Anyone who has taken a course on the basics of journalism will recognize that “who, what, when, where, why and how?” are the core of writing an informative news article.
So I will begin there.
My name is Christine M. Burkhart. I have a masters degree in creative writing from Newcastle upon Tyne University, England and a bachelor’s in literature and creative writing from University of California, Santa Cruz. I am from California, 33 years old, and currently weigh over 330. I consider myself to reasonably be an expert in writing; however, I am obviously not an expert in weight loss because even though I have had the gastric bypass surgery (2002) my weight has continued to fluctuate.
Simply put, I am a fat person, with all the ups and downs that entails. And I am also sick of being treated poorly for this reason. Which is the what: This blog and my personal mission is to try to join in the new movement to address the discriminatory assumptions and bigotry faced by a population who are ever increasing in size, and yet just as ignorant as they can be in regards to what the problem REALLY is. Even our own first lady, Michelle Obama, is addressing the obesity “epidemic” but doing so in such a way that I personally find offensive, by suggesting that this mass and costly condition is just a “diet-based” issue, and that by addressing the American diet, we can squash obesity once and for all.
Well, the same sort of thinking pushed for the vaccination of people against polio. You look up current statistics and you will find that it is “mostly eradicated”… mostly, not completely. Because, the final analysis that a sane and logical person can reach is that no disease can ever be completely eradicated, that disease in general cannot be eradicated, and that, by extension, the basics of our human biology which have become socially distasteful, ie, FAT, cannot be eradicated either.
Much to the consternation of those who want to end bigotry against fat people, the American Medical Association has declared that fat itself is a disease. Which means that out of the normal population, 1 out of 10 million people may be considered normal. I say “may be” because, as it turns out Berardinelli-Seip is actually NOT a good thing (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/berardinelli-seip-congenital-lipodystrophy). Yes, there is such a thing as a person who can never get “fat” the way the rest of us can, because these people lack adipose tissue, which is where fat is stored, and which is present in normal people. However, the fat inevitably gets stored somewhere else? Why? Because unless you have taken on a diet of dirt, you will eat fat. Unless there is something wrong or genetically freakish about you, you will process and store that fat. And if you are a normal human being, you will use that fat the way it is supposed to be used (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dietaryfats.html).
You see, at the end of the day, fat is normal, not unhealthy. Fat is present in our bodies, stored for a good reason, and an important part of our diet. The issue with fat is not that fat people eat too much of it, store it poorly, or that others are better at “burning it off”… the issue is that each individual’s metabolism functions in a different way, and yet you will find both the medical profession and know-it-all individuals (many of whom are of the “I can eat anything and not gain weight” camp, who feel that because they are “special” in this way there must be something inherently defective in me, without recognizing that my metabolism, just a few thousand years ago, was necessary for the survival of the human race during conditions of extreme deprivation) that because they hold some stereotype of “correct” eating behavior in their minds, based on whatever fad diet is currently being published by the media, if you eat something even just once that falls outside this diet, you are purposely making yourself fat.
And according to many sources, doing so even though it costs everyone else higher medical insurance premiums to treat your fat ass for the diabetes and heart diseases that you will inevitably get.
So much research is done that seeks to prove that fat itself is the cause of these issues, that little research is being done which defines the way in which obesity or the propensity to be over weight is a co-occurring state or symptom of a greater issue.
The “obesity” epidemic, and this new push by the AMA to define it as a disease, against the conclusions of their own researchers (page 19, http://www.ama-assn.org/assets/meeting/2013a/a13-addendum-refcomm-d.pdf) is little more than a smoke screen to continue to blatantly allow the social structures which have helped create this issue to remain in place. These are: The push for food as a for-profit commodity, best represented by the fast-food industry and large-scale farming operations, which has had a deleterious effect on the nutritional value of much of the food being ingested by the American public at this time; the information age, which has promoted the greatest spread of misinformation and half-truths (that wonderful world wide web and all the untruths and BS it is so good at spreading) that the human race has ever been a part of, while also setting standards of beauty, fashion, culture and size (via “the media”) that are so far beyond the realm of what a human can ever expect to obtain, that it has spurred the creation of a new class of mental disorders (eating disorders, mainly anorexia and bulimia) as well as dramatically changed the way every single person, male or female, is allowed to view their own physicality and normality; and lastly, the maintenance of a social hierarchy which always seeks to define, stigmatize, and then scapegoat some element of society. That element, in the United States, is “the fat”… a great horde of blubberous barbarians who are draining everyone else’s coffers, while ruing any good credibility Americans might have by being so stupid, narrow minded, unhealthy and sinful.
Where do I come up with this stuff, you may ask? Well, simply put, I have come to this conclusion simply by taking note of the ways in which fat people are portrayed.
Funny photo or the disgusting promotion of size-ist bigotry? I’m thinking the later, seeing as how it is hard to determine what happened first, the fat or the chair. Also, no real notion of what this guy is ordering. It may well be a salad.
I’m obese, often vote Democrat or Green, have never been married, never been pregnant, have a job but no health insurance, and never watch porn. I tried to point the simple stupidity and blatant bigotry of this graphic out to Occupy Democrats but they defended their use of obesity with the idea that the moral majority promotes “gluttony”. Gluttony of course meaning that fat people are sinners, touched by the EVIL. Apparently telling them that they were idiotic shit-headed hypocrites for posting utter bullshit and disgusting stereotypes that attacked people, some of whom followed their FB page, as facts, was not the right thing to do. I was told to stop drinking soda and eating french fries, and that it wasn’t their fault I was fat.
I think it’s time to use an emoticon: >.> … that’s the best way to describe my reaction to the suggestion that I was somehow blaming them for my weight.
Think Twitter is better? Well, then look at the responses Lindy West (jezebel.com writer …. http://jezebel.com/if-comedy-has-no-lady-problem-why-am-i-getting-so-many-511214385) got when she took on the subject of why jokes about rape help promote rape culture:
Still think I’m exaggerating how hateful people are toward “the fat”…
This was the start of my “why”. Why must I speak out? Simply put, it shouldn’t take 330 pounds to recognize how WRONG the world we are living in is. This is why I started to seek out those who promote an end to shape and size discrimination. This is why I reached out to a world that I felt would not only be more representative of my perceptions of reality, which is that being fat is not evil, not sinful, and not even inherently “unhealthy” as those who push for weight loss claim, in an effort to, on the one hand, continue to keep the status quo of fat bigotry in place, which reinforces, on the other hand, the continued need for people like me to seek out weight loss options, to “cure” ourselves and thus present as socially acceptable.
What I found was that even though I DO NOT, nor will I EVER believe that health is directly tied to weight, I was stigmatized further by fat activist Marilyn Wann via her continued assertion that the gastric bypass surgery (or stomach amputation as she colorfully refers to it) can only mark me as a person who DOES believe that weight and health are connected and as a traitor to total fat acceptance.
Needless to say, I was quite devastated by the continued assertion that I and so many others who were forced to take a drastic solution to a certain health problem (usually diabetes but in my case, nerve impingement and the high probability of permanent paralysis) are not only amputees and traitors because we have had weight-loss surgery, but are somehow doing harm to fat people and the fat cause. After all, what else can you conclude from a person who will not see that I chose what I did because of the tangential link between my health (ie, the fact that I have a congenital back defect) and my weight (which I know EXACERBATES this issue… exacerbates, not CAUSES) and who, because they cannot see that, cannot also recognize that I and others still have a legitimate cause to want to lose weight. Lose weight, not become thin. I say this because, quite frankly, I love being my fat self. I love being curvy. I love the fact that underneath the body I have now, I have an hour-glass figure. I have big boobs and a big butt, and I love those aspects of my body. I love food and have no intentions of ever giving up something because it is “bad” or “makes me fat”. I love pizza and will continue to eat slices of pesto-covered, artichoke heart pizza joy. I love coffee with half & half, and I will never stop loving that. I love eating salt and vinegar Pringles when I’m hormonal. Or, if I need sweet, my go-to is Reese’s or peanut butter and chocolate ANYTHING. Barring that, Nutella and hazelnut chocolate will do me nicely as well. I will never turn down a chocolate covered digestive, or a soft-batch cookie. I recognize that I was born into an age when food can be enjoyed, and so I will damn well enjoy it.
Just with a smaller stomach and a greater incidence of sugar meltdowns due to “dumping”, in the colorful colloquial language of us stomach amputees.
So here I am, a couple of days divorced from the heart break of having such a scornful, shaming attitude pushed on me. Here I am, in pain because my back has been acting up, but still sitting up straight, writing this blog. Here I am, able to walk around, drive, and live a normal life, because I had the gastric bypass and it staved off disability for over a decade. So here is my who, what, when, and why: I am Christine, I am currently illfitted, and I am doing this for you, those who are scorned by both fat activists and the moral thinority, who know that weight loss has its purposes, but is not the end all and beat all single purpose of your life. I am here for those who are in pain, who have some condition that is exacerbated by weight and who want to feel good, finally, feel right and normal, and who can’t get that feeling anywhere else because you are either told you are the way you are JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE FAT or that you are A FILTHY FAT-TRAITOR who should be ashamed of not just buying into the bullshit but propagating it.
I am here for anyone else who is illfitted, to start a community, a dialog, a place where there will be no shaming, no stigma, no lack of understanding. If you are illfitted too, then trust me, I understand.