Invasion of the Fat Police

I remember reading about this just recently, before Coffee Catholic was removed from the Fat Liberation feed.  I remember thinking at the time: it’s only a matter of time before we see them here! A) Because that’s how these things work: they start it in one area and then expand it everywhere else.  And B) because the NorthEast – where I live – is infamous for being the fattest area in England (note I said England; that’s different from saying Britain as a whole.  As a whole, Scotland is infamous for being the fattest in Britain).

The time?  Has come.

I was in the town centre today, doing my shopping.  I had to walk from one far end of the town centre to the other, and there they were, smack dab in the middle.  Big ole trailer, with huge signs saying:

WHAT’S YOUR LABEL???

Luckily for them, they didn’t approach me. (I say luckily for THEM, because if they had?  They’d be shitting out of two holes by the time I got done with them.  I’m SO not in the mood for this kind of shit today, and I’m filled with enough righteous indignation AND information to back me up that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were tears.)

But how bloody obvious?  What’s your label? Yep, that’s right, because EVERYBODY has to have a fucking label, right?  Oh no, can’t have people walking around without them!  They might think they’re…. *gasp!*… normal!!!!  Labels for this, labels for that… we’re all made to feel like we’ve got to fit perfectly into these tiny holes that the great mysterious “they” have set forth for us.  And if we don’t?  We’re WRONG.  We have to be FIXED.  CORRECTED.

It just pisses me right the fuck off.  We’re bombarded with images and information every fucking day of our lives telling us that WE’RE the abberation.  WE are what’s wrong in the world.

Wars, disease, terrorists, poverty, famine, child molesters, murderers… and WE’RE what’s wrong with the world?  All because we take up just a little bit more space than what “they” think we ought to?

Yeah.  Slapping a label on it is SO going to fix it.

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WTF ever happened to “ooh, your baby looks so fat & HEALTHY”????

Yeah, apparently now the quacks that brought us the (nonexistent) Obesity Epidemic are now finding “obesity” in infants.

As a mother of 4, this totally pisses me off.  For one thing, for thousands of years it’s been known that a fat baby usually equals a healthy baby.  Obviously not all of the time, but a good majority of the time.  It’s one of those things that we didn’t have proof of, it was just something we knew.  Like we knew the sky was blue before somebody went to the trouble of finding out the scientific reasons why.

But it gets worse.

The findings are based on two studies. The first involved 2139 infants not older than age 2 who were admitted for any reason to the Bnai Zion Medical Center in 2004 and 2005. The second study was community-based and used parental interviews to assess the problems seen in 79 overweight infants and 144 normal-weight infants.

The infants were considered overweight if they had a body mass index (BMI) above the 85th weight-for-height percentile on 2 or more measurements taken at least 3 months part. This means that 85 percent of children their age and gender have a lower BMI, which is a measure of weight in relation to height.

In the first study, the researchers found that infants between the 85th and 94th weight-for-height percentiles actually had fewer hospital admissions and repeat admissions than normal-weight infants. However, higher than expected admission rates were seen in the most overweight infants (95th or higher percentile).

In the second study, overweight infants were more likely than their normal-weight peers to have developmental delays and snoring. There was also evidence that asthma and other breathing problems were more common in overweight infants.

When surveyed, only about 32 percent of mothers with an overweight child believed that their child was overweight.

Parents need to be aware that even infants are at risk for problems related to excess body weight and, therefore, should strive to achieve a normal weight in their young children, Shaoul and colleagues conclude.

Emphasis mine.

So because the infants in one particular area had a higher than “normal”rate of developmental delays and breathing problems, the rest of the world faces the same fate??

What, babies should now start looking like those Ethiopian children the media liked to plaster all over our televisions in the 80s and 90s??  And since when did starving our babies putting our babies on a diet sound like a good thing?  There used to be a word for that.  Neglect.  You got your children taken away from you for that.

Where is this “community” used for the second study?  Why do I get the feeling it’s probably either a low-income area or one based near some sort of industrial site?  One where either the residents don’t have access to the kind of medical care that could catch and prevent these sorts of problems (and probably don’t have access to proper nutrition, either), or one where there’s something in the air or water that’s causing these problems.

Obviously I have no way of knowing that, but it just seems odd to me that one study showed that fat babies ARE healthy babies – the one study that probably had a broader range of subjects from all walks of life.  And then they do another study, in an isolated area, and the results are dramatically different.

Something smells fishy to me.

*Credit should go to Sarah at Big Fat Dynamo.  She found the story first.  🙂

Fatphobia Scarily Close to Home

Angel of the North, GatesheadAs Sandy reported last night, Gateshead City Council is joining the Fatphobia Brigade and thinking up the most ridiculous measures they can think of to fight OMG TEH FATZ!!!11!!!ELEVENTY-ONE!!. I’ll get to what I think about that in a moment.

But what really scares me?  Gateshead is the next city over from me.  Yup – I can walk out the door right now, hop on a bus, and be there within 20 minutes.

I mean, granted – none of us is immune to The Fear of Teh Fatz.  We see it everywhere we go – in movies, on television, in the media, walking down the street… but a lot of the time, it seems like it’s something that happens over there – where “there” is an intangible place, that just isn’t “here.”  To know that the stupidity of fat fear is coming this close to home… it’s very disconcerting, to say the least.

But Oh. My. God.  Can these people really get any more stupid?  Forcing chip shop owners to change their SALT SHAKERS in an effort to “trick” customers into consuming less salt?  Can they not think of a better plan?

As Sandy pointed out, it’s a ridiculous idea anyway.

Another local chip shop owner, Carol Ackerman, who runs Carol’s Plaice in the suburb of Acklam, said: ‘People will just put on more salt if they want more.
‘In fact, we have had some people unscrewing the lids to do so.’

If people like my grandmother* – who like a little salt with their salt – want more, they’re going to FIND a way to get it.  Putting fewer holes in the damned shaker isn’t going to make one bit of difference one way or the other.

And I’m not alone in my indignation.  Just check out these comments from the Daily Mail article:

So the Health Gestapo have decided that a recommended amount has suddenly become an enforceable allowance. If these interfering busybodies have enough time to exercise their minds with such rubbish they obviously have too little to do and should be got rid of immediately to save the public money.
People such as them do far more to damage my blood pressure than any amount of salt.

When I buy fish and chips and find inadequate salt when I get them home I shake on some more. Are these imbeciles going to have people following customers home to make sure that they don’t do the same? After all, they have all sorts of other totalitarian rights under “anti-terrorism” measures that they can use. Still, it’s good to see that UK local governments are continuing to fulfill their major function, namely render a once-great nation the world’s laughing stock.

I’ll let these brain dead morons into a secret. If it ain’t salty enough, just shake for longer and add more. P.S. Where’s the firing squad?

Now, educating people on the over-consumption of salt?  Fine.  Seriously, folks, you’d be surprised the number of people out here that actually don’t know that too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure and kidney disease.  (Hell, there are ADULTS out here that can’t name vegetables when they have them right in front of them.  No joke.)  But this is going beyond ridiculous.

And the worst part?  The fact that they spent loads of taxpayers’ money to do this.  I could give you a LIST of things better suited for that money… but we’d be here all day.  So I won’t do that.  But this? *headdesk*

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear these people got their brains sucked out by aliens.  It’s a better thought than the alternative.

* – I used to nag my grandmother to death about the amount of salt she used.  My other grandmother’s husband (not my actual grandfather, her 3rd husband, I think) died of a heart attack, and the one thing I always remembered was that he couldn’t have too much salt, because of what it would do to his heart.  So it made me a little paranoid.  I didn’t let up on her until she came home from the doctor and told me that her blood pressure was perfect – even with the amount of salt she eats (and yeah, it’s a lot – more than twice what I eat).  So again – there is no one-size-fits-all equation of good health.  My step-grandfather?  Too much salt = death.  My grandmother?  Too much salt = nothing.  Get it straight, all you fatphobic pricks… THERE IS NO “ANSWER” TO YOUR SO-CALLED “OBESITY EPIDEMIC.”  It’s all in your fucked up heads.

No-Diet Talk

Reading the comments on this post really got me thinking. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that having a “no-diet talk” policy is a good thing.

For a lot of us, the road to dieting is a road to crazy-ville. I know that’s true for me. Like Rachel has said, not all diets turn into eating disorders, but most eating disorders began with a simple ‘diet.’ And while I never had a full-blown eating disorder, I’ll be the first to admit that I was well on my way to developing one. My only saving grace was that I had someone who loved me to stop me from killing myself.

My last diet – just last year – ended the day my husband lost it, screamed at me, and smashed my scale to smithereens with his bare hands. What set him off? Well, for one thing, I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t even eating enough to keep a baby alive. 2 pots of yogurt (low-fat, of course) and 1/4 of a meal was pretty much all I would eat – and that was on a good day. If I was having a bad day, I would eat even less. I would drink water to try and fill up my belly, so I wouldn’t feel the hunger. And after a while, I would become immune to the hunger pains anyway.

He watched me starving myself and weighing myself 3.. 4… sometimes even 5 or 6 times a day. It became an obsession. I was obsessed with becoming thin. It was all I could think about. I ate, drank, even breathed ‘weight loss.’ It was the sole purpose of my existence at the time. Nothing else mattered. Not him, not the children, not the house (I’m a housewife, so the house is my ‘job.’) All I could think about was becoming thin. Or at least thinner.

I was weak, I would get dizzy spells, I was cranky as hell (okay, I’ll admit it: I was a bitch)… and yet the only thing that mattered to me at the time was becoming thin. Losing weight. Taking up less space.

Until one day he found me in tears in the bathroom. After all my hard work, the scale actually said that I’d gained five pounds. GAINED!!! I was hysterical. No amount of dieting was ever going to work. I was going to be a fat, ugly, worthless pig for the rest of my life. That’s the really sad part. I really believed – at the time – that fat = ugly/worthless/pig. At least for me. (That’s the strange part. I could look at another fat woman and not think those things, but to look in the mirror always brought those thoughts. It was like those particular slurs were meant for me and me alone.) When he saw just how distraught I was, and knew that no amount of trying to support me was helping, he lost it. He couldn’t stand to see me literally trying to kill myself just in the quest to become thin. He started screaming – not so much at me, but at his own frustrations regarding the situation – took my scale, and broke it. It was in pieces. Several pieces.

At first, the thought of not dieting, not knowing how much I weighed? It scared me. It fucking terrified me. I, like a lot of fat people, had the irrational fear that I was going to keep gaining and gaining and eventually take up the whole world. And I feared that he (Hubby) would one day become disgusted with me and would leave me for someone thinner and infinitely more beautiful.

But that didn’t happen. I didn’t gain weight. I haven’t taken over the world. My husband hasn’t left me. If anything, he was the catalyst that led me to FA. Not directly, of course, but I don’t think I would have been ready to accept the concept of FA if I was still in full-blown dieting mode. I don’t think my brain could have grasped the concept.

And, if anything, finding FA and realizing that I don’t have to lose weight just to become an acceptable human being, has made me a better person. Trying to accept and come to love myself just the way I am, without trying to change myself, has improved almost every area of my life. It’s certainly improved my marriage, and I can finally see that my fears over losing my husband just because of my weight were not just unfounded, they were downright ridiculous. Because he’s always loved me just the way I am. He’s attracted to me because I’m fat. (I have to tell you, that knowledge is still mind-blowing. After spending 9 years terrified that he’d ‘settled’ for me, I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around that one.)

So… no-diet talk? For me, it’s a must. It would be SOO easy to fall back into that mindset, that thinking that I will only become an acceptable human being once I take up less space. And that thinking? Is crazy thinking. In-fucking-sane. I realize now that I deserve so much better than to think that I have to be something I’m inherently NOT just to become “worthy.” Worthy of what? Of whom? And who says? Who the hell crowned himself king of the world and decided that I have to be X to become a worthy human being? And why in the hell did I ever believe it?

So… yeah. NO DIET TALK. It’s much better for my mental health. And, reading the comments on Paul’s post just proves to me that I’m sure as hell not alone.

Sexism sells. Are YOU buying it?

I am so mind-blowingly horrified right now that I’m having a hard time stringing together a coherent sentence.  So bear with me, please.

As an American woman living in the UK, I will be the first one to admit that I’m way out of touch with the American media.  I see snippets of it here and there, but not enough to get a real feel of what’s going on.  What I’ve seen in that video horrifies and sickens me.  How could they – in 2008 – say those types of things and still think it’s okay?  How could they possibly think that talking about Hillary Clinton on television and equating her with the stereotype of the “nagging, bitchy wife” would be acceptable?  And I don’t say this just because it’s Hillary Clinton.  Take her out of the picture and substitute ANY woman – you, your mother, your sister, your friend, your spouse – and the result would be the same.  Narcissistic, misogynistic men completely ignoring the woman as a person and simply bringing out every stereotype in their arsenal and equating said woman with that.  It’s disgusting to think that it would even happen in the modern age.

But obviously, it does.

It sickens me.  It sickens me to think that the women close to me that still live in the U.S. have been subject to this kind of indirect abuse from the media.  Because it doesn’t matter which woman they happen to be talking about at a particular time – when they say things like that, it affects all women.

I guess I’ve been spoiled.  The British media aren’t nearly as bad.  That’s not to say that sexism has been completely eradicated from the British media, but it isn’t nearly as rampant as what the above video shows.  More often than not, when talking about women – and especially women politicians – the media treats them just the same as they would treat a man.  I don’t ever remember a woman politician here (at least in the last five years) being criticized on what makeup she’s wearing.  Maybe it’s because Britain has already had one woman leader.  Whatever the reason, it just seems to me that the American media could learn something from that.

Because I live here in the UK, I don’t know that there’s much of anything I can do to make a difference.  But I thought that spreading the word – even if it’s just a few paragraphs on my personal blog – would be better than sitting here, furious and horrified, doing absolutely nothing.

Found via Shakesville, and pointed to The Women’s Media Center and their blog.

Now it’s competitive eating’s fault.

In yet another episode of The World Has Gone Absolutely Loopy, apparently now the OMG OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!!!11!!!! minions have started to go after eating competitions.

This fall, the University of Iowa canceled its annual corn-eating contest, held the week of the Iowa-Iowa State football game. Many saw the contest as a fun nod to the state’s hallmark crop, but Phillip Jones, Iowa’s vice president of student services, viewed it as an act of gluttony.

“It was something I thought was reasonable based on the data and stories I’ve seen about obesity and the proportion of people who are overweight,” Jones said. “I don’t know … if it is dangerous, but it was a symbolic gesture to get people to address changes in our lifestyle.”

 [engage clue-by-four]

What the FUCK?!  Have you ever SEEN the people that compete in eating contests?  99% of them are “normal” sized at best – some of them most likely bordering on underweight.  I forget the name of this lady, but there’s one Japanese lady that I’ve heard of several times who wins the top prize in some of these eating contests – and she’s probably about 4 feet tall and 60 pounds!  Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration… but you get my point.  She’s tiny.  Teeny, even.  Eensy weensy.  And she’s not the only one.  Hell, go look at the article yourself.  Those two people on the photo?  Do they LOOK like they’ve got weight problems to you?

Now, I have to admit – most of the people quoted in that article seem to have a pretty good take on the whole eating contest thing, even if they fall into the fat-hating, brainwashed-by-the-media idiot category.  But STILL!  The fact that people are even contemplating cancelling these kinds of contests because of our so-called “Obesity Epidemic” is absolutely in-fucking-sane!

Don’t believe me?  Go check out that article – there’s a poll linked to it.  At the time of this writing (and after voting in the poll myself), 50% of people who voted on MSNBC’s online poll said that “With a third of Americans now obese, these contests are in bad taste.”  Ugh.  (Don’t even get me started on that whole ‘third of Americans are now obese’ bullshit.  LIES.)

*I should credit Shapeling Sharn for the link.  She posted it over at Shapely Prose, and when I read it I was so dumbfounded that I just had to write something.  Jesus H. Christ.  The world is going insane!

Has the insurance industry lost its collective mind?

According to my husband, who just watched SiCKO a few days ago, if we ever decided to move back home to the U.S., we’d be… well… fucked.

Ya see, my hubby?  He’s “underweight.”

Me?  I’m “obese.”

And my oldest daughter?  She’s autistic and epileptic. (Heck, she might even be overweight, too, but I actually don’t know how much she weighs!)

All three of us would be ineligible for insurance coverage.

ALL THREE OF US.

My hubby and I because of our weights, and my daughter because of the disabilities she was born with.

You know what really gets me about all of this?  I used to work in the insurance industry! 

I used to work for UniCare, from 1999-2003.  If I’m honest, I’d probably still be working there if we’d never moved to the other side of the freaking world.  I worked in this office.

I used to not want to tell people where I used to work.  I don’t know why – I guess it seemed like I was betraying something if I told people where I used to work and how insurance companies actually treat their clients’ claims and whatnot.

But with all of this shit that I’m hearing about how the insurance industry in the U.S. is going down the toilet, I thought it was time to speak up.

Apparently, not only would half of my family (I have three other daughters who would be accepted in a heartbeat for coverage) be ineligible for coverege, but they wouldn’t even tell me up front.

According to the hubby, in the movie SiCKO, there is a story about a woman who underwent major surgery while under insurance coverage.  She was told prior to the surgery that everything would be covered, and the claim was actually PAID by the insurer.  But then (insert suspenseful music here)… some claim investigator found out she’d had a yeast infection years before and didn’t disclose that information.  So her coverage was retroactively cancelled, they requested a refund from the doctor and hospital, and told said doctor and hospital that they should go after the patient for the money.

All because of a yeast infection.

Now, if you’re a woman, I ask you: do you know a single woman who has never in her life had a yeast infection?  I didn’t think so.  Would you think that not disclosing information about a yeast infection would get you booted off your insurance plan?  I didn’t think so, either.

The reason I’m speaking up about this now?  Because I know for a fact that when I was still working there, UniCare – and most other large insurance companies – wouldn’t have dreamed about doing something like that, because they would be taken to court and sued – and they’d lose.  I was “just” a “lowly” data entry technician (don’tcha love “professional” titles?), but I was one of those people who would literally talk to anybody about anything.  And I smoked – so I would meet people from all of our departments just by talking to the people around me outside.  And while, granted, I wasn’t in the office with them all the time, I know enough from my discussions with people about the ways claims were approved or denied to know that something like a yeast infection – back then, anyway – would have been laughable as a reason for denying a claim.  That’s not even touching cancelling someone’s coverage for one.

I don’t know what the hell has happened with the law in the last 4.5 years, but obviously some “genius” (yes, I’m being ironical) decided to pass some law that said that insurance companies could get away with this shit.  People have been fighting with insurance companies – and especially HMOs – for YEARS because of fraudulent practices.  And now they go backwards instead of forwards?

Is it just me, or has the entire fucking world lost its collective mind?  Not just the insurance industry, but the whole thingNew Zealand is denying entry to people just because they’re fat.  Here in the UK, you’re being denied treatment because you’re fat.  Women are afraid to go to the doctor when there’s something wrong, because we’re either hysterical, hypochondriacs, or we’re just too fat (even when we’re NOT).

It’s not just angering me, it’s downright scaring me.  What’s next?  Are we going to pass a law that says that if you’re not absolutely 100% “perfect,” you’re going to be put to sleep?  Yeah, I’m exaggerating here – but only a little. 

The fear?  It’s almost enough to make me go back on my promise to myself never to diet again.  Almost.  But you know what?  I am intelligent enough to realize that even if I DID diet again, there’s no guarantee that I would lose any weight.  As a matter of fact, I seem to be slowly shrinking now, without even trying.  But I’m feeling better than I have in years – because I’m eating well, I’m exercising, and I’m not berating myself about every single little thing.  If I were to go back and try dieting again, I would be depressed, anxious, and I can guaran-fucking-tee you that I would go right back to hating every single thing about myself.  The evil twin inside my head would rip off her gag and start telling me how ugly and worthless I am.

And I’m not willing to go back to THAT for anything.