Butterfly Cauldron

Sunday, June 11, 2006

If you can be fat in public, then I can smoke in public. Dammit.

My state, in an effort to catch up with most of the rest of the country, is currently in the process of passing a law outlawing smoking in public places. That would include all government buildings, libraries, schools, public sporting venues, clubs, bars, restuarants -- any place people gather inside, where the smoke would be trapped. Lots of other states have this same law. It's not a new, revolutionary thing.

So, our local newspaper puts up a question, asking people to write in and tell them what the they about the proposed ban. Most people are firmly FOR it. They site a lot of reasons - health, the smell, general dislike, etc. Some people opposed to it make the point that allows the government to regulate this could lead to regulations in other areas. Most people, in other words, make reasonable, understandable comments. Whether you agree with them or not, they are not out of the realm of relevant comment.

But then there are these others....who skip the whole smoking debate and attack fat people. Straight on, fat is worse than smoking. It kills more people. (Where the hell they got that idea, I don't know.) Watching fat people eat is offensive. The government should regulate how much fat people can eat. If we can't smoke, you fatties can't eat! Arg!

Because, clearly, being fat in public is a health hazard. For other people. It's contagious. It's true! You should have seen it. Yesterday, I went to lunch with my (not quite as fat) friend. They sat us in a booth next to a couple of really skinny girls. Everything was fine until our food got there. (We were going to get something healthy like fish. But you know us fat girls, we had to go for the mega deep-fried, twice-battered, lard-crusted pork loin. Yummy.) Why, we hadn't taken two bites when those skinny girls started to just balloon up! It was amazing, the power my lunch-eating fat self had. My friend and I giggled to ourselves, watching those skinny girls start to cry as the buttons popped off their jeans. Because fat girls are all evil, ya know. It's in the handbook! But, because the skinny girls were now our Fat Sisters, we didn't giggle too long. No, instead we took them under our wing, gave them a pair of comfy sweatpants to wear and provided them with a copy of the Fat Girl Handbook -- How to Destroy The World By Your Very Existance. And then we all had Mocha Turtle Cheesecake for dessert.

I mean, really. What the fuck is wrong with people? I understand not being happy about not being able to smoke in restaurants anymore. I don't smoke myself. In fact, smoke of any kind makes me very sick. But I get that it's not going to be terribly pleasant to have to wait until after your meal, when you're outside, or in your car or...you know what? It's not that big a deal. If you can't go one hour without a cigarette, you have a serious addiction. And that I can have sympathy for. But any sympathy I have is immediately obliterated by being attacked because I'm fat and I dare to show my face in public. My fat isn't going to hurt anyone else. That cig smoke? Well, they've got lots of proof that it does, in fact, hurt other people. Any damage my being fat does is going to be to me and me alone. The people sitting next to me aren't going to catch anything from me. They're not going to increase their cancer risk just by seeing me. So get off the fat-bashing train.

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posted by Zan at 8:52 AM


I just wanted to say that this is an excellent post, Zan, & to tell you, as a fat activist of some experience who has done a great deal of research, that not only is your fat not hurting anyone else, it is also not hurting you. We are being manipulated & lied to by the media & all the Big Money Interests (& I DO mean BIG...diet industry, the drug industry, & their cronies in the medical community & the media, haul in around $700 billion yearly by trying to convince Americans that we are all diseased & in need of intervention.) Contrary to what they say, they know that there IS NO disease called "obesity" & that fat increases health risks very little for most people & being heavier can in fact lower risks in many cases. That is not, however, a message which brings a big profit. The real, honest research (from which we are "protected" unless we dig hard for it or, as do I, have good friends on the inside) shows that ANY "risk" of fatness is tiny & can be offset by regular, moderate (30 minutes or so daily) exercise, & that the one biggest health risk, aside from smoking, is being male, so that a woman who weighs over 350 pounds stand a good chance of outliving an athletic-looking man who weighs 175 by virtue of her gender.

I am from Maine & we also have a large redneck, ignorant population. As far as the smoking thing goes, out of a population of maybe 1.4 million, there are probably at least 500,000 smokers. I have an idea of the kind of ignorance & the desire to blame others & take the focus off themselves which prompts the bashing you describe. Tell those good ole' boys & girls that you are extremely unlikely to cough your lungs out & that, whenever you DO die, which may be 60 years or more down the road, you will not be taking countless others along to keep you company.

2:45 PM  

Oh, believe me, I'm convinced my being fat isn't hurting me. All thoses diseases everyone predicts I'll have? I don't. All those warnings about high blood pressure or diabetes or whatever? None of those things is a problem for me. My one illness was not caused by being fat, so you know....and thank gods my doctors have never tried to blame it on that. (Well, the doctors I have now. Who took the time to listen to me and run some tests to find out that I've got Lupus, not a terminal case of the Fat.) And it seems to me, how could anyone be fooled by these studies? I mean, if fat was so bad for you and not being fat was the key to health, why do all the diabetics I know weigh less than 150 lbs? Why do atheltes still get fatal illnesses? Why do dancers or swimmers or people who are just naturally skinny? Why am I, with all my fat and my compromised immune system, still healthier than most of the other people I know?

7:36 AM  

How could any sane person even make a rational comparison between smoking in public and "being fat" in public?

Anyway, this is an excellent post, and you're exactly right.

1:32 PM  

Amen, Zan. And, why, if there is an "obesity epidemic" & Americans are constantly getting fatter, is the life expectancy constantly going UP & the incidence of heart disease & fatal heart attacks going down? Why, in 2005, did the US record the smallest number of deaths in any year in nearly 70 years? I wish that more people would think critically & realize just how insane all this is & how much we are being "sold" on a health problem which doesn't exist & also often "sold" on cures which we do not need & which do not work &, what is worse, which cause health problems in & of themselves.

2:55 PM  

Excellent question. People like to ignore the studies that point out that yo-yo dieting is far more dangerous than sustaining a high weight. I'd rather be fat and healthy, then going up and down and screwing up my heart and circulatory system. And frankly, the people who are comparing smoking with being fat are not, in my estimation, particularly sane. At least on this issue.

I think a lot of skinny people are afraid of getting fat. I think they buy the sterotypes of fat people. You know, we're all lazy and we don't do anything but eat all the time. We're not very smart either, apparently. Bad hygeine. And we're all secretly agents of Satan. Or something.

Frankly, I'm not lazy and I don't eat all the time. I'm smarter than your average bird and oh, my, what's that in my bathroom? A shower? Oh dear. I guess there goes the hygeine argument. And well...I am an agent of Satan, it's true. But the duties are largely ceremonial :)

5:59 PM  

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