Monday, May 11, 2009

Fatty, Fatso, Fatass: On Fatness

I enjoy fat kids. In the summer when at the park or beach when all the kids are out playing...I revel in the fat kids...the fat ones that have their shirts off and are in their jiggly splendor but not ashamed of their beautiful fat bodies. I often want to go up to them and jiggle their fatness and tell them no matter what...their fat bodies are always run with their shirts off...and never be ashamed.

Why do I revel in the fat kids? Partially perhaps because I once was a fat kid...but one who was not told that fat was beautiful...but rather told to cover it up. Yet, I grew up and while no longer a "fat" kid, a part of me will always be "fat". In being "fat", I often find myself concerned about the constant discussions about childhood obesity. My concern however is not that kids are obese (although that is a valid concern) but how in focusing on obesity - say in education - it is possible that fat kids are further stigmatized, for it is the fat kid that I would argue is often the legitimate target of abuse. It is no longer acceptable to make fun of the gay kids or the "special ed" kids...but we can still make fun of the fat kid. Now, this making fun may not be blatant name calling, although I imagine it happens often, but rather this making fun comes often in the form of education as we educate that to be healthy one should be "thin"...meaning if one looks down and sees that one is not is not is unhealthy. This occurs beyond education as several airlines charge fatties for an extra seat if they are too large. Some herald this as a good move...yet isn't such a move rather regressive, a bit that because of your appearance and "width" we can treat you you "fat" by making you pay up to take up two seats? Yes, I have set next to a fat person and yes I have been annoyed...yet, I would prefer not to further stigmatize a person for their fatness...yes, they may be able to do something about it, but then again they might not. Yes, they may be an extra burden on health care...but so are a bunch of other people with different issues.

So, while I recognize that obesity is a problem from a "health" or "medical" perspective...I wonder how in privileging those discourses or frames of living if we simultaneously delegitimate those bodies that we seek to make "thin" or a "healthy" size? Perhaps then this is the tension between prevention and on one side we seek to "prevent" future kids from becoming obese...but in doing so are unable to care for those who ARE obese...finding it, in a sense, ok to "beat up" the fat kid, to make them less than all in the name of health, all in the name of the Child so that the Child will see tomorrow, never realizing that tomorrow is always a day away - as Little Orphan Annie maintains.

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