People simultaneously talk more about and are more dumb about body size than almost any other topic I can think of, which means that when they open their mouths you can get a look right into the core of people's most insecure, lazy, hateful, myopic, hurt, catchpenny thinking. Such stupidity is not helpful, and although it's all horribly discouraging, it does give you a 1/8 second head start on calling bullshit sometimes because it comes with glowing red signs.
I am aware that this is just a way of saying I Know Better--but still; there is really nothing quite like how dumb people are around body image, precisely because we are all--all of us--so persecuted by it. We're all victims and bullies, which pretty much guarantees the Duh.
On Rush Limbaugh's show yesterday he took Michelle Obama to task for not having the body to back up her policies (!):
It is appalling (and stupid) that he would criticize individual food choices without context like that--not to mention an extremely harsh (and stupid) way of viewing the world, where every single thing you eat is either Wrong or Right and somebody's keeping track--not to mention a very self-defeating (and stupid!) way to go after somebody politically, since we none of us would pass that test--not to mention extremely revealing of his own struggles with public criticism of his size, that he can whip out data about fat grams so easily there.The problem is--and dare I say this--it doesn't look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice. And then we hear that she's out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving, yeah it does--what do you mean, what do I mean?
What is it--no, I'm trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months [whom A-Rod is dating right now: click here] or what have you. I mean, women are under constant pressure to look lithe, and Michelle My Belle is out there saying if you eat the roots and tree bark and the berries and all this cardboard stuff you will live longer, be healthier and you won't be obese. Okay, fine, show us.
But it's terribly angering that he would criticize her for her size--whatever it was--and not only that, decide the the point of comparison for the First Lady should be the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover. The conflation of ideals and pressures and sexual thinking there is quite appalling, and at base seems to be extremely hateful, because, note, the woman is thin; the only reason he would seem to be able to--or want too--latch onto this as a thing is because you can actually see Obama's body. She doesn't hide it. He is criticizing the fact that she has one, and, perhaps, that it is a body type associated with African-American women. That's unforgiveable.
But you know what--I hated the title of Al Franken's book (Rush Limbaugh Is a Big, Fat Idiot) too. I did. I don't enjoy Limbaugh being body-shamed. He is a florid-faced fat man, and an easy object of sputtering derision. It would be extremely easy to say to him, and I'm sure people are, regarding Obama: who are you to talk? You are actually fat yourself, how dare you? But that would be wrong too, and dig the hole deeper. Nobody should do that. It benefits nobody. It bolsters more stereotypes. It foments more hatred towards self and others.
Which--it must be said--is what Limbaugh is about, consciously encouraging hate, which is spectacularly exhausting as well as mean. It would be lovely to not feed the troll here, to just let him, and people like Andrew Breitbart, sputter away in misguided, misogynous, pain-fueled hate without any traction.
Because they're being hateful, but they're also just being stupid. So is Sarah Palin, in her reactionary anti-Michelle Obama food-related stunts. So--unfortunately--is Michelle Obama at times in her efforts fighting childhood obesity. All of them are focusing in various ways on body size, not health. The focus is on fat people and what is assumed that fat people do to be fat as the cause of our problems, rather than a symptom of the world we live in.
Don't they know nobody wins here? Nobody is immune? A 400-pound woman has stuff thrown at her on the street, earns less money, won't fly for fear of ridicule. But a tall, thin woman in a position of power is also torn down for not looking like an SI model. Rush Limbaugh takes another turn on the spit of fat-hating and believes even more in the worth of his vitriol. A fat little kid who loves running around is told she's doing something wrong and starts to hate her body and get fatter. Nobody wins.