the politics of fat

March 3, 2008 at 9:41 pm (-ism, health, image, patriarchal perception, quality of life, they hate you they really hate you, wtf)

ever notice how body weight is a matter of public domain?

a post over at Shapely Prose is what started me on this. go read the post if you can…really, it’s an excellent commentary, enriched by a great set of comments. they raise the interesting notion that while a lot of people refrain from making racist comments, it’s still pretty likely that folks will feel free to comment on your weight.

personally, my weight has gone down over the past several months; people have noticed, and several in my small workplace have made comments about it. these comments are generally delivered with enthusiasm, in a voice with elevated pitch. as a matter of fact, (and i am just realizing this) i have had more positive feedback over a longer period of time from my weightloss than i had when i graduated with my master’s degree last year.

what is it about a society where the closer you get to zero, the more valuable you are? how can we navigate a society where one is prized for the extent of diminishment they can achieve? it’s not about where you end up; it is the fact that encouragement flows when you move in one particular direction.

but it’s not just that. “fat phobia” or sizeism, is fed through this system. when society creates a value system, it doesn’t matter if that value makes sense; what seems to matter is the extent to which we fall in line and support it, the extent to which we are able to articulate and practice the party line.

sizeism reared its head in my office today. comments like “you’re just shrinking away!” and “you can never be too thin,” strike me as so incredibly ignorant and uninformed. in the blind rush to support the goal of diminishment, possibilities such as eating disorders, general medical conditions, or psych disorders fade. all that matters, is thinness. another co-worker referred to a client as “the slightly less rotund one,” a reference to the perception that the population of women we serve at our agency are all overweight. the person speaking this comment, then, effectively grants themselves the ability to exercise prejudice. the “but don’t you know it’s unhealthy!” defense is always present; somehow, the idea is that fat people are brining this shame upon themselves, and it’s the unbounded job and burden of the skinny folk to enlighten them as to the error of their ways.

what would happen if we as a society didn’t need to slate somebody into underdog status? what would happen if there weren’t teh blacks, teh gays, or teh muslims or teh communists or whomever is de rigeur to pathologize. would we survive? or would we actually have to look at our own issues?

can we function as a society without a scapegoat? after all, Fat People (c) are successfully blamed for raising health care costs, raising fat children, and generally contributing to the downfall of our nation.

you know how a wartime president is always re-elected? in large part, that’s because war (the active hatred of others) is a force that unifies people. sure, it also has protesters and people who want things to go differently, but for the majority it is a force that brings people together to fight a common enemy. my question is, who are we as a society in the absence of someone to hate? would we even recognize ourselves?


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get yer ‘conscience’ off my uterus

February 18, 2008 at 9:24 pm (feminism, gender, healthcare, law, quality of life, retail, they hate you they really hate you, they really hate you, wtf)

a judge rules that washington state pharmacists can refuse to dispense plan b

Pharmacies and pharmacists with religious or moral objections to “Plan B” emergency contraception may continue to refuse to dispense it until a lawsuit is settled, a federal judge ruled Friday.

The state had asked Judge Ronald Leighton of the U.S. District Court to reinstate rules requiring pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense all legal medications, pending outcome of an appeal. Last year, Leighton suspended the rules as they pertain to Plan B, the so-called “morning-after pill,” by granting an injunction.

Under the rules, pharmacies must stock and dispense legal medications; individual pharmacists may refuse, but only if someone else is available to provide the medication.

The defendants, including the state Department of Health and the Board of Pharmacy, asked the judge to stay the injunction and the case itself while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hears an appeal. The judge’s ruling means state rules are still suspended, and the case in Tacoma — scheduled to go to trial in October — will continue. Defendants must file their appeal by Feb. 29.

In Friday’s motion, the defendants argued that Washington residents have a legal right to obtain Plan B from pharmacies, and that the injunction “broadly infringes on that right, placing the public at greater risk of denial of access to care.”

and this gem:

The lawsuit was filed by two pharmacists and a pharmacy owner who contend their “rights of conscience” were violated by the state rules. The plaintiffs say their religious beliefs prevent them from providing the emergency contraception, which they say can cause an abortion — a claim the other side disputes.

this kind of shit has been going on since the minute the pharmacist’s prescriptive authority was granted in our state. but i have yet to see an area where “conscience” is ever applied against anyone with a penis.

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every vote counts! (um, provided we actually count ’em)

February 18, 2008 at 9:10 pm (election 2008, they hate you they really hate you)

so here in washington state, our presidential primary is tomorrow, february 19. now, a while back our state decided, for reasons that were never satisfactory to yours truly, to require voters to declare their party on the ballot, and only vote within the lines of that declared party.

now personally, the likelihood of my voting republican is slim; however, i rather liked my right to do so if i wanted, without having that affect who else i am allowed to vote for. in certain cases, one may want to choose a city councilperson of a different political stripe than one wants for governor or president; that should be the voter’s right to choose. however, it ain’t anymore.

the local paper has run a string of articles recently in a run-up to our election tomorrow. in this one, the author surveys a few members of our rather large eastern european immigrant population:

One such person is 27-year-old Lynnwood resident Julia Gendelberg, who moved to the United States with her parents in 1992.
Gendelberg said she thinks her vote could make a difference. “I always vote, it’s nice to be able to participate. Although I was very young when I left Moscow, I was still old enough to understand that common people weren’t really allowed to participate. We watched from the sidelines,” she said.
Gendelberg said she remembers her parents and grandparents going to vote … or rather cast a symbolic ballot with only one name on it.
“My parents developed a distrust for politics. It’s just that I came here so young, I don’t have the same reaction. Our past always weighs on us, but I’ve lived more of my life in America and my past is here,” she said.

it is a pretty poignant picture; the individuals who have moved here through struggles & hardship and are able to vote in a way that is supposed to be more than just symbolic. but…back to our main point. are they getting counted? i mean, come on; we’ve lived through florida, hanging chads, electronic voting fraud, and having the supreme court decide our vote for us. what have we learned?

not so much: in snohomish county alone, five days before the election, over 17,000 ballots have already been discarded that’s right, almost twenty percent of all ballots received by that point (absentee ballots returned early) are not going to be counted:

Nearly one in five ballots cast so far in the presidential primary in Snohomish County won’t be opened or counted because the voter failed to identify whether they’re a Republican or Democrat, election officials said Wednesday.

About 17,000 of the 92,516 ballots received are being set aside because voters forgot or declined to check the box next to a party oath on the ballot envelope.

Election officials expected some voters to skip the oath, in part because it becomes public information that is shared with the parties and anyone who asks the county, Snohomish County elections manager Garth Fell said.

Even so, the numbers are a higher than expected, he said.

“There’s a group of voters out there who are frustrated with this process,” Fell said. “Certainly, some statements are being made in the way people are voting. Some simply missed that part of the instructions.”

It’s a perennial problem in Washington. Voters with independent streaks are loathe to identify their political stripes after decades of being able to vote whichever party they choose in what was called a blanket primary.

those mischief makers! why can’t they follow directions?:

“It’s sad that these people won’t have their votes counted, but they’re not following the process and they didn’t declare a party,” Snohomish County Democratic party chairman Mark Hintz said.

Nobody can know the intention of the voters who didn’t sign the party oath. If they were making mischief with the opposing party, their vote definitely shouldn’t count, he said.

“If people aren’t going to take the party oath, then how do we know who’s voting?” he said. “I find it despicable whenever we throw out a vote, but I also want them to be accurate and true votes.”

If the state had party registration rules, this would never happen, he said.

The county sent out informational mailings to emphasize the special partisan rules for this election, Fell said. Once the county receives the ballot, it’s too late for a voter to come in to check the party box.

there just aren’t words for this. as someone who has been active in elections since before i could vote in them, you can be sure i’ll get my ballot in “correctly.” whether it will be counted, though, is a completely different subject.

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a weighty issue

January 18, 2008 at 8:41 pm (healthcare, image, they hate you they really hate you)

ever doubt that there were tangible benefits given to thin folk? if so, this may change your mind.

Chris Schulz, president of Pacific Northwest Title, is offering an employee benefit with the potential to transform lives. Workers who shed extra pounds may get the added benefit of extra days off.

the local company is doing its own version of The Biggest Loser:

Thirty-two of the company’s 44 employees, including Tye and her boss, have signed up for the 13-week program expected to start next week. Schulz said Wednesday he’ll pay the program’s full cost, about $156 per person.

He’ll sweeten the pot with a gift of time. The biggest loser, by percentage of body weight, will get three extra days of vacation. Second- and third-place winners will get two days or one more day. Those are nice perks at a business where vacation tops out at three weeks after 11 years of employment.

the prize was apparently something he spent a lot of mental energy on:

“Either the first prize was going to be three days off or going to an all-you-can-eat buffet,” Schulz said. That’s laughable, but we all know the seriousness of obesity.

of course! because obviously the only people who would go to a buffet are the obese folks!

apparently the twelve spoilsports that chose not to participate are shit out of luck, getting neither free weightloss programming nor a chance at the extra vacation time. which isn’t to say that they suffer the poor employees; oh, no! they even have a “happy committee” which presumably benefits people who are achievement-focused enough to deserve other stuff:

Tye, 58, is involved in her company’s “happy committee,” which has planned outings to Mariners and AquaSox baseball games and other events.

the article goes on to talk about the local health district’s concerns about the obesity epidemic, and a King County plan to penalize HMO participants who do not adequately partake of healthy behaviors, by charging them more for their health plans.

the article closes with a flourish, noting:

At the Everett business, Schulz expects a boost in self-esteem, if not profits. “If people feel better about themselves, they’re happier, more productive employees,” he said.

because the key to a patriarchy-approved dose of self-esteem is that it’s only deserved after one has undergone suitably demoralizing actions to achieve it. being compared to your co-workers in a company-sponsored weight-loss meeting and having your body mass tracked by your boss? that’s empowerment, bitchez.

here’s the article

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