Posted by Pattie on 5/04/2006 06:04:00 AM

Wow, Couldn't Have Said This Better Myself

Peggy Elam (with a nod and a wink to Jonathan Swift), at On the Whole, offers a great imaginary conversation about weight, fat, disease, causality and health. My favorite part:

If we make everyone eat right (by "right," of course, I mean "what we think is best") and exercise (by which I mean, of course, following our recommended activity plans whether they enjoy them or not), then no one would die from stroke, diabetes, or breast, bowel or endometrial cancer! No one would develop osteoarthritis! Sure, you say it's a free country and we can't "make" people do anything they don't want to do...but we can work on that. What do you mean, "no?" "Slippery slope," my ass...we're talking about life and death here! If we can get people to eat right and exercise more, the human race might even become immortal!

I think she hit the mark head on. I think all this healthism is a jump from fear of death to fear of "the dying," from fear of disease to fear of "the unhealthy."

The nature of stigma is fear of the unknown projected upon "the other" in an effort to ensure that "we" are not one of "them." Since all of us are going to die and most of us will be unhealthy at least once in our life, the only way to stigmatize is through appearance. There is no real "us" and "them," so we have to make up things and call them "dying" and "unhealthy."

We've done it before.

Don't think this is pertinent to the war on fat people?

Think Again.