Back when the movie Wall*E came out, I decided I wasn’t going to see it. I’d read a lot about it, both pro and con, and saw a few spoilers on youtube, and decided I wasn’t going to pay money to see something that was probably going to continue to feed into the prejudices against fat people.
It’s one of the few times my husband and I have argued about fat acceptance and what it means for me, personally, to be a fat activist. It’s the only time my husband ever said I was too sensitive about a topic.
The movie has come out on DVD, and, since we have a NetFlix account, my husband put it in his queue. It came in, and he watched it last night at work. It didn’t cost us any extra, and so isn’t actually giving Pixar more money for their film, so I have no issues with that.
What I do have issues with is the argument we got into this morning as he was getting ready for bed (he’s on graveyard shift right now). He loved the movie, thought it was great, and that it didn’t play into all the fat stereotypes and wouldn’t further fat prejudism. Even though I’ve not seen the movie, I’ve seen enough youtube clips and read enough reviews that I was able to argue intelligently with him about it.
The problem is, my husband comes from a place of privilege. Yes, I said it. I hate using that word, as I think it only furthers divides people, but really, that’s the truth of it. Up until recently, he was always ‘normal’ weight. His only issues with ‘fat’ in his life were when he was in the army, and that when his muscles started to fill in and the army just went by the height/weight charts and put him on a diet. If you go by BMI alone, my husband is in the 28 range. Overweight, but not terribly so. Only, when you look at him, standing 6’2″ tall and extremely muscular, he doesn’t “look” like he’d be in the overweight category. Yes, he carries a couple extra pounds around his midsection, but not so much that people would say anything to him.
Growing up, he was always skinny, his mother and father both were always skinny — well, his mother until she had the stroke, then she gained about forty pounds. He’s never had to deal with fat predjudice. When he went to a doctor and the doctor was an idiot, he knew it was just the doctor was an idiot. His diagnosis were never “you’re fat” and his treatments were never “lose weight”.
He also has a scientific mind, is in a scientific field, and light reading for him is either hard core science fiction (you know, the types that give the theory behind whatever the futuristic technology is) or science books, magazines, and websites. His TV channel of choice is the science channel, followed by the military channel. Now that he’s discovered we get National Geographic it’s starting to tie the Military Channel for second place.
He watched the movie, and saw the ‘science’ behind it, and came out if it saying, “but it’s not engaging in fat prejudism at all! The shakes the people are eating is how they get their nutrition during the day, it’s not a real ice cream shake! It’s all everybody eats. The fact that they can’t walk has less to do about their weight than it does being in a low gravity environment, and being conditioned to be in a hoverchair all their lives. They don’t have the musculature built up to carry them around. The scene where the guy falls out of his chair and can’t get up is due to him not knowing how to walk because he’s never had to do it!”
He was so earnest, so sure there was no fat hate involved in the movie. One thing he said was that he could see the movie was not made with the intent to further fat stereotypes. My response to that was that the 2000 shoppers at that WalMart in New York didn’t intent to all help kill a man either.
He is a wonderful man, but he doesn’t see how children can view this. Where he sees scientific theory and fact about the long term effects of a low or no gravity environment can affect the body’s muscular system, others see a fatty who is so pathetic that he can’t even stand up on his own after falling out of a chair. Where he sees a nutritiously sound food, and compares it to the current astronauts eating ‘food’ out of tubes while in space, others see a fatty doing nothing but drinking shakes all day, every day. Where he sees how the science of that universe all worked together over 700 years to create a society where everybody is fat and unable to care for themselves, others see fat, lazy, slovenly people.
On the other hand, I also know all the science behind it. While I don’t read hard core science fiction, I do read soft core science fiction, I do like NatGeo, and the Discovery Channel. I also remember when that one US astronaut (and I can’t remember her name, it was a few years ago) came home from space about 2 months later than she should have, and it was all she could do to walk down the steps of the space shuttle and get into a wheelchair they had waiting for her. I know that on the news, she looked normal weight, and yet, because of being in a zero gravity environment, her muscles had atrophied and she couldn’t walk. I do know about nutritionally sound ‘food’ that are pastes the astronauts eat today. I also know that it takes a human a while to learn how to walk. Muscles have to develop, balance has to be learned. That’s why it takes babies anywhere from 9 to 13 months to learn to walk.
But I also know all the stereotypes. Fat people are too lazy to walk anywhere, would rather drive their cars one block to the nearest c-store so they can get their donuts. (The people in the movie using hoverchairs all the time.) Fat people are couch potatoes who wouldn’t get off the couch/away from their entertainment for any reason whatsoever. (The people in the movie talking to each other via vidscreen even though they are only two feet apart.) Fat people eat nothing but ice cream, cakes, candy, junk food all day. (The people drinking “shakes” that are there with them always.)
My husband, honestly, has a hard time seeing “fat”. Oh, he recognizes people come in all shapes and sizes, but he doesn’t see being fat as something inherently bad. This really is very good. But, it can create challenges (and arguments) when he can’t understand why I — or anybody else — would think this really cute children’s movie could in any way further feed into the fat epipanic that’s going on in the world.
His experiences in life aren’t mine, and as much as he tries to understand, he sometimes just doesn’t get it. If somebody like him, who’s actually trying to understand, can’t get it, even when he sees the prejudice I live with often, how can somebody who’s not trying to understand going to get it?
Filed under: Uncategorized |