Entries Tagged 'fatphobia' ↓
June 5th, 2008 — doctors, fatphobia, health care
The Australian federal government has set up a Preventative Health Taskforce. It’s to make recommendations on preventative strategies to combat the ‘burden of chronic disease currently caused by obesity, tobacco and the excessive consumption of alcohol’.
It will allegedly ‘provide evidence-based advice’ on the above. Just putting fat next to smoking and binge drinking and it’s an EPIC FAIL right at the start. (see note at end for more on this)
The experts chosen to make up the Taskforce have short biographies available on the Taskforce website, but I’ve compiled some other important information the public might like to know:
Professor Rob Moodie – mostly involved with anti-drug and alcohol campaigns and global health. He is currently not a member of or involved with any organisation or company that’s notably or specifically with an anti-obesity focus (that I can find), but he has written articles like this one, Obesity – a market success, full of the usual OMG fat kids are reducing life expectancy! panic. As Chair of the Taskforce, he recently said “there should be five-yearly check-ups on Australians’ obesity rates, activity levels and nutrition”. WTF mate.
Professor Mike Daube – again previously mostly invovled with anti-drug and alcohol abuse policy, but also on the public record as getting all agitated about Too Many Fat People and thinking a ‘junk food tax’ will fix it.
Professor Paul Zimmet – involved currently and previously with a long list of think tanks and health policy organisations, etc, mainly to do with diabetes and obesity. Calls obesity an “insidious creeping pandemic” and “international scourge“. Pandemic. I do not think that word means what he thinks it means, what with it definitionally requiring a transmissible disease. More importantly, Professor Zimmet is also a currently a board member or scientific advisor for pharmaceutical companies that are developing obesity and diabetes drugs: ChemGenex, Apollo Life Sciences, and Dia-B. He is a member of Monash University’s Centre for Obesity Research and Education (which states ‘obesity’ is a disease) and several other organisations whose continued funding relies on the continuation of the idea that being fat is a horrible deadly disease.
Ms Kate Carnell – not much to add about Carnell beyond what’s on her bio there, but interestingly when she was CEO of the Australian Divisions of General Practice she stated the ADGP (now the AGPN) had decided that banning junk food advertising was not a practicable idea because the definition of ‘junk food’ was not clear. Has made general obesity-bad statements.
Dr Lyn Roberts – Can’t find any blatant commercial interests, but here’s an example of her (fairly standard, mainstream) stance on fat and health. I find it interesting the difference between the way she talks about fat and health compared to the dramatic language used by Zimmet: by no means fat-friendly but not using fearmongering as an argument technique.
Mr Shaun Ramsay – a senior manager at HCF, a private health insurance company. Previous to that, he was an executive for a large private hospital company. Is on the board of Research Australia, an organisation for strategic health research funding. RA is supported by a great deal of vested interests.
Professor Leonie Segal – A health economist. Not much to add, is on record with similar views as Dr Roberts above.
Dr Linda Selvey – a standard smattering of appointments to public health statutory bodies. Similar mainstream views on fat and health.
So there we have it. I suspect some people might say that well, pharmaceutical companies provide research funding! Where else are researchers supposed to get it? Sure, but it’d be nice if these interests were fully declared. And it would have been nice to see an eminently qualified researcher and academic on the Taskforce who was a proponent of Health at Every Size (yeah right, in your dreams) or at least had heard of it. They’re out there but they’re not one of the cool kids.
Not happy, Kevin and Nicola.
Note: Interestingly, people are all handwringing over a supposed epidemic of binge drinking (especially amongst young people) here. The available evidence on binge drinking shows that there’s been no real increase in binge drinking and alcohol-related violence is not rising. However, polls do show more people are worried about binge drinking and its effects and there’s been an epidemic of media sensationalism over those naughty naughty drunken teenagers, particularly those nasty slutty teenage girls/”ladettes” (how dare they try to have a good time). Sound familiar?
Also note: I don’t think that demonising smokers and heavy drinkers does any good. Teenagers drinking well beyond their limits on a regular basis even if it’s not an “epidemic” isn’t a great idea, but I think there are overarching societal problems that need fixing, not slapping taxes on alco-pops and various knee-jerk responses. You get the idea.
April 2nd, 2008 — douchehounds, fatphobia, food attitude, idiocy, the media
It had to happen. Someone’s gone and compared old and new Nigella Lawson photos and turned it into a column about how enjoying eating might make you FAAAAAT.
Lawson’s a wee bit bigger than she was in 2000. This is apparently cause for alarm and allegedly she has engaged a personal trainer to help her lose weight. Because the only reason anyone, ever, could employ a trainer is to lose weight. She’s a busy woman and a celebrity, perhaps she’s feeling run down and thinks some exercise could help, and doesn’t want to do it in public with 325 cameras snapping her every move. Maybe she wants some specific tips on strength training. Maybe something else? Who knows – she’s a woman who’s turned down an OBE and keeps relatively to herself.
Of course, you can’t have an article about someone gaining weight without a snappy quote from a personal trainer who states that while he admires Lawson’s curves, ‘you can put on a kilo a year’ which ‘over 10 years is a lot’. 10kg. 22lbs. Yeah, that’ll turn you into one of those gross fat people for sure! It’s a LOT! Did you know it’s a ‘simple equation’ of calories in/calories out? Have you tried diet and exercise?
Come on, she’s forty eight years old. Which is not that old these days, but people are supposed to put on some weight as they get older, especially women around the age of menopause. Insurance against the conditions you can get as you age and all that. She’s 48, has two kids, and she looks about 32. (Who needs botox or collagen injections when your skin is naturally padded? And not being malnourished from dieting will also help your skin look pretty good. Hmm. Sounds like I’m afeared of wrinkles. I’m not – while I am pretty vain about my skin, I’ve got a few lines here and there and they don’t bother me. Oooh, now I sound defensive.)
The article does end on a positive note, thankfully. Dr Rick Kausman, touted as a ‘weight management expert’ (actually he’s pretty HAES-oriented and teaches intuitive eating as recovery from dieting) says that Lawson is a ‘good role model’ and that it’s ‘not wrong to enjoy food’.
I hate that this is even an issue. That we have to be told it’s OK to like eating. That even a TV chef shouldn’t enjoy eating too much lest they become socially unacceptable. That sub-par journalists get paid to write columns about how gorgeous, intelligent women are possibly actually just ‘fat frumps’ while pretty much everyone on the Fatosphere feed could write something much more interesting and free of insults about one’s body.
February 26th, 2008 — doctors, fatphobia, policy, surgery
That’d be the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, known by several brand names but commonly ‘lap band’, a weight loss surgery procedure whereby an adjustable band made of silicone is placed around the stomach to create a small pouch. The idea is that it’s a tool for portion control. The reality is that it’s a surgically-enforced eating disorder. Tiny portions, lots of chewing, vomiting, acid reflux, and bowel problems. ED or WLS? You decide!
There is currently a big push in Australia from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the various clinics that offer the procedure to have the costs covered by Medicare, Australia’s socialised (but pretty run-down) health system. At the moment, those wanting the procedure have to do it on their own dime, with or without private health insurance. [ETA: Apparently Medicare currently covers a tiny number of these surgeries - the waiting lists are years long.] The lap band pushers say, however, that by keeping it off Medicare, the government is being mean to fat people, apparently. They’re forcing fat people to spend their lives in misery. It’s safe! It’s reversible! It’s shiny! You’ll be surrounded by ponies! Fat people will die real soon now if they don’t have the surgery! This is the only thing that can cure teh diabeetus! You’re discriminating against fat people by denying them surgery!
Yes, the surgery is safer, less destructive, and has fewer serious side effects than the various forms of gastric bypass. It may be reversible, as long as the band doesn’t adhere to your stomach. But so freaking what? The problem is not fat people. The problem is society. Fat people who live their lives in misery so not do so because of some inherent fault with their body. They live in misery because society tells them that they’re worthless gluttons, lazy pigs and worse than terrorists. They face stigma and social isolation because the general public really believes that most fat people could lose weight if they wanted. They face discrimination because the same doctors that sell weight loss surgeries blame all their medical problems on their weight. They face poor health because of these fucked-up situations, not because their fat makes them diseased. The person whose problems are directly caused by their adipose tissue is pretty damned rare indeed.
The doctors pushing for fat people to get on board with lap band surgery count on fat people believing that they are failures and doomed to a life of disease and disability or dying young. Their professional and financial investments depend on the fantasy of being thin thriving. They say the cost of giving everybody with a BMI over 35 this surgery will be less than the cost of people staying fat. This is under the current societal model where fat people are ill non-humans, however, and only studies that support this idea are allowed to be considered when making health policy. I reckon the cost of implementing a health at every size-based health policy would be a lot less, but then you’d have to have certain medical professionals admitting that their entire careers are based on lies and on the suffering of fat people.
And there’s one big conflict in the pro-WLS arguments I’ve seen published recently in Australian newspapers: certain doctors want everyone of a BMI over 35 or 40 (choose your preferred option) to have the surgery judging by their statement that this will cost less than all the fatties getting heartattackitis, but then they say it should be reserved for the really fat fatty-boombahs who just can’t stop eating because they have leptin problems or some other condition that makes them extremely fat. Which is a tiny percentage of fat people, mind you, even the ‘morbidly obese’ ones. And, uh, I’m unclear on how a silicone band fixes a serious hormonal problem. It may mask the problem by forcing the person to eat tiny amounts, but that’s still not fixing the problem, for fuck’s sake. It’s certainly not going to fix binge eating or compulsive overating disorder, seeing as how those are mental health problems, not simply a lack of willpower.
[ETA: As for performing this surgery on children, see Rio Iriri's continuing series on Kids & WLS, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. I agree with her that it is inhumane to foist such restricted eating upon bodies that are still developing, no matter how fat, and no matter how safe or reversible the surgery.]
Fat people of Australia may face some…interesting…times ahead, seeing as how there’s this AMA push for anti-fat surgery, and the new Rudd government has declared that ‘obesity’ will be one of its main health focuses this year. There have been calls for anti-smoking or TAC (traffic accident)-style shocking ads to be put on TV showing the ‘horrors of obesity’, from doctors and medicos who are supposed to care for the health of fat people, no less. The new Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, has so far seemed rather earnest in her efforts to be seen to be a Serious Cabinet Member, and being the person who will lead Australia out of the shame of being so fat (I’ve read some of her speeches on childhood obesity, good god) and into a gloriously golden future full of thin people.
Write to your local member, Senator, and the Minister expressing your concerns. The more people who do, the more notice they have to take. I hope.
November 21st, 2007 — bingo squares, douchehounds, fatphobia, site admin
I feel special. The douchehounds are coming out of the slime pond! Unfortunately the most recent one wasn’t quite funny enough to make it to public evisceration. Nice try, but “only a tiny percentage of morbid obesity problems are genetic blah blah blah It’s your own fault blah blah blah I claim to be a skeptic but fail to engage critical thinking when it suits my biases blah blah blah” is pretty boring by now.
This blog has a comments policy that’s the short and nasty version of the one at Shapely Prose. People who make dumb comments don’t make it past the moderation queue. Make your dumb comment vaguely entertaining and original and I might let everyone laugh at you. That’s not an invitation.
In other news, I’ll shortly be moving this thing to its own domain, to better enable the Banning of the Morons and the Fiddling of the Code.
November 20th, 2007 — doctors, fatphobia, health care, idiocy, surgery
BABble blog has pointed out this article:
Obese Patients Demand For Equal Chances For Elective Surgery
I certainly hope their demands are met.
However, there’s one particular thing that has rankled me for some time:
“But Dr. Timothy Bhattacharyya, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, said the issue is hardly about financing the procedures. “In a hip replacement, if the patient is obese, the doctor might not be able to see everything he needs to see,” he said. He also noted logistical problems among obese patients are common, including correctly positioning the body at the operating table. Recovery periods are likewise longer.”
My response as commented at BABble, plus supplementary ranting:
Man, I am SICK of people that are supposed to care about and for ALL people’s health WHINGING that they might have to spend a little extra time getting a large body in the right position on the operating table, or take some extra care with surgical site treatment afterwards. People come in all shapes and sizes and, gasp, as a health professional you might have to treat some of those icky people that fall outside the average. GROW UP AND DO YOUR JOB. Sometimes jobs are hard! Maybe the doctor should have picked some other career if he wasn’t up to the challenge.
I should point out that doctors are denying joint replacement and other surgery (I’ve actually read that several British hospitals are denying hysterectomies to fat women, which is a whole other WTF) are going on BMI, the measurement we all know and love. Love to call bullshit on, I mean. So such massive fatties as the “obese” people in the BMI Project slideshow, for example, would be denied surgery because it’s “too hard” and has “logistical problems” and “a new joint is wasted on a fatty”.
Now, we know that that fat people have no worse outcomes from joint replacement surgery than slim people, as Sandy Szwarc has already pointed out.
But “logistical problems”? What in the hell is that supposed to mean? Medicine, treating the illnesses and conditions of human beings, is one whole massive logistical problem. So you’re a surgeon and you notice that standard surgery techniques are not working well for fat people, tiny people, people with whatever condition – you find a new way to do it! Complaining because the patient doesn’t fit the textbook procedure is just plain lazy. Now, not all doctors are like Dr Bhattacharyya; I’ve known quite a few that were actually competent, compassionate, and caring – they’ve managed to consider that yes, I’m fat, but I still deserve medical treatment, so they use the large blood pressure cuff without making a fuss, explain anaesthetic risks without blind anti-fat bias, find a modified position for an examination. They do their jobs in a proper, professional manner. Without making the patient feel humiliated or upset.
Which is how it should be for all people regardless of size, whether it’s believed their condition was self-inflicted or not. No judgement. Just care.
Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals who do otherwise are do a huge disservice to the profession and humanity.
November 20th, 2007 — bingo squares, douchehounds, fatphobia, idiocy
Oh happy day! Now I’m a real blogger. Yes, my very own douchehound has stopped by and left some comments so I can play Fate Hate Bingo too. *sheds a tear*
“Staci”, apparently from Melbourne, but of course with a fake email address, decided that it would be nice to say just how stupid fatties were for complaining about Apple’s advertising the new iMac with the “you can never be too thin” line. Too bad all the eating disorder organisations and feminists were pissed off about it too. Otherwise it would have been just sad, pathetic fatties “cutting off our noses to spite our (fat) faces” all by ourselves. Whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean in this context. Like most trolls, Staci is not terribly good with complex thought. “And I’m sure Steve Jobs will cancel the campaign when he gets emails from two or three fatties. Not!” says La Douchehound. I guess that the stupid ad copy disappeared after people pointed out just how fucked it was is all a figment of my imagination.
Then, just to help me win another bingo square or two, Staci leaves another comment on the B & Lu fashion review. Apparently, it is very sad that I buy clothes on the internet. Douchehound Staci thinks it is sad because I cannot find clothes that fit me here in Australia, thus demonstrating her poor reading skills. In fact, I buy clothes on the internet because I don’t generally like the fashion available here. I’d be buying things over the internet even if I were a slender young thing, as I don’t particularly like much of what’s in fashion at the moment even for those size 14 and under. Friends of mine who are not fat and have the same opinions of affordable Australian fashion do so regularly. But that’s not sad! That’s the global free market at work!
And here comes the revelation: our douchehound is a reformed fatty. She realised that it was time to lose weight when she couldn’t fit into her size 18 clothes any more. Well done, Staci, well done. The world congratulates you. When you look back over your life as you lay on your deathbed, you can say with pride: ‘thank goodness I made myself a better person with weight loss! Thank goodness I took the time to be a douchehound!’ If only we could all follow your example, then the world would be free from fatties who make you uncomfortable. Ooh, and Douchehound Staci declares that she realised she needed to lose weight, not like me who’s “political”. Oh-kaaaaaay. Too bad “political” isn’t an insult around here. Like fat. FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT FAAAAAAAAAAAT.
It’s ok, Staci. You don’t have to be frightened of the nasty political fatties. Have a Bex, a cup of tea, and a good lie down. And for fuxsake, stay the fuck away from commenting on any blogs until you can get it together.
November 6th, 2007 — fatphobia, the media
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, from Fairfax media, are supposed to be two of the most reputable and well-respected newspapers in Australia. They can have a bit of a privileged-lefty bent, but it’s generally accepted as a good paper.
The addition of blogs to their websites a couple of years ago was in some cases good – I liked reading the photojournalists’ blog, for example, but in other cases really sent the tone downhill, particularly the two blogs that seem to mostly be “OMG!!!! Men and women are like, so totally different!!!!11!!” (if you read smh.com.au or theage.com.au you know which ones I mean). And recently one of those put up a post that was about as vomit-inducingly fatphobic as you could expect. It linked to Big Fat Blog, and The F Word’s post on the new Pixar film (a link which sent her some rooly smrt trolls), snarked at the idea of fat acceptance and essentially wished fat people dead of their own ill-health. You could almost smell the fear coming out of the screen.
The post is at http://blogs.smh.com.au/lifestyle/allmenareliars/archives/2007/11/fatist_tendencies.html – I’m not going to link directly, cut and paste if you want to see.
Especially if you’re in Australia, I encourage you to contact Fairfax at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and voice your concern and displeasure. Their blog use policy is at http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2006/07/26/1153816236184.html?page=fullpage.
I have sent off my complaint, pointing out (as The-F-Word also said) that even if you think being fat is a choice, many other things such as religion are choices yet not held up for vilification. And also pointed out that fat-hate fuels disordered eating and poor mental health among slim people too. It’s not just “for a laugh”, as the shitstain who wrote that post would likely say, it’s serious vilification.
The more people who say something, who speak up, the more effect we can have.
August 13th, 2007 — fatphobia, health care, surgery
Sandy Szwarc has a new post decrying the latest insanity from the UK: the idea (sponsored by bariatric surgery peddlers, of course) that people with a BMI over 40 should routinely be offered weight loss surgery if they “fail” at dieting (which is nearly inevitable) and that it should be pretty much compulsory for anyone with a BMI over 50. (Source)
I am SO INCREDIBLY FUCKING ANGRY at this I can’t even write about it now.
This post is actually about who supplies the health care. I don’t agree with Szwarc that government-funded health care is necessarily a bad thing. Pointing to Britain and its freaky nanny state policies is a bad example of a national health care system. Actually, I think there’s (at least) two kinds of government-funded health care and she’s lumping them together. There’s the nationalised kind such as in the UK, where health care is provided by the government but is dished out according to variable government policy and whim and leads to horrors such as previously mentioned. Then there’s truly universal health care, such as in a number of European countries (such as France and Sweden), where you get treatment no matter what. There’s a good basic description of France’s health system in The Boston Globe. Apparently the French scoff at the British system.
Here in Australia it seems to be somewhere between those two models. but unfortunately leaning towards the UK side of things thanks to continual federal government cutbacks – though the current Liberal coalition (that’s the capital-L conservative Liberals) would rather like to see it go towards a user-pays USA-style system. At least I haven’t heard of anyone fat being refused a knee replacement or being ordered to mutilate their GI tract. Yet.
The problem with having a system of non-government, private health insurers and care providers is that corporations are inevitably run by the profit-motivated. It’s not in their interest to insure or treat the sick or “high risk” groups. It’s not in their interest to provide low-cost help to low income earners. So, if the government mandates that these private providers must insure everyone and must be affordable, and offers reimbursement or subsidies or other incentives so that affordable and some free care is available, it doesn’t seem all that different to me from a directly government-funded system anyway: you’re just cutting out the middleman. I do realise that governments certainly aren’t immune to greed and corruption and other such things, but once a good universal health system is legislated and implemented, people tend to realise it’s actually quite nice and are very reluctant indeed to let governments change it. There are places where a lot of health care is run by private charities, but then you’re subject to the philosophies and dogma of that charity: try getting contraception at a Roman Catholic hospital, for example.
You could sum up my opinion as: Actual universal health care good, government health care sometimes good sometimes bad, user-pays and private nearly always bad.
(Yes, I realise there are holes in my argument. But it’s the best I could do when INCOHERENT WITH RAGE.)
July 29th, 2007 — fatphobia, skience, the media
So, if having fat friends supposedly makes you fat, and thin friends makes you thin, and fat people are directed to make thin friends so they can catch Teh Thin and thin people are to avoid having fat friends so they won’t catch Teh Fat … how exactly is that supposed to work again?
Fatty Boombah: Hi, Slim Jim! Can I be your friend so I will become socially acceptable?
Slim Jim: No way! Oh my god, get away from me! The adiposity, the adiposity!
La di Da: My head a splode.
July 25th, 2007 — dieting, fatphobia, feminism, misogyny
This was written in 1975. Nineteen seventy fucking five, people.
In the straight world, the excuse for oppressing fat women is simply that fat is considered ugly, and women are expected to be attractive for men. In the Lesbian culture, the excuse is health.[And nowadays everywhere, thanks to the obesity epidemic panic.] You’re fat because you don’t take care of yourself–it’s unhealthy. Besides which it doesn’t fit the popular image of your healthy athletic dyke. What utter crap. People do all kinds of horrible things to their bodies for a variety of reasons and are not expected to be asexual because of it. [...] “Health” is used as an excuse to degrade us, just as the medical establishment would have it that everything that ails us from influenza to clap is due in its entirety to our “unhealthy” condition–our fat. I know a woman who has scars in her throat from sticking a toothbrush in it to force herself to throw up every day, along with eating two boxes of Ex-Lax in order to lose weight and I wonder how many of you would consider her actions healthier than mine? Is it really my health that worries you, or is it that somewhere in your mind you still think I’m obligated to be beautiful in some male-defined way?
From a paper by Laurie Ann Lepoff, published in Plexus, May 1975, Issues in Radical Therapy, Summer 1975, and Shadow on a Tightrope: Writings by Women on Fat Oppression, 1983, and reproduced online at Feminist Reprise.
I couldn’t pick any specific quote out of another essay from Shadow on a Tightrope, “The Fat Illusion” by Vivian F. Mayer, so go read the whole thing.
So, have we really come a long way, baby?