever, but mentally and otherwise, the sickest I’ve ever been. Ugly inside and out.
    Now I am just trying to be healthy, and that is all anyone should really strive for. I’m trying not to make mistakes, even though I do. I try to exercise 3 times a week, even though I don’t always make it. I’ve seen about 10 pounds come on since my real meltdown, and I think I look the healthiest I ever have.
    If you think you’d be healthier without the weight, you probably would be. To be honest, not trying for super thin or letting myself be overweight is the hardest of all. It sucks, takes the most thought and energy, and succumbing to being fat or to being sickeningly skinny is much easier in my opinion.
    You should always accept the person you are on the inside. The mistake is thinking weight loss/gain will change that core person. I think you owe it to yourself to be the healthiest you can be, and if what you are at right now in this moment is the healthiest you feel you can be, then that is that, right?

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