Monday, August 17, 2009

Fat Hatred, Bigotry and Forgiveness?

Re: An economist discusses whether fat people should pay more for health care

I have been thinking a lot about the heart surgeon, Dr. Cosgrove who is the CEO
if the Cleveland Clinic. On August 16, 2009, in the New York Times Magazine
article titled, "Fat Tax" he said that if it were up to him, if there weren't
legal issues, he would not only stop hiring smokers. He would also stop hiring
obese people.

My initial reaction to this was defensive. Just another attack in the war on
obesity. I read a satirical letter written from the perspective of the Doctor that pointed to all the hateful, discriminatory aspects of his views.

I posted and I tweeted my concern about the Fat Hatred. I imagined writing a
letter to every board member of the Cleveland Clinic about the hateful, bigoted
stance of their CEO.

Then I thought about the good doctor. A Heart Surgeon who leads the best Heart
Surgery Center in the country. I thought about his world view. I thought about
the fact the his religion is Heart Surgery. I thought about all his years of
dedication to the human heart. I thought about the the times that he had a
patient die in front of him while he was trying to save their life. I thought
about how in his world view, the behavior of overeating being the variable that
tipped the scales preventing him from saving lives.

I thought about all the hearts this Doctor has repaired. The impact he and his
Cleveland Clinic has had on heart surgery world wide. I had to conclude that
the world is a better place because there are heart surgeons. In the religion
of Heart Surgery, this guy is a Pope.

I felt like I need to give this guy a pass for his beliefs about me and my fat
community. I had an internal shift inside myself about being disappointed with
his perspective, but forgiving him for it. Really, doing what he does every
day, how could he think any differently.

I still think that we should speak to the negative effect that his comments have
on our movement. Unlike, my initial reaction when I first read the article, I
am not angry at him for making the comments. I understand that the magnitude of
good this guy and others like him bring to our world need to frame the way I
look at the comment he makes.

I then thought about the insolent twit that did some ugly fat bashing in the New
York Times early last week when reviewing the opening of JCPenny's in New York
City. I attacked her fat bigotry with an angry letter to the editor for her
hate mongering. As you can see from my "insolent twit" comment I do resent her
for making the comment. What I see though, is that when I attacked her in my
letter to the editor, I diminished the actual message I wanted to convey, which
was that her editor should have had her dial back the hatefulness of her
comments about the size selection in JCPenny's. I wonder if we as members of
the Fat Acceptance movement have areas where we need to dial back the tone of
some of our messages. Then I wonder if we need to dial them up. I am still
learning and trying to figure this stuff out for myself.

The new vision of myself from the perspective of Fat Acceptance as been somewhat
of a rebirth for me. Divorcing my worthiness from my size and eating behaviors
is a revolution in my self concept. I have a new hope for a happy life that I
never had before.

When I see something that threatens this new found sense of worth and hope I
want to attack back. I just wonder if it is okay to attack some pasty skinned,
dead in the eyes fashion reporter for her comments and allow that one of the
nation's leading Heart Surgeons erroneously thinks that obesity is simply too
much food and not enough movement.

The way markets and the economy of the south were structured in the 19th century
made many otherwise good people blind to the fact that slavery is intrinsically
wrong. I wonder if the hatred of fat is intrinsically wrong and our markets and
economy make otherwise good people blind to that possibility.

1 comment:

  1. Here is an interview of Dr. Cosgrove on CNBC from 8/18/09 commenting on his desire to discriminate from hiring fat people at the Cleveland Clinic.