Monday, February 22, 2010

Is Michelle Obama endorsing Child Abuse?

Okay, I think we can all agree that our First Lady, Michele Obama is a smart woman.

Could it be that Michelle Obama, in all the preparation for her "cause" never once was briefed on the negative effects of stigma on fat children. With all her resources and bright minds that must surround her, is it possible that this issue was never brought up? Could it be that no one ever put this information in front of her for her consideration? I just can't imagine that was the case. I suspect that because she has made some public comments that her cause is is not about the number on the scale that there had to be some discussion about this negative impact on many children in the United States.

Assuming that the information about stigma was considered by the First Lady, I tried to think about what her thinking and decision making looked like which led to the current program she is promoting.

One scenario is similar to something Paul Campos said after a panel he did on NRP where he pondered if there was a noble lie strategy being executed to get people engaged in her "cause". So I wonder if in a similar way that Mrs. Obama understood that her program would be the source of harm for many fat children but chose to ignore it and not speak of it, and allow it to happen as collateral damage in the pursuit of the "elimination of childhood obeisity in a generation".

One of the public comments made by Kevin Smith during the Southwest episode was he saw the face of his daughter in the face of the fat women who was humiliated by an employee of Southwest.

I wonder if Mrs. Obama could see the face of her children in the faces of all the fat children who will be almost certainly the subject of cruelty, bullying and other injuries as the result of her "cause". I wonder if she could allow this program to move forward with that knowledge.

Even if the number of kids that would be the target of stigma was 1% of all kids (which while I have no science to back me up, this # has got to be an underestimate) could she actually have made a conscience choice to let that harm happen to that 1% of kids? To chose to let it happen to any kid?

Is there any goal that could be worth creating that much hurt?

If she knows about that facts that this harm will happen, and yet she choses to go forward with her program without specifically addressing this, what does that say about her morality. Isn't choosing to harm vs choosing not to harm a moral choice?

Could she in fact be doing this to children intentionally? Even if she is actually not aware of this harmful aspect of her program, would that relieve her of the responsibility she has for the harm her program causes?

So after all of that, I wonder what population would be best to target with a noble truth strategy about the harm on its way to our nations fat children and what can be done to prepare children to have the coping skills to work through all this harmful stigma? Would it be the therapists that some of them will be lucky enough to be treated by? Could school psychologists be given some sort of tools to help them help affected kids? School nurses? Is there some sort of conference that could be targeted to help raise the awareness of this aspect of Michele Obama's initiative?

With all the hate noise out there, how can we avoid having that noise drown out this very important noble truth.

Okay, just some of my thoughts. What are yours?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More Thoughts about the ABC Nightline taping

I have been thinking a lot about my experience at the Nightline taping.

I posted on my blog about this exchange and got great feedback via the comments section on my blog and on my favorite lists, ASDAH and FAT STUDIES.

one of the fears I had about the activism part of my FA experience was being attacked and humiliated in public about my FA stance.

over the past year when i would read the comments on the mainstream blogs and see such hatred for people who are fat I would quiver when thinking about having attack and hatred comments like those directed right at me. it made me frightened about going public with my FATNESS.

on Friday when I went over to Meme, there were no cameras. I just wanted to ask her face to face, in a civil way, what she thought about diets not working and see if i could find a place to meet with her and her concerns.

then moments later the nightline cameras and the boom guy with the mike appeared and I held my shit together with this person who is known for spewing hatred upon us while I questioned the logic of what she as saying.

as most of us know, just because the news folks tape it doesn't mean it makes it to the broadcast or even onto the website.

this was a transformative moment in my FA journey. I don't know if I would have walked up to her if the cameras were already there. I am glad they weren't because my thoughts would have been fogged by my concern about not hurting the FA community image on camera.

I still don't know if the footage will make it onto the ABC NIGHTLINE website. It would be cool if it did and it was favorable to our movement, (not edited to make the FA position look bad)

The real victory for me here is a personal one. It was in that moment that I stood my ground publicly against the stigma and oppression that has been a part of my entire life experience.

I also want to take a moment to thank my friend, Golda Portensky for taking a photo of that moment for me as I think that moment is going to be one that I never forget and having a photo of it is "just too cool for school" Thanks Golda.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I debated Meme Roth today!! On TV (sort of)

Tonight was a good FA night for me. I went to the taping of an ABC Nightline sponsored debate. The title of the segment was a bit over the top, "Is it okay to be fat.?"

So Marianne Kirby and Crystal Renn were seated together to the left of moderator Ju Ju Chang. Meme Roth and a women who runs some sort of diet counseling service, her credential being that she has lost and kept weight off for 7 years. (That is all I found out about her. I may be unaware of other credentials she had. She was very passionate about folks trying to loose the weight because of all the health problems they cause.)

I was very apprehensive when I saw the first notice of this event. I didn't want to risk watching the folks that I came to support be ambushed. I was a little fearful that might happen. A producer from ABC contacted me directly through because of the SizeAcceptanceSalon meetup group I organized. After getting an email confirmation from her that I could sit out of camera's shot I decided to go.

Of note here is that I found the moderator fair and unbiased. Also interesting was that all the folks on the panel did not have professional credentials. They were there because their life experience is connected to Fat. We did not have any scientists there for the debate. The one exception to that is a colleague of Ju Ju Chang, a pediatrician was in the audience.

I thought both Meme and Marianne did a good job of expressing their opinions. I got to learn a little bit more about Meme's motivations.

The crux of Meme's argument was the impact on her insurance premiums because of fatty's eating themselves into very expensive health problems. I really wish I had the command of the studies that Linda Bacon or Marylyn Wann had because the studies that she and the Pediatrician pointed to could have been summarily crushed by the kind of deconstruction seen in Dr. Bacon's book.

As the debate went on I noticed how most of what was being expressed was more about the personal experience of the speaker than any actual scientific support of either position.

Every time Meme or the other women spoke about working on getting folks to lose weight, I thought to myself, why doesn't someone mention that diets don't work 95% of the time. Well when question time came I asked the question, I asked Meme if her concern was about health care costs, why would she want to support an intervention with a 95% failure rate. Meme clearly articulated that she has a real problem with people choosing to be victims, that our country accepts a defeatist attitude about this. That everyone should try even though 95% will fail.

The moderator did not allow much time to ask a follow up question about Ms. Roth's flawed thinking about her healthcare costs which would have a 95% statistical likelihood to increase healthcare costs.

But the real fun came after the debate. People were moving around and starting up little conversations with each other. I said hello to a few good friends, I shook Marianne's hand and thanked her. I looked over to Meme Roth and saw her sitting there talking to only one person and I decided to go right up to her and ask her a few questions. What I didn't realize was that the camera men were right behind me.

I shook Meme's hand and introduced myself to her. I told her I have been involved on the Fat Acceptance movement for a little over a year now and then i asked her,why does she think she is so vilified by the Fat Acceptance community. She coyly answered that she is not a part of that community so she couldn't tell me. So then I asked her what is her major issue with the Fat Acceptance movement. She went back into the argument that it is unfair that her insurance premiums and taxes go up for irresponsible behaviors of others.

I then challenged her on her support of dieting in the face of all the evidence that it has a 95% failure rate and supporting anything with a 95% failure rate is illogical. Then Ju Ju Chan came and sat down while Meme spoke about her need to have everyone keep on trying to be one of those 5 out of 100 folks that does keep the weight off .

The way she framed it was on a moral basis. She spoke of the country's defeatism and how it can't be okay for people to stop trying. Meme tried to get me to talk about how many calories I eat and I told her I am not going to discuss that with her and went back to the failure rates. The women next to her (the one with the weight loss business who was on the panel becasue she lost over 100 pounds) said we cant ignore our health. I asked her about her business. I asked her if her success rate with her clients is higher than 5% and she immediately said yes. Then I asked her if she has 5 years of data to support that. She said she doesn't have five years of data. I told her that she can't claim any success yet if she doesn't have conclusive data.

After my little exchange with them, I shook Meme's Hand and thanked her for her time and I walked away. Guess what, a very passionate women who was watching me talk with Meme came right up to me to let me know she has got the solution to my fatness and handed me a cd and her business card. I found out afterwards she did that to several people. I can just picture her talking with business coach and planning to hit the nightline taping and go get 5 new clients for her weight loss business.

I wish I got in her face about the ridiculousness of her offer and the timing of it too. I took her cd and threw it out when I left the building.

Anyway, I went right up to Meme Roth tonight and called her on her ridiculousness in front of cameras from Nightline. This in and of itself is a victory for me. It would be so wicked cool if the footage makes it to the nightline website.

I have said to many of my FA friends, I just want to be happy, life a full and rich life. I am not interested in activism. I still am not sure about that aspect of my FA journey.

I can definitely say it was really cool to stand in front of Meme Roth and question her about the logic of her position on dieting.