Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pin the Tail on the Fat Person

Oh gawd, I'm so behind---over at the Atlantic, an article on a new approach to the War on Obesity: make fat people feel ashamed of themselves!
The edgy strategy he came up with entails "social pressure combined with vigorous government action." Callahan likens it to the campaign to end smoking: The combination, in his experience, of being criticized, sent outside, and taxed for his "nasty habit" was the motivation he needed to quit.

"The force of being shamed and beat upon socially," he writes, "was as persuasive for me to stop smoking as the threats to my health."
Social pressure combined with vigorous government action, huh? Sounds a bit like Germany in the mid-thirties, or North Korea whenever.

What is it with these busybody nancies? Why can't they just leave everyone alone? It beats me. I like making fun of people who like reality TV and the 50 Shades of Grey books, but it's not because of a benighted opinion of myself and my ability to save mankind. Those books suck, and so does reality TV! They deserve to be ridiculed, along with the people who partake in them.

In contrast with Top Homeowners to Chef Wars or whatever, there's nothing "bad" about being fat, at least not in the same way that reality TV and stupid books are bad. That doesn't mean it's a pleasant set of circumstances; it must suck to not be able to run, or to not be able to fit in airline or movie theater seats. And I'm not a relativist by any means. But when someone is fat, apparently they've decided that they'd rather eat whatever they want and be unhealthy and sick, than shop more sensibly and be healthier.

This makes the know-it-all meddlers angry, and so they take it a step further than simply talking to fat people about the virtues of being thin or spreading their message of healthy eating across the land. They desire "social pressure" and, most bizarrely, "vigorous government action." It's simply intolerable that a person might do something of which the busybody disapproves. Hence fat shaming, and the strange caveats and qualifications of the burgeoning fat-shaming movement:
This low-cal, low-hatred version of stigmatization is edgy, just crazy enough to work -- so long as it doesn't lead to outright discrimination.
Wow, talk about having your cake and eating it too (yes, that's a fat joke). Nobody seems to mind discrimination of smokers; in fact, non-smokers gleefully and scornfully celebrated the Virginia law that banned smoking from all restaurants in the Commonwealth. But now fat people get all these dispensations! What the hell?

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