Recently my good friend Deb Lemire sent me a link to this amazing Ted talk. Why not go take a look right now? It’s that good. I’ll wait.
It’s clear to me that Lynne is an amazing woman–one I’d love to meet one day. She said many, many true and moving things in her short talk. But one of the things I’d particularly like to talk about today is her discussion of the war on obesity, and her assertion that war is about hate.
I think it’s important to share this business about this war on obesity. There are new people every day who join the ‘righteous’ and march out in this war. The recruits are now younger and younger with indoctrination beginning in kindergarten and even preschool. So what’s wrong with it? Why not fight against this crushing “disease” which is “killing our children”?
In answer, I’d like to begin with two words: collateral damage.
I think many of us have been caught in the “friendly fire” of the war on obesity. Many of us have seen the disapproving looks as we dare to order a roll (maybe even with real butter!) to eat with our salads. We’ve been photographed and filmed with our heads cut off and displayed for the wartime propaganda. We’ve been made scapegoats and blamed for everything from high prices for flying and insurance to global warming. We have been named bad parents and some of us have even had our children torn from our grasp. We are the butt of the joke, the cautionary tale, the perennial ‘before’ photo and the ’cause of the downfall of the human race’.
Except, for one problem. It ain’t necessarily so. There is little evidence that fat people raise health insurance rates to any significant degree. Flying is expensive because of a whole host of reasons including high fuel prices, inept airline management, a complex web of travel taxes and tariffs and poor aircraft upkeep among many other factors. There is little reason to blame fat people for any of the problems the world is facing right now.
And even beyond those issues, there is one other. The war can’t be won this way. You can’t hate fat people thin. For all the marching and the propaganda and the fabulous uniforms and billions of dollars spent, people aren’t getting any thinner. All the money we’re spending and the people being emotionally and physically damaged in the crossfire is for nothing. We are not making people any thinner.
I’d say that perhaps some of this money should be spent on determining what should be done to make the world healthier and happier without causing massive casualties from collateral damage, except we already know what actually works. It’s called Health At Every Size or HAES and it’s for every BODY. There is a lot of evidence that healthy habits are a better determinant of health at all sizes than body size. So HAES simply suggests that we work on making healthy behaviors available and attractive to folks of all sizes, and stop trying to make fat people into thin people.
Why can’t we focus on health irrespective of size? Why can’t we focus on making healthy options like good locally sourced food and safe places to walk and play for people of all sizes, races and economic levels? Why can’t we focus on teaching our children to love and respect their own bodies and those of everyone around them?
We can. As it says in the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, “where there is hatred let us sow [your] love”. So, let’s do it! Let’s commit to being body pacifists. Let’s throw down our weapons and walk out on the battlefields and bring aid and succor to those who are hurting out there. Let’s find the kids who are wandering around shell shocked and bewildered and show them that there is another way. That making a healthier body is about having a healthier community and a healthier world forged from love and not hate. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
The Fat Chick