Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Letter to Katnannie2

A few people were upset by my comments in the recent article in the Chicago Tribune. One individual posted a very passionate comment on this blog about it. Here is my response to her, and to any of you who felt similary confused by the quotes.

Kathy, I am so sorry that my quotes in the Chicago Tribune article upset you. Please understand that I was interviewed for a full hour but only those quotes (mostly taken out of context) were chosen by the journalist for her story.

First, let me address the first quote: "Legislation happens when people are too childish to police themselves.”

My intent was not to criticize fat people (me included) about being childish and unable to police themselves. That quote was taken from a larger comment about people who judge and bully others who are different from themselves. If THOSE people were less ignorant and childish, then there would be no need for legislation protecting people against discrimination for size (or race, religion, sexual orientation). When the general population and corporate America behaves civilly, the government shouldn’t need to step in.

In theory, I applaud the spirit of the legislation. No person or group should be the target of prejudice and discrimination. We are all human beings and should be treated accordingly with respect and understanding.

In my life I have also faced discrimination regarding health insurance, jobs and hateful remarks. I cannot get health insurance on my own in spite of the fact that I am very healthy, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, etc. This was another point I made in the interview.

That said, another concern of mine discussed in the interview and referenced by the “green light” comment is that I believe it’s time for ALL people to take responsibility for their individual health and the health of their children. While we are all worthy of love and respect no matter what our size, we also need to examine our lifestyles and take responsibility for our own choices. We are facing an obesity epidemic in this country, especially in children, and this is leading to higher healthcare costs and an unhealthy and sedentary population. But I just don’t feel this way about weight. Drug use, smoking, overly processed foods high in fat, salt and sugar should also be examined and dealt with on an individual basis.

Each of us is responsible for our own personal well being. No one made me fat. I did that to myself. Just as no one forces the coke head to snort or the smoker to light up.

Lastly, the legislation may provide protection and help safeguard jobs and stop other types of discrimination, but it will never effectively change the attitude of people with narrow minds. They will simply go underground, taking their nastiness with them, to resurface another day.

I hope this clarifies my opinion on the issue.

Sue Ann


Katnannie2 said...

Dear Sue Ann,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to me. I can appreciate how the media so often takes things out of context. It is good to know how you meant that comment about policing ourselves.
I still disagree with you about the concept of "we make ourselves fat". Too much of it is genetically determined. And the fact is that many fat people have dieted ourselves fat -- we lose weight and then gain it back plus some more until we are much fatter than we started out. That is the body's normal, biological, physiological, metabolic response to dieting. Upwards of 95% of all diets end up with these results. So, it really isn't fair to blame fat people for being fat. Some of it is how long it takes us to realize that dieting really doesn't work long-term, no matter how well you do it -- til that realization comes, most fat people just keep getting fatter. My weight has been stable for years, ever since I quit dieting. Body size isn't within our control in the same way that taking drugs or those sort of lifestyle choices are.
We all know people who eat everything in sight and remain thin. We all know people who barely eat -- or are very careful about what they eat -- and remain fat. Most people fall between these extremes, I think.
As for taking responsibility for our own health, I believe that is a myth. Good health is a gift. For example, my Mom was average/slender weight, exercised, took vitamins and herbs, saw alternative health and medical doctors, took "great" care of herself all of her life ... and just passed away at age 72 after suffering the most gruesome form of breast cancer (no family history) and debilitating neuropathy for four years. We all know stories like this of people who should have never gotten sick ... or conversely, people who should have been sick all of the time because they smoked cigarettes, ate horribly, drank too much, never exercised and lived to be very old and remained relatively healthy. There is so much we don't know about health and so much misinformation about "health" that it is staggering.
Well, sorry for another long post.
Anxiously awaiting Odelia's next adventure!

Aimless Writer said...

I can see where the Chicago Trib article could have been taken out of context. If I haven't been reading your blog for a while I might have seen it the same way. However, I've been coming by this blog from time to time and think I know that this wouldn't be what you meant. I know you work hard to lose from your posts (and I find them inspiring) but I also know you have to be very careful what you say to the press! lol

Rachel said...

When I read your comments, I too was confused and just assumed they had been taken out of context by an overzealous reporter. I am a reporter myself, so perhaps this is why it may have occurred to me while others were left confused.

I agree with Katnannie that good health is a blessing, but I also see Sue Ann's perspective that while we cannot control all aspects of our health, there are factors we are able to control. We can choose our dietary choices and we can choose to smoke or not smoke. We also have a choice, to a degree, in our physical activity levels and the amount of stress in our lives. Granted, this is all relative and dependent on a host of other factors, both within and outside of our grasp, but we're not all passive victims of the good/bad health fairies, either.

Athena said...

Actually there was a recent that showed that fat people & smokers who die younger cost LESS overall to society than the "healthy" ones who live longer. It's a myth that obesity costs us more... Nevertheless, the point is you can live a great, healthy lifestyle and still be fat... but nearly everyone will assume you make nothing but "bad" choices based solely on your size.

Athena said...

Sorry meant to say a recent study (and big news story)....