Is fat the new black?

This story was run in the press on the same day as the inauguration of Obama for his second term, no coincidence there. According to the story, it seems the next republican presidential candidate will never make it to such a ceremony, apparently he is fundamentally flawed in such a way that the American people will never allow such a man to take office.  Forgetting the ins and outs of the democrat-republican nonsense for a moment and just going back through a random list of presidents and reviewing their flaws, it seems he can’t be sex addicted, that was fine, he can’t be a drug addict there have been a few of those, you can lose your brain to Alzheimer’s, that seems is no barrier to high office, alcoholism or at least hard drinking in high circles is a flaw that seems positively encouraged amongst presidents, so what heinous flaw could keep a man out of The Whitehouse? The man is fat. Chris Christie the man selected by the republicans for the top job, is wholeheartedly, unashamedly, in all his full-frontal glory, a fat man.

It is wondrous to me that the American people have somehow transcended the legendary racism endemic throughout the country to elect Obama, not once but twice, really, who’d have thought ?  But despite this magnificent societal turn-around, political experts have predicted that such is the depth of the American peoples’ body-prejudice that they will never elect a fat president, if this is indeed so, then has body fat prejudice now superceded skin colour ~ is Fat the new Black?

And what has body size in the same way as skin colour, got to do with a persons ability to get the job done? Does thinness equate to good leadership, better decision making and great statesmanship? Does the possession of body fat somehow preclude all these qualities ? How does that happen then? Bore me with the science why don’t you.

It seems the hugely popular Chris Christie has been elected Governor of New Jersey and to run for the top job because he is an effective leader, but how many other people with larger bodies have been overlooked, passed by, let go and otherwise maligned, how many continue to be marginalised and how many more gifted people with larger bodies will come up against the body-facists and fat-phobists who will deny them entry to the all-thin-exclusive club of the successful?

I could give you a list of world-changing people with amazing brains situated inside fat bodies for which I can give grateful thanks, but lets just pick one…..

Too fat to lead a country?  – Tell it to Winston Churchill

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Edwina Currie thinks I am Evil.
She said so when we dialogued ~ ok, ok, mud-slung ~ on Five Live
I think I have achieved, woooohoo! Evil! Has a certain ring about it No? She could have chosen a myriad of other adjectives, most of them much more offensive, but Evil is awesome, Evil has a touch of glamour ~ I may get a t-shirt printed.

To be honest, being called evil by a disgraced Member of Parliament was hardly on my to-do list, but if in my attempt to bring fat-discrimination to the attention of anyone-who’ll-listen, I have provoked a minor celeb fat-hater to make such a pronouncement well… icing on the cake.

And what was it that I said which was so heinous, so utterly dastardly and offensive to be deserving of such an accolade? Well she was there and so was I, because she had said in a previous interview on Five Live that fat people appearing on television was wrong, wrong, wrong ! Fat people or even it seems the mildly overweight, should be removed from our screens immediately, just in case viewers should mistake us for role models. Well there you go Oprah ~ you’re a bad role model, forget that you are the most successful broadcaster in history, if you’re fat, you’re banned!

So the nicely rotund Steve Nolan[1] who is about to begin another TV series,  invited me onto his Five Live late night programme to challenge Edwina on her lust for fat-censorship. She was in full flow explaining how dangerous fat role models are, complaining that fat contestants were being allowed on x -factor, that soon there may even be a fat news reader, God forbid!

I listened to this degrading outpouring of body fascism for a long minute or two, then simply encouraged any larger people listening to this nonsense to go to their mirror immediately and tell themselves that they are loved, valued and appreciated, which was the best idea that occurred to me at the time. I wish I could have thought of something more witty and devastating to say, which might have arrested her poisonous ejaculation more succinctly, but, hey-ho, it was the best I could do in the moment. I hoped perhaps it would  not only reach any fat listeners hearing themselves reviled and rejected, but also get our Edwina to realise that  she was insulting between 30 – 50% of her audience. Mind you, given that I had told her this earlier in our conversation and as she had ignored me completely, she clearly didn’t give a flying sausage how half the audience was feeling listening to themselves being described as unfit for public viewing. So I decided talking directly to the people she was insulting was my best shot.

She paused for a media-nanosecond and then said, Kathryn what you’re saying is Evil, it’s just wrong! But unfortunately, and here’s the rub, she didn’t clarify why encouraging larger people in a little mirror work is evil, or perhaps she just felt I was evil in suggesting that fat people should feel anything else than the utter shame she was heaping upon them ~ who knows. The last thing I want to do is to delve into the complex psycho-porridge of Edwina Currie’s motivation, I’d rather put needles in my eyes.

But as you’re pressing me, I’ll hazard a guess that she thought, as do so many self-appointed-body-police, that it is perfectly ok to publicly insult fat people and suggest they be banned from our screens, our talent competitions and our newsreader desks, in much the same way bigots before her have called for the removal of aging females, homosexuals and people with brown skin from TV, or indeed any other form of public life, for no other  reason than they feel they are not ‘normal’ or ‘average’ whatever that is. That’s why it’s called fat-ism, it’s ‘an extreme and irrational aversion’ just the same as racism and homophobia and ageism and all the other discrimination-isms, which affects arguably a larger section of our community than all the others ~ which is exactly why we need to add fatism to the list of irrational prejudices that have long been the subject of ant-discrimination law.

I am going to email Louise Hay [2] Immediately ~ she should know mirror work is evil. Or maybe it’s just raising the self-esteem of fat people which is evil, I mean what would the billion-pound diet industry do if fat people liked themselves?

Doesn’t bear thinking about.

1. Steve Nolan has two regular slots on BBC Five Live and begins a new TV series  on 2nd May 2012   http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/nolan/

2. Louise Hay, the originator and magnificent teacher of the power of mirror work and affirmations. http://www.louisehay.com/

I haven’t yet told you what happened when I encountered the representative of the weight-bullying movement on Five Live radio. If you recall ~ and why should you ~ Karl Lagerfeld called Adele fat and Five Live held a debate about whether he was right to do so, no-brainer as far as I could see, nobody, even celeb royalty should imagine that they allowed to bully someone about their weight, but clearly I stand alone on this.

Well, my opponent in this debate was none other than an ex-NHS nurse, who told us with utter sincerity  that she felt it her duty to accost fat people in the street and tell them that they should lose weight. To be honest when I heard her say this I was temporarily lost for words as the image of this harridan slithering through the streets of London in search of hapless victims swam before me, I wonder did she wear her nurses outfit when she went stalking ~ we may never know because by the time I had gathered myself, she had moved onto the justification of her bullying.

Her reasoning it seems, was based on her belief in her own destiny at the cutting edge [her words not mine] of the Obesity Industry,  apparently, this means setting up obesity stations [ whatever they are ] at such venues as truck stops and  motorway cafes, where she accosts passing strangers and tells them that they are fat. Imagine,  standing between a lorry driver and his full-english and telling him he’s fat? After he has probably just driven halfway across Europe, I am amazed she got out alive.

She was clearly one sandwich short of a picnic, but I held my tongue ~  was she acting alone? ~ just some random nurse driven to insanity by low wages and NHS managers?  She had me then, a wave of compassion for all the fantastic underpaid nurses I have known rolled over me, but sadly it was short lived ~ she lost every shred of my sympathy when she revealed that she represented the Obesity Forum and the newly cooked-up Obesity Society, supposedly independent outfits, but both of which have all the usual pharmaceutical conglomerate suspects as financial backers, Roche, Abbott Laboratories, Sanofi Aventis, Novo Nordisk, Glaxosmithkline, Lipotrim [dieting/food replacement products] and Vita Clinics [Bariatric surgery] [1]  Bless them.

She and her Obesity Industry backers, felt that Karl Lagerfeld was absolutely correct to call Adele fat, because it was for her own good ~ well of course!  She waxed lyrical about weight bullying being a good thing, declaring that fat people are clearly delusional that we haven’t noticed that we are fat, that we need someone to tell us so and assist us in facing our denial. Would that we could luxuriate in denial for a bit, larger people and particularly larger children face their attackers all day- every day, publicly  mocked shamed abused, excluded, they are told to their face that they are unacceptable, ugly, disgraceful human beings. They hear insults that would never ever be levelled at any other group, because we have anti-discrimination laws, to prevent such behaviour, these laws just don’t happen to include fat people. More’s the pity.

This nurse encapsulates the reason why larger patients so often fall into the ‘late diagnosis’ category ~ we simply don’t go for breast checks and cervical smears or the routine drop and cough. Why should it be a problem for us to get our kit off?  squeeze into the tiny backless gown and throw our legs akimbo? ~ beats me ~

Perhaps it is because the moment we get our vulnerabilities out, the weight-bullying begins. Nothing worse than a hostile medic fiddling around with your nether regions whilst giving you the Obesity-Industry-standard-line.  We avoid this humiliation at all costs, we have to be really really sick, before we go to our GP, because we know we are going to be harangued about our weight,  even though we have only dragged ourselves in there with raging tonsillitis.

But there was more…..

A news item in the The Daily Telegraph on 12th March[2] said that 25% of primary care trusts are now refusing surgery to larger patients, to be honest it was great to get this discrimination out in the open, so far our complaints have gone unheeded. Again Five Live ran the story and again the nurse-stalker and I argued our respective corners and yet again she told me that refusing to treat fatter people ~ at present approx 50% of the population, was indeed a good idea.

So let me get this straight, you want us to continue paying 11% of each pound we earn into the NHS knowing that should we need to reclaim our tax investment, we will be refused treatment? Are you serious?

A larger sized lorry driver called Five Live during our debate, It crossed my mind he was an outraged victim accosted by the cutting-edge-obesity-nurse when he stopped for a pee and a bacon buttie, but alas no, he simply said that, as a hard working, larger sized taxpayer, perhaps needing a knee op after 30 yeas of gunning it across Europe to bring us our prerequisites, he would be refused surgery, yet a thin stowaway hiding in the back of his truck, falling out the back whilst attempting illegal entry to the UK would be treated automatically and for free. Where is the fairness in that?

As Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, commenting on the revelation told the Daily Mail: [3] “It’s becoming the deserving and the undeserving. I think it’s discriminatory and I find it astonishing.”

You and me both Dr Gerada.

1. http://www.nationalobesityforum.org.uk/index.php/working-partnerships.html

2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9127486/Obese-and-smokers-denied-treatment-to-save-money.html
3. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2111109/NHS-patients-refused-treatment-unless-change-lifestyles.html

Thinness by any means necessary! 14 year olds being offered Bariatric Surgery.

I thought I was going to tell you all about my debate-opponent on the Five Live Radio about Karl Lagerfeld weight bullying Adele, who turned out to be a nurse who accosts fat people in the street and tells them to lose weight, but something else has come up, so beloved reader I’ll have to keep you on tenterhooks with that one.

BBC West Midlands radio in Birmingham called to me to comment on a news story that a private weight loss clinic in Edgebaston is offering Bariatric surgery to children as young as 14.

This was not a presenter I had worked with before and I was not as good as I wanted to be, he was great, very warm and handled the subject very sensitively, so I managed to press home the point that a 14 year old is still growing their bones and developing their organs, is in the middle of huge hormonal turmoil, that Bariatric surgery has massive side effects, one of which ~ funnily enough, is starvation, resulting in malnutrition and death. Why ever would anyone want to do that to a child? What could possess a  hippocratic-oath swearing surgeon to make such a decision to lower the age to include children in this barbarous procedure? Could it be the £7,000 price tag ~ never!

This is a very slippery slope, if it is ok to Bariatiricise [look ! I’ve invented a new word ]  children of 14, then how about 12 year olds, 10 year olds and what about 8 or 5 year olds or toddlers?

Children are ours to be loved and nurtured no matter what size they are, to be amongst other things, supported, affirmed and encouraged, cheered on and appreciated for just who they are, to be left alone to go through their changes, to make mistakes, to re-interpret the world, to grow and storm and rail at the unfairness of life, go on wild adventures which may only be climbing to the top of the big slide on their own and to return to us again, triumphant, to share their celebration of progress.   Not ripped open and butchered and set on a life of starvation, a hamster-wheel of medical complications and  body dismorphia and for what? the attainment of some kind of asthetic ideal body size? some kind of hypothetical improvement in the mythical risk-list produced by the Obesity Industry?  Since when has mutilating a teenager been good health practice? Where is the nurturing in that?

And before you snort-and-click over such an idealistic outpouring of parenting-heaven and imagine I must be childless, I am a parent and although my daily routinely frequently includes 10 rounds in the ring with my 12 year old, usually over his personal and immediate environmental hygiene, it is to these ideals I try and drag myself back, albeit kicking and screaming, liberally  supported by chocolate and Hay House Radio[1]  [have you ever listened to that? tune in and you’ll see what I mean]  Some days I am more successful than others, some days I fester and nag,  but even on bad days, at least I know the direction to head in,

But I am going on now, back to surgical mutilation…
The surgeon who runs the clinic, which on a quick google  turned out to be one of the largest in the UK, proclaimed his procedures death-free, what? I mentioned on the programme that there is a death rate of 1%, which he disputed, so afterwards I thought I had better be a little more stat-certain and discovered the actual figure is 2% within 30 days of the procedure [2] that even shocked me. I knew that the majority of patients develop complications, but I assumed it took a while to die from malnutrition, but 30 days? and you know they tell you when they’re dead ~ that it was the body fat that killed them, not the horrific procedure they just carried out. [3]

Want to know the primary effects of reducing the size of the stomach to roughly a medium-sized yoghourt pot?

Here is a quick run down courtesy of Wikipedia [4] ~ leaks at the surgical site (12%), incisional hernia (7%),  infections (6%) pneumonia 4%).  Rapid weight loss causes muscular degeneration, muscle fibres enter the bloodstream and block the kidneys forming kidney stones and gallstones. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies weaken the bones and cause bone disease, affect the thyroid gland and cause hormonal balances, menstruation and sperm production stops. The inability to ingest sufficient fluids leads to over-toxicity and kidney failure. Seizures caused by low blood glucose and excessive insulin production. This is simplistic list and does not include the complications caused by the complications or drug side-effects.

Consider this ~ Bariatric patients cannot take vigorous exercise ~ so no sports, cannot drink more than 4-5 oz of fluid ~ so how do they drink the recommended 1.5 litres a day?  They suffer from ‘gastric dumping syndrome’ [5] bloating and diarrhea after eating ~ fun way to reduce even further any scrap of nutrition they may be ingesting.

Where is the quality of life in this, where is the childhood, the teenage rampage, all the coming of age nonsense we love to hate? Nowhere ~ it is removed along with the better part of the stomach and discarded in favour of ‘thinness by any means necessary’, They are tossing lives away, proclaiming as they go that that holy grail of thinness will buy you longevity [6] ~ what a crock of stomach-staples. I have news ~ thin people do get sick! being thin is not a recipe for good health! Radical I know…

I beg of you beloved readers, if you know the parents of a child or in fact anyone considering Bariatric Surgery ~ stop them, by any means necessary, please, please, stop them.

 

[1] http://www.hayhouseradio.com/   [click on ‘listen now’]
[2] Dr David Flum’s studies of 62,000 gastric bypass patients in the mid-2000’s found that 1 in 50 died within 30 days.
[3] A friend of mine died 9 months after Bariatric Surgery in August 2011 and this is what they told us
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bariatric_surgery  [ see ‘Adverse Effects’ about two thirds down this wiki]
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastric_dumping_syndrome
[6] More on this myth another time

Why bullying someone about their weight is fuelling anorexia……

When one celebrity slings an insult at another, like most of us, I typically glaze over and page turn in extreme whatever-mode, but the kerfuffle caused by the crumbling Karl Lagerfeld calling golden child Adele fat, managed to capture my oh-so transient attention, when Five Live Radio informed me that  there was actually going to be a debate ~ imagine! Someone arguing the case that Mr Lagerfeld was right to draw our attention to the fact that we cannot see Adele’s bones through her skin, that must-have celeb quality ~ how could I resist?

Have you seen the two spreads on Adele in Vogue? [US March 2012 and UK Oct 2011] interviewed in the UK by the redoubtable Christa de Souza with whom funnily enough, I  share a connection via our sons. How undeniably beautiful is Adele lounging across Vogue’s pages?

Perhaps it was the sight of Adele gracing not one, but two Vogue front covers, coupled with her offensively clean sweep at the Grammy’s that has got up Karl Lagerfeld’s ample nose, a goodly number of Vogue pages on both sides of the Atlantic,  devoted to a grossly over-talented, non-thin British woman? That’s a bit radical for Mr Lagerfeld and sadly, I can see how it has rocked his world, peopled as it is, exclusively  with starving, over-height, pubescent models. A real woman amongst such nubiles is clearly wrong – wrong – wrong. Vogue what were you thinking? You have not done this in the UK since 1997, [correct me if I am wrong] when you featured the then proper-sized Sophie Dahl.

Personally, I have bought several copies of each Vogue and plastered them all over my inspiration wall. Bless you Adele for declaring your pride in representing the Average British Woman ~ long may you continue to do so.

And shame on you Mr Lagerfeld for attempting to weight-bully Adele, in the real world as opposed to the suspended reality of fashion, she is loved for being a real person, with a real sized body, with which we can identify, appreciate and admire. We love her more for being a normal sized person expressing real emotions, this is a concept Mr Lagerfeld, that I suspect you simply do not understand.

But seriously…………..

Five Live’s invite was just too good to miss, so I agreed to contribute to the debate, but not before they patiently explained to me that when it comes to body fat there is apparently a whole movement out there who believe that it is a good thing  to accost and verbally attack anyone they perceive as fat, ‘for their own good’
Well that explains a lot. I was scratching my head over the phenomenal rise of the weight-bully, silly me, I didn’t realise there was a fat-phobic movement out there that believes name calling is not only acceptable, but beneficial to the victim.

Perhaps I should warn you if you are a member of this weight-bullying  movement, that the only good that I can see that might come of it, is that your victim may well decide to slap you round your busy body head ~ for your own good of course, just to bring you to your senses and assist you in hesitating before you accost yet another random fat person.

Proclaiming that anyone is too fat or too thin is weight-bullying. Public figures indulging in weight-bullying [please note Mr Lagerfeld] are giving endorsement to the more generic weight-bullying which has become acceptable behaviour in our everyday life. Weight bullying in the workplace in the playground, in the home and in the media is truly pandemic.

My concern is that there are 1.1 million people in the UK who have an eating disorder [1] The official figures say that 5% of girls aged 3yrs to 16yrs in the UK have been diagnosed as anorexic. The undiagnosed, wrestling with the condition alone, may number three times that figure.  20% of those diagnosed will die, only 60% recover, there are no figures for relapse and the remaining 20% continue to suffer into adulthood. [2]

I wonder if anyone from the public humiliation movement can explain to me please why we now have 3 year old girls being treated for anorexia? How do you possibly get a three year old child obsessively starving themselves because they are terrified of being fat? Tell me how?

You think calling someone fat is helpful? just for their own good? or can be dismissed as just a throw away quip, a misinterpreted celeb comment, or worse a joke? Talk to the parents of those anorexic children, as they helplessly watch their child in a life or death struggle with fat-phobia, you may well change your mind.

1. http://www.disordered-eating.co.uk
2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/medical_notes/187517.stm