Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Obesity a Disease? You can kiss my plump ass, AMA!

The American Medical Association voted to call obesity a "disease" on Tuesday - and I'm scratching my head to figure out why. It's obvious that obesity not a disease. A "risk factor", sure. But a disease? Give me a break. What's next? Avarice? Impatience? Ugliness? Tanning?

I see prejudice in this vote. Prejudice against fat people. A prejudice that has barely been talked about at all in the public health debate about what to do about the rapidly growing number of fat people in this country, and around the world.

While Mayor Bloomberg and his interventionist allies in public health have been hounding us (everyone: fat, formerly fat, and fat-to-be) the major accomplishment has been to make generations of people feel bad about their bodies, bad about themselves, and ashamed to talk about it. Well, I for one am FED UP!

Despite our obsession with fat-free, sugar-free, xxx-free foods that are described primarily by what is absent from them, our collective waistline continues to expand. Perhaps it is that obsession that leads to the obesity "epidemic".

I don't pretend to know what's causing the obesity "epidemic", and I think anyone purports to know is too confident of their own opinions. What I do know though is that there is a ton of irrational prejudice about fatness, and I've certainly got my share of it. I hate how my body looks. And I hate that I hate how my body looks.
I'm thinking of parallels to the gay rights movement - should I "come out" as fat and proud? I can see some theoretical benefit to that approach, but to be honest with you, I'm not the least bit proud of being fat, and I don't feel like faking it just to see some potential benefit on the other side.
But I'll tell you this - I for one really don't appreciate the AMA telling me my fatness is a disease, and I'm working up an appetite to do some research on how anti-fat prejudice affects people's health.

And the winner of the gay marriage debate??? Heterosexuals!

I'm sorry to say it, but there is already a clear winner in the gay marriage debate: heterosexuals. In the 1970's we absolutely and flatly rejected marriage as oppressive, not to mention the ultimate definition of "square".
We tried every possible alternative. Vigorously.
And yet, we came crawling back, hat in hand, saying we want in too. A major defeat for gay liberation, a major coup for normative heterosexuality.

But, while we were out sowing our wild oats, we learned a few things - you could say we picked up a few tricks. We do marriage differently, and if straight people have any sense, they'll be paying attention. I'm not the first to say it, but in many ways, gay marriage has saved straight marriage from passing into obsolescence.

A lot of heterosexuals are paying attention. A couple weeks ago, Slate's Double X Gabfest had a good discussion about what straight people can learn from gay marriage. They dove deep into all the stuff about gender roles, and differentiation of tasks within couples, and how "gay" marriage shows that those two ideas can be de-coupled, re-arranged, and yet there are often strengths to being different, even unequal, in a relationship. But I was surprised that the Slate commentators didn't want to touch monogamy - or rather the ability to discuss its alternatives - the biggest and best innovation we've brought into the marriage covenant.