I’ve been thinking for a while about what to say to the person who called me courageous for having the discussion about fat. Here is what I decided to say:
I’m sorry I’ve not written you back; I’ve been busy making cookies for an event I’m baking for this week. I’ve also been trying to think of what I wanted to say in response to your comment.
First, thank you for seeing me as courageous. I do agree with the assessment that I’m courageous. I just disagree on why.
In my opinion, my courage comes from going into a place where I know my views will be ridiculed, where I’ll have to listen to how wrong I am, where I’ll have to hear people say things like how all fat people should just die. My courage comes from not letting anybody else shut me up about my experience as a fat woman, the disrespect I have gotten from people in general, the misdiagnosis I’ve gotten from doctors.
My courage comes from telling people that MeMe Roth, and people like her, aren’t right. It comes from confronting people who are supposed to know better twitting (tweeting?) about a conference going on at a university where they are holding a conference on the importance of play, yet state this in their online flyer: “Children under the age of 10 represent the first generation in years not expected to live as long as their parents,” Mainella added. (The truth is actually: Life expectancy at birth hit a new record high in 2006 of 78.1 years, a 0.3 increase from 2005. From a press release from the CDC in 2008, link here: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/08newsreleases/mortality2006.htm.)
My courage comes from not backing down when the person I confronted got angry with me for telling her she needed to vet her sources better. My courage comes from writing the university in question and telling them they need to vet their speakers better, and to stop adding to the fat hate and discrimination that is going on in the world right now.
I know you think I’m in denial about being addicted to food. I thought about what to say to that, how to address that allegation, made by a person who only knows one thing about me, that I’m fat. I thought about telling you about all the reasons I know I’m not in denial, and then I realized: It’s not going to matter. I can tell you about years spent in Overeaters Anonymous, Al-Anon, Emotions Anonymous, and going to counseling, and it’s not going to do anything to change your mind. I can tell you that the moon is made from green cheese too, and it’s not going to change your mind.
I would challenge you to look at some of your deeply held preconceptions about obesity. Look at places like junkfoodscience.com and see what a normal sized nurse has to say about the so-called obesity epidemic. Look at the reports that show percentage of population that is actually obese (http://www.iotf.org/database/documents/GlobalPrevalenceofAdultObesityJune08pdf.pdf) and then compare what it says about India (reporting in 1998, which is 11 years ago) having a total of 4.4% of the population overweight and 0.5% obese, and compare it to now since they’ve lowered the criteria for overweight and obesity by 2 BMI points. Look at data that doesn’t come from so-called studies financed by the weight loss industry. Read the meta-analysis the UCLA did on diets, showing how they DON’T work, that 99% of people who try a diet end up gaining ALL the weight back (if not more). This study also calls into question the effectiveness of dieting increasing all around health indicators: There is some evidence for the effectiveness of diets in leading to other beneficial health outcomes, particularly in helping people stay off antihypertensive drugs and preventing diabetes, but this evidence is not consistent across the studies. In addition, it is not possible to detect whether
the diet components of these interventions were potent, as the interventions all contained other components that may have reduced hypertension or prevented diabetes (e.g., increases in physical activity, reductions in smoking, alcohol use, and sodium). http://mann.bol.ucla.edu/files/Diets_don’t_work.pdf
And then, look up the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (or Minnesota Experiment), and see what the results were.
I hope that if nothing else, this discussion has helped you see where I’m coming from, and optimally, given you something new to think about where weight and health is concerned. If not, well, we can agree to disagree agreeably. 🙂