Posted by Pattie on 2/24/2003 06:29:00 AM


At Big Fat Blog, (in comment 36) I wrote that it saddened me when someone "decides" to lose weight. I put "decides" in quotation because it doesn't sadden me that they lose weight--bodies do that sometimes. It bothers me when people lose weight intentionally.

I also put "decides" in quotation because in a culture where so much emphasis is placed upon weight loss and dieting, I have to wonder what freedom we have to make such a decision. I like Starbucks coffee and drink it a couple of times a week. It feels like a preference to me, like I've decided to like Starbucks. But I recognize that in a world of advertising and trends, the fact that I prefer Starbucks can't be seen as a singular decision. It is contextualised by all the symbology that Starbucks creates. When I contemplate the "decision," I often realize that I may not have made a decision as much as followed a pattern. Like any other culturally contextualised decision, I have to wonder if the decision to lose weight can actually be called a decision at all. It feels so personal, but with all of the subtle and not-so-subtle pressures to lose weight, or at least to be on a diet, I really have my doubts that anyone these days can make a pure and personal decision to lose weight. So It bothers me when someone says they've decided to lose weight.

But the question that was put to me was why I felt this way about other people's efforts. On the surface, this seems like a perfectly legitimate question. Why should I care what other people do their bodies? I reject whole-heartedly the concept of passive obesity and I do so on the premise that weight gain is not a public health issue. Part of that argument is that the size of my body is not a burden on other people the way second-hand-smoke is. So why should I care at all when someone makes the decision to lose weight? In truth, I don't care if someone loses weight around me the way I care if someone smokes around me. I get physically and dangerously ill with asthma in the presence of second-hand smoke. I get very angry when the threat occurs.

So I'm going to spend some time this week and write about why I feel sad when other people talk about their weight loss efforts. This is a big topic in my mind and I want to take some time to sort this out for myself as well as for anyone who would like to read.

so, more later...