Friday, April 23, 2010

"Is It Okay to Be Fat?" how recent discussions of the topic in the media have gone--Dr. Phil, Nightline.

You can see where the question comes from/where it falls, evolutionarily, in cultural discussions of fat. It represents a crack in the usual discussion about it being completely wrong--it represents some voices being heard. Not just that, I think it arises from inevitable problems with the absolute monolith of unhelpful--whatever your POV--oversimplified thinking about fat. This question was coming one way or another at some point.

It's such a sucky question, though. It's progress, but it's so grim. Surely the one thing that people agree upon about fat, hate it or love it, is that it is. We are. Fat people are.

On some level it boggles my mind that there are people who (as Dorothy L. Sayers would say) maintain their right to disapprove of my existence, because this is what in effect happens when the answer to "Is it okay to be fat?" is "no." It's a very short hop from "no" to you should be smaller to it's not okay to be. That's how that goes, best intentions notwithstanding. The question doesn't hold water philosophically. Look at the responses to the Kevin Smith situation; how many people chimed in with, "They should just stay at home"? To be fat sometimes is to be weirdly invisible, to have people wish you were.

I know there are a lot of ideas to be discussed under the umbrella of this question. But the way it is framed reflects how sure we are that body size is entirely a choice and how it is assumed to always be--need to be--in flux. We are always supposed to be changing, always supposed to be getting smaller, all of us, fat or thin, really. There is a distinct lack of the present tense when talking about body size. There is always an assumption that what you are now you won't be in the future. Semi-measured articles like this in the Observer have bizarro subtitles like: "As obesity becomes a greater social and political issue, campaigners say they have a human right to be fat."

Well, er...yes. I do have a right to be me, I think. In the most calming of possible circumstances for those who hate fat people and see them--us--as walking embodiments of bad behavior--what am I supposed to do? Go home and think about what I've done? Swear I'm changing? Have something to prove my shame, like a passport? Show it when necessary to reassure people I'm not blithely unaware of how wrong I am? I am accountable to others, it feels, for existing as I am.

I keep thinking about Jude Law being dragged up in the helicopter at the end of A.I., saying, "I am. I was." I just am.

We have to ask different questions. This one's wrong. Whatever questions you want to ask next, this is the wrong one to start with.

1 comment:

  1. *applause* I want to write novels in response to this, but I will spare you. Just...thank you.